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Columnists > Gordon Barlow

Gordon Barlow
Gordon Barlow has lived in Cayman since 1978. He was the first full-time Manager of the Cayman Islands Chamber of Commerce (1986-1988) - a turbulent period when the Chamber struggled to establish its political independence. He has publicly commented on social and political issues since 1990, and has represented the Chamber at several overseas conferences, and the Cayman Islands Human Rights Committee at an international symposium in Gibraltar in 2004. His blog contains much information on life in Cayman, written from the point of view of a resident and citizen.

Gordon Barlow

Living In An Offshore Tax-Haven

Posted by: Anonymous on Friday January 08, 2016 (20:36:53)   (1722 Reads)
People usually expect “offshore” tax-havens to be wonderfully exotic places. But in reality, they’re not. Linda and I have lived in three different ones during our marriage – Bahamas 1967-70, New Hebrides (now Vanuatu) 1972-75, and Cayman 1978 to date – mostly in apartments no different from those we lived in in Canada and Spain.    more ...

Gordon Barlow

A Trip To The Supermarket In Cayman

Posted by: Carole on Wednesday July 29, 2015 (04:28:42)   (1722 Reads)
Gordon Barlow
I’ve been making the same trip to the supermarket the whole thirty-seven years we’ve lived in Cayman. Well, pretty much. Until 1997 we lived just over the road from a mini-market, which meant there wasn’t much need to patronize the bigger shops. That mini-market was wiped out in the hurricane of 2004, and has never been re-built.    more ...

Gordon Barlow

Fifty Shades Of Green In The Cayman Islands

Posted by: Carole on Tuesday June 10, 2014 (16:41:07)   (2355 Reads)
Gordon Barlow
The poinciana trees are starting to flower now, and Cayman is transformed. I’ve never considered this a pretty island, except at this time of year. The purple and pink bougainvillea shrubs, the “Pride of Barbados” plant, and fifty shades of Green, all make for a pleasant and soothing sight, but it’s all much of a muchness.

Outside my window and beyond our porch is half an acre of tall and lawless grass belonging to our neighbor on the other side of it. Once a year the local Department of Environment makes him cut it back, and it must be high time for that now. He has always said he’d plant an orchard there one day, but he’s in England half of each year, and hasn’t gotten around to it yet.    more ...

Gordon Barlow

Unemployment in Cayman

Posted by: Carole on Friday November 15, 2013 (01:42:27)   (2379 Reads)
Gordon Barlow
Despite its large Public Revenue – US$700 million for a population of 50,000 – Cayman has generally low educational standards – the consequence of a poor educational strategy. Two generations ago, the Islands’ political representatives seem to have been persuaded by the British Colonial Office (now the FCO) not to bother about the standards of all but the brightest of their fellow Caymanians.

I comment on local education on my personal blog from time to time, and last February noted that the permanent affirmative-action program installed by the FCO forty years or so ago had negated the need for ethnic Caymanians to compete on equal terms with migrants and immigrants at any level. Foreigners’ expertise and qualifications would always be trumped by birthright entitlement.    more ...

Gordon Barlow

Censorship In The Cayman Islands

Posted by: Carole on Wednesday July 03, 2013 (16:09:07)   (2813 Reads)
Gordon Barlow
It’s an axiom of human-rights theory, that without freedom of speech, no other freedoms can be guaranteed. As an English colony since 1670 (British since 1707, to be pernickety), the Cayman Islands ought to be a model of free speech. But they’re not.

As noted in my earlier columns, we have a wonderful variety of expat nationalities living here. We all get along well together, regardless of race, colour, religion, culture, wealth, social status, and every other factor that tends to divide communities. Not for us the usual tensions between Moslems and Christians, or blacks and whites, or rich and poor. Our standard practice is to congregate by occupation.

I have also noted earlier, that the only persistent tension in our local community is between expats and ethnic Caymanians.    more ...

Gordon Barlow

When Gross Salary Equalled Net Salary In The Caymans

Posted by: Carole on Saturday April 06, 2013 (12:51:29)   (3086 Reads)
Gordon Barlow
For the first 25 years or so after we left Canada in 1967, Linda & I received our respective salaries free of all deductions. It was a very comfortable feeling, to be so self-reliant.

In the three Offshore tax havens we lived in during those years, there was no Income Tax, no contributions towards our old-age pensions or retirement fund, and no deductions for medical-insurance premiums. Where we lived, we all negotiated our own medical insurance, as and to what extent we wanted, and we all saved for our own retirements. There were taxes, but they were mostly consumption-taxes, paid when we bought things. During our first nine years in Cayman, we revelled in the freedom from deductions – just as we had done in Bahamas and New Hebrides.    more ...

Gordon Barlow

Leaving Home

Posted by: Carole on Wednesday February 13, 2013 (03:46:31)   (2213 Reads)
Gordon Barlow
Cayman’s earliest settlers would have come by boat – some time in the early 1600s – from Jamaica or Cuba. There is no evidence of any aboriginal inhabitants, so the first comers would have been European and African refugees from one sort of slavery or another. They were either adventurous or desperate, or both – as indeed were most expats in history and pre-history.

The spirit of adventure lasted during the whole of Cayman’s history until just a few decades ago – at least among the men. Fishermen spread their seed throughout the western Caribbean. The Bay Islands of Honduras, Cuba’s Isle of Pines, the Mosquito Coast of Nicaragua, several towns along America’s Gulf Coast from Texas to the Florida Keys – all have native-born residents whose surnames betray their Caymanian or Jamaican ancestry.    more ...

Gordon Barlow

Trouble In Paradise

Posted by: Carole on Friday January 04, 2013 (01:03:49)   (2098 Reads)
Gordon Barlow
Our Islands are in trouble, following the latest political upheaval. It seems likely that our most charismatic politician, our recently dismissed Premier, will now push for independence from Britain.

He will have his work cut out for him, because all our voters know that our prosperity might not survive the change; but quite a few of the native-born-and-bred (and culturally distinct) Caymanians don’t care about that. They would willingly give up the trappings of Mammon if that would get rid of all expat residents.

Anti-expat sentiment has always been strong in the “real” Caymanian community; no man or woman has ever been elected to our Legislative Assembly except on an anti-expat platform, explicit or implicit.    more ...

Gordon Barlow

Blogging For Fun And Non-Profit

Posted by: Carole on Thursday November 01, 2012 (02:13:52)   (1814 Reads)
Gordon Barlow
We who have our own blogsites know how fascinating it is to read the statistics section. Mine is a freebie (a Google service, I think), whose stats are brief, basic and misleading, but even so... All my posts are written for residents of Cayman – or at least with them in mind – but only 20-25% of my hits emanate from Cayman-based computers. The top source each week and month is USA, followed by Cayman, UK and Canada.

Signing up to Expat Focus and four other expat forums changed the traffic patterns for my blog. Now, people in Russia, Australia, the Emirates, Hong Kong, Bahamas and Germany are checking me out. Many Caymanians go to high-schools and colleges in the US and Canada, and maybe it’s they who keep those nations in my top bracket. But Russia? Life must be terribly boring for expats living there! can’t tell me which US States the hits come from, never mind the cities and towns – although (late news) there is a company called Quantcast that might be useful, if its fees are reasonable.    more ...

Gordon Barlow

Shelter From The Storm

Posted by: Carole on Friday October 05, 2012 (02:30:15)   (2004 Reads)
Gordon Barlow
The more we (Linda and I) think about an emergency bolthole to escape a worldwide economic collapse, the more we wonder if we’re not already living in it. (The bolthole, that is: not the collapse!) One’s home is always familiar territory, isn’t it? We know who to go to for goods and services of every kind, where to shop, what areas to stay out of for personal safety, who to allow in our house and who not.

Once you’ve made your home somewhere, it’s hard to be truly objective about the changes you see happening. You’re aware of the physical changes, as time goes by – a new apartment block, a new marina or entertainment complex, new roads – but you tend to forget the order in which they came. That’s what we’ve found, in the several places we’ve called “home” during our marriage.

We remember when we could leave all our keys in the car and find them there next morning.    more ...

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