Friday, 31 January 2014

Guest Comment on Population

Daniel Wimberley has been unable to comment on my blog, but has sent a comment, which I think deserves a degree of prominence. Daniel was a former Deputy of St Mary, and raised the subject of immigration during his term of office.
He was also responsible for getting the States to agree to an independent electoral commission, a decision which was later rescinded by the States after he had retired as Deputy, in favour of a States appointed commission, chaired by States members. Given the fiasco that Sir Philip Bailhache's electoral commission resulted in, it is clear than an independent committee couldn't have made a worse mess of the process. In fact, Daniel also predicted correctly that the States would be unable to reform themselves any more than the failed attempts of the past, hence the need for an independent commission.
My posting can be read here:

Daniel Wimberley's Comment
Excellent post. It is a Ponzi scheme. Can we persuade the powers-that-be to change course and act sustainably?
Well yes, if they were rational, and fair-minded, and acting in "good faith." But unfortunately there is something else going on here.
1)      there was no population estimate by the Statistics Unit in 2010 even though they normally carry out this estimate every year and it is not difficult or expensive to do. No figures from the census were published before the 2011 election, which would have turned population into the number 1 election issue.
2)      in the debate on population which I forced when the States in mid-2009 debated the 2009-2014 Strategic Plan, the Council of Ministers "vanished" 2,800 people by statistical sleight of hand.  It was blatant deception carried out by the ruling group. Its effect was to keep the maximum population which would arise as a result of the policy they were putting forward well below the totemic figure of 100,000.
3)      at Imagine Jersey 2035 those attending were told that if net inward migration were zero (no more people coming in then going out) then the population would fall dramatically with all kinds of ensuing problems. (At the time that was true as deaths exceeded births, at the time that Imagine Jersey 2035 took place). People faced with that said they were quite happy to have limited net inward migration of plus 150 households and that would have given us a steady population.  This was relayed to the public via the media as the people who attended want more population.  This was completely untrue.
In the States later, Terry le Sueur claimed that the public had agreed to a final population of 100,000 during consultation. He was forced to admit that the claim was false during questions in the house.
Readers might like to consider why, on this issue, what we get is not an honest debate but a succession of lies. It is almost as if the purpose is to ensure that the policy of increasing the population is so important to the ruling group that nothing will turn them from that course.
In which case the only way forward is to remove them from office. Putting forward rational arguments, pointing out that the whole thing is a Ponzi scheme, will have no effect whatsoever.

1 comment:

Jonathan Renouf said...

Daniel is right: it is a Ponzi scheme. The argument that you need to increase population to pay for future pensions is designed to frighten people into agreeing to continued population rise. The logical conclusion to this argument is an ever rising population, as each new cohort of young tax payers heads towards retirement and requires yet more tax payers to support them. Where do the proponents of this policy think it should end? When do they think Jersey will have reached it's maximum population? It is my belief that people like Philip Ozouf see no problem with an island of 140 thousand people. But we need to smoke their real position out. An election is coming up; every candidate can be relentlessly pressured to answer the question: what should Jersey's maximum population be? We could also pressure candidates to commit to zero population growth - a campaign to make every candidate say in their election statement what their views on population are.
But there's another side to the story. Those of us who believe in stabilising Jersey's population need to answer the question: how will we afford pensions? What kind of economy will we have if there is zero population growth? How will we generate economic growth without population growth? Might we accept a trade off: slightly lower economic growth as the price we pay to protect one of the island's most precious assets - it's beautiful natural environment? We cannot expect large number of people to vote for a stable population if they perceive it as damaging to their own economic interest.
Jersey is small enough to have this debate. It's a debate the establishment will do anything to avoid, but it is absolutely vital to the island's future. We should press for research into these alternative futures. Otherwise the establishment will use the politics of fear to close off the debate before it has begun.