Thursday, 13 October 2011

Parish pump planetary politics

For both my local and international readers, I offer up this slice of our local elections for Senators – the senior position in our government. I can’t pretend I have much respect for most politicians in bigger countries either – few are that much better at understanding the true reality of the situation we face – but let’s have a despairing laugh at the sheer irresponsibly ignorant ineptitude of most who seek to be our leaders locally.

The Jersey Evening Post did not report on all the questions asked at the St Lawrence Senatorial hustings in last night's paper. I asked what I consider to be one of the most comprehensive questions by far, yet reporter Ben Queree's piece reduced it to two words in one sentence.

"with a full parish hall hearing the 13 candidates' views on economic growth, fishing rights and the Island's international image"

He chose to solely highlight candidates' views on the relatively trivial subject of Jersey's image. Quite staggeringly inept reporting – or sub-editing by his “superiors”.

To be fair, Ben might not have understood the question. The Connetable, when passing it over to the candidates wondered if they would understand it. This was partially down to the Connetable herself who, at the start, had warned that questions should be brief, which is fair enough if people are trying to find candidates' views on speeding or drains but sometimes questions about the really big issues, that have the longest lasting most dramatic consequences, cannot be squeezed into a soundbite. I will give the full scene-setting here (plus a bit more) that I was unable to last night.

I initially pointed out that Mervyn King, Governor of the Bank of England, last week suggested that the current financial crisis could be the worst ever (which obviously includes the great depression of the '30s).

Although Jersey's economy is in better shape than most it is very vulnerable to external events - the finance industry depends on a healthy international economy and the continued tolerance of offshore activities. The current external threat to the fulfilment industry is an example of Jersey's serious vulnerability.

Conventional economic thought, such as Ozouf and co rely on to formulate their policies, can only offer ideas to try and grow the economy to get us out of this hole but, as I pointed out last night, wanting further growth in the economy is neither desirable, possible or even rational.

The United Nations Environment programme has identified that we are living beyond our environmental means - globally we are using up planetary resources and energy 1.4 times faster than the planet can supply them sustainably. Anyone who spends more than their income should know what the eventual result of that foolishness is - unending misery.

In the developed world (USA/Western Europe) the demands that our economies make pro rata would need between 3-10 planets to satisfy sustainably.
So, obviously, we are damned if we try to grow our economy further and damned to stay stuck in this recession/depression if we don't - or at least that is what conventional economists would think.

I then asked if the candidates were fully aware of the different economic schools of thought that not only expected the giant crunch but also offer a way out to achieve a long term sustainable steady state economy that not only stabilises employment, social welfare, investment and industry but simultaneously protects our local and global environment. I further asked if they would seek out these alternative economic methods and apply them, if elected.

Well! You would have thought I had asked them how they would run a space exploration programme back in the days when the great and the good thought that the Sun revolved around the Earth and a few more enlightened people were pointing out that they were flat out wrong! Their familiar ideas, based upon a massive misconception, are simply doomed to fail and take the rest of us down with them. With two or three obvious exceptions, four at the most, they simply blustered and rabbited on with their pet ideas. The former Bailiff and highest of the high in Jersey society, Sir Philip Bailhache, was not even aware of the reality of what Mervyn King said which was, according to that hotbed of revolutionary thought The Telegraph:

“The world is facing the worst financial crisis since at least the 1930s “if not ever”, the Governor of the Bank of England said last night”

Sir Philip believed that Mervyn King had said the crisis was the most serious since the second World War.The majority of the candidates seemed to have no comprehension whatsoever of the situation we are in, not only economically but also, and more fundamentally and dangerously, environmentally too nor the vital strategy we need to urgently embark on to have a hope of rescuing our futures from the pit, and yet they are offering themselves up to lead a new States into the future. However, unfortunately the audience did not howl down their foolishness, which is explicable because probably they too did not understand the ramifications of the question either, so may not have appreciated its full significance but since when has the blind leading the blind ever been a sensible strategy? Now, more than ever, we need the democratic majority to vote for those who know what is really happening and at least have an inkling of what to do about it.


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