At year’s end: Future paths, old obstacles

During this holiday-shortened week, we have on this opinion page been republishing excerpts from some of our editorials that have appeared throughout the year. The significance of our selections is not, necessarily, that they are our “favorite” examples of our work individually, but that collectively they tend to converge around a handful of important themes that should be kept in mind as we assess the progress of our country in the months and years to come.

To say that Cayman is at a crossroads would be insufficient and not entirely accurate. In reality, the leaders of our country encounter series of crossroads each and every day and accordingly make policy decisions that in the accumulation influence the long-term future of Cayman.

Generally, we believe there is little disagreement as to the ultimate objective for our country – that is, greater prosperity, characterized by personal security and opportunities for all.

The Compass Editorial Board is of the opinion that the link between immigration and employment has been overstated and misinterpreted. Statistical evidence demonstrates that the presence of more work permit holders does not equate to more unemployed Caymanians; if anything, the reverse is true. More precisely, the healthier Cayman’s economy is, the more job opportunities are available to expatriates and Caymanians alike.

Our country would be wise to adopt a different mentality toward immigration, and immigrants, and treat every arriving foreign worker as a potential candidate for permanent residence, and eventually citizenship, rather than as a unit of labor to be exploited temporarily.

The costs of Cayman’s sprawling civil service apparatus are simply too exorbitant to be absorbed by Cayman’s existing population. In the absence of significant cuts to the bureaucracy, our country’s population must grow in order to accommodate the size of the government we already have.

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The good news is that Cayman is in position to undergo this very sort of economic expansion. Driven by the investments and visions of the Dart Group and other enterprises (such as Health City), our private sector is poised to carry Cayman into a new “Golden Age” of prosperity. However, in order for Caymanians to reap the full benefits of private development, our government must commit to development of public goods and services, most importantly education. Starting with a restructuring of government’s spending priorities, the delivery of education in this country must undergo a complete metamorphosis so that up-and-coming generations of Caymanians are adequately prepared to seize the new opportunities that will be presented. If that does not happen, the impending period of expansion will be squandered, and although there will be tremendous superficial change, there will be little real progress.

Hovering ominously over Cayman’s gleaming tomorrow, however, are the sordid deeds of yesterday. We speak of corruption, that most potent poison of future promise (and a potential killer of our country’s status as a trusted international financial center). The ignominious fall of regional football chieftain Jeffrey Webb put Cayman in the very nucleus of the global FIFA scandal and has thrust our tiny country into the searing spotlight of international media shame. Although Webb has already pleaded guilty in U.S. court and has been dismissed as president of Cayman football, his troubles are far from over, and Cayman’s struggle to emerge from his sinister shadow has barely begun.

Even the most formidable of obstacles, though, when approached in good faith, are merely opportunities for advancement and improvement. As we exchange the old calendar for the new, we would offer the following principles to guide our actions in the coming year: There is no substitute for diligence, there is no shortcut to competence, and there is no sacrifice that is not worth making, in order to preserve our integrity.

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  1. At this time of year my hope is for an educational system that truly serves the youth of the country. The gap between the public and private education in the country seems to be widening. Quality educators supported by a fully functioning administration to create an environment where respect and learning can occur is vital for the future of the country.

  2. For 20 odd years, I have heard this preaching about advancement and improvement, all we island people have to do is get rid of our way of life and take this new world order way and all will be heaven around here. Have not got that part yet. But we Caymanians have gotten poorer and turn to beggars on the streets. If we advance any more we are going to be in trouble that we can’t get out of. We used to be hard working people and now we are an army of beggars. What happen with the improvement part? The social soul of Cayman is dying. We are the new american red skins.