2009, not 1409

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From Michael de Petrovsky.

IN a democracy, what gives the right to a single individual, undemocratically elected, to decide the purchasing rights of nearly 100,000 members of the populace?

I refer to Thursday’s announcement that Constables will have the right to decide who can or cannot trade on a Sunday.

This is 2009, not 1409. Must we continue to be subjected to ancient, feudal ‘divine rights’? Trading should be the province of the Chamber of Commerce, the States as a whole, the individual trader or the people of Jersey, subject to a referendum.

The actions of each individual are decided by his or her genes, external influences, education, intelligence and so forth. Thus, to give an individual Constable the sole right to decide who shall or shall not trade on a Sunday gives access to the paths of injustice, inequality, bribery and personal prejudice.

One must ask on what basis these individuals will reach their conclusions and whether their decisions will be based on a rational appreciation of the needs of the community as a whole, or on personal prejudices.

One must also ask whether their decisions will be free from the influence of vested interests.

I can foresee, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau said most of the ills of mankind resulted from a lack of foresight, inevitable clashes of interests.

Let us suppose we have a Constable who is a devout creationist and is deluded into thinking the world was created in six days and that we should all rest, as he believes his creator did, on the seventh day. No way are you going to be allowed to shop on the Sabbath.

Next, we have the Constable who owns a shop. He may or may not wish to trade. Thus, you will be subject to his personal desires.

Further, we may have a Constable whose relations work in shops. They may look forward, as many hard up people do, to earning double time on Sundays. Conversely, they may be swamped with the filthy lucre and not want to work.

Lastly, there is the scenario of the individual bowing to pressures applied by a few influential cronies.

Maybe the best answer would be to say to all traders, ‘Trade on Sundays if you want to but, if you don’t, shut up shop until Monday.’

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