Why do I feel so poor?

| 18/04/2019 | 123 Comments

Cayman News ServiceTheresa Green writes: Soooooo… the premier spent more than two hours on Friday telling us all how brilliant things are going. He told us the economy was booming, government coffers are bursting with cash, unemployment is almost a thing of the past and Caymanians are earning good money. It all sounds great. So why do I still feel so poor?

If things are going so well, I am puzzled about how I can leave the supermarket carrying my shopping in two small bags but be $150 out of pocket. More than half of my salary goes on rent — never in my wildest dreams will I be able to buy a home — and the rest on bills, gas and basic essentials, leaving me only dreaming of what it would be like to have disposable income.

Despite working a 50-hour week, earning more than double the minimum wage and being a single person with no kids to worry about, when I pull up at the DVDL inspection centre in my little, just about roadworthy, vehicle, I sit there sweating with anxiety because, with the stroke of a pen, the inspector could leave me taking Shanks’ pony to work.

In an ideal world I should be able to walk, ride a bike or take a bus to work, but for whatever reasons Cayman has created a society which revolves around the car and is only just inching towards accommodating alternatives ways of getting about, leaving those of us with very shallow pockets with few choices.

And God forbid I should get ill because I’ll be doing a runner from the doctor’s office when they ask those questions about how exactly I would like to settle the co-pay part.

Immensely familiar with the offerings of Foster’s Food counter, I can’t remember the last time I saw the inside of a restaurant (except when my nose was pressed up against a window, like a sad scene from Oliver Twist). And worst of all, if it weren’t for the special offers at some of Cayman’s liquor stores, I might be teetotal by now.

Now don’t get me wrong, life in Cayman has its upsides: it’s free to swim in the sea or run on the beach, so there’s no need to spend money on gym membership. A cook-up on the beach and Easter camping means you don’t need to book a suite at the Ritz to get a taste of Caribbean luxury.

And, provided you can put up with the sidelong disapproving glances from your co-workers, a few basic essentials are sufficient for your work wardrobe. After work, you need even less, coats being surplus to requirement and, let’s face it, shoes are optional.

There are many people all over the world who are far worse off than me.

I have a job, one I enjoy, and a salary that is not the worst. But it doesn’t alter the fact that in Cayman a monthly income that would be adequate elsewhere makes you an indigent here. At the risk of stating the blindingly obvious, Cayman is a very expensive place to live and it seems things are just getting worse.

While I will press on (after all, I have only myself to be worried about), the situation is getting worse, and if I’m pinching pennies, there are surely many families out there that have already fallen into the poverty pit.

Single parents on minimum, or even average, wage with elderly parents to care for, perhaps with health problems and needing expensive medicines, are struggling to get by one day at a time.

So when the premier spends over two hours telling us how great things are, it feels a little galling.

Of course it’s better that the government coffers are full and the administration has a handle on the public debt, but economic growth must have more of a positive impact on regular folk than that.

People no longer feel that their best efforts will take them further. They don’t see a way to improve their lot above the point of survival, and many of us live just one health incident or major car repair away from disaster.

If the government presses on with a cruise berthing facility or bends the planning law to the breaking point to allow one developer to build an iconic tower, or continues to waive duty on major developments by individuals still owing money on the last job they did, I’m not sure any of that will improve my lot.

While government can’t find a contractor to build the mental health facility because they’re are all too busy and able to charge more while paying their workers less than they did in the 1990’s, it’s time to accept that more and more growth and an economy based on consumption might not be working for the majority anymore.

And it’s going to get worse.

As the issue of climate change and the obvious impact it’s going to have on us all begins to change our lives, it is hard to see how this continued economic growth and the pursuit of the dollar for the few at the expense of the many will help us tackle all the problems that it will bring.

Flooding, coastal erosion, the destruction of our reefs, heatwaves, droughts, erratic weather patterns and more intense storms are all around the corner. And all on top of an already challenging economic situation for many, if not most, of us.

Our food supply will soon be impacted by climate change as other countries suffer their own global warming related catastrophes and scarcities will push prices even higher, and trying to feed ourselves will be utterly impossible.

The premier made only passing references to environmental issues and grandiose ambitions about turning to greener energy over the coming years in his long speech. But looking out over the edge of the poverty precipice puts things into perspective.

When the premier spoke about a radical new approach to solving the island’s transport problems, personally I felt that a radical approach to much more than transport is needed — and needed now.

While government has sought to  address wage stagnation in the civil service, the private sector is increasingly ignoring the issue, keeping wages down to fuel profits or for small businesses to stay afloat. While the answer to our economic woes are not easy, the solutions lie in a very different direction from where government is taking us.

The answer lies in greening the economy and turning away from constant luxury development to sell condos to overseas billionaires. Rather than watering down the National Conservation Law, Cayman should be enhancing it and putting conservation at the centre of our economy.

Far away targets for renewable energy need to be drastically brought forward, and a massive government investment in retraining of our local construction workers in new green and recycling technologies would be just the start.

The current review of the National Development Plan should not be about paving the way for more and more development but about redeveloping what we already have in a more sustainable way.

Changing the laws to enable tiny houses, homes made entirely of recycle materials and other eco-friendly reconstruction methods across the islands are just some of the drastic changes we need. Government must adapt the laws and policies to manipulate the behaviour of society.

The fees charged on services and duties on the goods and materials we buy can encourage changes in the way we live. Something as simple as re-examining the duty levied on all the different products we buy could have a great impact on people’s lives, health and the environment.

But it’s decades since government actually examined what it charges on individual items. We can buy lace duty-free but pay 22% on bicycles; why lard is duty-free but there’s 17% tax on bananas is beyond my ability to comprehend.

The world is changing in many ways. Many people who once saw themselves as ordinary working folk, getting by while striving to do better, have found themselves doing worse and worse.

Elsewhere in the world, a sense of desperation has led to people doing some really stupid things (in my mind voting for Donald Trump and Brexit are some of the dumbest). But what we should be worried about in Cayman is what dumb thing the pace of so-called progress in these islands will lead to here.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Farage is a Pied Piper telling the low earning economically illiterate that Brexit will help them when it will harm them in the pay packet and the public services they receive.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I agree with you Teresa on most of your argument. The part of the cost of living being too high. Salaries will always be a problem. Do you know that a Government Garbage truck driver makes CI$ 12 per hour? Not saying he should make less. The tour bus driver working for the company make CI$ 8 per hour plus tips. If he owned the bus, he would make US$350 per day when he is in a cue and is toward the front. If you drive a school bus, you make CI$ 1000 per month for one trip to school and one trip back to drop them home and occasionally an outing like a CARIFTA game or an excursion to see the museum or Turtle Centre. The owner of the bus CI$5000 per month. There is no order, no reason why and no special education. It’s just the luck to know whom you know? I’m sure you will find other women who work in the same field do the same thing.
    The only thing I can tell you is to keep searching for a better job that is fairer. Cut your bills (no loans). Don’t bother going out, grow bananas buy a bottle and drink at home. That’s how we are surviving in my yard. Already lost the house, buy a lotto ticket when I can afford it. Love Trump can’t wait for Brexit need Nigel Farage Good luck.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Does she want some cheese with her whine?

  4. Anonymous says:

    Solution: Remove the Minimum.Wage..or make it realistic.
    Cheap labor is the killer. As you said, businesses today..”charge more while paying their workers less than they did in the 1990’s,

    • Ron Ebanks says:

      When the premier or any of the politicians talk about things going they are not talking about little people who make little money .because they they count to till Election time.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I applaud your courage. The article is well written and well thought-out.

    To answer your question directly, there has been a de-linking of the economy in Cayman where the trickle-down effect of the part of the industries that are booming do not have much impact on the remainder of the market. If you are someone working (or owning a business) in an industry that is not the direct/main beneficiary of the boom, you are basically falling behind.

    The simplistic platitude of “work hard and you can achieve anything” is a lie. I don’t have much space in this comment to go through details of each industry in question but let’s take overnight tourism as an example. An overnight tourist has a x $ budget of which he spends most of that budget on accommodation hence why we see large and expensive hotel structures being erected on Seven Mile Beach. If you follow the money and see where the dollars spent end up, it is easy to see how much (or how little) of it trickles down to the local population.

    The same is apparent within the financial services industry in that, unless you are a lawyer or accountant, little of the dollars spent by clients of those firm will trickle down to you. This is not a diverse (or stable) economy where the baker, teacher, police officer, firefighter can also survive without having to move further and further out and not being able to afford similar schooling for their kids as the lawyers and accountants.

    I don’t want to comment on the fairness of this or not, nor is a simplistic solution possible. I just wanted to answer your question directly.

  6. Anonymous says:

    The nice thing about these comments is that it looks like there are fewer than 75 diehard socialists in Cayman, many of whom can’t vote.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Here is why. You economic value is limited and therefore you cannot earn what you think is enough. Why are you economically mediocre? Did you fail at school? Are you lazy? Don’t bother answering, I really don’t care about your excuses given the drivel you wrote.

    • Anonymous says:

      You are likely an unhappy person who seems to care little for your fellow citizens.

      Well, guess what? We don’t care much for your pithy platitudes, nor your smarmy attitude. I would guess you don’t belong to us, but have the good grace to be working here. You should feel blessed to be earning a fair wage. Yes, there are those who feel entitled without having spent the sweat to earn a good living, but Miss Theresa isn’t one of those; she has done what was expected of her, worked hard and still not risen above her meager existence.

      Our system is broken. We give concessions to the rich, which enables them to unfairly compete with existing businesses. We prop up big business which takes advantage of the consumer.

      I wish YOU could be forced to live on $12.00/hour. Then you might begin to know humility and understand the great divide between Caymanians and those overpaid folk who are fortunate enough to live here. The cost of living is profound here, coupled with the extreme cost of insurance and health care. This is no Utopia, but it could be again if our government would support in a meaningful way the economics of the common folk instead of pandering to the rich.

      I have nothing against rich folk; I believe it does no good for the common folk to give the rich concessions and other incentives for them to invest and keep their profits. It was a more profitable time in recent history when people worked hard for a fair wage and commerce was driven by the needs of the average people.

      • Anonymous says:

        Nice touch of racism to open with there.

        Then you followed it up with inane populist drivel,without a shred of evidence to back any of it up. That is populist way.

        The answer to a lot of YOUR moaning would be a hefty income tax. Is that what you want? Then you would get your free health care, better schools, etc.

        People get paid what the market values them at. If you have a skill that is in demand you get paid well or as a jealous taltnetless person like you would say you get “overpaid”. It is not the fault of the talented that your skill set, and I use the term loosely, means you can only demand $12 an hour in the market. The difference is not one of nationality, it is one eternal those with education, talent and drive and those that have basic offerings to employers.

  8. Anonymous says:

    The country is thriving but not managing to convert its economic growth into well-being for their citizens.

    What good is a booming economy if very few people benefit from it?

    What are the dimensions of well-being?

    1. WEALTH

    4. HEALTH. Access to healthcare; healthcare outcome.
    5. EDUCATION. Access to education; education outcome.
    6. INFRASTRUCTURE. Water, sanitation, transportation.

    8. CIVIL SOCIETY Interpersonal safety and trust; gender equality; civic activism
    9. GOVERNANCE Effectiveness of government; accountability; stability; freedom
    10. ENVIRONMENT The quality of the environment.

    How does the Cayman Islands perform across all these dimensions?
    Is it managing or failing to use both its absolute wealth and its economic growth to improve the lives of their citizens?

    Education is the key to future economic, political, and social progress.
    * If the country’s school system is not producing high-quality outcomes for Cayman students in terms of academic achievement, college attendance, and success in the labor market, what are the strengths and weaknesses of the existing system? What are the main pursuits for reform?

    • Anonymous says:

      2. failed vulnerability to external shocks, excessive dependence on international
      trade, fragile environment
      8.failed xenophobia, homophobia, bigotry is rampant
      9.failed corruption, nepotism, unaccountability

  9. Anonymous says:

    Nearly all missed the point of the letter. It is not about low wages.

    Wealth from economic boom belongs to all people of a country. That is why in Alaska dividends from the Permanent fund paid annually to all Alaska residents including newborns.
    In Norway, distribution of wealth in the form of social benefits affects each and every resident including future generations ( sovereign fund). Qatar epic scale spendings on education is well known. When the oil runs out, they want be left with a viable, advanced economy.
    “It’s something like lottery winners who buy their children the best education, so that they’ll be able to fend for themselves in the years ahead.”

    In the Cayman Islands distribution of wealth is disproportionate, arbitrary and benefits few. It is heavily veiled though, so regular folks wouldn’t notice it or be able to figure it out. That is why majority of the comments are off the point.

    • Anonymous says:

      Let start by verifying whether your income is distributed adequately.

    • Anonymous says:

      You want a communist society then! I don’t think my hard earned money should go to someone else who is not as ambitious as myself, who has not sacrificed what I have because they feel like moaning and being jealous of others who are successful. It is easy to look at these successful people and say their life is easy. But I bet it wasn’t always easy for them to get to that point.

      If she or others can’t afford things, then do without. If you still want these things then get better educated, find a better job, open a business, be creative in the opportunities and find a niche. But don’t moan if you can’t get something because you don’t have time. Complete nonsense because Oprah and Bill Gates have the same 24 hours that everyone else does and they managed through somehow.

    • Anonymous says:

      Wealth from an economic boom belongs to all people of a country…says who? The money I make does not belong to you. That’s one reason I don’t live in Norway.

  10. Imbeciles vs Progressives. Imbeciles win! says:

    Really? You mean to say that voting for Hillary would have been better? And staying in the despotic, dysfunctional and corrupt EU would also have been smarter? Progressive twerps never cease to amaze me with their complete and utter lack of insight. And by the way, it wasn’t desperation that led people to vote for Donald Trump, or for an exit out of the EU. Be ready for another 4 miserable years once 2020 comes around. In the meantime, cry me a river some more. Blaaaah!

  11. Anonymous says:

    A very good article by Ms. Green and she asked all the relevant questions that are affecting the average Caymanian. The sad part is that previous and the current government have designed an economy only fitting for the rich. Think 10 years and on the same ideals what will happen to paradise. Crime will be worst, more monies spent on the poor, elderly, indigents and on health care. No consideration or incentives for renewed energy, transportation or to global warming. Ms. Green if you would throw your hat in at the next election, I would certainly cast my vote on you. Keep asking the right questions and let’s pressure our elected leaders to provide a country for all to enjoy and for generations to come.

    • Anonymous says:

      I do not want someone in politics who is going to contribute more money to social services. No thanks. It is survival of the fittest and the weakest just wont survive. Simple.

      • Anonymous says:

        If you think Cayman is so bad, you should go to Venezuela, Honduras, and other central American countries and try Haiti while you at it. Here if people don’t work social services give them and gives to some that even works too, check the Brac. Things could be better, but sure could be lots worse.

      • Anonymous says:

        This undermines any reason for societies to exist. They exist as a safety net for those who are a part of it.

        Also I bet you’d change your tune if one of those ‘weak’ ones broke into your nice house one night and took your wealth. You might surprised what people will do to survive…

        • Anonymous says:

          So that makes it someone’s right to steal? Isn’t that what prisons are for? How about teaching kids from childhood pride and hardworking ethic which leads people to strive for more instead of being apathetic that they can’t have what others have.

  12. Anonymous says:

    I was so damn despondont at the anti-gay vitriol in the other topics, but I at least have some hope here seeing that people are genuinely aware of how little our government cares for all Caymanians.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Assuming you wrote this yourself, you could look for a better paying job. Why stay with one that doesn’t pay enough to live the way you want?

    • Anonymous says:

      Sugga daddy is the way to go

    • Anonymous says:

      A typical comment of a person who lacks comprehension skills.

    • Anonymous says:

      That would be a good idea if you didn’t have the worlds economic migrants to compete with.

      • Anonymous says:

        LMAO! Yep. That’s why.
        Pathetic excuse 8:10am
        Economic migrants are here to fill jobs you don’t apply for because you do not qualify for them. Caymanians cannot fill every single position. (Qualified or not)

        • Anonymous says:

          Nice try, you’ll soon see what you can fill and qualify for very shortly. See everyone here is woke now, and not misguided like in the past. The gatekeepers have a right to be concerned, the pressure is building.

        • da-wa-u-get! says:

          12:17; of course you are right but…. you’re only addressing the symptoms!
          People are not qualified for many positions because the School system spits them out without them having the rudimentary skills to enter the workplace and while the employers lament that fact every now and then, they are not really unhappy about it because, it allows them to import cheap labour from overseas over which they hold the sword of canceling their work permit.
          The elected leaders are so impressed with themselves over the Government surpluses that they feel they really don’t have to do much more then keep the money flowing, from the work permit revenue to the Pork-barrel projects and the the NAU. Re-election and big salaries along with a lifetime pension are assured!
          Unfortunately, I don’t see any changes in the near future.

        • Anonymous says:

          unfortunately yes, the lower end jobs pay too low and are taken by migrants. However, at the higher end, those jobs although advertised are all earmarked for friend of the migrants at the top level.you can choose to say this is not true. But everyone who works in the funds , banking or legal field know it is very very true

  14. Anonymous says:

    Actually it’s not just price inflation that affects standard of living, many things are much better and cheaper than they used to be, such as household electronics, telecoms and TV.

    • Anonymous says:

      You can’t eat flatscreen tv’s tho.

    • Anonymous says:

      It is not about standards of living. The letter is about disproportional distribution of wealth from economic growth and lack of strategic planing that involves future proofing.

  15. Anonymous says:

    And the Government owes my company $14k for the last four months and can’t get off their arses to pay it. Pathetic.

  16. Helpful Harry says:

    Work on your rampant self-pity, that will help.

    • Anonymous says:

      Your just upset she had the courage to express what exactly most of us feel including your broke a**. Work on your self denial state…

      • Anonymous says:

        Nah, chump, I’m making plenty. Sorry your repertoire is so limited to such hackneyed responses.

  17. Anonymous says:

    All of you thumbsuppers are pathetic.

  18. Fiona says:

    You had me all the way until you said Brexit was a bad thing!

  19. Robin Hood says:

    For those who totally missed the point, here it is:

    When a country experiences economic miracle, the quality of life of its people must not diminish.

    When MLA members receive close to 300-400K per year (all perks included and monetized), no one should be living from paycheck to paycheck or on a small pension.

    All people must benefit from economic growth. From a newborn to a 100 years old.
    Healthcare, education, elderly and disabled care, infrastructure and transportation must be significantly improved in times of economic growth.

    Theresa Green is rightfully questions the distribution of benefits from economic growth.

    • Anonymous says:

      You must be joking. Have you seen the increase in government spending in recent years?

      Who do you think benefits from all that extra spending? Certainly not the rich. Who by the way are the ones that created the economic growth. It sure wasn’t the government.

      It’s not the government’s job to get you a promotion or a pay rise.

      Be thankful you have a job and a government that can afford to look after you if you can’t look after yourself.

      The one thing I would agree with is that the government has done very little to address the increasing cost of living.

      They should be introducing renewable energy programs for low income Caymanians (solar panels pay for themselves in 5-7 years but you must be able to afford them), decent public transport and incentives for building more affordable housing instead of nothing but high end houses and condos.

      They’ve also done nothing about the skyrocketing cost of health insurance.

      One example where they actually made things worse is the duty allowance. Instead of increasing the allowance to $500 (which allows wealthy frequent travelers to avoid even more duty) they should have lowered it and eliminated duty on more things bought here on island.

      This would also have benefited the economy rather than providing an incentive to buy all your stuff overseas, which makes no sense. Buy your clothes in the states duty free or buy them here and pay duty and shipping. WTF? Senseless populism.

      • Anonymous says:

        Your comment demonstrates complete lack of understanding what distribution of wealth from economic boom is. Government spendings increase is not an indicator of good spendings. Increased spendings do not capture the distribution of growth and, as a result, cannot reflect inequality. Decreasing inequality is central to economic progress.

        • Anonymous says:

          I would agree government spending is not necessarily good spending but a large part of the increase in government spending was to increase civil servants’ salaries. Seems like redistribution to me. And seems to be something that would reduce their inequality too.

          So I’m afraid it is you Sir that does not understand economics.

          Furthermore, there is no particular reason that inequality should decrease during an economic boom in a country without tax as a means for that redistribution to take place.

          Think about it. If a lawyer at Walkers makes more money, does an immigration officer therefore make more money? A car mechanic? A hairdresser? A waitress?

          Why would they? Even if demand for those services goes up and more jobs are created that doesn’t mean the market wage goes up. You can only work so many hours in a week and the hourly rate doesn’t change. Not here when so much of the population is expat anyways.

          The business owners will do better but the employees likely will not. So even more inequality.

          By the way I wasn’t arguing that inequality was irrelevant just that people are in fact better off. At least the writer of the article has a job and whether she realizes it or not she probably has much greater job security in this economy than a worse off one. That has a value. Roads have improved (not in all areas but overall, they have). There are many other examples.

          And as I said above there’s no particular reason most people would be more highly paid in a booming economy if they’re doing exactly the same job as before. So when ranting about being no better off, who is the writer ranting at?

          I’m also not sold on the idea inequality per se is a problem. Surely it’s poverty that’s the problem.

          If you were to parachute five billionaires into Cayman to live, “inequality” would immediately get much worse. You and I would move down the pecking order of income and wealth. But are we really any worse off? I would argue the opposite. Having five more billionaires can only benefit us from the extra money they spend in the local economy and the increased economies of scale.

          • Anonymous says:

            It is not about who works and how much they make. It is about those who don’t work, retires, disabled, children. It is about education. It is about health care. It is about transportation.
            Useless to have a meaningful discussion here.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Today’s millennial worldview in a nutshell

    <whine, whine< No one is taking care of me!!! … and…and…and why does that guy have more than me?!

    Bernie Sanders will make it fair! Bernie! Bernie! Bernie! We need socialism!

    • Anonymous says:

      Not sure we need Berne but America and Cayman require universal health care like in UK, Canada, Australia, etc.

      • Anonymous says:

        Right because I’m sure you are very familiar being process in those social systems right?

        I know what it’s like to have to wait 3-6 months to see a specialist because you’re speaking to a buraucrat about your health.

        You have no f*ing clue about what you’re talking about. This is clear.

        • Anonymous says:

          The alternative for many people living in places without universal healthcare is forgoing it alltogether.

      • Piers Boileau Goad says:

        While I would tentatively agree that healthcare needs reform I would be loathe to suggest going in the direction that the British chose because the spend on healthcare is a little shy of 10% of GDP. While this doesn’t sound like a lot (relatively speaking) when added to the welfare bill (roughly 39%) it makes up almost half of all spending (2016 figures available).
        I’m neither an accountant nor a politician but I’m sure if CIG lost this much income in government costs something would suffer.
        While I agree that duties don’t really make much sense to me either I’m not sure a British style healthcare system would work.
        But I could be wrong..I’m also not a doctor!

      • Anonymous says:

        If you want universal healthcare then you need to pay tax.

    • Anonymous says:

      Not like wages have been stagnant since the 80s while productivity for workers has never been higher
      Not like inflation means that the cost of basic goods and services today compared with even 20 years ago is drasitcally different
      people are expected to drag the same salary over an infinetly larger distance while blowhards like you sit back and berate everyone even persons trying their best to survive on what they have
      or the price of the same University education that the previous generation received skyrocketed for absolutely no reason other than colleges turning into for profit institutions
      Not like plenty of millennial spend a good chunk of their money taking care of older generations who didn’t save or who just assumed they would be looked after by others
      Not like the owner class have strangled the middle and lower classes potential for economic advancement and are running out the back door with all the money laughing all the way

      The world isn’t the same place that it was in 1950
      If Bernie Sanders and Jeremy Corbyn are socialists then Canada must be a radical red state along with most other western nations
      If ensuring that people aren’t turned away from getting the care they need because they can’t afford it due to the death panels we call insurance companies is socialism then sign me up for socialism and hand me a hammer and sickle

      You people are so full of shit its amazing

    • P&L says:

      What a disrespectful ignorant comment. Really? Is that all you could say? She isn’t even asking for anything. She actually said she was grateful for what she has but she’s concerned. What’s wrong with that? I’m thinking you didn’t even read the whole thing.

      Theresa includes some very serious issues that must be considered if Cayman is going to stop sliding into this hellish abyss. I am here wondering why Theresa is only earning double minimum wage which still is nothing. She seems very intelligent and should at least be able to get an administrative job at higher pay. Double minimum wage in Cayman is not even THE minimimum wage in NY and Cayman is more expensive than even one of the most expensive cities in the US.

      The reality is the priorities of Goverment have long been pointed in the wrong direction and it’s all coming home to rose now.

      Consider this. A student with a bachelors could enter the Cayman government in the late 80s/early 90s making $36,000 a year. Just a couple years ago the starting salary was about $42,000. In those 30 years apartment prices have doubled, tripled, etc and EVERYTHING else is much more expensive. The buying power of the average person has been severely impacted in a negative way. The ability to fix your car, buy fresh food, take your kids on vacation… should those only be for the wealthy?

      It’s so sad what has happened to Cayman from socioeconomic perspective. It was once an amazing little place. That time has gone.

      • Anonymous says:

        Fake news regarding NYC being more expensive than Cayman.
        When is the last time you were in NYC? Have you really even been there? If so, did you camp out at the Ritz?
        I have been there 2x per year over the past 3 years and I can assure you it is defo MORE expensive in NYC than in Cayman. No way have you been there if you say that. It is absolutely not true.
        Here is a small list of things that are higher in NYC than Cayman (happy to provide proof with receipts);
        All public transport
        ALL food (grocery stores)
        All beauty services
        MANY free activities for tourists!
        Okay, not a small list but I think I made my point.

        • Jade says:

          Plus she’s wrong about the minimum wage being higher in NY since the KY$ has a higher value than the US$,

    • Anonymous says:

      Ugh. I moved so fast to thumb you down that I accidentally hit the thumbs up. Please subtract 1! You don’t deserve it with your stupid comment. You old geezer.

  21. Anonymous says:

    solution…keep your earning away from rich…i downsized…live low and travelling the world…and yes i am a native

  22. Anonymous says:

    Inflation, government more concerned with meeting Dart’s every demand then taking care of the people, primary causes

  23. Anonymous says:

    This island is only for rich mons now.

    • Anonymous says:

      Of course there are more ‘Caymanians’ in the workforce now. I suggest that the 3,300 the Premier spoke about are mostly new Caymanians that they created. When are they going to put limits on approving status!

  24. Anonymous says:

    Great viewpoint. Publish the accounts of the businesses owned by the oligarchs. There is a lot of greed in Cayman, government needs to reign them in. But they will not.

  25. Anonymous says:

    I suggest you get out of your little Cayman bubble and spend a year living in a 3rd world country as a poor citizen there does wondering what you will find to eat today at the garbage dump. Then you will (hopefully) realise your 30 paragraph rant is truly written by a person with 1st world issues. Hopefully after a year the experience will give you some perspective on life.

    • Anonymous says:

      Comment at 10.22 am. You thinks she’s in A Cayman bubble. I think its a realistic look at the issues. Some people are trying very hard to get a home and live dependently, but the realities of the Cayman economy make it nigh impossible. Even the Premium admitted he is scared .

      • Anonymous says:

        12:23pm Good point but I think you meant ‘live independently’ rather than dependently. Yes?

    • Anonymous says:

      You missed the point entirely! Why do you send him to the 3d world country? When a country experiencing an economic miracle, all citizen must feel it. Not just your MLA and ministers, etc.

      Norway for example, has the LOWEST INCOME INEQUALITY in the world, helped by a mix of policies that support education and innovation. It also channels the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund, which manages its oil and gas revenues, into long-term economic planning. Although the cost of living is also high in Norway, when adjusted for purchasing power parity it still has the highest median income of the economies. https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2017/04/lessons-from-norway-the-world-s-most-inclusive-economy/

      Read this article and ask yourself why you, people of the Cayman Islands have such a huge income inequality. And please remind us again what is the compensation of MLA members all included. AND WHY? AND HOW DID YOU ALLOW THAT TO HAPPEN? AND WHY THE PEOPLE OF THE CAYMAN ISLANDS WELFARE HAS NO PLACE IN THE STRATEGIC PLANNING.

    • Anonymous says:

      You’re completely missing the point with your badly thought through argument. Things could be better in Cayman even if they are worse in other countries. The point is that things used to be better but that misguided policies have not distributed prosperity properly.

      • Anonymous says:

        Ding, ding, ding! Ve haf vinnar!

        Some jackass above said it was the rich that creates wealth. If that were true, they wouldn’t need us, not that they aren’t damn trying to get to that point.

      • Anonymous says:

        “distributed prosperity properly” yes that wonderful code word for socialism …

  26. Say it like it is says:

    This lady speaks eloquently for the poor Caymanian. She is exactly the sort of person we need to represent us as an MLA rather than those already there, many of whom treat vote getting as their major priority.

  27. Anonymous says:

    So…you lost me when you talked about barely being able to afford liquor. Sounds to me like you’re living above your means.

    • Anonymous says:

      So having disposable income is where you draw the line
      You think a 6 pack or a bottle of rum is living above your means?

      I’d rather someone stay home and drink till they feel better than get fed up and start running people over in George Town

  28. Anonymous says:

    *sent from my iPhone XR

  29. Anonymous says:

    And the politicians sit by idly as the middle class fall in poverty and we etch closer to third world status with the have and have nots and rampant crime.

  30. Anonymous says:

    A very good letter and a lot of it is simply the government of our fair and lovely islands has set aside the will and good of the people for what they see as the will and good of the islands. Unfortunately a lot of that has nothing to do with us. The various systems in Cayman are slowly phasing us out, it has been a long time in coming but it is soon to the point of being too late, if not there already.

    As a people, we have been slowly been made redundant, firstly by ourselves and now, by our government.

    First and foremost is the cost of living. C.O.L. has slowly been rising as far as I can remember but wages have not been. That’s nothing new, it’s ALWAYS been like that, the problem is the government thinks that because government revenue is up and unemployment is down, that all is well. Well when you have your own businesses and then make $100,000 a year being a part time politician I think you begin to lose your grip on the true “pulse of the people”.

    They may complain about spending $50 to $75 for a tank of gas or paying $200 – $250 for a few bags of groceries but they don’t feel it like we do. It’s comparing an annoyance to a burden but hey, duties equals government revenue = over flowing coffers = life is good on the islands right?

    Speaking of that, how is it that a grocery store chain in Cayman has to use the same shipping company as another grocery store chain who owns the shipping company but their prices are a little cheaper then the chain that owns the shipping company? Comparing same brand items.

    I personally have family in the US. My cousin moved there and he is single, earns less than I do and can live easily by himself financially. Yes I know things are cheaper in the US because they don’t have to ship it overseas to get it but seriously? I bought a piece of beef during Christmas that cost me CI$80.00, my cousin said the same piece of beef cost him less than US$30.00 (CI$24.00). Let that sink in.

    Secondly.. Real estate

    This started with us selling the land to foreigners who came here with money. Get it, got it, we started the problem.

    The government, blinded by the progress dollars, should have started capping real estate sales years ago to be honest. Of course it would never have happened when politicians are also real estate agents. Right Mac?

    When you look in the paper or see the real estate ads on Facebook, it is abundantly clear that they are NOT advertising towards us, the locals. The last real estate booklet that comes in the paper that I looked at listed almost 70 properties for sale and only 2 were under $300,000.

    We, as a people through greed, coupled by a government who turned a blind eye for revenue have effectively priced ourselves out of the real estate market.

    I understand you buy land, develop it you resell higher to make a profit but some of the resale prices are beyond ridiculous. and we and the government are to blame and don’t get me started on the price to rent. CI$500 – CI$1,000 to rent a room and bathroom in a house? CI$1,500 for a 1 bedroom apartment?

    The government needs to step in and cap real estate prices.

    Third Jobs

    Ok, the big touchy subject. Despite what some people think, Caymanians ARE being discriminated against when it comes to jobs in Cayman. Why is it most Caymanians are trying to flock to the Civil Service. The pay, and the fact that as a Caymanian you have an above normal change of getting the job. I have seen Caymanians intentionally turned down for jobs because overseas associates are brought in on trumped up job descriptions.

    My brother was turned down for a position he applied for in the company he works for to someone with less experience and qualifications who was from an overseas branch. This happens a LOT more than people think.

    I truly believe that the government should have a department that goes behind business to verify that the right people are being put into these positions. Businesses should have to register the position needed filling, show all the applications, and provide a damned good reason that can be verified, why a Caymanian wasn’t considered for the position.

    These three things are, I know there are more things but I feel these are the 3 major things, the next one is capping and reducing work permits but that’s another 5 pages of rant I will spare you from.

    My two cents.

    • Anonymous says:

      Immigration, directly under Alden McLaughlin, is required to be checking. It has not done its job For more than a decade. Your own government seems to have betrayed you.

    • Cess Pita says:

      9.18am My 3 cents. How many times have we heard this self serving mantra – “I was turned down for promotion in favour of an expatriate who had no qualifications,could not read or write, and could hardly speak English”!. The point is you may have a “degree” from some backwoods Florida college, but you also need intelligence and acumen to compete in the private sector. Far better you join the Civil Service where neither is needed.

      • Anonymous says:

        This is not what the letter is about.
        If you are so educated and smart, you should not be speaking in a such condescending manner.

      • Anonymous says:

        My brother went to Uni. of Columbia which is ranked 3rd or 4th best school for law in the US and not some “backwoods Florida college” and has been doing his job for almost 8 years so yeah.

      • Anonymous says:

        Written like a true Expat.

        • Solomon says:

          I keep hearing this so often about young Caymanians getting their degrees from the US being downgraded just seems wrong on so many levels. If they go to UK the school isn’t good enough so what are the remaining options because ICCI and UCCI don’t have the best accreditations so what should we do or go?

      • P&L says:

        Wait. Did she say where she went to school? What an ignorant assumption. Such a sign of the times. There are some Caymanians that have gone to better schools than some expats and vice versa. But my gosh. To assume she went to a backward university because what? She’s not making much? Her pints are well thought out. Grammar is on point. And she isn’t even arguing the stupid point you are bringing up. My thoughts are you aren’t able to intelligently respond to the issues raised so you throw in a sour grape issue to detract from the points she made that you know are true.

        • Anon says:

          4.56pm C.P’s comments were generic not aimed at the writer but illustrating a claim made by so many Caymanians.

      • Anonymous says:

        Cess Pita Let me get you the number for the mental health unit.

      • Anonymous says:

        I agree with the back woods comment. Far too many getting bogus degrees.

  31. Anonymous says:

    Well this piece was obviously written by someone who was not educated in a public school here in Cayman. It was a pleasure to read something that was argued so persuasively and beautifully composed.

    I would agree entirely with the sentiment and although I am a well-paid expat – grateful to be living in paradise – I have real concerns for the future of local Caymanians; expats have a choice whether to live here or not, but those Caymanians who are poorly educated, do not have that same option.

    There is so much potential for the future of this country. However, watching the legislative assembly on the CIG TV Channel and the performance of its members, must be disheartening to all those who obviously elected persons, in the hope that the inherent opportunities that are available to this island, are maximized. What Cayman has, is a bunch of hypocritical ‘blow bags’ who love the sound of their own voices (they take 20 minutes to say something which could be articulated in 2), and achieve very little for the ordinary Caymanian.

    • Anonymous says:

      For a second there I thought I wrote this…

    • Anonymous says:

      While I don’t agree with everything she said she does make good points for an expat like my family this is paradise. However, I wonder how the persons earning minimum wage in this country survives

  32. Anonymous says:

    Poor you. So many “issues”…

    • Anonymous says:

      It does not matter if its duty free, everything are always added on 22% , so the consumers pays more and the businesses makes a bigger profit

      • Anonymous says:

        So the simple solution to this is to introduce real competition, let all the big companies come in without the requirement for local owners…

        • Anonymous says:

          Really. Cayman restricts business ownership to Caymanians only and then acts surprised when “local oligarchs” take over. There are only two things you can do—allow outside competition or tax the oligarchs.

  33. Anonymous says:

    A very good summary of Cayman’s issues. I agree completely. Too bad this government is so slow and scared to get stuff done. They’d rather commission about 10 reviews of an issue than actually tackle it. Unless it comes to building. Then they’re fast.

  34. Anonymous says:

    [Insert Violin Music Here]

    Clue: It ain’t the gumment job to take care of you, your earnings, your life or your happiness with the world.

    That’s your job.

    • Anonymous says:

      Easy for you in your pent house to say. This Island has been created to cater to rich people There are a lot of people who feel like you but nobody wants to hear about it.

      • Anonymous says:

        I am a caymanian i am feeling very rich. I don’t have millions but I have everything I need .

        This is the land of milk and honey. Drink up.

    • Anonymous says:

      Not directly, but the government has a duty to all where the economy is concerned, and create one where all income brackets are catered for, not just the rich.

      • Anonymous says:

        Income brackets are never “catered” in any capitalist country. You get paid according to the value you generate.

        You want wages “catered”? Move to Cuba/Venezuela/North Korea

        • Anonymous says:

          Correction: You get paid according to the value your workers generate.

          • Anonymous says:

            Yes, but, the business owner created the infrastructure to provide the worker with a specific diet of work in exchange for guaranteed pay. The worker can’t do that, and is less valuable as a result. Many more workers than people creating jobs by taking risks.

    • Anonymous says:

      Most selfish and dumbest comment yet. Who pays the duties and taxes that pay the govts salaries? Who votes for them and entrusts them with the islands’ revenue to make decisions that are supposed to be in the peoples best interests?

  35. Anonymous says:

    You were doing so well until you mentioned Trump and Brexit. It’s a shame you screwed up an otherwise well thought out and written piece.

    • Anonymous says:

      Whether you agree or disagree with the author’s take on Trump & Brexit would you not agree wit the author’s point that they are driven – in part – by similar issues to what the author outlined for Cayman? (The feeling of disenfranchisement so many of the population have with the social/economic/political way things were going?)

      Whether we can agree on the solutions or not, can we at least agree that there are problems in need of solutions?

  36. Anonymous says:

    Alden McLaughlin and his government are in denial and focused on the needs of the rich and business community. He and his government are all owned and controlled by DART and developer class.
    Hanging out at Country Western bar to drown your sorrows does not mean he understands the things impacting regular caymanians.

  37. Anonymous says:

    You have been sold out.

    The open labour market to the whole world through freely available work permits, couples by a derisory minimum wage regime that is not restricted to entry level jobs, has prevented any real market supply and demand competition, and has artificially depressed your wages.

    The charging of high import duties on even some core staples and necessities has artificially increased your cost of living. This is made worse by the total absence of safe, affordable, public transport.

    The intentional refusal to enforce laws to fetter the fronting epidemic mean that there is no effective way for you to compete to start and operate a business as well funded foreign conglomarates will simply squeeze you out.

    The lack of enforcement of the laws requiring the availability of proper training programs mean that you are unlikely to be able to develop skills at a level to allow you to compete in an increasingly global marketplace, and against persons who received genuinely world class educations and apprenticeships for free through their own governments provision of such schemes.

    The lack of any anti monopoly legislation means that certain conglomerates can dominate and squeeze out any competition, including by operating at a loss intentionally to make sure their services are used, and then ramp up theirs pricing as soon as there is no one to compete with.

    These are some of the reasons you and quickly growing numbers of Caymanians find yourself in this position.

    Do not take too much solace as to the ability to enjoy the beach. That too seems to be being sacrificed for the benefit of a few.

    The warnings of what was going to happen were clear. The very politicians who now are starting to bleat about it, but only because they can no longer keep these cold facts buried.

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