Let’s begin the New Year by laying out our editorial agenda, which we hope will influence and inform the debate in the Cayman Islands over the next 12 months — and beyond.
Of course, being a daily newspaper, we will continue to comment on significant stories as they present themselves in our news pages, but it is the longer-term issues, those that will have a significant effect on the well-being and quality of life in these islands, that we will return to again and again. Among them:
- The George Town Landfill: It will surprise none of our regular readers to hear that we are far from finished with our editorial campaign urging the government to address the George Town landfill, which remains the largest threat to Cayman’s environmental and public health.
A year and a half after government members pledged to the people in their election campaigns that they had a “solution” to Cayman’s waste disposal problems, we now know that they didn’t. Several landfill conflagrations later, we are back to the “committee and consultants” stage.
- Education: For the hundreds of millions of dollars that have been spent on our public schools over the decades, Cayman should have one of the finest school systems anywhere. We don’t. It may surprise (shock?) readers to learn that the cost to educate one Caymanian student for one year is among the highest in the world.
And yet, our secondary schools are annually graduating hundreds of students who are neither academically nor attitudinally prepared for higher education or for Cayman’s demanding job market.
Minister of Education Tara Rivers appears prepared to take the bold steps needed to shake up the coagulated bureaucracy ensconced in the entrenched education establishment. If so, she will have the full support of this Editorial Board.
- Business, the Economy and Prosperity: Given the massive cost of maintaining Cayman’s existing government structure (which includes more than 6,000 public workers serving our tiny population of 55,000), the only viable path for our country’s economy is one of significant sustainable growth. (The other alternative of privatization and drastically reducing the size and expense of the public sector, as recommended by the Ernst & Young report, appears to be politically stillborn.)
Cayman’s economy was built on a foundation of entrepreneurship, self-reliance, an attractive no-direct-tax platform and, importantly, minimal government interference in the private sector. Both business and government prided themselves on the partnership that resulted in the “economic miracle” that became the envy of every other country in the region.
This newspaper will continue to advocate for a return to the cooperation and free-market principles that led to the unprecedented prosperity enjoyed by the people of these islands: Small but efficient government, limited regulation, enlightened immigration policy, and, importantly, leaders who offer a message of social harmony and integration — not of victimization and division.
- Responsible and Accountable Media: At the Compass, we believe in a responsible free press — uncowed and undeterred by commercial influences or political pressures. We will continue our practice of separating opinion and commentary columns, which appear on this page, from news articles, which appear throughout the newspaper.
Likewise, we welcome readers’ opinions in our “Letters to the Editor” column and on our website (www.caymancompass.com), but we will continue to reject anonymous submissions. We believe that anonymity too often leads to irresponsibility, something we should all avoid in what we hope will be a most happy New Year in these blessed islands!