Why the lies?

The PURPOSE of the Lies

Who puts these myths about? Why do they do it? Why do they put so much energy into getting you to believe something which is not true? Who benefits and who loses?

The gist of this page is that the distortions, and the untruths are probably deliberate, as that is the simplest explanation.  They certainly feed the culture of hostility and mistrust currently ruling in the States.

1    Who puts these myths about?

The evidence is that it is our Treasury Minister, our Chief Minister, and their allies outside the States who promote these myths.

2    Why do they put so much energy into getting you to  believe something which is not true?

Because they gain politically. What exactly does this mean? And does this mean that Jersey loses out while these people pursue their own private political agenda?

The two most striking examples are a) informing the public that they, the public, wanted a rise in the population, taken together with the  distortion of the population figures in the population debate.  and b) persuading the public that States spending is out of control.

They need to bypass the public on population because their policy is opposed to what the public wants. So they skew the results of the consultation to “show” that the public have OK’d an increase in population. Likewise they and their allies in the Chamber of Commerce and the “small Society” group ensure that the public swallows the myth of “States spending out of control” so that a rational debate about what we actually want in the way of public services is replaced by an assumption – spending needs to be cut.

It may count as clever politicking but it is precisely what brings the States into disrepute.

Who gains and who loses?

Follow the money, as they say.

The policy of growing the population

The ruling party make two claims about this. They claim that it is to solve the problems posed by the ageing population. But their own figures show that the net financial contribution to solving this problem is very small indeed. (1/14th of the total tax take they say is required, if I remember correctly.)

They claim that we need extra people to boost the island’s economy, to achieve “economic growth”

My question is:  does the richest place (alright then, the third richest) on earth need to get even richer?  Is this really all we want? Do we really like what we see happening to our beautiful island in the name of money? Is there an end-point to this madness?

There is another, more practical point. Even if we accept the “growth” mantra (what is wrong with just staying the same, we are rich enough already, aren’t we?) the fact is that the island’s economy has not grown at all over the last decade and yet we have had loads of extra people in that time. ‘Ah, they might say – that is because the Finance Industry’s profits have gone down.  A lot. ‘But that just shows that the profitability of our major industry is more important than the number of people who are here.

The stated explanations do not stack up. So how about another explanation?  Remember, they misrepresent the public’s views on this issue. They mislead the States. There must be a lot at stake.  Why is this issue so important to the ruling party?

An explanation which makes sense is this: increasing the population means there is a permanent shortage of accommodation, which has meant the price of housing going up 7% a year for years, which means high prices of accommodation, which means high land values and high house prices and rents. This costs the government (the taxpayer) a fortune in subsidising rents and house-building, but benefits landowners, developers, building companies, property owners.

This is not just an issue of money.  It is a social issue.  It is about the social fabric. It drives inflation, which damages Jersey’s ability to compete, in all sectors other than finance. And it forces couples into a spiral of both having to work to pay for the roof over their heads.

Maybe the ruling group are governing in the interests of those who benefit from this situation of permanent scarcity and not in the public  interest?

The policy of cuts

Public spending provides the social wage – public amenities like libraries and cliff-paths, public facilities like schools and hospitals,  – which all of us benefit from and enjoy.

The social wage is paid for from taxation. Taxation is structured, in most countries (theUSAexcepted) so that it is progressive, the wealthiest, and those on the higher incomes, pay proportionately more.  Some of us in the States try to make this apply fully inJerseytoo!

Providing facilities and amenities for all from taxation therefore acts to redistribute wealth from the rich and the high-earners to those less well-off.

Reducing public expenditure reduces the social wage. Put like this, maybe people would not vote for their social wage to be cut. But the aim of the myth is to bypass the debate and persuade everyone that there is no need for a debate. Cuts are what has to happen.

Cutting public expenditure is a right wing policy; in fact it defines what the term “right wing” means. InJerseywhere public spending has historically been so low that numerous serious problems have resulted – see here – a policy of cutting public spending should be seen as a far right wing policy – that is, it should be seen as extreme.

Who benefits from such a policy? Why, those who are the wealthiest and the highest-earning.  So, once again we see policy carried out, on the back of distortion and the creation of myths, which benefits one section of society at the expense of all.

It is possible to argue that the social wage should be smaller. I do not agree with this position, but it is a position that can be put forward. It is also fine to argue the opposite. On such a vital issue, on a small island with a defective democracy (unfair representation, rotten boroughs where politicians are elected unopposed, no direct link between the way people vote and who ends up in government) such a fundamental issue is a prime candidate for full, rigorous consultation, as is done for the Island Plan.

What is not OK is to stop any public debate by the use of spin, by persuading people of this untruth, namely that States spending is rising very fast when it is not.

So well have the spinners done their job that the Health Minister told States members that the voluntary organisations who do some of the work of the Health Department’s work agreed to the cuts in their budgets because they ‘knew how bad everything was,’ and ‘saw the need for cuts’.

The lie has indeed become a myth which rules the actions of most people in the island. This is government by stealth, by deception, and I find it sickening.

Deliberate deception or self-deception?

Tony of Tony’s musings has raised the question “Could this be self-deception?”  (Click here for source. ) Could it be that the Treasury Minister picks up theCAG’s (Comptroller and Auditor General’s) report, seizes on the chart on page 7 and simply repeats it without bothering to check whether the figures include the effect of inflation?

It is a commonplace that we filter what we read, and unless we guard against this tendency, we select data that fits our world view, we tend to filter out what we do not like. Well, if this is what happened then I fear for Jersey, as we would then have a Treasury Minister who does not accurately assess data, but instead filters out what does not “fit” his personal preferences.

Or is it that he knows perfectly well, and chooses to mis-inform the public so as to mould public opinion to fit in with what he wants to do politically?  With clever people like Senator Ozouf, I have to say the second explanation is far more likely.

There is evidence which corroborates this view. When zero ten was rejected by the code group, this was hailed as providing certainty. WhenJersey’s backtracking on the original proposal was accepted by the Code Group as being compliant, this was hailed as a great victory. The GST statement is very hard indeed to explain away.  It is all of a piece.

The simplest explanation is that it is all deliberate. The alternative is that it all massive self-deception.

I repeat what I said at the beginnng:

The gist of this page is that the distortions, and the untruths are probably deliberate, as that is the simplest explanation.  They certainly feed the culture of hostility and mistrust currently ruling in the States. 

and

It may count as clever politicking but it is precisely what brings the States into disrepute.

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