What do we value when we talk about economic recovery plans?
Since Reform Jersey launched the concept of our New Deal for Jersey I have heard various comments from its opponents questioning the cost of our plans. Some people like to refer to Reformanomics, or ‘socialists throwing money around and increasing taxes to pay for it’. I have been quite disappointed (but not surprised) that opponents haven’t entered into a more robust discussion around the concepts and principles that the New Deal is founded upon. This is a pivotal time, and it is crucial that we have well informed debate about these things that isn’t reduced to the character limit of a Tweet.
Economic recovery cannot be seen through a narrow lens that just focuses on keeping businesses afloat. This is shortsighted. Economics is a social science. How we distribute, or protect, our wealth has a profound effect on the whole of society, and our environment. This is why Reform Jersey has asked the Government to take a principles based approach, with clear intended outcomes, when it lays out its plans for recovery.
We have proposed a set of principles that are central to our values as a party, and align with our manifesto. So far, no other politician (or group of politicians) has laid out their own guiding principles upon which economic recovery should be based.
If you are one of the people that are challenging the cost of signing up to these principles, I ask you what would be the cost of not doing so? What are the alternatives? The Government has made a commitment to investing in recovery, there will be cost no matter what options are pursued. We need to be clear about what we want to achieve from the investment.
As a reminder the principles of the New Deal approach are:
The government should be on the side of the people, not vested interests,
The value we give to work should be based on its social impact, not just its financial worth,
Healthcare must be free at the point of need,
No vulnerable person shall be left behind,
Public services are best provided directly by the public sector,
Government intervention in the economy is positive action to provide a stabilising effect and to achieve our strategic objectives,
Taxes should be progressive, and
Our environment must not be sacrificed for short term economic gain for investors
Reform Jersey also gets accused of being anti-business. Again, we need to have a more robust conversation around this. I would hope that all business leaders want for themselves and their employees to have a decent standard of living, not be suffering from financial or emotional stress, and have access to the health, education, and social services that they need. We should all be striving to ensure that everyone is able to receive a living wage, and any government support for business should be built on the premise that in return employees will receive fair pay and conditions. Support for business also needs to be targeted in a way that provides amenity for Islanders, enhances our community, takes care of our environment, and future proofs jobs.
I hope that the Government, and other States Members, enter into a more public dialogue about how plans for recovery are being formed, and what the key drivers for economic policy are. That dialogue needs to be happening now, and not in a last minute debate within the States Assembly.