Picture the scene. You are settling down with your customary vanilla and hazelnut latte to read Connect, and as is your wont, you begin with this column to set the scene for the inspirational soul food which is to follow (ahem).
Nestling amongst the expected, polished nuggets of wisdom, you unearth this: a bold prediction that before the end of this year, the Government of Jersey will be giving £100 to every man, woman and child in Jersey. No restrictions on existing wealth, no restrictions on age, and no restrictions on where it can be spent, save that it must be spent in Jersey (and you can’t gamble it).
Yes, dear reader, you would have thought that I had, finally, succumbed to the well-documented 2020 malady of Lockdown Lunacy, a condition which doctors across the world are now documenting, and treating with the helpful wisdom of, “…you need to get out a bit more, and stop setting fire to your common sense on the altar of fear.” Well, something like that anyway.
2020 has so far been all about trying to cheapen, demean and generally frustrate that previously helpful concept of ‘unprecedented.’ Governments across the world to tell all their citizens to stay at home for months on end? Done it. 80% of many local salaries to be funded by the taxpayer? Done it. Liverpool to win the league? Tick the box. You see, “unprecedented” now just means it happened a few days’ ago.
But it’s true. Like winning a lottery you never entered, as some point next month the Government will shake the money tree, and a shower of crisp £100 notes will gently sashay to the ground, ready for willing islanders to gather them up (just one each, mind!) and gleefully disperse them, to pollinate the local economy.
Much like a wealthy (if a bit ‘dotty’) old relative, who presses a crumpled five pound note into your childhood palm, with the exhortation to “go on, treat yourself”, the Government wants us all to have a night out (physically distanced) on them; well, on us, actually, as (whisper it quietly) this is our money they are giving back to us.
If we treat it as a treat, and spend it on something ‘extra,’ then it works; if we simply save £100 and spend it on the normal food shop instead, then it won’t. So, the actual stimulus created is somewhere between £0 and £11m…unless, and this is the really clever bit…it is actually all about nudging behaviour change (cunning, eh!), and the real point is just to get people going out and spending again, with a boot up the backside, wrapped in that £100 note.
2020. Honestly, what did we do to you, to deserve what you have served up so far? And it’s only August.