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Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Is Jersey ready to get back into shape?

Recently having decided that my physical condition had deteriorated too far I decided to take up yoga. It is so easy in the busy life we lead to neglect physical fitness and obviously the effects will not be felt straight away, the gradual deterioration of physical fitness creeps in numerous small stages which often pass unnoticed.

Our States members do not develop those guts overnight it is only through a long succession of free lunches. But three years later when they come to stand again and they look at those election posters from the last campaign well then the physical decline really hits home.

Now a few weeks in to my new training program I can almost make it through the ninety minutes, a couple of the poses are just too hard still so I sit a few seconds out of each one. My flexibilty, strength and balance are all improving. I know where I want to be but at the moment it is just too much, but lots of small steps will get me there eventually. I am already feeling the benefit, it is almost as if my body knows where it should be and now having received the necessary instruction from my brain is re-configuring itself to adjust to the new reality.

It's easy to forget that keeping physically fit is important for maintaining mental health so I am concerned by the number of States Members who let themselves go. I mean its not like any of them have any excuse as they have no work to do and plenty of free time.

But progress in yoga is a definite gradual thing, each time your body puts up opposition the idea is to breathe in, and then push a little harder on the exhale. It works, what seems like an insurmountable task requires just a single deep breath and you can go a little further.

In many ways that is similar to how the implementation of public policy in Jersey works; the Civil Service pushes a little until it meets resistance, then rests, takes a deep breath (holds a consultation or something) and then finds that the resistance point has moved and it can progress a little further down the road it is on. A perfect example of this is the removal of mortgage interest relief, this was first tried around 2000 but given the level of public emnity it was withdrawn only to be re-hashed as '20 means 20' one of the steps necessary to avert the 'black hole' in public finances (a black hole which was only caused by the government increasing the amount of money they spent).

Conversely when opposition erupts the Civil Service draw a line of resistance and see how deep the breath is before giving in to the resistance a little. A perfect example of this is the recent pay dispute; the 1% pay rise for all met with significant resistance and the Civil Service have given in a little - Nurses will get 4%, they will probably settle with the fire service and some other unions but for the poor manual workers there is no give.

The lack of an organised political resistance to the growth of bureaucracy, the lack of a political party in Jersey to work in the interests of the people and prevent the expansion of government and taxation has meant that the States of Jersey Inc. have readily and rapidly progressed along the path of impoverishment of the people of Jersey.

Jersey knows that it is not in the condition that it should be but all it may take to sort things out is for everyone to realize that they have to adjust to the new configuration. There will be some resistance If sometimes it seems that no progress can be made on an issue, sometimes the better action is to stop, take a deep breath, pause for through, and then push again.

Taking that first yoga class requires the most effort; re-organising schedules, planning the trip, feeling the stiffness and discomfort of having let things go too far but you come away feeling good and each successive class is just that bit more enjoyable.

The question is then how does one persuade Jersey that it is time to start getting back into shape?