Editorial for 10 July: Lawmakers are not ATMs

You know the story: Give a man a fish and you feed him for a
day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.

At least two members of the still new People’s Progressive
Movement-led government have taken this life lesson and plan to put it to use.

Both Al Suckoo and Joey Hew appeared on Radio Cayman’s Talk
Today’s show on Monday and told the country that they would not be reaching
into their pockets or wallets to give money to people who show up on their
doorstep looking for a handout.

While members of the Legislative Assembly do earn a nice
chunk of change for their services to the Cayman Islands, they also have
families to feed and bills to pay. They don’t earn their salaries to help other
people make ends meet.

Also, many of the new legislators left jobs where they
earned higher salaries than they do as public servants. Frankly, they don’t
make enough money to fund their own needs, as well as everyone who is in need.

Instead of giving cash to those who come asking, the
lawmakers said they will work toward policies to help people in dire straits.

On a short-term level, that could mean coming up with job
opportunities for Caymanians, as well as finding a way to address the high cost
of living in the Cayman Islands.

On a long-term level, lawmakers must get the education
system to work with private sector businesses to teach the skills those
companies need in their employees so employers won’t have to seek – and pay
work permit fees for – foreign workers.

Policies need to be adopted that will help grow the economy
and give people an opportunity to help themselves, be it through
entrepreneurship or helping people develop certain skill sets.

There is a culture that has developed of late of people
turning to politicians for handouts. We have developed a culture of people who
expect government to support them.

It’s time to end the practice.

In addition to the wrong thinking of entitlement, any
politician who does give away cash is likely to be considered a vote buyer.

Voters and candidates in the May elections were warned
against “treating” – the practice of providing food, gifts or money in return
for a vote.

We would argue that politicians who give cash out of their pockets
to those in need are indeed treating – or vote buying – even if it’s not an
election year. Surely those on the receiving end will feel obligated to that
politician when elections roll around again.

There are already government agencies in place to help out
people who find themselves in need. While it may be embarrassing to seek help,
it’s better than knocking on a politician’s door at all times of the day to beg
for money.

From this point on, those who do seek money from politicians
should be told that the MLA ATM is closed.