Wednesday, 24 April 2019

Social Security: A Fair Contribution Towards the Less Fortunate

One of the silliest remarks I heard on Facebook (on the Politics Jersey Group) was as follows:

Social Security is like a charity, I understand that it hands out over £200,000,000 every year to help people... do they ever get any of it back ?.......I thought that there was a saying. "You Help People to Help themselves" there ever a payback time or has all that money gone for good?

So let us look at the principles behind Social Security, and how it acts as a safety net for those who need help.

Perhaps nowhere was this principle better stated than by David Lloyd George in a speech about his “People’s Budget”. This was from his 1909 Limehouse speech, “Why should I put burdens on the people?” It looked at pensions, but the budget also looked at sickness and unemployment benefits. 

And it explains with great clarity why those who are richer should help those who are poorer in this way.

Here's an extract:

“Why should I put burdens on the people?”
by David Lloyd-George

Deception is always a pretty contemptible vice, but to deceive the poor is the meanest of all. But they say, 'When we promised Pensions, we meant Pensions at the expense of people for whom they were provided. We simply meant to bring in a Bill to compel workmen to contribute to their own Pensions'. If that is what they meant why did they not say so?

The introduced not merely for the purpose of raising barren taxes, but taxes that are fertile, taxes that will bring forth fruit—the security of the country which is paramount in the minds of all.

The provision for the aged and deserving poor—was it not time something was done? It is rather a shame for a rich country like ours—probably the richest in the world, if not the richest the world has ever seen—should allow those who have toiled all their days to end in penury and possibly starvation. It is rather hard that an old workman should have to find his way to the gates of the tomb, bleeding and footsore, through the brambles and thorns of poverty.

We cut a new path for him—an easier one, a pleasanter one, through fields of waving corn. We are raising money to pay for the new road—aye, and to widen it, so that 200,000 paupers shall be able to join in the march. 

There are so many in the country blessed by Providence with great wealth, and if there are amongst them men who grudge out of their riches a fair contribution towards the less fortunate of their fellow-countrymen they are very shabby rich men.

We propose to do more by means of the Budget. We are raising money to provide against the evils and the sufferings that follow from unemployment. We are raising money for the purpose of assisting our great friendly societies to provide for the sick and the widows and orphans. We are providing money to enable us to develop the resources of our own land. 

I do not believe any fair-minded man would challenge the justice and the fairness of the objects which we have in view in raising this money.

We are placing burdens on the broadest shoulders. Why should I put burdens on the people? I am one of the children of the people. I was brought up amongst them. I know their trials; and God forbid that I should add one grain of trouble to the anxieties which they bear with such patience and fortitude.

Monday, 22 April 2019


An extra poem today, mourning the at the devastation wrought in Sri Lanka by the bombs on Easter day. Blood stains are seen on the wall and on a Jesus Christ statue at the St. Sebastian's Church after blast in Negombo, north of Colombo, Sri Lanka, Sunday, April 21, 2019. More than two hundred people were killed and hundreds more injured in eight blasts that rocked churches and hotels in and just outside Sri Lanka's capital on Easter Sunday.


Witnesses to faith, weep this day
Burnt, bloodstained, torn apart
Easter ending with a heavy heart
The evil when men go astray

In fire and anguish, cast away
Desolation planned, an evil art
Witnesses to faith, weep this day
Burnt, bloodstained, torn apart

Here bombs to maim, bombs to slay
They crucify, such hate impart
But peace will not be silenced or depart
Tends the wounded, comes to pray
Witnesses to faith, weep this day

Saturday, 20 April 2019

After the Fire

After the Fire

There are the shards of fallen bricks
But there also golden crucifix
Still standing silent in the wreck
Ruins lit up by one shining spec
Of light. And this it ever was
First the greatness, applause
The crowds in awe and praise
But ephemeral: nothing stays
And burning anger cries in rage
Thrust Pontius Pilate on the stage
Crowds called for blood, and for death
The Son of Man gives up last breath
Forgive, they know not what they do
Over wooden cross,a cold wind blew
The wind comes, and the wind goes
And where it comes, only one knows
From Jordan’s bank to wilderness
A time of trial, a time to bless
When Nero’s fire swept over Rome
Burnt peasant quarters and fine home
Such a consuming fire, raging fast
The citizens stood just there aghast
Just as today, the crackling sound
As wooden rooftop falls to ground
And crucify, the call once more
Is heard as ashes fall on floor
Now flames burn fierce, and timbers fall
And at Notre Dame, the spire tall
Comes crashing down, and all seems lost
And all some do is think of cost
But there in the ruins, an altar stays
In the darkest day, after such blaze
France’s Golgotha, a time to hear
Of communities of hope, without fear
In the upper room, cowards, afraid
The eleven trembled as they prayed
Lost courage, lost vision, they retire
But the Spirit comes with tongues of fire 

Friday, 19 April 2019

New Church of St. Bernadette by Father J. O'Regan

New Church of St. Bernadette 
by Father J. O'Regan
from Jersey Catholic Record, 1972

Ah Bob! a job well done!

As time flies and the opening day looms nearer, I wish to express my sincere thanks and appreciation to Bob Le Clercq, foreman of J. Troy and Sons, Jersey Builders, for the care and devoted interest expended on our new church project, and expert attention to 'all things great and small' connected with the building.

I admire him most of all for his patience and tolerance with personnel problems, weather interference, and the non-arrival of materials due to strikes, go-slows and slipping clutches, not forgetting the late arrival and survivals.

The Two `Derricks'

Once upon a cold and frosty day, the troubled sea chaffing with La Rocco, our Bishop Derek arrived on the site to appraise the progress of the project. Since his consecration as Bishop of Portsmouth in 1965 on a wintry day, he has experienced his fair share of rough weather in these islands. He has also since that day `hoisted' many a new church including St. Bernadette's `in between' St. Peter and La Moye for the mutual benefit of these districts, and which has received its fair share of advice and fatherly concern. 

Our picture shows our Bishop Derek overlooking nothing and noting everything with his shepherd's eye, and perhaps recalling the day when he decided, as the Davidic psalmist expresses it (Ps. 79) to `transplant the Vine out of Egypt', closing Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, St. Peter's and St. Teresa's, La Moye-so that in Les Quennevais, `in this chosen place, the name of the Lord would be blessed for evermore, and endure like the sun; and every family shall be blessed in him, and all the nations shall bless his name.' 

Not far away, but out of our picture, a noisy derrick was hard at work hoisting up the materials of the new House of God, and appropriately enough, sporting a scarlet coloured cowl sixty feet up.

Derek's every wish became for our own versatile derrick a command, with fingertip obedience. 

The Walls of Troy !

Our second picture reflects the persevering labours of all concerned. With apologies to the few classical scholars still about, for the liberal use of the accommodated sense of interpretation, we see the new struggle for the walls as a reflection of the Trojan war. The Homeric Epic, with all its drama of trial, endeavour, love and battle which gave rise to the ancient Dunasian adage, pregnant with a depth of human analysis of experience of human nature: `cherchez Ia femme' has a certain similitude here.

Alexander (the saviour) renamed Paris, son of Priam and Hecuba, and grandson of Hercules, needed all his inborn ancestral traits to help him deal with some of the goddesses, especially Evis (strife) and Ate (troublemaker). Illion-Aeneid of Homer, poet of Troy, recalls the needs, deeds and greeds of the gods.

Helen of Troy, whose face launched a thousand ships and caused twelve thousand ships to cross the Agean Sea to rescue her from the Homeric City near the sea, in Asia Minor. The key note was the great interest all had for Helen, the source of all their joy and woe, and the Walls of Troy, which held her captive.

Our struggle for St. Bernadette's has also been a testing epic: to find a suitable site, at a reasonable price; to find sufficient capital; to beg and borrow, to press on in search or permissions, approvals and alterations, adaptions; to find God-sent helpers, advisers and benefactors.

Helen of Troy, wife of Menalaus, the king of Sparta, daughter of Zeus and Leda, may never have existed save in the erudite mind of a Grecian scholar, but our St. Bernadette's, though now only inanimate materials, will become a 'temple of the living God', and all its cost, in terms of cash, human effort and anxiety, will be repaid a thousand times and more, when within these new 'Walls of Troy', the adorable sacrifice of the Mass will be offered for the first time.

Our people will share in the presence of the Lord, and hear His word-the Gospel-the Good News of Redemption- a scriptural Aeneid with all the chosen coin of fancy, flashing out from many a golden phrase'; they will share too in the 'Supper of the Lord', and relish a joy the ancient Greeks never had-`far away on the ringing plains of windy Troy,' the joy of having our God with us - Emmanuel.

We have a new church raised up for the Lord at Les Quennevais, but as St. Paul writes to the Ephesians (2.7) `He has raised us up . .. that in the coming ages He might show the immeasurable riches of His grace in kindness towards us in Christ Jesus'.

Tuesday, 16 April 2019

Cat Protection in Jersey: Some Issues to Debate

Cat Protection in Jersey: Some Issues

The recent petition regarding the need to report cats hit by motor vehicles throws up a number of issues:

  • How will fines be administered and what scale?
  • How can pets be identified easily? With dogs it is usually simple, as they often have collars, name tags, and are chipped for easy biometric id.
  • If a cat is taken to the JSPCA, will the owner (if traceable) be liable for care? Or if not, will the cost be suffered by the JSPCA? Or by the States?
  • What might a law look like?

While it is extremely upsetting (I know, having buried many of my own cats over the years) to find a dead cat, clearly hit by the roadside, these are questions which must be asked.

What legal measures might look like?

Looking at the USA, we see various measures in place. In Portsmouth, USA, for example, there are very direct laws:

“In Portsmouth, cats are covered more directly. The city has an ordinance Section 6.713: “Abandonment of Animals,” which states ”... It shall be unlawful for any person who, while operating a motor vehicle on any public way in the city, strikes and injures or kills any dog, cat or domestic animal, to continue without stopping such vehicle at the scene as soon as possible, to render aid and assistance to such animal.””

Here the drivers who hit a cat have to report it to the pet owner or police officer either at the scene or at the nearest police station or they can be issued a summons, and the fee schedule for that would be $50 for a first offense, $75 second, and $100 for the third (and each subsequent offense).

Who pays for care?

Then there’s the question of who pays for the care of an animal that’s hit if the owner cannot be found, which is something raised by Victoria MacDonald in the USA:

“Unfortunately, there’s no cut-and-dry solution for the animals,” said Virginia MacDonald, of the NHSPCA (New Hampshire SPCA). “We really handle it on a case-by-case basis. What we’re hoping is, obviously, to put the animal’s best interests in mind. Because this cat or dog has a potential owner, we can contact the owner and they can step in as soon as possible.”

If people call in having found an animal that was hit, the NHSPCA will sometimes ask if they will take on the responsibility of bringing the animal to the vet and if the owner cannot be found and the vet will not donate their services for all the medical attention required, to help with the bill.

“Certainly, we’ll help out to try to find the owner. But, we’re a nonprofit organization. We don’t have an endless pocketbook, either. It’s a tough situation,” MacDonald said. “The NHSPCA is absolutely there for you, but it’s also a partnership with the community. ... We don’t have this endless pot. If people behave in a humane manner, that only benefits the entire community.”

She recalls trying to be a good Samaritan herself once, after finding a dead animal on the side of the road: “I tried to do the right thing. I went to the police, I went to the neighbors, I tried to find the owner and never did,” MacDonald said. “And this was somebody’s pet. One of the big messages is to put an ID on your dog or your cat.”

Why dogs are different?

Another article makes clear why dogs are different. They are expected to be controlled, and not just wander loose, so that the dog owner is as much to blame as the driver. However this is not the same with cats, and no one has ever advocated keeping cats in such a controlled fashion to avoid accidents. As Dan Elsom reports:

Jacqui Cuff, head of advocacy and government relations at Cats Protection, said: “It is commonly thought that road traffic accidents involving dogs have to be reported to the police so that owners are notified their dog has been involved.

"However, the legal reasoning behind the requirement to report for dogs is two-fold. Firstly, accidents involving dogs are more likely in the eyes of the law to lead to damage, either to property or people, so drivers need to report the details to the police to establish liability.

"Secondly, dogs are required to wear collars and be kept on a lead on the highway so drivers need to report accidents involving dogs in case an offence has been committed by the owner. We don’t have this argument for cats as they can roam freely.

“That said, we would always urge anyone who injures a cat while driving to take the cat to a vet for emergency treatment or report it to the police as it is most likely someone’s pet and it can be heartbreaking for owners not to know what has become of a missing animal."

So how could matters be improved?

Hugo Griffiths reported on a car buyer survey in the UK which suggests a mood for change, albeit 59% - more than half, but still not as much as perhaps one would like:

Drivers who run over cats on the road should have to report it to the authorities, an exclusive Carbuyer survey has found, with 59% of 1,600 readers saying the requirement to do so if you run over a dog should be extended to felines.

Those results closely echo a new 'Animal Welfare Plan' policy proposal from the Labour Party, part of which would “require motorists to report accidents where an animal has been injured”.

Present rules mandate that motorists who hit a dog must report the incident to the police, yet hitting a cat requires no action from the driver at all.

And while reporting so many dead cats to the police would be problematic, more could still be done – not least because only 25% of cats struck on the road are said to survive their initial injuries, meaning many are left to suffer and pass away at the roadside instead of receiving medical attention.

An RSPCA spokesman told Carbuyer the organisation “would always encourage people to stop [and] see if they can help the cat by taking it to a vet for treatment”. The animal charity added that Highways England could also do more to help, as in 2016 it “agreed to scan dogs found dead on roads for microchips so their owner could be traced”. The RSPCA would “like to see the same [policy] for cats”.

What advice can be given now?

Cats Protection offers the following advice to anyone who discovers an injured cat:

If the cat can be moved, take him to a vet and inform them that you are not the owner. If the cat can’t be identified, inform your local community that you have discovered an injured cat and taken it to the vet. Putting up posters may help raise awareness and inform the owners of their cat’s whereabouts.

What might a law look like? A Private Cats Bill

An MP wants to make it illegal for motorists to drive away if their vehicle hits a cat 'The Cat Bill' would create a new law, which would make it a crime to drive off after hitting a cat. This means that a law could be amended and adopted for Jersey without reinventing the wheel, should such a thing be desired.

The bill - proposed by Tory MP Rehman Chishti - will "require the driver of a mechanically propelled vehicle involved in an accident resulting in injury or death to a cat to stop and give information or report the accident to the police", according Parliament’s website .

Summary of the Cats Bill 2017-19

A Bill to require the driver of a mechanically propelled vehicle involved in an accident resulting in injury or death to a cat to stop and give information or report the accident to the police; to require the keepers of certain cats to ensure they are microchipped; and for connected purposes.


Monday, 15 April 2019

Education Journey in Jersey

A superb infographic document that allows parents to quickly see what routes they can consider for their children's education. It goes from nursery to higher education. Many thanks to Rod Bryans, who commissioned this before leaving the States and sending me the link.

"The design, created by Freedom Media, we based it on the New York Subway map. The reasoning behind that is because a subway map clearly shows the connections and you only need to know two things where you are and where you are going to find your way through."

I've also split it into bite size chunks below:

Sunday, 14 April 2019

Three Palms Sunday

Something from Gloucester, 1980. This was based upon a vivid dream. Make of it what you will!

Three Palms Sunday.

One palm cross
for you
in your place
To break the dark enchantment
of the river demon 

One palm cross
for me
in my place
To take the dark enchantment
from your embrace 

One palm cross
for us
at our place
Guiding us from stagnant waters
to green meadows 

And there we take our rest
three palms sunday
sunday rest

Gloucester, 1980