Politics of poverty

| 17/02/2014

The finance minister’s response to the Coalition for Cayman may have been long and laboured but it landed on an interesting target when he highlighted the obvious obligations that government has to the people, whereas the private sector feels, on the most part, that it has none. It is easy for the wealthy to harp on with the tired old cliché of "a hand up, not a hand out". Just as racists justify their ugly opinions by blaming black peoplefor discrimination, the rich always like to blame the poor for their lot in life.

Although we generally think the human condition has moved on from the dark days of the poorhouse, when families were punished for being poverty stricken, sometimes it appears attitudes have changed very little. The politics of poverty may be complicated but the reality of it is simple and those that suffer know only too well that they are marginalised, scourged and blamed for their circumstances.

The rich hate parting with their money, so they will object to all fees and taxes except for those that help them hold onto their wealth. If you justify to yourself that poor people are lazy and they are entirely at fault for their situation, then it is easy to demand that "waste" is cut from government by cutting welfareor government jobs.

It was no surprise that C4C berated Archer for budget reductions relating to tourism and financial services, on which many coalition members depend for their livelihoods, while at the same time scolding him for spending money on elderly people who get sick or poor people who need food.

As many people commenting on CNS have rightly noted, ranting from an ivory tower about the pesky plebs and proletariats sucking from the public purse like leeches is very easy. But try being a single mother working full time at what would be a minimum wage if those in the ivory towers would stop objecting to it; try to feed, clothe and nurture three kids, keep a roof over their heads, as well as keeping them out of trouble in a country where the cost of living is even squeezing the middle classes till they squeak.

Carrying a far greater tax burden because of the regressive nature of indirect taxation, that working mother is paying a higher percentage of her earnings into the public purse than the majority of those involved with the C4C. So, if she is taking school lunch vouchers for her kids or unable to pay her hospital bill, she is entitled to that. She has already paid for it.

With taxation focusing on consumption rather than wealth, the poverty gap in Cayman has little to do with the meager amounts spent on welfare or an over-bloated civil service. Historically, government’s main responsibility in causing poverty is rooted in past mistakes in education and the high tax burden it imposes on the bottom of the socio-economic pile. Despite the need for better standards of education to help local people out of poverty, C4C berated the government for increasing the budget in this area.

No matter how poor and regardless of our earnings, we all pay the same percentage of duties and fees, so the mathematical reality is that proportionately, Cayman’s wealthiest pay the least tax and the poorest the most. But the C4C made no complaint about indirect taxation.

The poverty that gives rise to the need for government to cover the medical bills or give support to low income families is down mostly to unemployment, low pay or, as noted by Archer, inadequate health insurance cover or past pension provision. If the C4C wants Archer to cut the government’s spending on social support, they would do well to work on persuading the private sector that Cayman needs a minimum wage, to employ more local people and encourage bosses to pay their share of the pension, as required by law, and improve and extend their health benefits .

Health cover for their families and pension contributions for the future, together with a minimum wage of $7 per hour would at least give the poor a chance. If they work a ten hour day six days a week, they will be able to just about scrape by and have something for their retirement. Not a life of luxury by any means and their monthly salary will be equivalent to about an hour’s work for some of the islands’ offshore lawyers, but their burden on the state would be marginally less.

The business community in Cayman will no doubt be fighting tooth and nail againstany government attempt to fulfill their election promise on a minimum wage. We all know from the now infamous report and subsequent updates by Complaints Commissioner Nicola Williams that hundreds of employers are not paying into pensions as they should. There are also no accurate figures yet on the delinquency regarding health cover for local employees but the size of government’s healthcare tab makes it obvious that employers are not picking up their fair share.

Poverty is now a serious problem in Cayman, as is this case in any society that depends on trickle down from the wealthy to feed the lower echelons of society. Since the economic slump, the trickle down has dried up.

As the middle classes make it clear how much they are suffering and pressure government to cut fees and do something about the economy, it is a shame that the Coalition for Cayman, once seen as a potential alternative to what many believed is the discredited party system, has made it clear that they too have little new to offer.

It seems that they believe those at the bottom of the pile should be the ones to continue carrying the burden of keeping the wealthy in the style they have become accustomed, no matter how heavy the load has become.

Category: Viewpoint

Comments (83)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Poverty is a mindset, and the higher tax rates go, the higher the proverty ratio will rise.

    Its just a fact… feed poverty and it shall grow.

    it so unfortunate the so called intellectuals can't see that.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I am sick of people who think that someone who is poor is wasting their money or if they do not have a job but able to work they are lazy.  Well I have two degrees but I am 52 years old and guess what?  NO ONE will hire me not even to be a receptionist.  I have excellent references, good track record as an employee and have outstanding work ethics.  Yet, my age is a factor.  So with no free health care for my age as I am not yet retired and CINICO only allowing me one doctor visit for the year, I guess if I got really ill I may as well prepare to die since I would not be able to afford the fees and insurance not likely to help.  So people who say  those in my position are simply lazy and do not want to work GET LOST you have no clue!   We apply to every job, every opportunity.  I even do not mention my degrees since I am told I am over qualified but even GOvernment that I worked for for many years will not hire me.  How do we survive in this wealthy community?   What do we do and how can we get you people to understand we dont want a hand out, we want to earn our own living and pay our own bills and buy our own food.   SO yes the rich gets richer and the poor – poorer!   

     

    • Anonymous says:

      Have you receptionist experience?

    • Anonymous says:

      Your situation, is not the norm. Most unemployed are under qualified. However, there is no reason why a qualified person such as yourself should be overlooked for employment. Our people better start saving and investing their own money while the have a job, as your situation proves that there will be no support from government if you loose your job. Also, anyone who thinks that the compulsory pension fund will take care of all their cost in retirement better think again.

    • Anonymous says:

      What are the degrees in and where are they from?  There are degrees and there are degrees.  A degree is not ticket to the next job in the queue.

    • anonymous says:

      I can only presume that there must be a problem with your attitude or work ethic as everything else seems great.

      • Anonymous says:

        Her conjugation could improve.

        • Anonymous says:

          I can only assume that the two reponses above are from young people who have never encountered age-related discrimination.  I used to work as an IT contractor and started to encounter it in my 40's. I have had quite a few telephone interviews which have gone extremely well, right up to the point where they ask my age. Once I have told them, that was basically the end of the interview  – some of the interviewers just hung up, without even bothering to say goodbye.

          Age discrimination is just as real as race and gender discrimination – it is not based on the abilities of the individual, it's simply because of the year that you were born in – something they can't change, just as you can't change your racial background, your skin colour or the gender you were born with.

    • Foreign Devil says:

      Horse radish

  3. Anonymous says:

    The work market and the social market has changed and explains the increasing gap.  Those who are poorly educated have an increasingly limited economic role to play.  Unless we are willing to adopt communist style equal pay or extremely high taxes, the fact is that inequality will grow bigger for good reasons.  Practically the better way to deal with this issue will be to more effectively segregate the wealthy from the poor, to protect the wealthy from poor criminality, and to guarantee the poor minimum standards of living in return for being compliant with their legal obligations.  This guaranteed should be coupled with very harsh responses to those that do not comply as effectively the non-compliant underclass member will be huge a negative to societal and economic needs.  This is not touchy-feely I know but it is the reality of mankind's future – effectively controlling the uneducated masses will be the challenge of this century.

    • Anonymous says:

      Not politically correct. But a harsh reality.

    • The Reality Is says:

      Let the camps begin! If ever there was ivory tower attitudes, your one takes the cake. There are more of the “underclass” and poor. Wait until they storm your gates and see if your guards, Any type of guards can stop them. – – – (paraphrase) ‘This awful concept of underclass is really horrifying. They’re not lower class, they are excluded – outside.’ ~ Zygmunt Bauman

    • Anonymous says:

      "Practically the better way to deal with this issue will be to more effectively segregate the wealthy from the poor, to protect the wealthy from poor criminality, and to guarantee the poor minimum standards of living in return for being compliant with their legal obligations.

       

      Hmmm, this sounds a lot like religion. Give the church and your ruling class obedience and money and you will be rewarded when you die after leading a life of misery.

    • What the F...? says:

      Wow!  Nazism is alive and well and living in the Cayman Islands.  Here's a thought: How about giving EVERYONE equal access to a decent standard of education? I'm sure most of those 'uneducated masses' would love to tread the universally acknowledged path out of poverty; given the chance.  That would save you 'wealthy' from having to barricade yourselves against the 'criminality' of the poor.

      Also, I have no idea what your gender is but, I suspect, it is male.  Equality is not – nor has it ever been – a soley Communist idea.  It is a basic human right of everyone to have a living wage and equality of pay between sexes.  In a country as wealthy as the Caymans, that should not be a problem.  Let me ask you a question:  If you have a partner, do you look down on them because that are not 'equal' to you?  I sincerely hope not.

      What worries me most about your remarks, is that you appear to sincerely believe them and not to think they are in any way offensive.  They are highly offensive, and only go to show that you have not understood the article at all.

  4. Dreadlock Holmes says:
     
    Them that's got shall have
    Them that's not shall lose
    So the Bible says and it still is news
    Mama may have, Papa may have
    But God bless the child that's got his own, that's got his own
     
    Yes the strong get smart
    While the weak ones fade
    Empty pockets don't ever make the grade
    Mama may have, Papa may have
    But God bless the child that's got his own, that's got his own
     
    -Billie Holiday
  5. Anonymous says:

    If you look to the North the wealthy or the better off at the least pay more tax to support bloated Government and Welfare. People who have earned a good living are forced to take care of the poverty stricken people of their country. There is not a doubt among any circles that a vast majority of people collecting handouts from different avenues of Social Service have made a career of working the system for anything they can get. I am all for the extremely rich paying a small share of money earned to help those truly in need. But to tax a man or woman or family of over 25 percent of thier hard earned 110,000.00 a year so they are only making 85,000.00 is wrong. Life deals everyone cards. Some people improve their hand some just play the hand and so on. That is a fact. Within these shores to force a 7.00 wage plus health and pension will drive services and goods cost up towards 30 percent. This will be a crippling blow to many businesses and faulter a slowly recovering economy. It will make the already expensive economy out of reach by those that the min wage is trying help. Businesses are not thriving here as a whole and the people that employ low wage workers are struggling to survive. The picture of people earning.a fortune off of a step above slave.labour is not.the case in most cases. 

    • Anonymous says:

      Why is ironic because Cayman's economy is based on allowing the extremely rich to evade, (you say avoid), paying taxes for the benefit of the poor where they live.

      • Anonymous says:

        There is in law a distinction between avoiding taxes and evading taxes. Tax evasion is tax fraud, a criminal offence. Tax avoidance is lawful tax planning so as to minimise the incidence of taxes. Any prudent person should practise the latter. If I go shopping in Miami and ensure that my purchases fall within the duty exempt allowance that is tax avoidance. If instead I purchase $2,000 worth of merchandise and fail to declare it and hide it in my bags that is tax evasion. Got it? 

        As for taxes being used for the benefit of the poor, experience has shown us that those tax dollars are instead used to bail out big corporations whose fat cat CEOs then pay themselves large bonuses, to buy weapons and wage war in third world countries. That is what had led the U.S. on its misguided crusade against so-called tax havens that will not yield the billions of dollars in new tax revenue it expects. Instead, thousands of Americans will relinquish their citizenship.    

         

        • Anonymous says:

          Well done for parroting the party line.

          • Anonymous says:

            It's not a 'party line'; those are the facts as inconvenient as they may be to your rhetoric. 

          • Anonymous says:

            Ummmm…you are parroting your party line. The poster was giving you some home truths.

  6. Anonymous says:

    I don't see why I should lose out to give more to povs.  They get too much already.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Where is all the tithed money going then?

  8. Anonymous says:

    I am not sure I follow this viewpoint and to me it seems that there were many words without anything really having been said, but maybe that is just my interpretation of this editorial.

    While I do agree that there are people who live in poverty due to circumstances beyond their control (accidents with long term medical consequences, health issues, job loss etc), unfortunately as it goes in life – a few spoil it for all the others. I don't think I have to elaborate on this any further.

    That said, I believe that there is a rather large amount of academic and athletic scholarships/sponsorships available on this Island and has been for quite some time so anyone who truly desires to strive for higher education has some opportunities available. Also, most employees do recognize the employee with a good work attitude and dedication and will reward them accordingly. I know single mothers who have managed to obtain a bachelor and master degree while raising a child, and I know mothers who have managed to rise to the top of their employment potential due to hard work. I also know people who have never even finished High School but managed to set up successful businesses.

    Some of those people mentioned above may be considered "rich" by others. Are they now supposed to be "penalized" for having dedicated themselves to their own goals and achieved what they set out to achieve? What about the "rich" doctor who has gone through years of college, medical school and internship and after almost 10 years of training is finally financially getting the benefits for all the weekends and nights worked, while still being on call at all hours that others are not prepared to put in?

    People in Cayman have had their priorities mixed up for a long time, and we are now dealing with the consequences. I am all for a "hand up", but refuse the ongoing "hand out" as I too had to make many sacrifices along the way to reach where I am at……….and if I feel like givine a "hand up" or a "hand out", I certainly don't wait until Government tells me I have to do so………

    And for all it is worth, if the day comes where I have to pay tax to the Government in Cayman and they get to decide what should be done with those funds, I think I rather set my cash on fire!

    • Anonymous says:

      You make some very good comments. However all too often people that can be considered 'rich' are all made out to be super-achievers that came from nothing and made it by suffering more than anyone else. I suspect that when you add up the rich people that came from money, people whose parents had enough money to send them through school, people who grew up in a good neighborhood with a good school system, who generally weren't behind the 8-ball their entire lives you would be left with a very small percentage. In today's economy it takes money to make money and the game is rigged plain and simple. It is a myth to say that everyone has the same chance to earn a decent wage and have a comfortable living. It is ignorant and false.

      I could go on…

      • Anonymous says:

        Yes I agree with parts of what you said, but it is easy to jump on the wagon and declare that the rich should pay more……..In reality, how would you break this down and where do you draw the line? If someone sacrificed half their life towards their career and they are now enjoying the financial consquences for their hard work and dedication, is it fair to tax them more just because they pushed harder? Is it fair to tax someone who works 16 hours days as a CEO of company the same as someone who inherited millions and sits around and does nothing all day? If I were that CEO, I certainly wouldn't feel that it was fair. There is a small percentage who is rich enough (and I talk about working people) where it doesn't matter what the tax bracket may be, however, you have to be careful that you don't stiffle the desire for a higher earning job cause you punish that higher earner with higher taxes.

        Yes, it takes money to make more, but this doesn't mean that there are not opportunities available for people to get a decent education and therefore increase their chances at a better paid job so they can support themselves and their families. The problem is that it takes work to find those opportunties and then more dedication and sacrifices to make those opportunities count. Most people nowadays are just not prepared to dedicate themselves accordingly and wonder years down the road why they are in the position they are in.

    • UHUHUH says:

      To 15:03! There's an old saying "Ignorance Is Bliss".                                                                    

      Some of us are definitely blissful!

  9. Les b reesonubble says:

    I am rather surprised at the overkill of comments here berating what is a perfectly reasonable assessment of what is happening. All the writer is saying is that most poor people are not always to blame for their circumstances and in an indirect tax environment the poor do carry a greater burden its true  like it or not its true and its true that the business community, has fought tooth and nail against a minimum wage. This piece is hardly advocating the caribbean equivalent of storming the winter palace. Maybe some of you should re read it  again. The piece should be making people think not just responding with a typical right wing monetarist knee jerk reaction and hurling stupid allegations ……there are a lot of people suffering in cayman and cutting off what little support they do get from government or laying off a whole pack of workers from the glass house ain't gonna help….

    • Anonymous says:

      Though I have every sympathy with the point of view, I think there is a mistake in part of the argument, namely the assertion that indirect tax puts a greater burden on the poor that the rich. The fact is that the less wealthy spend a much higher percentage of their income on the necessities of life, namely food, drink and clothing, all of which can, and largely are,  exempt from any form of tax. The wealthy spend more on luxuries, all of which are taxed, some quite highly. The major exception to this, here in Cayman, is electricity, which I would class as a necessity of life (certainly of modern life) and which is very heavily taxed by any standards, being some of the costliest power on the planet (and if you read the details of  your bill, it's not all down to CUC).

      I would also add that a large proportion of the high prices in Cayman are nothing to do withthe tax regime and everything to do with the operation of cartels by the ruling oligarchy in Cayman and the operation of protectionist policies that stifle meaningful competition with their businesses. Without real competition, there will be no fall in prices.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Very disappointed by the abuse and lack of good judgment in this editorial.  Caymanians have always bound together in times of need.  Our history is full of repeated examples of this close net community helping one another.  Neighbor has always helped neighbor, family and friend were (and still is) synonymous.

    Times are tough and this is definitely not a time to pit neighbor against neighbor.

    We have always taken care of our own and we will continue to.  We do not need someone who knows little about our culture to come in and bring their socialist attitude and degrading our way of life.

    We need solutions and not wedges.  

  11. Foreign Devil says:

    Wow what a twisted view of reality you have, the rich people you talk off generate almost all of the income for this country that our goverment uses to pay the bloated CS and authorities and support the 9000 other Caymanians who apparently need help, so anytime you get rid of the rich successful people, Dog eat you supper!

    • The Reality Is says:

      I’m guessing they generate that income from the kindness of their hearts, right? Not because of the end game of acquiring more wealth at the least cost to them. Unfortunately, and this those not apply to all, if the rich could still acquire more wealth at the cost of the poor, the Middle Class and the day to day running of the country, the lot would and we’d really be eating the dog’s supper, instead of poor fido.

      • Anonymous says:

        "It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest."

        Adam Smith

        • The Reality Is says:

          "Avarice is always poor." ~ Samuel Johnson

           

          And… "Greed, for lack of a better word, is good." Or so Adam believed, then. This is now, 224 years after his death, his 'benevolence' assumption has been unfortunately warped and distorted so much, its not relevant to today's wealth generators, in my humble opinion. 

           

          I've always referred to this essay when faced with such thoughts on 'The Virtue of Greed.' 

           

          "When economists first heard Gekko's now-famous dictum, "Greed is good," they thought it a crude expression of Adam Smith's "Invisible Hand"—which is one of history's great ideas. But in Smith's vision, greed is socially beneficial only when properly harnessed and channeled. 

           

          The necessary conditions include, among other things: appropriate incentives (for risk taking, etc.), effective competition, safeguards against exploitation of what economists call "asymmetric information" (as when a deceitful seller unloads junk on an unsuspecting buyer), regulators to enforce the rules and keep participants honest, and—when relevant—protection of taxpayers against pilferage or malfeasance by others. 

           

          When these conditions fail to hold, greed is not good."

          • Anonymous says:

            I prefer Gekko, because that way brings fast cars and hot blondes .

            • Anonymous says:

              …and jail time.

              • Anonymous says:

                If the blondes are hot enough then the jail time is probably worth it, especially if my money is hidden in places like the Cayman Islands.

                • Anonymous says:

                  In jail you become the blonde!

                   

                • Anonymous says:

                  Spoken like someone who doesn't have a clue. With US and UK FATCA and 30+ TIEAs in place no one in their right minds would try to hide money in Cayman in 2014.

                  • Anonymous says:

                    That is why you want a Cayman chain in the link.  A nice little discretionary trust would do nicely.

    • Anonymous says:

      What a load of BS ,Bank licensing fees are half of gov't revenues. What we are generating in work permit fees would just about equal out what we pay in social services. The rest of the stores and shops make most of their money from tourists. 

      Rich people go off island to buy and spend most of thier money.

  12. Anonymous says:

    I wont say anything much about old or sick people they need govt support.

    What i will say is the people that are able to work and are still poor its there own fault.

    It was the unwed mother that decided to lay down. Now pay the price the bible told you not to do what you did

    Those that think they can get by by working 40 hours are going to be poor. Even with a minimum wage.

    The only way to have plenty of money is to work and not spend it I am speaking about 90+ hours a week and no drinking smoking etc .

    If one were to work 90+ hours a week they will have all the need

    • The Reality Is says:

      But think of the children! Who will look after and care for them when I’m busy working 90 hrs a week. Lol. What’s that? 3 jobs?? 4??? A single company won’t allow that many hours to be worked, generally. Can you spell Fatigue?!

      • Anonymous says:

        8 hours at burger king 8 hours bagging  and a side job on the internet People do it all the time tryit and be a winner

        40 hour work  weeks are governments WAY OF KEEPING YOU BROKE

        Just like drinking and smoking will kill you by retirement time so they dont have to pay your retirement

        what are you supposed to do with the other  128 hours ? spend money or breed?

        that said some people text for 15 hours a day they just are too stupid not to be paid for it

         

        • Anonymous says:

          I work for government, and average 10 hours a day for 5 days and at least 6 additional hours on a Saturday, and do not claim overtime.

          For my own business years ago, I did an additional 40 hours a week in addition to my government job of average 50 hours a week. Yes, that is about 100 hours a week. I agree with the writer. This is typical of successful people, but losers will always stand on the side and criticise without knowing how you get there.

          You cannot be successful without putting in at least 70-100 hours a week in whatever you do. When you get to your goal, you might cut back, but not before.

          • Anonymous says:

            Ahh yes 10.30 pm and i am still working been at it from 7.30 am  I have no life i have a family i am watching my children now watch the viking show That said i do have friends and a bunch of beggers i bet they are at the bar right now spending the money i earned today andhad to give them …My life basically sucks But i know many need to eat so i will work for another hour or so God blessed me ..with the ability to work 

        • Biblical Portions says:

          Get lost, you stupid human. 90hrs up in yours. You obviously  have no kids, no friends, no social anything. Except your money. And when you die, you can't take it to whatever place your god drops you off. Now, I'm going for a cigarette.

          • Anonymous says:

            I agree i am stupid for feeding people whom cant help themselves i cant spell but i can read 5 languages I will die sooner than later and i will die broke because those blood suckers beg all they can and i cant give anymore. I will have the last laugh though when the beggers come and i am not there  i will be hanging with god  ahhhh yes another 15 hour day just about over Time for another smoke

    • Anonymous says:

      And where it is exactly that yu suggest we go and work 90+ hours a day pray tell?

      • Anonymous says:

        And thats whats wrong 90+ hours is no big deal I did it for years and retired at 36

        and came to cayman only to work 90 + hours again  because of lack of willing labor available

        I see many young people whom have no idea what work is allways taking care of personal problems and chatting on the phone.

        That said i know one local man in his earl 20's making 4000 a month and he is still broke why because he is wasting all his time when he is not working and spends what he makes like a drunken sailor 

        But seriously all executives, self employed , and just winners in general work 90+ hours a week …and before you run your mouth how much time do you see althletes training ? maybe 100+ hours a week those that train any less  didnt want to win.

        That said actors work 100 hours a week obama works 100 hours a week i bet even mckeeva works 100 hours a week

        • Anonymous says:

          90 hrs./wk  @ 13hrs./day with no time off? You're full of it.

          And BTW – actors' unions charge such high rates after regulated working hours that production companies rarely go beyond the limit. Not even background actors are allowed to work those hours.

          • Anonymous says:

            Looozer you have know idea of the real world

             

            • Anonymous says:

              Maybe I'm a "Loozer" and have no idea about the real world, but I do use proper spelling and know about the acting world.

        • Anonymous says:

          Thats probably why there is so much drug use and alcoholism in certain professions.

    • Anonymous says:

      "If one were to work 90+ hours a week they will have all the need"

       

      …except their physical and mental health.

  13. Anonymous says:

    c4c is probably the only group that wants everyone in cayman to do better…….

    c4c have not created the finanicial and social mess that cayman is in today…….

    yet they are somehow now being attacked for pointing out the failures of cig finances…..zzzzzzzzzzzzzz

    • Anonymous says:

      I would like to respond to your statements above but first can I please have a list of all the C4C members and associates?  Patiently waiting.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Not sure what the point of this was, but the logical conclusion would be that the writer would support the introduction of income tax.

  15. Anonymous says:

    very distasteful view point.  Absolutely dissapointed with this type of journalism.    

  16. Anonymous says:

    Dear CNS 

    You have missed a unique opportunity to educate the masses on the true costs of the politics of poverty in the viewpoint but I am confident that Harold Wilson and Neil Kinnock would be proud nonetheless.

  17. Anonymous says:

    We get it.  We took your jobbecause we are better at it.  Happens to us too.  We just didn't quit trying.

  18. Anonymous says:

    "It seems that they believe those at the bottom of the pile should be the ones to continue carrying the burden of keeping the wealthy in the style they have become accustomed, no matter how heavy the load has become."  That came from a pile of crap.  It has not been the bottom of the pile that has been feeding the bottome of the pile all this time.  Its not about the rich versus the poor.  Its about the hard working versus the hardly working.  If you earn your living its truley yours.  If you don't then you are taking it from someone who does.  It does not get any simpler.

  19. Anonymous says:

    A classic rant from a Northern Labor supporter stuck with a 1980's view of politics.

  20. Henry 111 says:

    CNS GREAT EDITORIAL.  I firmly believe income tax is inevitable if  politicians continue with their extravagant travels and projects that  society really don't need i.e. CCTV are they really value for money yet we are taxed up to the Calhooo for repairs and maintaining them.We have many attorneys, accountants and CEOs that make millions here and I'm certain 10% tax isn't going to hurt them as it would for someone earning $60,000 per annum.  Our leaders need to have a review of this as if this continues many more people are going to be on social services and what then? Certainly  Mr. Berg storm is really disconnected as to what is happening in society.  Many will sit in their ivory towers and past judgement and say we as a nation are lazy. But how many hard working caymanians are unemployed and not because  of the lack of working hard but their fate was at the hands of greedy CEOs and Presidents  that run the businesses into the ground leaving no option but to  make staff redundant so they can keep their healthy bonuses year after year.

    Mr Premier we need business and the rich here in cayman but I ask you at your people's expense. As I see it, people that have certain circle of friends in places are the ones that excel here in cayman.

  21. Anonymous says:

    It is as much in the interests of the nation's poor as it is in the interests of the nation's wealthy for the government to get its financial house in order.  What you disagree about is what should be done with the money that is saved.  C4C advocate policies that strengthen the private sector.  

    Those that disagree would do well to remember where the money for government programs comes from.  Let's just say it is not because we have a more competent or honest government that Cayman is so unlike our Caribbean neighbors.  

    I very much look forward to hearing McKeeva quote from this viewpoint when he is defending his "Nation Building Fund" or his "Mortgage Assistance Program" in future PAC meetings, or with any luck, in the dock.  Those were both admirable programs for helping the country's poor… right?

    I would direct the attention of CNS readers to the last labour force survey that reported less than 100 of the estimated 1,900 unemployed relied on government financial assistance.

    What the country in fact needs is a formal welfare system that allows people who are in genuine need to receive assistance while ensuring they are doing all they can personally to contribute.

    Instead we have a system of institutionalised patronage, where all someone has to do to qualify for a hand out is to have voted for, or have been born related to, the right person.

     

  22. Anonymous says:

    You are absolutely right. A minimum wage is essential to maintaining not only bread on the table but also crime as people are losing hope.

    Insurance companies were setup to share risk and to allow everyone to have medical and life insurance. But today in medical ins. co. they make you sign a waiver release form that protects their company from paying out on a claim , which is bad enough but on top of that your premium is rated at a ridiculous amount of money per month. You will still have to find money out of your pocket to pay medical,dental and eyeglasses??? What the hell is that about??? 

  23. Gordon Browner says:

    Did you read the the C4C advertorial?

    It presented a synopsis of figures from successive governments which are scattered across various governments reports to highlight the reality of Cayman's long term liabilities. Successive Auditor General's in multiple reports have highlighted these issues and the previous UDP government sanctioned the Miller-Shaw report which addressed some of the same concerns.

    Public awareness groups like C4C all over the world use a KISS strategy to encourage further discussions with the aim to stimulate debate by making the presentation concise in order to capture the attention of a wide audience.  Similar to the tactics used by the elected government which is usually to deflect from the the topic in order to engage in its own PR campaign which commonly degenerate into demonstrations of arrogance and defensive posturing while fueling the debate and encouraging class warfare between the business class and working class citizenry. There is one issue both sides can hopefully agree on, where is the rebate on fuel duty which will help citizens and businesses as promised on the campaign trail in 2013?

    Thus far the numbers presented cannot be called into question by an objective person. In fact Minister Archer has been silent on that matter. Why CNS managed to turn the rebuttal and its View Point on the C4C advertorial into a left wing leaning and nearly socialist rant by the owners simply begs belief. However, it is clear both CNS and Caymanian Compass have an agenda that they are committed to seeing through to the bitter end with the ultimate goal to try to influence the current governments policy directions.

    I challenge CNS to answer on fundamental question; does the Cayman Islands Government currently have liabilities totaling CI$1.7 billion given its current population of 55,000 living in Cayman?

    Yes or No

    • Google is your friend says:

      The simple answer to your question is No! it does not. I'll tell you why. The public sector debt of approximately $600 million is real and the creditor balance is also real.

      The overdraft figure of $71.5 million currently does not exist. If one looks at page 347 of the government’s 2013/14 annual plan and estimates which can be found here http://www.legislativeassembly.ky/pls/portal/docs/PAGE/LGLHOME/BUSINESS/BUSINESS/REPORTS/REPORTS20132014/2013-14%20ANNUAL%20PLAN%20AND%20ESTIMATES.PDF it shows that the bank overdraft is only $2.7 million. The number the C4C erroneously picked up and called the overdraft is the portion ofdebt the Government intends to pay during the current fiscal year shown as “current portion of borrowings”. So much for research and accuracy.

      Half of the total $1.7 billion (858.5 million) is attributable to past service health and pension liabilities. The Government publishes the debt and past service pension liabilities in their annual budget every year and so it is not state secret as to what those figures are and contrary to popular belief, it does not require a genius to find them. If you simply paste the link above in your browser and go to page 347, it is all laid out there in black and white.

      The healthcare liabilities are not published for a simple reason, it has not been actuarially valued in over a decade. The C4C even says in their letter that it was a 2004 estimate.

      When the health care liabilities were last estimated back in 2004, the Government operated under the old General Orders. Under General Orders, once you worked 10 years with the Government, you would “vest” and be owed healthcare benefits once you reach retirement age.

      In 2005, the Public Service Management Law replaced the General Orders and removed that entitlement for new civil servants. Now a Civil Servant has to work at least 10years and be at retirement age at the point they leave the Civil Service in order to be entitled to that benefit. I am in my 30s, and if I work for another 20years and then go to the private sector to take up employment, as it is now, the Government owes me nothing when I retire as far as healthcare.

      When an actuary values liabilities, they take into account the number of people they estimate will qualify for the benefit, the rate of inflation, life expectancy, retirement age and other factors. Changing any of those assumptions automatically changes the liability. What the Government did was to change the qualification criteria which means a number of people will no longer qualify hence they will no longer be owed an obligation when they retire. The Government has also been reducing the headcount in the Civil Service and is currently evaluating the option of raising the retirement age. All of this will change the $665 million estimate from 10yrs ago drastically.

      On the pension side, Civil Servants are no longer hired under the defined benefit pension scheme, employees hired for at least the last 10yrs are hired under the defined contribution plan which means that upon retirement, they are only entitled to the amount that was contributed during their working life … hence the Government will not have a liability arising from this group. Those who were grandfathered into the defined benefit plan need to work for 33 1/3 years with the service in order to vest full benefits.  The Government has 3 defined benefit plan, one for Judges, one for Parliamentarians and another for the General Service. The Plan for Judges is fully funded and the other two has an actuarial deficit (see page 323 of annual plan and estimates). In accordance with the law, the pension plans are actuarially valued every 3 years, they were last valued in 2011 and will be valued again this year.

      This year, the Government will also value the past service healthcare liability as stated by Minister Archer in his response to C4C, when that figure is known, it will be published in the budget along with all the other liabilities.

      Therefore, the answer to your question is no, the Government does not owe $1.7 billion. Even if the figures used by the C4C were current and actuarially valued, you have to put what it represents in context. It is the estimated value of a promised benefit which becomes due and payable in the future based on certain assumptions made today.

      That is similar to you estimating which of your kids will go to college, whether they will finish at undergrad, masters or PHD level and how much that is likely to cost. Would you consider yourself to owe that sum today? Many people would say no, that does not mean you wouldnot save and put money aside to put your kids through college (since you have a moral obligation to educate them), but the point is, it is not something you are going to put on your loan application to your bank as a current liability if you were to apply for a loan today.

      Interestingly, the C4C seemingly only focused on one side of the balance sheet in their analysis. Readers who look at the document themselves will note that the Government also as $252.8 million in cash and a further $89.9 million in marketable securities.  Further, even after taking into account the liabilities listed (except for the 10yr old estimate for health) the Government still had $1.365 billion more in assets than it had in liabilities, I guess those are simply inconvenient truths for the C4C.

      So my friend, perhaps it is not the advertorial that you should invite others to read, but the actual documents themselves which are available to the entire public.

      • Anonymous says:

        Thank you for providing some factual information to enlighten the public.

      • Anonymous says:

        I am not the poster of this but it is stunning that there are any thumbs down let alone 7 to this post which simply points out factual information. 

      • Anonymous says:

        The problem is that you think the $665m health estimate will be reduced.  But it will be dramatically increased to reflect the above inflationary increases in health care costs over the last decade and, to a lesser extent, but still to some extent, revisions to actuarial tables.  There is a reason that the Government does not want anactuary to look at this, and it is not because the position is less bad than we think.  The UK's Government Actuary Department would seem to be well placed to provide a reliable figure.  If the provision was less than $900m I would be shocked.

        • Anonymous says:

          You should have read the post properly. It explicitly said that Govt. will have an actuary look at this:  "This year, the Government will also value the past service healthcare liability as stated by Minister Archer in his response to C4C, when that figure is known, it will be published in the budget along with all the other liabilities".

  24. Anonymous says:

    Although you state the "trickle-down"  has dried up, I doubt there ever was one.  This economic myth went out with Reaganomics. 

  25. Anonymous says:

    Sadly, James Bergstrom will never know what its like to live in poverty. He comes from a family of astronomic wealth and assets. Perspective is everything and he lacks it.

  26. Anonymous says:

    Excellent reply to the C4C, who only echo the worn out demands of the reactionary right-wing.  These ultra-conservatives have nothing at all to propose in terms of social or environmetal justice, content to call for "law and order" and less taxes for the wealthy.

  27. Anonymous says:

    Well said!

    And once agian highlights the level of greed now in our Cayman Islands.

    I have more faith in Mr. Archer / PPM striking a reasonable balance than in C$C, or UDP!

     

  28. Slowpoke says:

    YES!!! 

    I don't generally like capital letters and exclamation points, but this article deserves them.

    Can’t wait to read the comments from the wingnuts/libertarians.

    Just to be clear, I am overeducated and have done well financially.  However, I have compassion for the less fortunate, and I know many of them personally.  Living off a DCFS allowance and hoping they will give it to you again next month, is not a high quality of life.

    Would I be willing to pay a tax that decreases the GINI coefficient?  Yes.

    Let the thumbs down roll…

    • Comon cents says:

      Why do you need a tax? Go into a poor community and give away your money. That won't work will it. It is the same as your tax. Those who ask to be taxed are either sadists or willful slaves who offer their labour and wealth to others for free.

      • The Reality Is says:

        By proxy or even directly, it's those poor communities in one way or another, spend what little they have that ends up in your bank account. They give to you, you don't necessarily need to give to them.

        A tax, if utilized properly, (and it probably wouldn't–as we all know how bad governments are with monies not their own) is sometimes needed to offset the imbalance. That's the cold, hard reality my friend. – – –

        You should go into the poor communities, not to give away your cash, but perhaps lend a hand with some much needed work on the home, around the yard etc.

        How about just talking and getting to know these poor people, perhaps giving some sound, financial advice? A hand-up…indeed. 

        • Comoncents says:

          I thumbs up this comment and fully agree. Main purpose of the comment was to strike out at the idiocy of more tax and control by the government that has failed so many for so long.

          • The Reality Is says:

            Thank you. Thumbs up from me to you, and in agreement to all in your reply.