IT’S DEJA VU

ALL OVER AGAIN.

The Cohort of Jersey’s “Finest”

Carry on Taxing Food & Energy.

I was wondering what to write about this evening – then I had this peculiar feeling -that I’d been here before.

Sure enough – it’s another evening – following another ignorant, shallow and futile endorsement by the States of Jersey, in persisting with a new tax – on food and domestic energy – at a time when the cost of both commodities has increased astronomically.

Even though it’s blindingly obvious to any thinking person that the exemptions will be introduced – sooner or later – with – or without – our current crop of clowns.

If you don’t live in Jersey – and you’re trying to get a handle on just what it is that characterises the decadent Jersey oligarchy – just reflect on this question.

Just how many democratic governments would even contemplate pressing ahead with new taxes on the food you eat and the energy needed to heat your home – right at the moment the world enters a new ‘Great Depression’?

Let me suggest that there is only one.

And unfortunately – it is that collection of crypto-feudalists and idiots that we have to contend with here in Jersey.

The island’s general election was only four months ago – and a number of politicians sold themselves to the electorate by pledging to support certain exemptions to the GST sales tax.

They have betrayed the voting public – and disgraced themselves – already.

But – I’ve been over all this territory before.

So much so that all I’m going to do is reproduce my previous posting on this subject, which some readers may not have read previously.

Sure – some details have changed – but pretty much – it fits today’s events.

But there is another reason for re-producing that posting.

When I wrote it – the island was approaching its general election; and in the posting, I attempted to warn the voting public about the ‘reliability’ of who it might be considering voting for.

And – perhaps – some of the public might have listened to me, and thought, ‘right – we’re poor pensioners, or ordinary families – struggling to make ends meet. We do not want to be paying tax on the bread and fruit on our table, and the energy required to warm our children’s bedroom – whilst the States of Jersey persist in maintaining a tax-structure actually designed to enable multi-millionaire spivs – to pay no tax whatsoever. We’re going to vote for those candidates who say ‘yes’ to exempting life’s essentials!’

Many, many voters will have thought such things – and voted accordingly – only to be, predictably perhaps, betrayed by the usual herd of dimwit lobby-fodder that make up the numbers of Jersey election candidates.

But, some people will have rejected excellent new candidates, and voted for the usual type of suspect – ‘because we like to do things The Jersey Way’.

As I suggested in the September posting – which I reproduce below – there comes a time when the electorate has to stop hiding behind the excuse, “it’s all the politicians’ faults.”

You want to be paying tax on your bread and apples – rather than take as much as one pound in tax from multimillionaires making £125 million capital gains?

Perhaps you do.

There is a wise, old saying: “people get the government they deserve.”

So, to Jersey voters, who find themselves being ripped-off by the States, I suggest they read the posting I reproduce below.

You can’t say you weren’t warned.

Stuart.

Monday, 15 September 2008
JERSEY: TAXING FOOD WHILST THE POOR STRUGGLE.
JERSEY’S ESTABLISHMENT:

Taxing the Food
In the Mouths of the Poor;

Taxing the Energy Use
Of the Poor;

Just when the Cost of Both
Soar globally;

Just when Jersey’s Millionaires
Are Finding it Ever Easier to Avoid Tax.

I NAME THE GUILTY PARTIES!

Right! – No more Mr. Nice Guy.

This posting provides a really fascinating and telling insight into the “philosophy”, “ethics” and “social conscience” of Jersey’s oligarchs.

I’ve been writing this blog since January – and I think it could be said that I have been reasonably forthright in expressing my views.

But I have tried not to be too nasty to the accretion of idiots, which by happenstance, error or stealth have agglomerated in the island’s parliament. But the events of the past few days have demonstrated to me – again – that there simply is no point in humouring these clowns with ‘politeness’ or restraint.

So close your eyes, Pip Le Brocq – it’s time to set aside “politeness” and grasp the cudgel of the truth.

Below this post I am going to provide a list of how each of the 50 States members who were present on Friday – voted.

Which of our elected representatives were for – or against – the proposal to remove sales tax from foodstuffs and domestic energy consumption?

If you live in Jersey – or know someone who does – please distribute this blog post as widely as possible – as the island’s two-stage general election occurs in October and November.

The people of this island never cease to express dissatisfaction with their politicians – yet many never bother to vote – feeling they’ll make no difference. Well – all that is changed now.

Changed utterly.

Now – at last – there is a real opportunity for Jersey voters to exercise some effective power.

This time – a real difference can be made. But only if you actually get out there and vote.

If you don’t – and we end up with the same old faces and the same old problems in the newly constituted States assembly – the Jersey public will have no one but themselves to blame.

Never has public dissatisfaction with the Jersey oligarchy been greater.

Yet such is the sheer arrogance – and sense of complete invulnerability – felt by most of these establishment people, that – a matter of weeks before elections – they think they can tax the food on your table – tax the energy required to warm your children’s bedrooms.

And still expect to get re-elected.

It is an incredible spectacle – but sadly, an accurate one. I hypothesise that there is no more intellectually and ethically bankrupt democratic jurisdiction in western Europe than Jersey.

By some margin.

In recent years, Jersey has been obliged to radically alter its tax structure. Where previously, there had been no sales tax – such as VAT – it was decided that we must introduce a ‘Goods and Services’, Tax, GST as its known.

But differing fundamentally from UK VAT in that there are few exemptions or zero-ratings. In the UK, tax is not charged on bread and milk. In Jersey – it is.

Since this tax was fist suggested a few years ago, I have fought with implacable determination to get certain essentials exempted from the tax – such as food, and domestic energy, for example.

Each such attempt failed.

The States of Jersey – presiding over a jurisdiction which, they boast, has the second-highest GDP per capita in Europe – decided that – as we are so rich – as a result of their ‘brilliance’ – what we really needed just now was to tax fruit, bread, vegetables, meat – and the energy needed to heat your home.

And – to add insult to injury – the same oligarchy has admitted that resident millionaires are dodging more tax than ever.

The GST was introduced earlier this year – but, as I had predicted in each of my earlier attempts to get exemptions from the tax – energy costs – and consequently food costs – have skyrocketed.

Just consider the vast increase in energy costs the world has seen during the last year alone?

And consider the even vaster increase in the costs of foods over the same period?

Absolutely staggering increases in price.

Just briefly consider these figures.

Oil prices have increased by 400% since 2001.

Any increase in oil prices invariably drags the cost of all other energy sources up with it.

Oil hit an all-time high value of $147 per barrel in July. Since then prices have dropped back to, at time of writing, $109 per barrel. But this downturn in oil prices is largely driven by what is known as ‘demand destruction’ – the reduced demand for oil at times of economic downturn. The instant the world’s economy begins to grow – those oil prices will rise again.

Perhaps dramatically so.

We have seen inflation in fuel prices of 26% – over the last 12 months alone.

And in the Jersey context, the island’s electricity supplier, Jersey Electricity, has announced there will be a further 25% increase – yes, 25% increase – in electricity costs during the next year.

And let us contemplate food-cost increases. Food inflation runs at an immense 13% average. But many individual food commodities have shown increases dramatically greater than that general average.

For example, the annual inflation rate of ingredients for home-produced food was 36% – just reflect on that – 36% – mainly due to soaring wheat costs. Bread prices rose by 7.5% last year, while milk, cheese and eggs surged by 15%. Pasta has increased in cost by around 50%. In one year.

Many places around the world have seen the streets boiling with rioters because of these cost-increases and the inability of people to live adequately under such a burden.

Moreover – a burden which is only likely to ever get worse, given peak oil.

Now – against that background, let us ask a simple question:

‘Under those circumstances – what kind of government chooses this particular moment in human history to begin taxing all food and domestic energy costs?’

Which administration could possibly be quite so cretinous and decadent?

Sadly – it isn’t the most challenging of questions, is it?

Is there any other democratic jurisdiction – on the face of the planet – that would press ahead right now with new taxes on food and energy?

Only in Jersey.

As I said – the time for “politeness” is over. Now – we must speak frankly.

The type of regressive, punitive and absurd tax regime chosen by the Jersey government cannot be put down to stupidity alone.

There is also a strong degree of naked self-interest. Let there be no more pretence about that.

Jersey has been run by the rich – for the rich – for centuries.

So many tax dodges and loopholes – it would be difficult to summarise them.

But interestingly, there is another characteristic of Jersey’s legislature, which you just wouldn’t find anywhere else in European democracies.

A significant majority of States members are millionaires.

Cash or property millionaires – and in many cases both.

And so far as I am aware – not one of them is self-made.

This dominant grouping – who feel that because they’re rich, axiomatically they must be economic and entrepreneurial geniuses – merely had the good fortune to inherit the farm, the millions, the properties, the family business etc. etc. etc.

And many of them – like Philip Ozouf – have never actually done a day’s real work in their lives.

We have a cock-eyed tax system which means the more wealthy you are – the more opportunities exist for you to avoid tax. I know that could be said of many jurisdictions – but in Jersey, it’s taken to a degree which could only be described as surreal.

Just by way of one, single example – the rich have a favoured tax-avoidance mechanism in Jersey; capital role-up.

The island has no capital gains tax whatsoever – so if you’re rich – all you need do is structure your wealth-stream in such a way that it accrues as a “capital gain” – as opposed to “income” – and bingo!

Zero tax bill.

Not one penny.

A local company was sold for a capital sum of £125 million. That sum was shared amongst the three owners.

How much tax did they pay?

Zero. Zilch – not – one – God forsaken pound.

Yet our struggling pensioners will have to pay tax on their apples and their bread and the energy to heat their homes.

And it gets worse.

Jersey is a small island – with a captive population. You can’t just commute 50 miles up the road to somewhere cheaper to live.

Instead – the population of Jersey are entrapped in an environment which already has a cost of living at least equal to – probably greater than – central London.

So – “obviously” – when we face a public finance challenge; when the government needs to increase its revenue – the States of Jersey chooses to impose on top of an already astronomically expensive cost-base – a tax on food and domestic energy.

In any normal society, the first place to start would be with those tax-loopholes and dodges enjoyed by the rich. The government would require those who could afford to pay a little more tax – to do just that.

But – but – but – who are those people who would then face the prospect of paying their just and proper dues to society?

Yep – that millionaire-majority of States members – and their various puppet-masters.

So – at a time when the world riots in the face of huge food and energy costs – the States of Jersey decides to introduce a tax on such essentials such as – food and energy.

As I said – stupidity alone just cannot account for such madness.

The forthcoming elections afford the people of Jersey an unambiguous opportunity to route-out those smug, wealthy, idle, rich, self-interested shysters.

Essentially – your elected representatives – who have introduced these taxes on your food and home energy costs – in order to avoid just and equitable taxes on themselves.

You can read the full results of Friday’s votes below this post. But I really feel a few States members deserve singling out for special attention.

For example, consider Philip Ozouf. A man who has inherited a vast fortune in properties and business in Jersey. One of that strange breed one finds in island politics who believe that having had the good fortune to inherit a king’s ransom – gives them some kind of high insight into economics and entrepreneurial skills.

No, it doesn’t. On the contrary – it renders them into some kind of dream-world – in which they have been utterly insulated from the realities most of us face.

Ozouf worked in cahoots with a similar example – Deputy John Le Fondre – in order to sabotage Friday’s vote. Le Fondre tabling a nonsensical, bureaucratic nightmare of an ‘alternative’ proposal – which would have us carry on taxing people on their food and energy costs – then have them go through the absurd burden of making claims for rebates or social security in order to get it back. Rather than just leaving the money in their pocket in the first place – as Friday’s proposals would have done.

John Le Fondre’s late father was also a States member – though as I recollect was reasonably intelligent – unlike his son – who possesses the IQ of a breeze-block – and all the personality of a bowl of stale custard.

Le Fondre junior also inherited the family fortune. Amongst which was a substantial portfolio of properties – including the extremely valuable ‘El Teco’ coastal site in St. Ouen’s Bay. He is, like Ozouf, one of those multi-millionaires whose wealth has fallen into their lap – yet have the sheer temerity to support policies which tax the food bills of struggling families.

Another of the guilty parties in the despicable farrago was the Deputy of St. Ouen – James Reed – who was implacable in his support of the Le Fondre stalking-horse proposal. Reed is one of those people who – like Senator Jimmy Perchard – believes in such concepts as “people having to stand on their own two feet – and not look to the state to support them”.

Err – unless of course you happen to be a farmer. Like Reed and Perchard.

Then – naturally – you’ve needed a range of tax-payer provided benefits to flow into your bank account over the years. Market distorting subsidies – from which you’ve been able to sponge for decades.

‘Social security for the rich’, as Chomsky calls it.

I have to ask St. Ouen residents – if you actually like the politics of Reed – why not just cut out the middle-man and elect Advocate Richard Renouf as Deputy. Let’s face it – he does the research and writing behind Reed’s proposals and speeches – and would at least have the advantage of being moderately articulate.

And whilst we consider St. Ouen – what of that parish’s Constable – Ken Vibert?

Yet another millionaire land-owner and former farmer – and thus another beneficiary of social security for the rich. Once the States of Jersey Hansard of last week’s debate is on the States web-site – check out Ken’s speech – in which he poured damnation upon the propositions – and rabidly supported taxing the food in the mouths of the poor.

I think in many ways, Ken Vibert’s contribution was note-worthy in that it captured all that is decadent and broken in Jersey’s power structure.

This man epitomises the smug, insular, ignorance and arrogance which is the defining characteristic of Jersey’s oligarchy. But worse that this – here is a man who has never faced so much as one – single – contested election in his life.

As a parish grandee – it was simply “his turn” to be Constable – so he succeeded into the post – unchallenged when his predecessor retired. And many terms of Office later – there he sits – in the States chamber – bellowing about how we must tax the poor – yet not having faced so much as one contested election in any of his terms of Office.

You know, it must take a special kind of man to be quite so arrogant, haughty and self-satisfied – in his votes against the island’s poor – when he actually possesses no credible democratic mandate to even be in the chamber.

And if that’s not bad enough – this character with precisely zero democratic endorsement – has a seat at the table of the Jersey cabinet.

You just couldn’t invent this stuff.

Consider another of those members of Jersey’s traditional ruling elite; those who believe – like the feudal robber-barons who were their forebears – simply being rich confers an automatic right to a seat in the Jersey parliament.

Senator Jimmy Perchard – multi-millionaire land and property owner, big-time farmer – and naturally therefore – yet another one of those beneficiaries of social security for the rich – otherwise known as ‘farming subsidies’.

Jimmy’s never bee terribly bright, so he forgets the things he said and the way he voted mere days after the event – let alone any greater passage of time.

Jimmy – multi-millionaire – Perchard – who spent much of last week shouting-down the proposals – in a manner that would have made Margaret Thatcher look like Che Guevara – suddenly, realising that taxing the bread and apples of the poor might just have been a little unpopular, sends around e-mails this weekend in which he claims he would support exempting food – but only if it were a simple list of ‘healthy’ foods.

It, apparently, eluding all grasp or recall that I tabled just such a proposal, which was debated in October 2006. Now – can we guess which way Jimmy voted on that occasion?

I know, I know – these questions and answers just get boring after a while – so lacking in challenge are they. But here goes:

“25th October – 2006 – P86/2006/ Goods and Services Tax – Exempt or Zero-Rated Items – paragraph (a) – basic foodstuffs. Senator Perchard – CONTRE”!

‘Contre’ – that’s ‘against’.

And people wonder why I’m sick of this wretched occupation.

It’s one thing – always being on the losing side – but quite another having to be in that position in the face of such awesome stupidity and hypocrisy.

And if still not convinced at the mutually-exclusive stumblings and bumblings of our Glorious Leaders – consider St. Brelade Deputy, Sarah Ferguson.

In these elections – she’s seeking elevation to the Senatorial benches. And is doing so on a ticket of – supposedly – bringing high-performance, rigour, efficiency and accountability to the public sector!

The absurdity is she expects this platform to be taken seriously – when only last Tuesday she voted against the establishment of a Committee of Enquiry into the massed-dumping of hundreds of thousands of tonnes of toxic incinerator ash into the sea-porous land-reclamation sites around St. Helier.

An utterly monstrous and unmitigated disaster on the part of public administration in Jersey; gross incompetence, dishonesty, ignorance and collusion on the part of every relevant States department in an attempt to hide the truth.

A situation so overwhelmingly well-evidenced – that not even the Official Comments of the Council of Ministers could argue against the central premise of the proposition – and, indeed, even went so far as to accept that the law had been broken over a period of many years.

How much greater an example of inefficiency and incompetence by the public sector do you need?

Yet Sarah – ‘efficiency’ – Ferguson couldn’t even bring herself to vote for an enquiry into how things can have gone so catastrophically wrong.

Yet she will – without embarrassment – hit the Senatorial election trail – proclaiming herself to be some kind of enforcer of “efficiency and accountability”.

Christ help us.

But – of the above-described States members – we have to make this observation. Their actions and votes cannot be regarded as surprising. Oh, for sure – in some cases their votes may bear no relationship whatsoever to their manifesto – but that isn’t surprising; just as it isn’t surprising that a grouping of entrenched, power-welding Jersey fact-cats would want to tax the food on the tables of the poor – rather than alter the tax policies which have rendered them and their families so well-upholstered over the decades.

But what of certain other States members? Those elected representatives who are supposed to be on the side of the general public – but who vote with the fat-cats?

In many ways – they’re even worse.

For the time-being let us look closely at one such example who voted against the propositions last week:

St Saviour Deputy Rob Duhamel.

Obviously – it’s up to the people of his district – but my recommendation is:

NEVER VOTE FOR THIS MAN AGAIN.

Every time he gets re-elected – it’s always regarded as a great surprise in political circles. He does a great deal of very plausible canvassing during elections, lot’s of door-knocking, so I guess that’s how he cons people into voting for him.

But if there were a States of Jersey prize for the most indecisive, directionless, un-productive, time-wasting, unconstructive dithering member – it would have gone to him every single year since he was elected. And that’s saying something.

His voting is utterly inconsistent, often to the point of irrationality. There was one notorious occasion when a vote was taken – and he changed his mind just before the result was declared.

Sure – on the face of it, his candidacy may tick some of the right boxes. For example – he likes to promote himself as an environmentalist. But even if this were true – is he any bloody use at it? Does he succeed in driving forward such policies? Nope. I remember years ago, he took over running the Jersey Friends of the Earth group. We all knew it’d sink without trace as long as he was responsible for it. Sure enough – that’s what happened.

Last week I was amongst a random group of about 7 States members who went for lunch on Thursday. Rob Duhamel was amongst that number. During the lunch, as we discussed the ongoing debate, he said he would be voting in favour of exempting food from the tax.

How did he vote on Friday?

Of course – you know the answer:

Rob Duhamel voted against the proposal to exempt food from tax.

As a result of Duhamel’s actions – the vote was tied – 25 for – 25 against. Procedurally, a tied vote counts as a negative – and thus the proposition fails.

Had Rob Duhamel been faintly reliable, trustworthy, consistent and rational – the vote would have been 26 for – 24 against.

We would now be making preparations to remove the sales tax on food.

I do – and make no apologies for it – single him out for utter condemnation.

This episode was merely the latest – but in terms of impact on people, the greatest –example of his unreliability and inconsistency.

And as explained d above – for all the policies he espouses – he is utterly bloody useless at delivering on any of them.

Enough is enough.

If voters in Jersey want to politically sacrifice a few of the dithering, directionless, unreliable, inconsistent and untrustworthy clowns – who always seem to creep, back in at election time, unnoticed – Duhamel must go.

As I said – it’s bad enough when our elected representatives insist in trampling upon the poor in the name of what they imagine to be “good economics” – but at least when it’s the multi-millionaire fat-cats doing it , like Ozouf, Le Fondre, Perchard, Reed etc – it is, frankly, to be expected.

But when a States member who represents a predominantly poor, urban area – as does Duhamel – joins in with them – it’s time for voters to act.

And in the same category as Duhamel are three other pseudo ‘working class heroes’.

Terry Le Main – whose “man of the people” act has, throughout his career, been just that – an act. Another is Jacky Huet. She too has carefully cultivated that ‘ordinary, down-to-Earth’ image, but in truth is as Right-wing as hell – and always votes with the establishment when the chips are down. And Ben Fox – another man who represents a poor, urban district – yet who always votes with the fat-cat oligarchy. And in these two crucial votes – in what is perhaps worse, a display of utter spinelessness – contrived to be absent – so he could approach the election with the claim he hadn’t voted to tax islander’s food and household energy bills.

It never ceases to amaze me when such obviously crusty, useless, burnt-out, class-traitor old dinosaurs carry-on getting elected.

It’s bad enough that we have to fight the oligarchs – without having to fight traitors as well.

The proposition debated last week was tabled by Deputy Carolyn Labey, of Grouville. It had, essentially, two components. It asked that the assembly agree to not tax food; and secondly, to not tax domestic energy.

The proposal to remove tax on food was tied at 25 for – and 25 against. Procedurally, this means it fell.

The second proposal to remove tax on domestic energy was defeated by 19 votes for – and 31 against.

A typical States of Jersey “performance”.

Jersey’s indigenous millionaires – and the tax-exiles – able to avoid even greater amounts of tax.
A global crisis in food and energy costs.

And a parliament which chooses this precise moment in human history to introduce a tax on food and domestic energy.

In many ways, we can’t really be surprised that Jersey has harboured such dreadful horrors as the Child Abuse Disaster.

Or the creation of waterfront land reclamation sites which are giant toxic waste dumps.

Voters of Jersey – are you happy with this inchoate hotchpotch of clowns, fat-cats and class-traitors – or have you finally had enough?

In these elections, there is going to be an awful lot of information out there on the “performance” of your elected representatives – far, far more so than at any other time. Citizen media has finally ripped away the pro-oligarchy biases of the local traditional media.

Take a good, long look at the results below. When Frank Walker votes in favour of removing the tax on food – and members, such as Rob Duhamel and Jacky Huet vote against – finally, the time has come to wield the axe in these elections.

If we can’t get rid of a load of these idiots this time – frankly, even just replacing them with a fresh load of idiots would be preferable – then there’s nothing more to be done.

Nothing will avail.

Stuart

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