H. Ross Perot, the Dallas billionaire businessman, was explaining why governments almost never get anything done on budget and on time. Living in Texas, he used the metaphor of a rattlesnake.
When government encounters a rattlesnake and must decide what to do with it, he said (in approximately these words), “They wring their hands, form committees, consult herpetologists, check with the environmental lobby, conduct a few focus groups, prepare a report, draft some legislation, and eventually pass something that might be called the ‘Rattlesnake Population Modulation Act.’”
And what does H. Ross Perot do when he comes across a rattlesnake?
“It’s simple,” he said. “I kill it.”
Mr. Perot’s words are especially apt when considering two issues currently “under discussion” in government.
First, following years of deliberations, several pedestrian deaths and the occasional police “speed trap” operation, a cross-departmental panel of government has announced a plan to revise speed limits across Grand Cayman.
But first, we are in the midst of a public consultation period that ends Dec. 6. The input will be incorporated into revisions to the proposal, which, in turn, will then be subject to the approval of Cabinet.
We have a better idea: If speed limits need to be changed, change them. If they need to be lowered on West Bay Road and near Morritt’s resort, lower them. If they need to be raised on a section of North Sound Road, raise them.
A matter as straightforward as speed limits should not require either public consultation or Cabinet involvement. Opinions from the planning ministry, roads authority and the police force are more than sufficient to alter some digits on some signs that are respected by far too few conscientious motorists.
Rather than government’s dawdling away its time on speed limits, it would be well advised to focus on complex matters of paramount national importance, such as immigration, debt reduction, conservation and a long-term tourism strategy.
Likewise, government recently dealt with legislative changes enabling theaters to show movies later on Sundays. We don’t know why our legislators are even involved in regulating movie times, or, for that matter, content (such as R ratings) in an age of Netflix, Apple TV and cable television. After all, we’re not children and legislators are not our parents.
Perhaps it was feared that selling tickets to a late-evening Disney film would pose competition to regularly scheduled after-hours parties where the liquor flows and music plays well beyond government’s curfew on licensed revelry.
The archaic absurdity of having a law to regulate movie theaters is compounded by the fact that the country has only one proper movie theater, the Regal Camana Bay Stadium 6, which is nestled within a private mixed-use development.
The theater, or any theater, along with liquor stores, bars, restaurants and most other business, should be free to operate during hours according to their proprietary business models and not be subjugated to over-reaching governmental regulators.
Cayman government, and especially its civil service and regulatory boards, would do well to contemplate the Latin dictum “magna cum celeritate.” Translated, it means “with great speed.”