Tuesday, 19 March 2019

Getting Priorities Right

Balancing the Books

ITV News reports that:

“Taxes will need to rise or public sector spending be cut if Jersey's government is to balance its books over the next four years. That's the warning of a leading group of economists who advise Jersey's government on its financial plans. The Fiscal Policy Panel warns £340 million was taken out of reserves, or rainy day funds, between 2009 and 2017 to balance the books.”

Just by way of note, the following Ministers had responsibility over that time frame:
2008-2011 Treasury Minister Philip Ozouf
2011-2018 Treasury Minister Alan Maclean

Spend, Spend, Spend

Meanwhile, money is no object:

‘Liberation 75 is a proposal to join Liberation Square and Weighbridge Place by extinguishing the section of road between the two spaces to create a large, improved public-amenity space,’ Deputy Lewis said. ‘It is proposed that it is completed by and opened on 9 May 2020 to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Liberation of the Island.

And what does this vanity project cost?

“£1.4m proposals to connect Liberation Square and the Weighbridge have been unveiled”

The other side of the balance...

But on the other hand, cut-backs bite:

“Chronic staffing shortages have prompted one of Jersey’s largest charities to cut a lifeline service offering families of disabled people a break from caring for them, warning of a sector-wide “crisis”. Les Amis, a charity which supports islanders with learning disabilities, have said that recruitment shortages have left them with “no option” but to halt two of the main services they provide at the end of this month.”

“Staff pressures, a lack of social workers and an increased work load have led a service provider to pull out of offering States short breaks. New Horizons provide short breaks for children with disabilities, but say they will not reapply for their Health Department contract once it expires at the end of May.”

Is it just me, or does anyone else think that this government seems to have its priorities all wrong?

Rather than putting aside £1.4 million for a project which is not necessary, why not use some of that to help lifeline services to children.

When the liberation of Jersey happened in 1945, it meant an end to five long years of German rule, when the captive Islanders were set free. Lifeline services provide freedom to help islanders and their families with learning disabilities, and while it might not be as high-profile and showy as the proposed Liberation 75  project, wouldn’t it be nice to give them and their families a bit of extra freedom?

And perhaps if some money was spent there, so that it could feature in the Liberation 75 celebrations, perhaps some of the disabled children supported could play a significant part in the celebrations. That would be something which we could all celebrate and be proud of!


Monday, 18 March 2019

The Politics of the Tribe

I notice that the police are investigating claims of racial abuse during the election campaign, and in particular against Inna Gardiner.

I see one blog is still up in which the blogger accusers her in complicity in a genocidal campaign by Israel against the Palestinians which may or may not be related to this. It is an extraordinary claim and couched in extreme language which certainly seems to go beyond mere political argument.

I can well understand why she didn’t rise to the bait. Replying to the kinds of accusations thrown at her, in the vitriolic manner in which this was done, would be to shift the focus of an election campaign onto something else entirely, and as it so often does, bring the more virulent politics of the tribe.

Let’s not forget that as recent as 2003, red swastikas were daubed onto the outside walls of Tabor Synagogue in St Brelade, and while the incident has not been repeated, there's still anti-semitisim around. In fact a more general xenophobic racism, stoked by Brexit, has been rising not just in the UK but also in Jersey.

This is what that the blog said:

"Gardiner is a former employee of the Israeli Ministry of Education in the occupied city of Jerusalem. Any leftist worth their salt should know that the entire Israeli state apparatus is a settler-colonial death machine which works tirelessly to systematically enslave, oppress and ultimately expel or exterminate the Palestinian people, and the Ministry of Education is no different.... Anyone who thought it was remotely acceptable to even engage with an organization and a government which engages in this kind of blatantly genocidal policy is deserving of far more than simply not receiving your vote. I'd advise anyone who even pretends to care about human rights and cultural preservation to refuse to touch her with a ten-foot pole."

A correspondent notes that not only is this abusive, it is also potentially criminal:

“There is not one shred of evidence by which you could claim that Inna is, was, has been party to or supports Israeli government policy, or in being a government employee that infers she was. “

“Had he made the comments prior to Inna's declaration to stand for Deputy it may well have been ignored. However in the context of an election it becomes more than a matter of racial abuse but may possibly stray into an offence under Article 62 (1)(b)(c) of PUBLIC ELECTIONS (JERSEY) LAW 2002 which states:”

“A person shall be guilty of an offence and liable to a fine not exceeding level 3 on the standard scale if, with intent to obtain a vote for himself or herself, or for any other person, at a public election, or an abstention from voting at a public election,

(b) the person publishes a false statement about a person who is a candidate at the election knowing the statement to be untrue; or

(c) assaults or threatens any person.”

“Sadly anti-semitism is very much alive no matter how comments are dressed up or academic argument made to deny it exists.”

Inna has told Bailiwick Express that since she went public on allegations of racists abuse, she had been inundated with so many emails from islanders “describing racist abuse in Jersey” that she “didn’t have time to reply to all of them”.

“I have had online comments - these email describe [the abuse that] people experienced at their work places, social circles and also between children at schools. It means it's a much wider issue and we need to speak about it. I believe in our community, we need to care for everybody. Who does it need to realise how wrong it is? I don't want to prosecute them because of their ignorance. For me, highlighting this issue is important, so everyone understands exactly what is and isn't acceptable in our society.”


Saturday, 16 March 2019

Fragmented Lives

This poem reflects on the events in New Zealand, and the terrible attack by a gunman on the Muslims attending worship at their mosques.

Fragmented Lives

The gunfire broke out, the killing time
A madman on the loose, and no rhyme
Or reason for the many, many dead
Cut down, screaming, as they fled
Always excuses, justification given
By the killers, and so mad, so driven
But there is no excuse, no reason why
So many people just had to die
Massacre of the innocent, all slain
And forever here the mark of Cain
The blood cries out, in sorrow, tears
Mourning dead children, lost years
They came to celebrate and rejoice
Give praise to Allah, joyful voice
Until a discordant note is heard
Gunshots silence prayerful word
Shouts, scream, frightened yell
Flowers lie by where they fell
Men, women, children, dying, dead
Fickle fates now cut the thread
And in a heartbeat, joy no more
Like bleached bones upon a shore
Enshroud the fallen with your prayers
Wash the sorrow with your tears
And light a candle, mourn, weep
In sorrow, let your vigil keep.

Friday, 15 March 2019

The Channel Islands in Diocese of Portsmouth – Part 1

Mgr. Lawrence, Episcopal Vicar of the Channel Islands
 with Bishop Emery and Canon Lecluze (left).

This week’s history comes from the “Diocese of Portsmouth: Past and Present” by Gerard Dwyer published in 1981, and looks at the history of Catholics in Jersey after the Reformation to the early1980s.

The Channel Islands in Diocese of Portsmouth – Part 1


The Channel Islands

All through the Middle Ages the Channel Islands formed part of the French Diocese of Coutances. On 28th October 1496 King Henry VII, the first of the Tudors, requested Pope Alexander VI to transfer them to Salisbury. Three years later he asked to have them transferred to the Diocese of Winchester. The Pope did as Henry asked but the Pope's Bull had no effect.

Right up to the reign of Elizabeth I, the Bishop of Coutances exercised jurisdiction over the Islands. In 1569 the then Bishop of Coutances was on a diplomatic mission in London. He complained that the dues from the Islands' Deaneries were not forthcoming.

The Privy Council unearthed the Bull and the Royal Letter of 1499; an Order in Council of 11th March 1569 executed the separation of the Islands from the Diocese of Coutances and placed them under the jurisdiction of the Anglican Bishop of Winchester but once again the order had no effect. The authority of the Bishop of Winchester was completely ignored owing to the fact that Presbyterian discipline and church government were firmly established in the Islands. It was in fact 1818 before the Anglican form of Confirmation was administered for the first time by Dr. Fisher, Bishop of Salisbury, as the Bishop of Winchester was not well enough to do so. The Islands then had to wait until 1829 to receive the first Episcopal visitation from their Anglican Bishop, Dr. Sumner of Winchester.

When the Church in England was placed by Rome under the care of Vicars Apostolic, the Channel Islands were looked after by the Vicar Apostolic of the London District (although it is not clear if they were ever formally included in the territory of his jurisdiction). Bishop Douglass, who was Vicar Apostolic from 1790 to 1812, appointed in 1807 Fr. Charles de Grimouville, an English-speaking priest in charge in Jersey, as Vicar General for Catholic administration in the Channel Islands; in 1817 he was nominated Bishop of St. Malo, but died that same year before being consecrated. The post of Vicar General does not appear to have been continued.

In Pope Pius IX's Letters Apostolic restoring the English Hierarchy in 1850, "the islands of Jersey, Guernsey and other adjacent" are included under the Diocese of Southwark. When Southwark was divided by the Letters Apostolic of Pope Leo XIII in 1882, the new Diocese of Portsmouth contained "those Islands in the English Channel (seu le Manche) appertaining to the English Crown."

During the Second World War the Church in the Channel Islands was completely cut-off from the rest of the Diocese due to the German Occupation of the Islands. Bishop King solved the problem of administering this part of the Diocese by appointing Canon Hickey, Parish Priest of St. Joseph's, Guernsey, as his Vicar General for the Channel Islands. This fact was made known to Guernsey seemingly through Ireland and the Vichy Government, but it appears that news of it did not reach Jersey until after the war.

After the Occupation, Mgr. Hickey continued to hold this post until his death in 1952, following which the Islands returned to direct administration from Portsmouth (or Winchester, as the Bishop lived there). In 1978 the present Bishop of Portsmouth, Rt. Rev. A. Emery, appointed Mgr. Canon Raymond Lawrence as Parish Priest of St. Joseph's, Guernsey and Episcopal Vicar for the Channel Islands, granting him all necessary faculties to deal with the normal administration of the Church in the Islands; at the same time he was granted faculties by the Holy See to administer the Sacrament of Confirmation in the Islands when requested by the Bishop to do so. And so today the Channel Islands form an Episcopal Vicariate within the Diocese of Portsmouth.

Thursday, 14 March 2019

The Demographic Time Bomb: A Holistic Approach

I quite enjoyed Katerina Lisenkova of RBS giving the talk to the Chamber of Commerce on “Looking to the Future: Economic Trends”.

However, I was disappointed that she was blinkered about one matter, and over simplistic about another. Here’s the first, and the second will follow next week.

The Demographic Time Bomb: A Holistic Approach

Katerina showed a nice chart showing net immigration, and the dependency ratio (of workers to those not working), which was undoubtedly done to show different rates of immigration (by different lines on the chart) and how more immigration lowered the dependency ratio from rising so much.

What she failed to address or even consider was the long term effect of this fix. It is now surely a commonplace that this kind of scheme is a population Ponzi scheme, depending as it does on increasing a population, which it turn grows old, and therefore needs even more immigration to keep the dependency rate down. Mathematically that is obvious, but the mathematics of unsustainable growth never seems to have appealed to economists. The only way you can really get a permanent effect out of immigration is if you have not just high immigration but exponentially increasing numbers of immigrants.

Joseph Chamie, a demographer, who spent 12 years of service as the director of the United Nations Population Division notes:

"Among its primary tactics, Ponzi demography exploits the fear of population decline and ageing. Without a young and growing population, we are forewarned of becoming a nation facing financial ruin and a loss of national power."

With a Population Ponzi scheme, the population can always grow – but it needs a greater flow of immigration as the numbers of elderly supported by the scheme grows and grows in turn. It is a vicious cycle of growth, which is fine if you have enough land, resources and infrastructure to accommodate it. But unfortunately, living on an Island, we don’t.

Eventually, of course, the whole enterprise is not sustainable, especially in a small island with finite resources. It is buying time in the present to make even greater problems for the future, which of course means not just a much larger ageing population, but also greater demands on infrastructure, housing, health, etc.

Elizabeth Bauer, writing in Forbes, suggests alternative ways of looking at these matters.

“Do we alter the ratio itself, by boosting fertility rates or increasing immigration (and, specifically, immigration of individuals at a mix of skill levels)?”

“Or do we alter the significance of the ratio? Oldsters will inevitably have higher medical costs than everyone else, but a healthier population will be able to continue working longer, and be less costly in terms of their impact on Medicare and Medicaid (e.g., long-term care) afterwards. “

There is also the fact that part of the issue relates to the ageing of the “baby boomer” generation, after which matters will slow down. This can be seen in the US census predictions, but applies equally

“Although births are projected to be nearly four times larger than the level of net international migration in coming decades, a rising number of deaths will increasingly offset how much births are able to contribute to population growth. Between 2020 and 2050, the number of deaths is projected to rise substantially as the population ages and a significant share of the population, the baby boomers, age into older adulthood.”

The phrase “baby boomer” relates to births roughly between 1945 and 1965. The phrase comes from the rocketing birth rate in the West in the years after World War Two.

And there is also another way to a solution, given by Warwick Smith:

“If we want to improve our capacity to support an ageing population, then our focus should be on full employment and productivity improvements so that those remaining workers can produce enough to maintain everybody’s quality of life. Productivity improvements come from three main sources: investment in education and training, investment in research and development, and investment in infrastructure. If we focus our spare capacity on making our workforce more productive as the population ages, then we can deal with the demographic time bomb.”

In conclusion, a focus on dependency ratios to the exclusion of other factors gives a misleading impression that by growing a population, we can grow our way out of the problems of an ageing demographic. We need a more holistic approach than that.

What is of equal concern is that the business people of Jersey attending yesterday's talk, got only a one sided and blinkered assessment of the situation presented as if it was the only option on the table.

Wednesday, 13 March 2019

That Sinking Feeling

That Sinking Feeling

Comment on FB: “We need a proper deep water berth that big cross channel ferries as well as Cruise ships can use.”

Do you ever get a sinking feeling when people say things without doing any research? I’m fortunate in having a network of correspondents who are more knowledgeable about these matters than I am, and this is what they had to say.

Out of their Depth
Guest post by Adam Gardiner

Another case of people making comments without doing their homework. Our ability to provide a deepwater berth is limited by virtue of 3 factors. (1) our tidal range that creates a huge difference in the depth of water and therefore large ships would likely ground by mid water (ii) to dredge a deep water channel would require the removal of thousands of tonnes of rock - the only method of achieving that being explosives and (iii) that channel would need to extend almost 3 miles into the bay into natural water in order to allow large cruise liners to navigate entry. That is why they currently moor south the Demie Des Pas light in deeper water and tender their passengers ashore.

You can see from Google earth that the current natural channel into the harbour is relatively narrow - and shallow - and map shown on the FB thread (copy above) shows the mean depth of water in the channel as being 5.2 metres - or just 17 ft in old money. The larger cruise liners can draw anything between 20ft to 30ft.

I got most of that information from an acquaintance with considerable expertise on the Jersey coastline and shipping. He said that while all technically possible, detonating multiple charges in our approaches would cause considerable disruption to our general shipping traffic and thereafter the channel would require constant dredging to keep it open. Costs would be significant to start with - £multi-millions, notwithstanding ongoing dredging costs and the environmental harm it would cause.

A solution may lay in extending a causeway out into deep water - reclamation. That would not be cheap and could, environmentally speaking, be very harmful and also further affect the already compromised tidal flow in St. Aubins Bay.

There have also been suggestions to use the Ronez harbour to berth large liners. The water is deep enough but to construct a terminal on what little level land is available plus the duplication of passport/immigration/C&E services not to mention local road structure make the proposition unviable.

Like the bridge to France (but unlike the large ferries and liners) these suggestions are all out of their depth.

Tuesday, 12 March 2019

Humour on Politics Jersey

This rather nice spoof was posted on Politics Jersey.

But you can't please everyone!

One person complained that it was "a stain on the memory of Freddie Mercury and Queen", and evidently took it very seriously, but it is clearly supposed to be humour, no more denigrating that the variously subtitled versions of clips from "Downfall".

Nick Palmer said: "I think it is brilliant humour, and I don't often say that of stuff. Apart from anything else, they do a very good job of reproducing the Queen sound."

And also commented:

"Of course, the reality is that there are hordes of people online possessed of such monstrous egos that their peculiar opinions have become completely incorrigible, no matter how many mountains of evidence one can show them to prove that they are wrong and that their opinions are bunkum. I think it is a major sickness of modern online society that somehow many seem to act as if everybody's opinions are of equal value. That is just insane, not to mention potentially pathologically dangerous."

To which Mike Dun replied:

"How many people in a horde?"

I answered: I think Ghengis had about 50.

To which, getting in the swing of things, Mike replied:

Mike Dun: "About the same as the States Assembly - but he did remarkably well it seems without computers. A lesson for us all perhaps."

Various other exchanges rambled on by other posters on a more serious vein on the nature of opinion and fact (in the Middle Ages, this lot would have been arguing about how many angels could fit on the point of a pin), in which this gem popped out:

"Everyones opinions are of equal value"


"You can’t prove your opinions anymore than anyone else. There are simply opinions of no value whatsoever. Analysis by moral philosophers would undoubtedly favour you? Really? That’s just imaginative thinking."


"An Opinion based on facts are demonstrably worth more than an opinion based on the opposite of facts. Therefore Opinions have value dependent on what they are based on."

I thought the exchange was getting too serious again, as well as remarkably loopy. Online exchanges often have a rather tenuous relation to the real world, so I shoved in my tuppenceworth again:

Can we mention Godel's incompleteness theorem at this point?

Mike Dun came back with another bit of rather nice humour:

"Thanks for that reference - I thought Godel kept a dairy herd at St Mary for years - but apparently Genghis and his horde used to play "fact or fiction" around the camp-fire along similar lines to this "link"... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O4ndIDcDSGc. Those who postulated a fact had to prove it and if they failed were tied to a tree and used for target practice. Unfortunately the policy tended to encourage silence and that was why they never did manage to invent the computer..."

And there we must leave it... but my thoughts, for what they are worth - and there's a fair debate about opinions, moral philosophers, facts, the merits of different brands of coffee and Brexit still going on - is that while there are people who can enjoy humour, like Mike Dun, and not take everything always too seriously, there is still hope for the human race.

"The human race, to which so many of my readers belong, has been playing at children's games from the beginning, and will probably do it till the end, which is a nuisance for the few people who grow up. And one of the games to which it is most attached is called "Keep to-morrow dark," and which is also named (by the rustics in Shropshire, I have no doubt) "Cheat the Prophet." The players listen very carefully and respectfully to all that the clever men have to say about what is to happen in the next generation. The players then wait until all the clever men are dead, and bury them nicely. They then go and do something else. That is all. For a race of simple tastes, however, it is great fun."

― G.K. Chesterton, The Napoleon of Notting Hill