I often wonder how deep the ‘grass is greener’ mentality extends amongst my fellow countrymen. I have written before on those that can wax lyrical about how wonderful life is in this or that country but never make the effort or sacrifice needed to change. The most astounding for me are those supported by welfare, where do they think they will go. If you walk into a pub and ‘offer’ to drink their beer for free how long do you think that you will last? So going to another country and offering to add to their welfare bill that has winner written all over it. Do people really think that there are countries out there with couch mountains that desperately need sitting on or that Oprah has a budget to bring more people in to watch her garbage? Don’t misunderstand me there are many ways to improve yourself and grasp opportunities but watching travel shows and moaning is not one of them. In truth I think that this is another way of bemoaning your lack of chances and harps back to the reward debate last week.
So you’re on welfare in the UK with no prospects and no intention of doing anything about it. Is it your fault? Of course not if your parents had only been born in Spain or the US you would have been a doctor or a rocket scientist wouldn’t you. I guess this stems from all the couch surfing, if your only view of other countries comes from the TV then it is certainly far from accurate. Anyway rant over, well that one anyway.
I was thinking about this subject because I have just checked the wonderful ‘On the Wight’ website with some trepidation. Unusually I was moved to comment, not something I often do as I don’t feel that I am really entitled. The other problem is that I am registered under my own name, what if they were to take offense, could they take away my travel privileges? or perhaps extend my ‘overner’ period? Actually not the second one because they measure that in generations and I will only ever be one. But you get the idea, the last thing I want is for somebody to walk in the bar one day and say “you’re that prat that argued this or that on our website”. I should point out that this issue affects only this site although, in fairness, I am rarely moved to comment on others. The article in question was one on the perennial issue of a fixed link, should the Island be tethered to its larger cousin* by a fixed link? Now normally this debate is started by ferry company price rises or timetable changes but this debate was from the delightful Jonathon Dodd a regular writer.
Jonathon’s argument was that the youth of the island have very little in the way of prospects and this can be resolved by a fixed link that would encourage business to relocate to the island. His theory is that the tourism and the rural idyll cannot support the island in the future, a fair argument given that it is struggling today. So we build a fixed link, I think comparative costing against the M6 toll is a bit ambitious since that does not traverse one of the busiest shipping lanes in the UK, but I’ll let that slide. This fixed link allows us to get rid of the dastardly ferry companies and their commercial money grabbing policies and everyone will flock to the island. I commented at length because I think this is a dangerously flawed idea. With the growing costs of fuel what business is going to want to relocate further away from their client base? What infrastructure advantages are there on the island? In short what is the commercial advantage for a business in relocating, after all I can make a dozen T-shirts for less than a penny in India and the Chinese can build a super computer for threepence, as long as they can find one to copy. Let us not forget that the ferry companies remain a big employer and it isn’t their fault that they are not subsidised is it.
There are simply no large employers left to relocate, the last growth industry in this country, apart from maternity, was call centres, they don’t need a bridge. In fact they sucked up the government grants and tax breaks and relocated to India quicker than you can change your phone number. Jonathon has got drawn in by the infrastructure debate that the government is so fond off. Spending billions to open new trade and commuter routes and improve prospects, the maths doesn’t work. If there are so many unemployed in London how will high-speed commuting help, there are more than enough people already. I gather in their new manifesto the conservatives have committed £8 Billion to building a bridge to the end of the rainbow. This project will employ hundreds from eastern europe and allow a growing population to easily reach the pot of gold and be home in time for Jeremy Kyle. Labour have contested that the project is a mere stop-gap and their plan to build a bridge to nowhere offers better value for money in the long-term.
For the island I would like to propose that it is the wise man who does not follow the sheep. The growing population on the big island makes the rural idyll ever more attractive. I am not saying that this will provide full employment or great prospects but stop looking at the other grass it is actually no greener, in fact it is more concrete and mud than grass. I checked my comment today, I have been uprated 7 times and down rated none, I will be bringing this up when I apply for my island passport. The oddest thing is that Jonathon offers this advice having lived on the island for 5 years. Like the little old lady that I see on a Monday morning he is looking to change the grass that he has moved to. On this we agree to differ, I don’t purport to have any clue how we solve the unemployment and population issues but I look forward to reading about those that do from my rural idyll.