It’s a common charge that arises against each mention of removing functions, roles or people from Cayman’s government: Somehow, some way, eliminating this or that government activity — no matter how ancillary and inefficient — will do damage to Caymanians as a people, those opponents contend.
Don’t believe for a moment that Mr. Watler has in mind the common welfare of the islands’ populace or the future of Cayman as a viable, self-governing entity. He’s not even concerned about preserving the special privileges reserved for Caymanians, as opposed to non-Caymanians.
When Mr. Watler sounds the trumpet of “social responsibility,” he is playing to one distinct audience: Civil servants. And the tune is: Protect government salaries and benefits, at any cost.
Excuse us. Government’s “social responsibility” does not extend solely, or even primarily, to the 6,300 public servants paid out of taxpayer funds, nor to their dependent family members. Government’s responsibility is to the collective population of the Cayman Islands — and particularly to the most disadvantaged Caymanians who, through circumstances beyond their control, are unable to function in greater society.
These are the people for whom government has a “social responsibility” — the homeless, the hopeless and the helpless.
The unfortunate victims of abuse, mental ailments, neglect, disease, disorders and disasters … the sick, the destitute, the very young and the very old — those are the rightful wards of the state. Rightful claims to public assistance are earned through personal suffering, and paid out of compassion — not through union membership and an ingrained entitlement mentality.
Mr. Watler and the civil servants he represents (a vocal group representative of many, but by no means all, public employees) are concerned that government’s executing the EY recommendations would result in the transferral of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of government roles — and the civil servants who fill them — to the private sector.
It’s a justifiable concern because, hopefully, that is exactly Cabinet’s intent.
But so what? Any civil servant who loses his public job would simply join the same pool as the rest of us. What’s so terrible or terrifying about competing in the private sector, along with the tens of thousands of Caymanians who already do?
What is so sacred about a civil servant that makes it heresy to suggest aligning health and pensions benefits to what every other working Caymanian has? What is the special quality of a civil servant that he should get consideration over the thousands of Caymanians who have no employment at all? What is it about a civil servant that entitles him to a highly paid sinecure at the expense of those Caymanians who have nothing or next to nothing?
Make no mistake: Each dollar squandered on entrepreneurial fictions such as the Cayman Turtle Farm, vanity projects like Clifton Hunter High School, and the inefficiencies of a bloated bureaucracy is one less dollar that the government could have devoted to education, infrastructure or indigent care.
The first priority of government needs to be the people — not the people on the public payroll.