The vision thing

| 19/04/2012

Oh no, not another attack on politicians. Why? One is reluctant to write yet another negative rant about our elected leaders because: (A) They obviously don’t care about taking constructive criticism; (B) Anything written risks being redundant because everybody else in the Cayman Islands is already pointing out their failures; and (C) What more is left to say about these men and women who “serve” for their gain at the people’s expense?

There is something left to be said, however. Forget, for the moment, the usual suspects of alleged corruption, confirmed incompetence and obvious pettiness. Let’s consider the vision thing. Yes, “vision” is often rightly seen as one more meaningless cliché in the politician’s arsenal. What works better than spouting empty words and promises about a future that never arrives? Mindless drones lap it up all the way to the polling booths, and our politicians know it. Even the most loyal supporters tend not to actually believe that their favorite politician will ever do anything substantial that is remotely linked to anything described as “long-term vision for the future of Cayman”. But let’s not dismiss the importance of vision for the country just because it’s a meaningless concept in the hearts and minds of voters and politicians. It turns out that it really is important.

If Cayman’s leaders had vision beyond, say, at least the next election, just imagine how much better off the Cayman Islands might be right now. Education, infrastructure, policing, tourism, the financial industry, art, music, the natural environment, and employment for Caymanians would collectively be in a much better state right now. This is not a wild comment without basis. If our leaders of the last 50 years had consistently considered Cayman’s best interest long-term, decades forward, there can be no doubt that virtually every aspect of Caymanian society would be better off today. Anyone who disagrees must either be a politician or have one in his pocket.

The politicians are unlikely to change, of course. They never will if they don’t have to. They will be happy to continue making tiny short-term promises that seduce half-interested voters. It’s too easy for them to fill their speeches with empty nonsense about our long-term future, if they mention it at all, because they know no one will hold them to any of it. The only thing that will force this unique breed of Caymanians to change their ways is for voters to demand better. The people have to ask politicians where Cayman is heading and where it will be in 50 years—and then demand more than fake smiles and hollow answers.

The questions are simple: Where do you want to lead us and how exactly will you take us there? If a politician fails to answer in detail, then he or she doesn’t deserve your vote. Simple as that.  


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Category: Viewpoint

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Oh brother…here we go again…

    Welcome to Grand-Complainin'…

    (pun is indeed intended)

  2. Anon says:

    Well said!

  3. Anonymous says:

    Unfortunately radio talk show hosts & politicians have learned that determining voter hot button issues and attack rants get the attention and respect of some voters. Serious thought and or solutions to Cayman's problems has been replaced by emotionalism and personal attacks.

    Threatening to burn down parks or my father would have thrown him out of the country has no place in Cayman politics. Such ignorance will hopefully be cleared out with the next election.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Excellent points. The key to changing from what we have, to what we need, is in the concept of "alignment of interests" as it says in the political theory books. We need to elect a new type of politician who will change the rules for the betterment of the people.

    As long as politicians can profit from corruption we will have corrupt politicians. As long as politicians can vote to refuse funding for agencies like the Anti-Corruption Commission so that corruption is unlikely to be prosecuted, we will have corrupt politicians. We need politicians who will bring in new tough anti-corruption laws, and we need an Anti-Corruption Agency embedded in the Constitution so that politicians cannot easily cripple it.

    As long as it is possible for politicians to grab vast wealth for themselves through slimey deals we will get slimey deals. As long as politiians are permitted to live a lavish lifestyle at our expense, we will have politicians who spend our money with no thought for anyone but themselves. We need laws that prohibit and punish conflicts of interest for politicians.

    As long as politicians can buy votes they will buy votes and you and I will pay the bill in corrupt deals. 

    As long as politicians are permitted to borrow against the future of our children to fund their luxury travel, and corrupt or just plain idiotic deals, we will continue to have an ever increasing public debt. All politicians and senior civil servants should loose 2% of their salary for every 1% the debt of the country increases and 10% for every 1% our taxes go up.

    As long as politicians can receive fat pay cheques for doing nothing for the country, they will do nothing for the country. We need a Constitutional change that will link politicians wages to the wages of the average Caymanian. We also need to make it easier to recall corrupt, self-dealing and just plain lazy or stupid polticians during their 4 year terms.

    As long as politicians can collect fat pensions irrespective of the damage they do to the country, they will continue to damage the country. If politicians pensions were tied to the long term strengthening of the economy such as increases in the purchasing power of Caymanians rather than just doing whatever they want, then politicians would pay attention to the average Caymanian.

    Politicians will never dowhat is in the best interests of the people as long as the politician's interests are not tightly tied to the interests of the people. It may be that some of our current politicians can be persauded to act in the interests of the people if they understand that this is the only way that they will get elected. Otherwise, we need new politicians.

  5. Peanuts says:

    Very well thought out. Should be read by all "Thinking" Caymanians

  6. anonymous says:

    This thoughtful comment raises excellent points. The problem is that the author is asking for a very rare breed of person, not just in the Cayman Islands, but everywhere. It is not impossible, but highly unlikely, that we shall see such a person in these Islands any time soon.

    So we should reduce the unrealistic expectations we have of our politicians. For starters, we should demand our politicians do no harm. Then we should demand they stop expanding government by pandering both to their own egos ("I need to leave a legacy" syndrome) and to the worst instincts of the electorate ("I need government to do this for me " syndrome). That means we must educate the voters that there is no free lunch – if voters keep demanding things from goverment and politicians keep engaging in grandiose projects, these have to be paid for by the community (and not by some external fairy godmother).

    We need smaller, cheaper and less expansive and intrusive government; and more efficient government. That means a leaner civil service. And the elimination of wasteful and unnecessary programmes. And that requirespoliticians who will take government out of our lives and not keep pushing it into our lives.

    None of this comes naturally to our populist politicians; or to our grass roots voters. But both parties in the tango have to change their steps. Otherwise, we will continue down the same road and try to find others to blame for our woes. Tim Ridley