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Sickened by my home…

so, things have gone a little quiet over in Jersey. Well, aside from a secret meeting of so-called ‘Ministers’ to see if they can replace the guy leading the investigation into the terrible abuse. Oh, and the fact that he went public and said that former members of the States and the police force were trying to interfere with the investigation.

However, things have gone a little quiet. Oh, people are arguing the toss on forums…the Jersey Democratic Alliance is trying to keep things going – and getting little thanks in return. From what Ive read in some parts, it seems that there are those who whilst despising the States as it is, they also despise the JDA – the only organised oposition to the Establishement. Now, I have no problem with folks doign that, however, I’d rather they got off their backsides and did something rather then just sat at home and slagged off the one organisation thats actually trying to do something.

And what of the Jersey Evening Post, hmm? That bastion of Jersey life.

Its still spouting pro Kremlin propaganda.

Have this from 20/1 – 03- 08

Right time to reflect on the real Jersey

THE long weekend now in prospect will offer Islanders an opportunity for some reflection upon the impact made on this small community and its self-esteem by the dark and distressing events of the past month.
There is, of course, still a very long way to go before the full truth of what happened at Haut de la Garenne can be discovered and those who may be accused of abuse against children in its care brought to trial and to ultimate, long-delayed justice. It is not too soon, however, to start the necessary process of recovery from the communal trauma and misplaced sense of general guilt engendered by a toxic mixture of rumour, imagination, political opportunism and irresponsible national media reporting.
Whatever the facts of the Haut de la Garenne case may eventually turn out to be, there is no doubt that Jersey’s international reputation has, unfairly, suffered a major blow, the recovery from which will take time, clarity of thought and a collective determination to show the world the real Jersey.
One way for all who care about the Island and its future to begin the mental preparation for that vital process is to ponder the wise and timely message from its chief citizen, the Bailiff, Sir Philip Bailhache, that there is no need to hang our heads in collective shame for some unspecified general offence.
Another way to begin combating the false impressions so gleefully spread around the world is simply to remind ourselves, the better in due course to make clear to others, how comprehensively the good things about Jersey outweigh the bad. We would do ourselves a power of good, individually and collectively, by taking time this weekend to appreciate our Island’s glorious natural beauties and countryside; its unique cultural heritage and appealing difference from either of its ‘parents’, Britain or France; its unquestionably successful tradition of political independence; its hard-won prosperity, industriousness and entrepreneurial flair; its generous charitable spirit; its close, supportive ties of family and friendship, something now often lost elsewhere; the excellence of its schools and hospitals; its new openness to other cultures and to newcomers; the constantly astounding talents of its young people and the range of opportunities they now enjoy; and, inspired by all of that and more, the still strong, fully justified pride in belonging to a successful and pleasant modern community.
There are those who would wish to deny or destroy that reality. To combat them, Jersey as a whole must not allow itself to be bullied into an unwarranted sense of collective shame over crimes or cover-ups at Haut de la Garenne, any guilt for which belongs to a tiny minority.
The simple fact is that Jersey is a good community overwhelmingly comprising good people. The first day of spring, which falls tomorrow, is not a bad time to remind ourselves of that.

sickening, isn’t it? Oh, and yeah, the Balliff they mention is the guy that basically shouldnt be doing that job…the position should be split. However, the JEP are going all out to defend him.

Surely it’s time for the people of Jersey to have a paper that can counter the JEP’s pravda-like omniscience? And surely the people of Jersey should be getting off their arses and actually DOING something about all this?

But no. Instead most will sit back, moan a little, then just get on with life and the whole sorry thing will eventually happen again. And again. And again.

This is going to sound a bit odd, but Jersey is very much like Gallifrey. It’s stagnant. The folks there just carry on doing the same old things whilst the ruling elite carry on in perpetuity. Every now and then someone rebels and either gets shouted down, ridiculed into submission or leaves the island into exile. Public Access Video tells the island that everything is ok, nothing to worry about and any disent will be crushed.

Trust me, whilst theres the possibility that a couple of people may loose their seats in the autumn elections, things will not change that much.

Its sickening.

I’d still love to go home, but I think Id end up being arrested for trying to start a rebellion. I’m THAT angry over all this. if it weren;t for the fact that I do get homesick, and the fact that unless people carry on shouting the abuse will start up again and keep happening, other crimes will be covered up, Id be quite happy to see the place rot.

No, Im not proud to be a Jerseyman. I’m ashamed. Ashamed that the people from my home can’t even be bothered to stand up and do whats right.

2 Responses to "Sickened by my home…"

  1. well, I just recieved this….I wonder if it will amount to anything…I do so hope it will…

    For those who would be interested, there is going to be a public meeting in April about forming a new group with the aim of bringing peolple together,regardless of there political beliefs, to discuss ways of bringing reform to our current political sysytem and amending current government policies that the people of Jersey feel need to be changed or updated.
    For people who maybe concerned, I can confirm that this will be not be an event staged by the JDA and is open to anyone.
    Please forward this message to anyone who you believe may be interested in being a part of this group.
    I believe if we,as an island, work together we can make a difference at this years elections.
    If you would like futher details please contact me on thejerseywanderers@hotmail.co.uk

  2. and then there is this….it may help understand why I get miffed when people say I must have a lot of money cos I come from jersey…

    Big trouble on treasure island

    Jersey’s status as a tax haven has made it one of the richest places on Earth. But there is a widening gulf between the millionaires of the financial sector and locals struggling with low wages and rising prices. As Jon Henley reports, the backlash is growing

    * Jon Henley
    * The Guardian,
    * Friday March 21 2008
    * Article history

    About this article
    Close
    This article appeared in the Guardian on Friday March 21 2008 on p10 of the Comment & features section. It was last updated at 00:06 on March 21 2008.

    Together or separately, the dynamic revolutionary duo of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels visited Jersey on a number of occasions, apparently finding much solace in the quaint charm of the place, and the bracing sea air. In 1874, however, nearly 20 years after their previous sojourn, Engels, travelling alone this time, wrote to his old friend with regret.

    The picturesque island, 100 miles off the south coast of England and 15 from north-west France, had “changed a great deal since we were there together”, he said. “A vast amount of building … big hotels. High, almost English prices in them, everything also much more expensive in the market. And the respectability standards of Jersey visitors seem to decline each year.”

    Today, 134 years later, some present-day Jersey residents could be forgiven for feeling that the co-author of the Communist Manifesto was bang on the button. True, the big new buildings that have shot up along the St Helier waterfront over the past 20 years or so are not guesthouses, but the glass-and-concrete HQs of major banks, insurance companies, accountancy firms, legal practices and trust managers. The price of almost everything, though, is eye-watering (especially property: the Jersey Evening Post reported recently that the average cost of a three-bedroom house on the island had reached a staggering £470,000, a sum that even makes parts of London look cheap, and represents fully 15 times the average Jersey salary).

    And as for the “respectability standards of Jersey visitors” – well, perhaps best not to get some of the more irate locals started on the army of highly paid financial services specialists who have taken up residence since the 1970s, when Jersey’s authorities set about the business of turning it into a grade-A tax haven: a place whose rules are deliberately structured to attract those companies and individuals who would prefer to avoid tax.

    “The culture is now that of a Hilton hotel lobby,” says one Jerseyman who has now left the island. Adds another: “The island has been sold into prostitution. The financial services guys are like the pimps.” Like many, he prefers not to be named; there is a “nasty climate here of attacking dissent and insulting critics. If you’re not with Jersey plc, you’re against it – you’re the enemy. It can get very personal, and it’s not pretty.”

    Over the past few weeks the island has been mainly preoccupied with the investigation at the Haut de la Garenne children’s home. But taxation and tax havens (Jersey tends to prefer the less loaded terms “low-tax jurisdiction” and “offshore financial centre”) have also been making headlines of late. Germany, and in its wake the European Union, have taken very public aim at Liechtenstein following news that thousands of chancellor Angela Merkel’s better-off citizens are avoiding their taxes by parking their money in the highly secretive Alpine principality.

    There was an outcry here, too, when this paper revealed that a string of companies on the far-away Cayman Islands were helping Tesco cut its tax bill by up to £1bn. The non-dom debate on how to ensure wealthy foreign expatriates in Britain pay a fair share of tax has attracted heavy media coverage. But scant attention has been paid to what it’s like for ordinary people to have a tax haven for a home.

    “Perhaps,” says Geoff Southern, a former teacher and now a rare left-of-centre deputy, or MP, in the States of Jersey, the island’s parliament, “it will give you some idea of where we’re coming from if I say that of the island’s 10 current ministers, six are multimillionaires. That’s a pretty good starting point; it says quite a lot about the way things work here.

    “There is a vast gap between the rich and the poor on Jersey. Twenty-five per cent of the workforce are employed in the financial services industry, which generates more than £100,000 profit per employee per year. That has dragged the average wage up to a level significantly higher than on the mainland. But it hides real poverty. A lot of people find it hard to make ends meet.”

    A crown dependency, Jersey is not notionally a part of the United Kingdom, although in practice legislation has to go through the Privy Council, and London handles foreign relations. Brussels can and does intervene – including, crucially, on taxation policy – through the British government. But the island’s peculiar status is very useful indeed to the City.

    Wealthy individuals have long been attracted by Jersey’s flat-rate 20% income tax, and a facility allowing the seriously rich to cut their own tax deals. But countless corporations nowhere near the island now channel their cash through a Jersey “vehicle”, to the considerable benefit of their tax bill. On the face of it, the policy has been staggeringly successful. A top US analyst, Martin Sullivan, reckons that at the end of 2006 there were very nearly £500bn of assets in bank deposits and funds under administration in the Jersey financial sector. Most of that money belonged, of course, to non-Jersey individuals, many of whom will, one way or another, be avoiding paying tax on it in their home countries.

    As a result, according to a CIA ranking last year, Jersey is now the third-richest country in the world measured by GDP per capita, beaten only by Luxembourg and Bermuda. Oil-rich Norway trails in at sixth on that list, while the US itself lies a lowly ninth. (Eight of the CIA’s top 10 countries, perhaps unremarkably, are tax havens.)

    The problem, island campaigners argue, is that while Jersey’s is plainly a flourishing economy on paper – the financial services sector recorded profits of more than £1.3bn in 2006, 25% up on the previous year – the community barely benefits. In fact, the runaway success of one dynamic, cash-rich industry pushes up the price of almost everything for almost everyone: Jersey’s cost of living is now one of the highest in the world, while wages for semi-skilled and unskilled workers are terrible (adjusted for cost of living, its minimum wage is the lowest of all 27 EU member states).

    “It’s fair to say the majority suffers,” says one retiree, who also would rather not be named. “Young people – what chance have they got here? School-leavers used to be able to get jobs in the finance sector, but increasingly those are now for highly qualified off-island people. A 25-year-old has no hope, none whatsoever, of ever owning a home here, so many just give up and leave. The whole thing is hopelessly skewed.”

    Rosemary Pestana, a hospital cleaner and union organiser, says the island she was born on is “beautiful, don’t get me wrong. I love this place. But people seem to think it’s the land of milk and honey and it isn’t, it really isn’t. Those who can least afford it end up paying the most; those who could pay, don’t. I don’t object to paying 20% tax, but I find it hard to swallow when the millionaire down the road pays 2%.”

    Despite its much-vaunted prosperity, Jersey spends less than 75% of the EU average on social protection. Again measured by the relevant EU benchmarks, 45% of single pensioners on the island and 64% of single parents and their children live in relative poverty. Twenty-five per cent of Jersey households need some kind of state help to get by; of a workforce of 53,000, more than 8,000 are claiming income support.

    Nothing illustrates this plight better than the island’s controversial new goods and services tax, to be phased in from May. GST – which stands, runs a joke on the island, for “Get stuffed, Terry,” after the treasury minister, Terry le Sueur, who drafted it – was introduced to plug an estimated £100m shortfall in the budget following the government’s controversial decision to cut corporate tax to zero to keep Jersey competitive with its rival international tax havens.

    GST will initially be levied at 3% on almost all purchases, including many – like food, medicines, books and education – that are, for the most part, exempt from VAT in much of the rest of Europe. (Yacht fuel, curiously, attracts a zero rate.) Several economists predict the 3% rate will be insufficient to solve the budget shortfall and will inevitably have to be increased, perhaps to as much as 10%.

    “This is a horribly regressive tax,” says Richard Murphy of the Tax Justice Network, which campaigns against tax havens. “It will hit the poorest hardest. The people of Jersey have every reason to be deeply upset – they’ve always been told that being a tax haven would give their island the income it needed to ensure their standard of living would match that of elsewhere. Now, while their cost of living is among the world’s highest, they’re paying more tax so that a large number of wealthy companies and individuals can continue to dodge theirs!”

    More than 19,000 people – a fifth of the island’s population – signed a petition against the new tax last year. But for Murphy and his colleague John Christensen, a development economist who grew up on Jersey and worked for several years as an economic adviser to its government, GST is just another consequence of Jersey’s extreme dependence on the financial services sector: terrified that if it did nothing, the accountants, bankers and lawyers who account for more than half the economic activity on the island would decamp to a lower-tax jurisdiction, the government preferred, in the words of one campaigner, “to tax pensioners on a loaf of bread” rather than risk upsetting the moneymen.

    This is not, of course, how the government sees it. Martin de Forest-Brown, Jersey’s director of international finance, insists first of all that the term “tax haven” is inappropriate for Jersey. “What we are totally happy with is the extent to which people move here because there is a lower rate of tax than elsewhere,” he says. “And, of course, we offer fiscal neutrality for those who want to structure a business through Jersey. That’s fine; that’s what we do. But the term tax haven has connotations of suitcases of dodgy cash, and that we’re not happy with. We have world-leading regulations against money-laundering and terrorist financing, and we enforce them.”

    On the bottom-line issue of Jersey’s reliance on the financial services sector, and its consequences for the ordinary people of the island, de Forest-Brown is quite clear. “Small island communities really do not have much choice if they want a high standard of living,” he says. “We can’t create wealth, dig coal or make ships or something. There is not one that is wealthy and not an offshore centre. The finance industry feeds all our other industries on the island in terms of trickle-down. It pays for all the public services people enjoy. At the end of the day you choose a path, and if people don’t like it, the majority will decide.”

    Some on the island feel that day may be drawing nearer. “Jersey is what we call a captured state,” says Christensen, who returned to the island in his 30s after working for Oxfam and a range of development agencies but left again, disillusioned, in 1998. He argues that as the financial services money has flooded in and costs have climbed, other industries have simply been squeezed out for lack of resources. “The dominant industry had long been tourism, but that’s now fallen to 3% of gross national income,” he says.

    “Dozens of hotels have closed, simply because their owners could make a lot more selling up to banks and developers who will turn their premises into luxury apartments for finance workers. Agriculture is now down to just 1% of the economic base. Financial services are completely dominant, and that affects everything. Jersey is like a living experiment in conspicuous consumption, an island nine miles by five miles with a maximum speed limit of 40mph, but just try counting the Porsches and the Aston Martins. And, of course, that dominance affects government attitudes. The big players can simply go to see selected politicians and say what they’d like in the way of legislation.”

    As an example, those campaigners who claim Jersey is little better than a legislature for sale point to the island’s extraordinary law on Limited Liability Partnerships. In 1995, Jersey’s government was approached by two major international accountancy firms about the possibility of enacting legislation that would give the sector substantial safeguards against big liability claims. According to Christensen, a member of the government gave his backing to the idea over lunch. “He even promised it would go through ‘on the nod’, which amazingly enough it didn’t. But it went through in the end, to no one’s
    great surprise.”

    For Maurice Merhet, a retired Jersey pig farmer and member of Attac, the French-based group that campaigns for a tax on all financial market transactions, “We just haven’t got a democracy here any more. We’ve lost it. There are no political parties, no real political opposition. Officially, every deputy sits as an independent, and the banks rule the roost and tell the government what to do. And then what have you got? A dictatorship, that’s what.”

    That may be a tad harsh. But the mood does appear to be swinging, and not just on Jersey. “Tax, and tax abuse, is a hot issue,” says Christensen. “People are taking notice; there is a growing sense of outrage at the idea of $11.6 trillion washing around in the offshore network – that’s $250bn of potential tax revenue that could be helping alleviate poverty in developing countries. The IMF, the World Bank, the OECD and the EU are on the case. I think it will be death by a thousand cuts. Little by little, the mechanisms for tax havens like Jersey will be dismantled.”

    For the government, de Forest-Brown dismisses such talk as “the politics of greed, or envy. It’s so far out of most people’s experience that they’re completely unmoved by it. And there’ll always be somewhere else able to come along and do it and reap the benefit, some island off Fiji or something. Financial services are a very mobile business.”

    But Southern is predicting change come this autumn’s elections. “There’s real anger at the GST, fury at leading establishment figures who are perceived as having sold out,” he says. “There’s also, I think, a certain sense of shame at the role Jersey is playing in the world. People here are finally beginning to realise they’re being screwed.”

    Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, one suspects, would be proud.

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