Cayman needs to exercise ‘people power’

| 15/09/2015 | 91 Comments

Cayman News ServiceGeorge R. Ebanks writes: Throughout history, we have excellent examples of where “people power” was used effectively and by so doing the actions of a few benefitted many. Consider India’s Mahatma Gandhi. Because of Gandhi’s leadership and his actions in awakening the minds of the people of his country, India won independence from Britain in 1947, thanks in large part to Gandhi’s peaceful civil disobedience campaign.

Consider, Nelson Mandela of South Africa. The South African activist and former president Nelson Mandela (1918-2013) helped bring an end to apartheid and has been a global advocate for human rights. A member of the African National Congress party beginning in the 1940s, he was a leader of both peaceful protests and armed resistance against the white minority’s oppressive regime in a racially divided South Africa.

His actions landed him in prison for nearly three decades and made him the face of the antiapartheid movement both within his country and internationally. Released in 1990, he participated in the eradication of apartheid and in 1994 became the first black president of South Africa, forming a multi-ethnic government to oversee the country’s transition. After retiring from politics in 1999, he remained a devoted champion for peace and social justice in his own nation and around the world until his death in 2013 at the age of 95.

Consider Martin Luther King Jr. Martin Luther King had a major impact on civil rights. King played a part in many well-known civil rights movements in the 1950s and 1960s.

In 1955, he became heavily involved in the Montgomery, Alabama, boycott of the city buses, which was spurred by the bus company’s insistence that African Americans only ride in the back seats. King’s support drew much attention to the cause and rallied many supporters even outside of the Montgomery area, which put pressure on bus companies all over the South to examine their own rules, and eventually, to change them.

King’s prominence in the civil rights movement gained the respect of many political leaders, and gave him the potential power to enact major change.

And no doubt there are others who have done profound and effective work in other places and countries that have resulted in positive change that has benefited all of civil society.

We have before us a golden opportunity to use our own collective “people power” in regards to a pressing issue that is before us. That issue is our far too high cost of living and the many factors that we can all see that are contributing to it. We have high cost of living associated with our gar too high gasoline prices. They are unreasonably prices and cannot be justified in any way.

We have issues with the way our lending financial institutions (our banks) treat us in regards to fixing of their bank mortgage interest rates that are not justified and are certainly not transparent.

Since 2009, the New York Prime lending rate has been stagnant at 0% to .25%. Yet here in Grand Cayman, they are allowed to “tack on” an automatic three percent (3%) over and above the bench mark New York prime bank lending rate and arrive at what they term “Cayman Prime”. They then, on granting a mortgage loan, add on another spread of between 2% and 3% on top of that for “risk gearing”. It is unnecessary and unjustified and should not be allowed. That initial spread of 3% (the “tack on”) is no doubt a large contributing factor as to why so many persons find themselves in default of their bank mortgage loans and cannot service them.

We have issues with both of our health insurance premiums and our property insurance rates being just too high. They are indeed, again, not reasonable nor are they transparent.

And there are no doubt others also that needs to be addressed via “people power”.

Look at the $5.00 charge being levied on cheque cashing for non account holders by our commercial banks. Totally un-called for and a factor in driving up our collective cost of living in these Islands.

So what I now write about is a golden opportunity that is before us as a people. It is the issue that I am honored to spearhead in regards to pressing our government to address and bring bold legislative action to finally allow us, the people of these Cayman Islands, to witness some reduction in our cost of living.

I am imploring each and every Caymanian, each legal resident and each visitor who will be on our shores as the public petition comes into your possession or is presented to you to please sign it. Also, please plan to come in your numbers and design your own banners and placards to use in the public march that will be held on the morning of 14 October, starting at 9:00am from the lawns of the “Old Glass House” to the steps of the Legislative Assembly, where we will meet the premier and other members of Cabinet and our MLAs and present to them, in a peaceful manner, what I would like to call the People’s Petition.

This will be a peaceful march procession. This will be, on this occasion at least, a public march to show support for government as well as to encourage the minister responsible for fuel energy, Kurt Tibbetts, to be bold in his actions in regards to bringing the necessary legislation to the Legislative Assembly that will once and for all pry open the black box of secrecy that has hitherto been hidden away from us the people and has caused us to suffer due to our high cost of living and the most unreasonable and unjustified pricing practices of our two fuel importers, Sol Petroleum and Rubis.

This is our given opportunity Cayman. This is our chance to show real and effective people’s power!

I am therefore imploring each and every citizen of these, our beloved Cayman Islands, to plan to come out and let us together march and achieve at least one victory. Let us be victorious in getting our gasoline and fuel prices to reflect real market-driven prices and not set at some artificially and “what the market can bear” price, which is what our gasoline prices are now set at.

Why should you and I be paying CI$4.90 per gallon of gas when in reality, with transparency and some reasonableness on the part of our two fuel importers, we should actually only be paying, at most no more than CI$3.50 per gallon?

We can do this Cayman. This is our time and this is your hour to show real “people power”. Let us chart a different future. Let us start to shape our destiny. Let us start to change the landscape that we all call home Cayman. Let us do so in an effective and peaceful manner.

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  1. Fred the Piemaker says:

    Two questions. Will there be refreshments at the march? And why are marching to the LA? The CIG building is a lot closer, and we could stand in the lobby and get the ac.

  2. Just Sayin' says:

    There is something very homosexually fallic about the fuel pump nozzles that gives me a rise every time I fill up.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I don’t think that ‘most’ people get prime +3% on a mortgage, that would be 6.25%, Scotia was offering 2 year fixed mortgages at 3.99% a few months back, I’m not in the market for a loan so can’t say definitively what’s on offer but I do know a couple of friends who both signed loans, one at prime +0.5 and one at prime +0.75, or 3.75% and 4.0% respectively.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Gays getting married: You are opening the door to other people’s religions and cultures. Who will say that they should have the right to get married to young girls. So ,no I don’t agree . You don’t need a piece of paper that says marriage. If your lover ,loves you he/she will put you in the will.

  5. Anon victim says:

    If the CIG allows Electronic surveillance with no care to the victim, hmmmm, taking the side of the foreign ‘big’ businesss, no care that these foreign businesses will not leave if their hands are smacked into doing the right thing, if forced to follow LAW, rules and regulations of the country, then where sits the position of the country……into the hands of the corrupt. Accepted. THE problem. Why? One can only imagine.

  6. Anonymous says:

    My guess is that if Ghandi, Luther King or Mandela had views to express about Cayman it probably would focus on the problems with providing means for the wealthy to hide their money from taxation rather than domestic issues.

  7. Sharkey says:

    After reading all the comments. I think that Mr Ebanks has some what failed at getting the point across to everyone on how effective that the power of people can be when they peacefully March and protest against certain things that effects us all in our daily lives. I fully support the protest , and let the politicians see if they are not going to look after the people, we the people have risen up. The politicians don’t like to see their voters upset over issues. Let them see that you understand and know what they are doing that effects our daily lives.

    • Anonymous says:

      Agreed, but the message is so garbled as to what is being protested, and the reasons given for them, that I don’t know what I’m suposed to be protesting. I don’t have any information in front of me to support a gas price of $3.50, or why banks charge $5 to cash a cheque, are they reasonable, who knows? If a gas price of $3.50 meant that the gas stations went out of business, then no, I’m not in favour, if they are still making a decent living at $3.50 then, then yes, sign me up,

      • @3:52pm. The law that the Govt is bringing will ensure and discover why we are paying some 427% ABOVE market prices for our Gasoline and some 377% for diesel oil.
        Come march. Sign the petition.
        Even our Govt does’nt know the actual landed cost of our fuel.
        Once I can see the CIF cost then I can argue with you what a reasonable price should be for gasoline n fuel oil.
        But you must agree…it most certainly is’nt CI$4.89!!! a gallon.

  8. Anonymous says:

    I’m also baffled as to how George can, on the one hand, praise those who stood for “civil rights” when it suits him (ie lower cost of living) but decry the HRC and others who advocate for civil rights of a minority group of our fellow human beings like the LGBT community.
    Seems self serving….and hypocritical.

    • Anonymous says:

      Those were real civil rights they were fighting for. Unfortunately it has been hijacked by gay rights activists.

      • Anonymous says:

        Because gay people don’t deserve the same “real” rights as the rest of us?

        If you’d asked the people opposing MLK, MG and NM they would have said that they weren’t fighting for “real” rights either.

        You’ll be judged by history in the same way.

  9. Anonymous says:

    I will be surprised if George is not gearing up to try to join the political elite…to “represent” us the people.

    • Anonymous says:

      So what is wrong if George wants to run for government, he is Caymanian and he got more balls to stand up for his people, what are you doing to help.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Bizarrely, you missed the biggest scam of all – the US/CI spread which amounts to nothing more than a 2% private sector tax on every dollar spent.

    Put the CI$ on par with the US$ and hey presto, reduce the cost of living by 2%.

    • Anonymous says:

      @5:52pm WRONG! Just so you understand, to move the CI$ to par with the US$, it (CI$) would have to be devalued 20%. In other words,20% inflation would be created overnight i.e. what cost you CI$100 today, would cost you CI$120 tomorrow. How would that be work for you?

      • Anonymous says:

        Please tell me this is intended as a ‘joke’ post? Please.

      • Anonymous says:

        Either witty or stupid. Sadly I fear the latter.

      • Diogenes says:

        Just so YOU understand, the poster is not talking about the exchange rate itself. He is talking about the spread – the difference between the rate the banks give you when they change CI into US, and when they change US into CI. It means all of us get less US for. CI$ than the official rate – so the cost in CI of buying stuff from th US is higher than the official exchange rate.

        • Anonymous says:

          @6:27am the writer suggested “put the CI$ on par with the US$”. Refer to Websters to understand what par means.

          • Anonymous says:

            The merits of parity can be debated but the main point is that the people of the country are being financially raped by what amounts to a value added tax levied by private sector (foreign owned) banks.

            At least government taxes give you something in return. What do we get in return for the exchange rate tax?

      • Anonymous says:

        Ehhh, @7:47pm WRONG! Just so YOU understand, this would only affect CI$ savings. Who is daft enough to have their savings in CI$ rather than US$?

        Furthermore, were the government/CIMA to announce the change in advance (and why wouldn’t they), everyone can simply move their cash into USD and avoid any hit whatsoever.

        Assets would retain their USD value. So if your house is worth CI$500,000 today (US$600,000 in theory without exchange tax), after the change to parity it would be worth CI$600,000 tomorrow (US$600,000).

      • George R. Ebanks says:

        @5.52 missed a few algebra classes.
        I wonder if he realizes that in algebra, a minus (-) and a (-)=+???

  11. De Young Ones says:

    I’ve got too much time on my hands, too much time on my hands……..

  12. @ Anonymous 1:09pm. Yes Ghandi was a good man. Just like myself. I am not sure what his position would have been on the LGBT issue but you do seem to be bothered by it.
    I busy myself with more forward looking and socially acceptable things.

    • Diogenes says:

      Gandhi was of course famous for concentrating on socially acceptable issues. It is a shame your saint like qualities are not more widely acknowledged. After all, we don’t want one of those socially awkward activists who openly challenge the persecution of minorities by the majority when there are far more compelling issues to concentrate on, like your standard of living. Seem to remember Gandhi was pretty hot on maintaining his standard of living too.

      You may have been better off concentrating on the issue than trying to compare a cost of living argument to the battle for fundamental human rights or put yourself on the same level as some of the giants in civil liberties history

    • Anonymous says:

      Publically, Gandhi was intolerent of homosexuals: he ordered ancient homoerotic art to be cleared from Hindu temples as part of a “sexual cleansing” campaign. Privately, however, might be a different story: he left his wife in 1908 and for two years lived with Hermann Kallenbach, a German bodybuilder, of whom he wrote, “How completely you have taken possession of my body. This is slavery with a vengeance.” If it wasn’t physically homosexual, it was certainly homoerotic.

      According to his wife, Ghandi was physically repulsed by heterosexual sex and very soon in their marriage, vowed never to try it again. On the other hand, he slept naked and insisted on being surrounded by naked young girls (including his niece).

      Ghandi might have spearheaded India’s independence but he harboured deep racism against black people in S. Africa and believed in the Hindu caste system.

      Also, he started and ended every day by drinking his own pee and having an enema.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Good luck with your march. I am sure thousands will march next to you and it will change everything.

    • FTFY says:

      Good luck with your march. I am sure tens will march next to you and it will change nothing.


      • Anonymous says:

        Good luck with spotting sarcasm. One day you will get it or at least realise it is there from the LoLs you don’t quite understand.

  14. Anonymous says:

    If you want the gas companies to take notice then get everyone to ride a bicycle to work every day for a month. Change that bumper to bumper gas-guzzling traffic at 5pm to a leisurely bike ride with thousands of people going home healthier. But as someone else said, you are really just ranting.

    • Anonymous says:

      When I sit in my gas guzzling car the voices on the radio say “forecast says it will feel like 103 degrees today”
      Until they get outside A/C sorted my protest sure ain’t gonna be from biking it.

  15. Anonymous says:

    What are we supposed to rise up against?

    • Anonymous says:

      Everything that annoys George. “What do we want” “George to be happy” “When do we want it” “As soon as possible after the march”

      • Dr Who says:

        What do we want? Time travel.

        When do we want it? Irrelevant.

        • Anonymous says:

          Not sure “when” would be irrelevant. If conduct was to happen that would result in a paradox should you return later you probably would want the time travel option before that event happened.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Dear Mr Ebanks,

    Last month in a rambling and discursive opinion piece in another paper you lambasted the Human Rights Commission and others for daring to speak out in defence of civil rights for LGBT citizens and residents. You stated that their “…rights will most certainly NEVER be achieved by the selective and “in your face” stands being displayed by way of the letter of our Human Rights Commission Chair, which I can only term as an “outburst”!” Bizarrely, you then went on to criticise the HRC for things that weren’t human rights issues or for not speaking out on issues that they had, in fact, already spoken out on.

    Today, shamelessly, you invoke the spirit of Mahatma Ghandi, Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King and their battles, variously, by way of civil disobedience and armed struggle, to achieve human rights for those being oppressed.

    In your earlier piece you railed against supposed hypocrisy by others. Can you clarify why it was wrong to write a letter criticising state-sponsored discrimination, and abuse and threats of violence against gay people, but Messers Ghandi, Mandela and King were in the right when they stood up against state-sponsored discrimination by way of civil disobedience and armed struggle?

    Is there a distinction, or are you just a hypocritical bigot?

    • Anonymous says:

      Messrs Ghandi, Mandela and King Jr had loftier goals than bringing down the price of gas.

      • Ghandi's reincarnation says:

        No doubt if they had lived longer they would have eventually gotten around to sorting out the high cost of energy in tiny island tax havens. It was likely next on the list of their pet peeves!

    • Dear Anonymous @1:44pm. I will be brief in reply.

      I invoked leaders like Ghandi, Mandela and King because they acted in line with what was right and righteous. The people knew; in the majority knew that was was happening with regards to civil rights and ones civil liberties were WRONG and the Minority, they also knew that the evil that was being hoisted upon them was also WRONG.

      I have said on a few occasions, I now repeat. The LGBTI issue will never take root in these Cayman Islands during this generation!

      The time is WRONG. The majority of people says its WRONG!

      It just will not happen. I do not wish to see the day when someone, be it a foreign power of the FCO or whoever, tries to force it upon the majority of Christian folks of these Islands.

      I invoked those FIRST CLASS icons of hope and leadership because that is what is happening here in regards to ONE SINGLE RIGHT ISSUE.

      ….And that issue is our FAR TOO HIGH GASOLINE AND FUEL PRICES.

      If my article was “rambling” then I will endeavor to write more erudite next time.
      I still do however, maintain that the letter by the HRC Chair was an “outburst”! and those energies of the HRC could best be channeled towards the growing homeless population of these Islands, which incidentally is a lead story in this same journal.
      Go busy yourselves with that issue.

      The LGBT issue is really a “non issue” for the next 20 years at least; at least as it relates to the Caymanian context.

      • Anonymous says:

        So let’s get this straight….God forbid you are gay and would like to see equal rights with the ‘ God fearing straight community’ but according to your opinion that’s counts for nothing as long as you can cash a cheque at a different bank other than your own without paying for it and you can fill your car up with cheap gas on the way to the bank you are all good?

      • Anonymous says:

        I was about to disregard this article but then I saw the CAPS LOCK had been activated. Everything then changed for me.
        we stand with you Brother, they will never take our freedom.

      • Ghandi's reincarnation says:

        So just to be clear – if the majority of citizens of the USA didn’t want to Give civil rights to black people then that would have been right?

        • The goat says:

          Nail on head. Thanks Ghandi’s reincarnation for outlining the ridiculousness of that line of thought. ps George the LGBT issue IS part of the Cayman context.

      • Dont be good - be great says:

        Sorry George – I like that you are making an effort to change something that obviously means a lot to you. You have my respect for that. However your assertion that a majority of Caymanians do not support equal rights for our LGBT brothers and sisters is not my experience. We caymanians are a loving and inclusive people – we do not condone the repression of any people. The time is right NOW to show our full support for a change to the legal discrimination of 10% of our population. I am very excited that yet again in my lifetime I may get to see bigotry and discrimination take another beating.

        I am always reminded of the lessons of World War Two – when they came for my neighbor… Yadda Yadda – I know you know how the rest goes.

        Please don’t be too proud to rethink your stance on this issue – you are a good person and I truely believe you would receive great support if you would use your talent and energy to garner support for what we know is right. I.e equality under the law for all Caymanian people.

    • Anonymous says:

      That’s right, anyone who disagrees with your views on gay marriage is a “bigot”. If you understood the meaning of the word you would understand that you are the hypocrite.

      • Anonymous says:

        “Bigot: noun: a person who strongly and unfairly dislikes other people, ideas, etc. : a bigoted person; especially : a person who hates or refuses to accept the members of a particular group (such as a racial or religious group)”.

        No one’s objecting to you holding opinions hating or refusing to tolerate gay people. But don’t come over all faux upset and try to pretend that being accurately described as a bigot is itself bigotry by the person who calls you out for it.

        • Anonymous says:

          “Bigot” a person who is intolerant toward those holding different opinions. That fits you perfectly. No one dare disagree with your view on the gay issue or you will personally attack and ridicule them. You are the bigot.

    • Anonymous says:

      If Ghandi, Mandela or King stood up in Cayman, they would all be promptly arrested before they exposed any corruption.

  17. Anonymous says:

    Unfortunately incorrect on what ‘NY Prime’ rate is, the Fed Funds target rate is a range of 0 to 0.25pct, but that is where banks place/borrow excess US funds. The NY Prime is 3.25 pct, same as the Cayman Prime rate, the Cayman Prime rate has been the same as the US rate for the past 20+ years. I can’t say I’ve ever cashed a cheque so I can’t really comment on that, I just stick in my account for free.

    • Anonymous says:

      Your irrelevant comment has no place in this thread. Let me paraphrase. “I’m alright Jack, don’t really care about your problems and if you were as rich as me, you would not have any problems either.”

      • Anonymous says:

        How exactly is it irrelevant if Mr Ebanks chooses to base his comments on factually incorrect information, would you be OK if I said Cayman Airways were overcharging on flights to Miami as it should be $20, becuase that’s how much it costs. No, someone would challenge the stated cost of $20, what I am saying is the Cayman Prime rate is the same as the NY Prime rate, 3.25 percent. Also if you choose to use a service that costs money (cashing a cheque) why cry about the cost, especially if there’s a free option, pointing out that there’s a free option is surely helpful?

    • Dear Anonymous @1:09pm. The NY Prime rate is and has been since 2009 “stuck” at 0% to .25%. The banks in the USA then use the top end of that int. rate (.25%) and add on their spread for risk gearing.

      That is why Mr. Anonymous @1:09pm if you did your homework and stopped hiding behind the hood, you would know that in the USA you can TODAY borrow a 30 year FIXED MORTGAGE loan for 1 3/4%!

      That means Mr. that the banks are charging a “spread” of 1.5% (.25% +1.50%= 1.75%).

      I hope that you are now enlightened much better as to why the banks here will be the next issue in regards to transparency for me.

      • Anonymous says:

        George, please provide the source for where in the U.S. (or anywhere else for that matter) you can get a 30 year fixed mortgage for 1 3/4%. I eagerly await your response.

        • Just Driftwood says:

          I agree; that number is not happening in the US. The lowest I’ve seen is around 3% and you have to have outstanding credit (most don’t) to get that. Unless you’re talking an adjustable rate, which is mostly a ripoff, I would love to know where you can get one at your quoted rate. I will refinance my US house tonight.

        • Anonymous says:

          the 30-year fixed rate mortgage is at 3.7% right now

          • George Ebanks says:

            Try getting that int rate here then @9:03pm.
            In the end, all I am saying is that the rates are out of whack here viz a viz real market rates.

            • Anonymous says:

              Plenty of people get Prime rate here, maybe prime +0.5, 3.75pct.

            • Diogenes says:

              You are making this up as you go along, right? Here is an idea. People are really unhappy with electricity prices too. Why not suggest that’s the conspiracy too its bound to be popular and no need to actually research the comparatives. Even better you can find some really cheap benchmarks in completely different market situations – go for it.

      • Anonymous says:

        George what are you smoking? The US 30 year fixed mortgage rate is 3.83% today. PLEASE stop spilling garbage. Mount Trashmore is high enough already!

        • George Ebanks says:

          @8:13PM…good. Try finding me a 30 year mortgage here in Cayman. In fact we have DEMAND LOANS not even mortgages.
          Also try finding me a long term loan here for 3.83%.
          All I am saying is that our bank loan rates are also a rip off vs real bank int rates up North.

          • Anonymous says:

            All mortgages become payable in full on demand–the day after you fail to make your payment on time.

      • Anonymous says:

        If you are going to state facts which are wrong I am happy to point them out. I was just commenting on the fact that the NY prime rate is 3.25 percent, same as the Cayman prime rate, if you stick new york prime rate in google chances are you will land on a page or something similiar. I’m afraid you are confusing the prime rate with the fed funds rate, the prime rate isn’t set by the Fed but it has traded in recent years (20+) at 3 percent over fed funds.

        • Anonymous says:

          There are people who get only the prime rate that they charge in the states .But for most people here in Cayman it is 3% OVER prime for mort. on houses and 6% over prime for a car loan or commercial loan. I agree with you George, they’re next. First lets get this fuel price down .

      • WSJ says:

        Clearly Google is hard for you George, so use this link instead.

      • Anonymous says:

        I’m sorry if this sounds like a broken record but US Prime rate has been 3.25 since December 2008, you are referring to the Fed Funds rate which is set by the FOMC, banks don’t price consumer lending from the Fed Funds rate, they use Prime.

        • I agree. One lives and one learns. Yes NY Prime is 3.25%.
          I stand corrrcted @4:05pm.
          But int rates here still too high as banks loan client deposit funds which are paying like .0375% for $100k.
          So if the banks here had to “borrow” from the Fed then I could understand.

          • Anonymous says:

            George, an interest rate is the price of money and reflects risk. When you deposit your monies with a bank, you can withdraw your entire deposit the next day if you wish and close your account. The interest paid to you by the bank, yes is lower than you would like, but it reflects the risk you took to deposit with that bank and the price the bank paid you for effectively borrowing from you.

            Now when a bank lends customer deposits to someone for 20 to 25 years, the risk to the bank that it will not be fully repaid is significantly higher than in the depositor example above. Therefore the price (interest rate) is higher for taking that higher risk.

            Would you lend someone $30,000 of your funds for 1.50% over 25 years and feel confident that you will be repaid? When a bank lends $270,000 to a customer to purchase a property worth $300,000 (90% financing) for 25 years, it is taking at least a $30k risk. I know I’m comparing a personal loan to one given by a lending institution but the concept is the same.

            Hope this helps.

    • Anonymous says:

      The crooked banks are even charging 25 cents stamp duty on bank statements and on withdrawals. I am curious as to the stamp duty charge being paid to government. Any transaction you make, you are charged a fee, yet you receive very little interest on your savings on CDs. When will the government investigate what the banks are doing?

      • Anonymous says:

        Our Government requires the banks to charge 25 cents for every cash withdrawal, cheque cashed and debit card purchase and pay the monies collected to them. Perhaps you should question the Financial Secretary or your local representative about this if you’re unhappy.

  18. Anonymous says:

    That is right. Ghandi managed to get the people of India to rise up against the pricing in the local mortgage market.

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