Ronald Reagan once said “Government’s view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.”
Reagan’s America never had a 5 year economic plan; it relied on the haphazard actions of free private enterprise for its economic development. Iosif Vissarionović Stalin’s USSR, on the other hand, did have a 5 year government economic plan but it also had laws and policies designed to stifle private enterprise.
We all know how they both fared.
1565-2008: a period of 443 years. Also a period of time while Sark had no interference from the Ministry of Justice, no economic plan, and no laws to stifle private enterprise. Also a period during which Sark’s economy flourished.
2008: the year in which the Ministry of Justice overthrew Sark’s old regime, helped a few vociferous jobworths carry out a velvet communist revolution and install a new, deeply flawed constitution. Also the year in which Sark’s parliament started passing a plethora of anti-business anti-investment laws designed to stifle private enterprise.
Prior to 2008, Sark’s government included representatives of two billionaires, at least two other independent prominent international angel investors, one of whom founded Moonpig.com, and the founder of a prominent international music instruments business. Super-experienced businesspeople — by international standards. Not bad for an island of 600 people.
The two angel investors have since both sold their tenements (who would want to own one in the post-2008 communist environment?) and have completely disengaged from Sark’s public life. The island’s government is now dominated by jobsworths whose high point of commercial achievement is to (ab)use their influential position on the Douzaine to secure jobs for themselves disposing of Sark’s rubbish and mending Sark’s roads.
Sark Chamber of Commerce’s flagship members now consist of local cafés, local builders, self-catering establishments, etc. None of whom we wish to knock — but the international businessmen have left.
Why? The answer is obvious. Because of the flawed 2008 reform law, because of the useless jobsworths who took over Chief Pleas as a result of its introduction, and the vindictive anti-business anti-investment legislation the jobsworths have been relentlessly introducing ever since.
Predictably, Sark’s economy has been tanking as a result. From a healthy surplus accumulated over a period of 443 years, Sark’s government is now on the verge of going bust, primarily because of the losses incurred by the grossly mismanaged government-owned shipping monopoly which the post-2008 regime has been bailing out with our (taxpayers) money in order to provide a cushy job for its — in our view incompetent and otherwise unemployable — managing director, who happens to be a close relative of several members of Chief Pleas.
So now, the Ministry of Justice, whose intervention was key to getting the 2008 reform law imposed on Sark, in their concern for Sark, in their infinite wisdom, have proposed a solution for Sark’s economic woes. Between 10 and 12 October, they will hold a series of “Economic Development Workshops” in Sark, teaching us how to run our economy and how the government should create an economic plan for the island.
Who is the instigator of this new solution? Ministry of Justice officials. How much commercial business experience have these officials had? In total, between themselves? Have they ever founded a successful business? Or even held a proper job, working for someone else in the private sector? So what do they know about business and economic development?
What the MoJ is proposing is that Sark stop relying on the haphazard actions of free market enterprise without the interference from anti-business anti-investment legislation, as it successfully did for 443 years until 2008, and replace this reliance with reliance on 5 year government economic plans, combined with anti-business anti-investment legislation.
The answer to our economic problems, according to the Ministry of Justice, is more Stalinism, not less.
We suggest a different way of solving Sark’s economic problems: get rid of the anti-business anti-investment legislation that’s been introduced since 2008. To do that, we’ll need to get rid of the jobsworths now running our island. And to do that, we suggest that the best and only way — and the most important and best way to help Sark — is to get rid of — repeal — the flawed 2008 reform law.
As for the Ministry of Justice workshops scheduled to take palce between 10 and 12 October, the best way to take advantage of them in our opinion would be to turn the boats back and send the visitors back home. We are sure they have more important things to do. Sadly, the Stalinists running our island are unlikely to do that … but, let’s keep our fingers crossed, perhaps the weather will save us!