Playing in busy streets

When I was first motivated to put pen to paper, or perhaps that should be “finger to keyboard,” I thought about playing it safe. I then remembered that my father and many other men of his generation that went to sea weren’t playing it safe. If they did, they would have stayed home. In the final analysis, I don’t need to play it safe when it comes to speaking the truth and, quite frankly, I am getting tired of these children that are playing in a busy street.

I have always been curious as to the origin of the term “political silly season.” After watching the recent back and forth over the One Man One Vote issue, especially the accusations regarding who really supported the measure and who did not, I now understand. While I support the principle of OMOV – I did not support it in the referendum last year as I believed then as I still do now that the good intentions of the organizers where hijacked by the purveyors of political expediency. Some of the very people that are now pushing for OMOV in the upcoming elections are the same people who opposed it in the past simply because it allowed them to get elected and maintain power.

For decades I have listened to some of my fellow Caymanians complain that the people who have come to our Islands to live and work have taken advantage of our hospitality, and are the cause of the ills facing our country. However, those that complain have failed to argue their point in a logical way. While I agree that some of the people who have moved to Cayman have taken advantage of our hospitality – the truth is that those people are in the minority. Our history is filled with many many more people who came to our shores when we were “the islands that time forgot,” who with their descendants have helped and continue to help build these Islands that we call home today. Any attempt to downplay or deny this fact is disingenuous at best.

If we are to progress as a country we must, as we are encouraged to in the Bible, “know the truth” so that we can be “set free” to be greater than we ever dreamed we could be.

The simple truth is that some of the people in the Merchant Class are also to blame for our country’s ills. Rather than using their resources to develop local talent, they have searched the world over for anyone else but a Caymanian to manage and work in their establishment.

Almost 20 years ago, while working as a night auditor to save funds for college I was getting paid CI$6 per hour plus grats that ranged from $8 to $10 a hour depending on the season. Today, two decades later, I have seen that same position paying around CI$6.50 per hour with grats around CI$4 to $8 per hour.

This decrease in the quantity of income and the quality of available paying jobs are the real issues and it is masked in the argument of whether to have a minimum wage or not. We Caymanians are smarter than you think when we are asleep and way smarter when we are wide awake.

The Cayman Islands is no different from any other country in the world.

People who have money want and use their money to obtain power. In the past it was easy to get power as some of them could afford to buy the votes in a whole district.

The problem is that these districts have grown so large in such a short time and the economic realities have caught up to some of them that they can only afford to buy a seat within the district. In 1988 there were less than 9,500 people registered to vote in the Cayman Islands of which 1,430 was in my district of Bodden Town. Today, 25 years later, the number of registered electors is closer to 19,000 nationally, and the number in Bodden Town has increased to almost 4,600. During that time George Town has increased from less than 4,100 registered electors to almost 7,500. The price of buying a district just went up.

Faced with a situation that they cannot control, they have turned to OMOV, but alas, the issue of the OMOV has been resolved. The people have spoken and just above a third of the registered voters (37 per cent) said they wanted it. Slice it and dice it all you want but it was still a minority of the voters.

If Caymanians wanted it bad enough they would have come out and supported it. Then again, for some people, maybe they are just used to the minority running things. I implore these special interest groups to leave this issue alone and focus on what really matters.

If you are unsure where to start, please use your resources to develop plans to get our people working again. I realise that finding work for Caymanians may not be a priority as it is easy to just raise the prices on those of us that are working to offset the loss from those that are not working – but at a minimum, please tell me why a gallon of milk cost more than a gallon of gas.

Walk good (and stay off the busy streets).

Chris Saunders

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