Time for a new tune

| 29/10/2015 | 31 Comments
Cayman News Service‘Ignorance is NOT bliss’ writes: Giving us someone or something to blame. That’s what our politicians do. And we are so frustrated with everything, ranging from unemployment to the price of milk, that we can’t help but love it.

We don’t really care about the true source of our problems; we are happy to be given a potential source to blame regardless of its credibility. At least we can feel some consolation that we ‘know’ why we are hurting and go back to sleep. It won’t matter one bit if we wake up the next morning feeling the same pain. But ironically that’s what happens over and over again. Here are three current examples:

Myth 1: That the price of gas is caused by the greed of two companies and is now the cost of every ill in our lives. This price of gas is now the reason for every problem under the sun. It has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that there are umpteen gas stations in a small country, each vying to make a few bucks and with that having to sell bread and milk at twice the price of Fosters as well as keeping the cost of gas to its maximum. Just so they can survive as a business. Is it possible that fewer but larger gas stations would serve us better because they would have the economies of scale to offer lower prices? Are the two major distributors the only source of this problem? Why are the retailers not under scrutiny (maybe its because the distributors are all considered ‘big business’ (see Myth 3 below).

What about the government’s own tax on the fuel companies? Why doesn’t the government put its money where its rhetoric is and cut that tax to help make our fuel cheaper? Is this all really as simple as comparing the price tag at a station on Brickell Avenue to one on West Bay Road? Seriously, do we really believe the world is ever that simple? Or is it just that we want an easy answer so we can go to sleep and wake up to feel the pain all over again?

Myth 2:  That with 20,000 work permits we should never have any Caymanian out of a job. Pure nonsense. If the government’s senior advisors were worth their salaries, they would by now have analysed all of the qualities of the existing work permit holders over the years and completely structured our education and training plan to ensure that Caymanians were ready to take some of those jobs. They would also have to somehow engineer a birthrate so that we could literally have about 1,000 babies per year in order that in about 25 years we could replace those work permits.

Of course that’s not happening. We are where we are because our governments have neglected to prepare Caymanians. Because some of our own Caymanian employees consistently let their employers down. Because some people won’t pull bush or clean a toilet even if you paid them $20 an hour because its just not their thing. Because, like in most other countries, not everyone is employed all the time. (Really). We absolutely must have some discrimination (everywhere does) but it’s not the key source of our problem.

It sounds ‘neat’ to think that most of our unemployment issues relate to outright discrimination but it’s a lie and the politicians actually know that. It’s that simple answer again that we crave for. We don’t care for that rather more complicated story — you know, the real one. But you see politicians always tell us what we want to believe. At least we are not blaming them. See how that always works out pretty well for them?

Myth 3: That these business people (especially those from elsewhere) are making money by harming us. There is this idea that if a business makes a profit they must be doing something evil to the rest of us. And frankly, if money (you know being the ‘root of all evil’ and all that) was so ‘bad’, why do we even bother going to work each day? Because it is a harsh reality that we need it to survive, at least based on the way the world has worked for hundreds of years.

Truth is: if we make a few bucks now THAT’S ok. But if someone else does and especially if its one of THEM, now that’s an issue. The reality is we need businesses to do very well because that means we have a better chance of a more productive economy and more jobs and revenues to the government, etc. And even if we are not all employed (which doesn’t happen in any other country), at least there are more opportunities for us. Stop hating big business and drop the hypocritical strategy of cursing the Dart organisation to death but then going to Camana Bay to watch a movie (and liking the whole experience). This is small time, village people stuff. Stop it and grow up.

You see, we the people like to hear the easy simple story. When we are frustrated and angry, we don’t need too much information requiring analysis to figure out why we are in any given position. We all need a scapegoat. And every day at every turn, with zero credibility, our leaders give us one. They sing a song they know we want to hear, and this ‘party goes on’, and we will never wake up happy until we start refusing to listen to this simplistic one dimensional tune of ignorance.

There are thousands of Caymanians who are well educated. There are even more thousands who may not have formal education but posses the skills, integrity and work ethic to add value to the economy and society. Both groups could take this country forward but they continue to stand by and be drowned out by a vocal minority that spews ignorance every day. Lets change that.

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Category: Viewpoint

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  1. Anonymous says:

    IN the rancorous debate over how to get the sluggish economy moving, we have forgotten the wisdom of Henry Ford. In 1914, not long after the Ford Motor Company came out with the Model T, Ford made the startling announcement that he would pay his workers the unheard-of wage of $5 a day.

    Not only was it a matter of social justice, Ford wrote, but paying high wages was also smart business. When wages are low, uncertainty dogs the marketplace and growth is weak. But when pay is high and steady, Ford asserted, business is more secure because workers earn enough to become good customers. They can afford to buy Model Ts.

    Continue reading the main story

    Times Topic: United States Economy
    This is not to suggest that Ford single-handedly created the American middle class. But he was one of the first business leaders to articulate what economists call “the virtuous circle of growth”: well-paid workers generating consumer demand that in turn promotes business expansion and hiring. Other executives bought his logic, and just as important, strong unions fought for rising pay and good benefits in contracts like the 1950 “Treaty of Detroit” between General Motors and the United Auto Workers.

    Riding the dynamics of the virtuous circle, America enjoyed its best period of sustained growth in the decades after World War II, from 1945 to 1973, even though income tax rates were far higher than today. It created not only unprecedented middle-class prosperity but also far greater economic equality than today.

    The chief executives of the long postwar boom believed that business success and workers’ well-being ran in tandem.

    Frank W. Abrams, chairman of Standard Oil of New Jersey, voiced the corporate mantra of “stakeholder capitalism”: the need to balance the interests of all the stakeholders in the corporate family. “The job of management,” he wrote, “is to maintain an equitable and working balance among the claims of the various directly affected interest groups,” which he defined as “stockholders, employees, customers and the public at large.”

    Earl S. Willis, a manager of employee benefits at General Electric, declared that “the employee who can plan his economic future with reasonable certainty is an employer’s most productive asset.”

    From 1948 to 1973, the productivity of all nonfarm workers nearly doubled, as did average hourly compensation. But things changed dramatically starting in the late 1970s. Although productivity increased by 80.1 percent from 1973 to 2011, average wages rose only 4.2 percent and hourly compensation (wages plus benefits) rose only 10 percent over that time, according to government data analyzed by the Economic Policy Institute.

    At the same time, corporate profits were booming. In 2006, the year before the Great Recession began, corporate profits garnered the largest share of national income since 1942, while the share going to wages and salaries sank to the lowest level since 1929. In the recession’s aftermath, corporate profits have bounced back while middle-class incomes have stagnated.

    Today the prevailing cut-to-the-bone business ethos means that a company like Caterpillar demands a wage freeze and lower health benefits from its workers, while posting record profits.

    Globalization, including the rise of Asia, and technological innovation can’t explain all or even most of today’s gaping inequality; if they did, we would see in other advanced economies the same hyperconcentration of wealth and the same stagnation of middle-class wages as in the United States. But we don’t.

    In Germany, still a manufacturing and export powerhouse, average hourly pay has risen five times faster since 1985 than in the United States. The secret of Germany’s success, says Klaus Kleinfeld, who ran the German electrical giant Siemens before taking over the American aluminum company Alcoa in 2008, is “the social contract: the willingness of business, labor and political leaders to put aside some of their differences and make agreements in the national interest.”

    In short, German leaders have practiced stakeholder capitalism and followed the century-old wisdom of Henry Ford, while American business and political leaders have dismantled the dynamics of the “virtuous circle” in pursuit of downsizing, offshoring and short-term profit and big dividends for their investors.

    Today, we are all paying the price for this shift. As Ford recognized, if average Americans do not have secure jobs with steady and rising pay, the economy will be sluggish. Since the early 1990s, we have been mired three times in “jobless recoveries.” It’s time for America’s business elites to step beyond political rhetoric about protecting wealthy “job creators” and grasp Ford’s insight: Give the middle class a better share of the nation’s economic gains, and the economy will grow faster. Our history shows that.

  2. Anonymous says:

    The problem with high gas prices in Cayman is simple. GOVERNMENT DUTIES.
    These lazy b*****ds in government know that this type if cash flow keeps them in the lifestyle that they have become accustomed to.

    I can assure everyone that the gas station owners do not make the profits that everyone thinks they do.
    Government is a big thief and they need to STOP IT!

    Well they won’t.

    Well, they should.

    • Anonymous says:

      Caymanians, You elect the same type of politicians over and over again. If they are the best the Island can produce then that what you get. They are all you have to solve your problems. Stop WHINEING

  3. Anon says:

    A fundamental issue here is the sheer arrogance of certain MLAs to assume that in a tiny gene pool (10,000) you are going to create enough people with above average IQs to fill all the jobs as lawyers, accountants etc.

  4. Paul Hubbley says:

    Good thinking IINB, and I agree with most of what you wrote, Having been in several phases of oil and gasoline production I would like to throw a little more light on the ins and outs of the fuel business. First, the fuel retailer has very little leeway in the price we pay. While there are many “service” stations that are company owned, the price we pay won’t vary much between one station and the other. The price you pay is always whatever the oil company feels is the most they can get without getting pressure from the government or losing sales. The big oil companies make huge “contribution”s to get their desired politicians in office. This assures that the possibility of interference in their actions is almost non-existent in the United States, and probably the same in other democracies. The two companies selling gasoline in the Caymans appeared out of nowhere a few years ago. Where are their oil fields? Where are their refineries? It could be that they are fronts for other interests or maybe just one organization, in which case collusion would be assured. There is also a possibility of shady dealing in getting access to captive markets in smaller countries, like the Cayman Islands and the Turks and Caicos, etc. One never knows, does one.

  5. Anonymous says:

    This is so true but it’s not many caymanians saying these things. It’s mostly politicians and a few persons on the radio trying to get some support. And the media then makes us all look bad.

  6. Anonymous says:

    It’s just a few politicians always trying stir people up with rhetoric. You are right we tend to need someone outside cayman to blame that’s why we never solve our own problems because we think we are perfect and it’s those foreign people messing up everything. Remember when they ready they can leave but we are still here.

  7. Anonymous says:

    You will never see a change until we stop voting in the same bunch of ppm or udp leaders.

    • Anonymous says:

      I believe that but then voted for an independent (aka Tara Rivers) and now look what we have. Someone in charge of education who has thrown the profession into disarray and is directing what schools should do. DOE blame the Ministry, Ministry blame the DOE, the teachers, the heads. No one takes responsibility, no one does any meaningful consulting, no one is listening. C4C another bunch of…

    • Anonymous says:

      Ummmm you Ned to add c4c into that argument as well. They have not been much better.

  8. Bobo says:

    Well said!

  9. Anonymous says:

    add myth number 4, that politicians are NOT in it for the money and actually give a s…t about us people!

  10. Anonymous says:

    actually i disagree. Ignorance IS bliss….don’t want to hear that other stuff. cayman is paradise.

  11. Anonymous says:

    its easy. if we continue to believe what the politicians say we end up voting for them all over again. there is no solution in their rhetoric and its self serving. all about the blame game.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Spot on. No one wants to hear this view on things but it’s a lot healthier than the stuff being spewed around right now

    • Anonymous says:

      Caymanians out there are hurting and need a job that’s why they feel this way. You people don’t get it just wait until the you know what hits the fan. If foreigners so great why they have to leave their own country and come here?

      • Anonymous says:

        I don’t think that is what the writer is trying to say. There are a lot of Caymanians who are university graduates or those who only have a high school diploma who are actively looking for a job. We as Caymanians needs to stop looking for scape goats and take our own life into our hands. The Caymanians who are being vocal could be the ones who are actively looking, but you have Caymanians who don’t want to lift a finger and expect jobs to be handed to them, and it seems they are the ones who are talking the loudest!. We need to take pride in ourselves and stop expecting handouts. A few bad apples make the whole apple orchard look bad…

  13. Anonymous says:

    Do you really think that the fuel importers are letting the station operators have that $2/gal. excess profit all to themselves? If so, I start to doubt the rest of your comments.

    • Anonymous says:

      I think the point being made is that the profits are not just being made by the two big boys. others are responsible too. like the retailers and the government.

      • Anonymous says:

        That does not appear to be the point at all. Fact is Cayman’s 75 cents a gallon duty is not higher than the excise taxes in many other places, including most of the US. There is a pile of unearned profit going somewhere, and the culprits are likely to be the importers..

  14. Anonymous says:

    Great work, nail on head, wish you could put your name on it.

    • Anonymous says:

      probably cannot put the name. He/she might be an expat worker in which case they risk losing their work permit!

  15. Anonymous. says:

    You forgot myth No. 4 you know the one about work permit provide jobs for locals. I can understand that a license to operate a business could provide jobs but I find it hard to believe that giving someone from somewhere else a work permit will ever provide a job.

    • Anonymous says:

      you are right work permit don’t ‘create’ jobs. But when a business grows and hires more work permit holders they usually also hire more caymanians. also if you own a grocery store you may care about that extra persons buying from you. if that continues to grow maybe just maybe you might hire someone else, hopefully a caymanian?

    • Anonymous says:

      Well this is small picture vs BIG PICTURE.

      The small picture is that if you don’t get a job you applied for someone else is benefiting instead of you. Damn them!

      The big picture is that denying employers the staff they need to operate their business hurts the business as well as the consumer. Hurt businesses writ large = economic contraction = lost jobs for everyone.

      This is either a virtuous cycle of success, growth and opportunity creating more success, growth and opportunity or it is a vicious cycle of protectionism, failure, mutual resentment and decline. Unfortunately we have left a long period of the former and stand on the precipice of the latter.

      We live in a democracy and each of us is free to choose which model we prefer. Unfortunately most human beings focus on what most directly affects them and theirs without concern for the big picture (naturally enough).

      The small picture serves you and hurts society, and the big picture serves society as a whole. But who gives a S*!T about society?! If it’s only SOCIETY that’s benefiting then I can’t see it or touch it, so it’s irrelevant to me. Something either directly benefits me or it’s completely worthless.

      This isn’t stupidity or evil, it’s an understandable worldview for someone to have if they don’t understand how the economy works, which, like it or not, applies to the majority of human beings.

      That’s why Churchill said “The best argument against democracy is a five minutes conversation with the average voter”.

  16. Cass says:

    Sooo…..psychological warfare? Right?

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