EDITORIAL – Yellow plates, green energy

Cayman vehicle license number plates on display at the Motor Museum. - Photo: Norma Connolly

While we rarely comment on commentary that is submitted to us, today we will make an exception for two letters — one on vehicular registration plates, and another on global warming — that appear in today’s Compass.

In the first letter, the writer describes a troubling situation involving the Department of Vehicle & Drivers’ Licensing and fading registration plates (which most of our readers might call “license plates.”)

The standard registration plate for a resident’s car is yellow with black lettering. Over time, the yellow coloring on the plates can fade or peel away. When that happens, or alternatively if a plate is lost or destroyed in an accident, the driver goes to the DVDL and pays $75 for a new set of plates, plus $40 for a new coupon and log book (because those are linked to the numbers on the registration plate).

There’s nothing inherently wrong with any of the above.

Our letter writer’s grievance is as follows: “[T]he number plates that DVDL sold us a few years ago were not fit for purpose. Either DVDL had specified the wrong yellow paint, given Cayman’s bright daylight or heat, or the manufacturer had used the wrong plate. Either way the innocent motorist is having to pay $75 because someone else was incompetent. How unfair is this?”

That, to us, seems like a fair question.

While we are not prepared to condemn DVDL based on this one letter, we have heard similar stories about prematurely-fading registration plates from other individuals. It is, in short, cause for concern.

The idea that the government is causing people to incur additional costs in exchange for providing inferior products and services is, we’re sorry to say, sadly self-evident.

Think, for example, of the $2-per-tire fee that has failed to check the accumulation of tires at the George Town Landfill; the $20 million-plus annual subsidy given to Cayman Airways; the $110 million-or-more spent on Clifton Hunter High School; or the $250 million in annual personnel costs for Cayman’s civil service. If you want a less-grand example, just think of the years of frustration caused by the demonic “parking machines” at the airport. At least that issue will shortly (fingers crossed) be behind us.

Nevertheless, the point is that in far too many instances, Cayman residents find themselves paying premium prices for subpar government products and services.

Moving on, the second letter we publish today is on the unrelated topic of climate change.

In it, the writer criticizes an editorial published Jan. 6 in which we advised our officials against pursuing potentially costly measures to combat carbon emissions at the expense of the country’s economy and other more practical and pressing priorities.

For clarity and intellectual honesty, the editorial did not address the validity of “climate change science,” as the letter writer suggests. Our main point was based on the factual observation that Cayman accounts for approximately 0 percent of global carbon emissions.

Other than “cheering from the sidelines,” the Cayman Islands can do nothing to influence the rising or lowering of the planet’s temperature. Nothing. To put this another way, it is a waste of energy and resources — a diversion, really — to tilt at such windmills while real environmental realities, especially our festering fuming dump, go unaddressed.