By Dr. Frank McField
Being rich and successful is not by itself a prerequisite for elected office, yet we hear ourselves crying aloud the wishes of some that those who have made money, retired from work and can now support the comforts and habits they have become accustomed to should now take over political leadership of our country because they have no need of our money.
I wish I could say the same about CUC, Fosters, my bank and other financial institutions, but when was need ever the cause of millionaires wanting to become billionaires and billionaires working even harder to remain billionaires.
Greed is never the reason members of civil society and holders of public office betrayed your trust; it was want, and mostly ‘I want to be like them’ or simply ‘I want to be better than them’. From the day mankind began stratifying society and stratification became the method of preserving the status quo or established order or hierarchy, it became not just an individual’s choice to want always more, it became our nature.
Of course, we may say that our civil society is full of greed (call it ambition, then) but, unlike our government, is free of corruption. However, discrimination in itself is corruption and there is still plenty of that in our work environment, even if what we call it is just ‘them not wanting us to have what they got’. The long struggle to establish a law to protect the wealth which Caymanians should be entitled to collectively as a nation in the form of the Legal Practitioners Law is one case in point of attempts by expat lawyers to preserve the perverted differences in entitlements between Caymanians and some expats.
As Caymanians we have always approached the issue of economic differences as if it was something ordained by God and therefore no one should question the realities of the social and cultural divisions this system of division of our nation’s wealth has created. It is as if we accepted from the outset that we had no wealth to start with and all that was accumulated over the years should go to expat knowledge workers and a few chosen Caymanians elected by them to partake in their private gathering of wealth, while little or nothing is paid towards the national entity which made the financial service industry a well sought after asset.
The Caymanian court of arms(flag) and our well established property laws govern and protects, with the blessing of the United Kingdom, foreign commercial entities from direct taxation and this allows many of them to make billions of dollars in untaxed profits. Our commercial value is therefore connected to the needs of international capitalism for neutral non-tax jurisdictions. But if this asset was not protected in a way that its benefits had a greater trickledown effect to all of us, then those now leaving the expat controlled world to manage our government cannot be entrusted to manage our government so that we as Caymanians will finally come first.
If we were talking oil, gold or silver, then anyone would have noted from the outset that the Cayman Islands has an economic value by virtue of its being a unique national entity, and would have wanted a greater share of the profits made by knowledge- workers employed by our on-shore cooperation, but because most of us cannot comprehend the concept of invisible capital or invisible gold we continue to sell off our entitlements for little or nothing.
Therefore, Caymanians, when asking what went wrong and what is wrong with our country and what kind of leadership we now need in order to deal with these challenges, we should not forget that: “Throughout history, it has been the inaction of those who could have acted; the indifference of those who should have known better, the silence of the voices of justice when it mattered most, that has made it possible for evil to triumph.” (Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia)
I am very happy we now have so many educated Caymanians entering politics but I would have been much pleased if even one among them was an economist. And let us not forget that, although education or specialization in law and accountancy may be real qualities when it comes to accounting for someone else’s money, additional qualifications and experiences are necessary when the goal of the organization is human as well as material.
Caymanians, we have a long way forward and we must continue to think future rather than follow leaders who make detours. Man cannot live from bread alone and, regardless of what each of our contributions may be to our society, we each have the same share when it comes to the nation and the power of establishing government. Our new leaders may not need to know personally the plight of the poor, the sick or the unemployed and unemployable but a long career of rubbing shoulders only with the rich and powerful does not make anyone incorruptible or capable of providing the caring leadership we need in these serious times.