I was eavesdropping on some creative types at lunch, and apparently the latest chatter amongst those in the know is things Jersey might do to diversify its economy. The fact that this idea is still at the exploration stage in 2015 is a bit worrying, as you don’t need a highly-specialised qualification in offshore trust law to work out that Jersey might just benefit from moves to earn a little coin from somewhere beyond the finance industry.
Those retired Europeans in hiking boots are lovely, but they aren’t a viable plan B for my mortgage. Even ignoring the long-term health of offshore wealth management, if for some reason either of those two segments decided to boycott our weekend economy of expensive fried breakfasts and poncy cocktail bars the island would be a few drunken steps away from pre-bailout Greece. We might not have the Acropolis or as much ouzo, but we do have the former Odeon and enough Breda to brain damage a sperm whale. If financial Armageddon does come to pass, hopefully Guernsey would help us out with a cash injection before our way of life is destroyed: St Clement consumed by riots, a shortage of fuel for Porsches and jetskis and unprecedented difficulties in selling a one bedroom flat for three hundred grand.
Greece may be resigned to a future trussed up like some Mediterranean gimp waiting for Angela Merkel to crack the whip across its clammy buttocks, but there’s still plenty of time for Jersey to escape a future where our cousins from the next island over farm us for leather and eat all the books in the library. The challenge is finding ways to diversify our economy into markets that a) can’t be taxed by the mainland, b) are contained enough to operate in the island without taking up any green space, and c) make everybody living here extremely rich without needing to attract too many incomers who expect decent housing and reasonable wages. I spent all weekend brainstorming ideas, but there’s only so many times you can write ‘turn Gorey harbour into mini-Amsterdam??’ on a flipchart before running out of steam. I fell asleep to dreams of a nightmare future where Guernseymen rule the parishes like Planet of the Apes, and then I had a eureka moment. The secret to running an economy that guarantees constant growth without overpopulation or high taxation is simple: you just have to develop the ability to break the laws of time and space.
You’re probably thinking that this is a little extreme, and that rather than basing our economic future on altering our fundamental temporal reality it might be more sensible to develop a market for winter tourism, build a university, or provide incentives so that people move here to design iPhone apps in St Lawrence. The problem with these ideas is that other places with a lower cost of living have already come up with them, but to the best of my knowledge the only other low-tax jurisdiction attempting to construct a glowing portal into unknown dimensions is the Swiss, and they’ll probably just use the cosmic powers of the large Hardon Collider to make limited edition Toblerones out of dark matter. I feel like I say this kind of thing regularly, but we still have the opportunity to steal a march on the land of the cuckoo clock by pouring millions into a state-of-the-art research facility, gathering and/or kidnapping the cream of the global scientific community and putting them to work until they’ve come up with a version of the TARDIS that runs on duty free farm diesel. I’m not a dreamer – I well remember the promises of Tomorrow’s World, and considering that we already have electric cars and pocket computers I expect that functional time travel must only be years away at best. Yes, virtual reality goggles still make you look like a prick, but even super science has its limits.
The socio-economic benefits of time travel
Time travel isn’t just about giving us the ability to fight the Daleks, it also promises tangible benefits for our community. All those young people struggling to get a foot on the housing ladder can simply enter our offshore time portal and purchase houses in the past, where they are much cheaper. Providing they don’t offend the strange politics of our forerunners, our young history dwellers will be able to pay for their mortgages by bringing forward some of the resources that we’re busy running out of in the future, such as crude oil, honey bees and new jokes about Donald Trump’s hair. Finance workers with specialist qualifications won’t need to worry about becoming redundant, as they can take their skills back to the 1980s and compete for work with their younger selves. Jersey’s tourism industry will also be instantly revitalised with our quantum tunnelling device, as we can just welcome tourists from the 1960s to holiday in the glittering Jersey of the future, whilst sending retro-minded people from our own timestream into a past when Fort Regent was still the centre of our universe and there was a discotheque on every coast. There are no downsides to this idea, providing we limit dinosaur safaris to weekends and also set up some kind of time customs to prevent dodgy 80s TV stars from escaping to wreak havoc in the future. It might also be an idea to have rules about how often we assassinate Hitler, just so it doesn’t cause problems with the sea defences at Beaumont.
Once we’re all impossibly wealthy through betting on horse races, importing renaissance art and posting tax-free Blu Rays from alternate dimensions, we can turn our attentions to even more creative forms of science. Perhaps time itself can be distilled into a form of ultra botox that will prevent us getting old when our partners inevitably abandon us for younger models from the 1930s. It might even be possible to halt climate change by continually projecting the entire island back in time to a point when sea levels haven’t begun to rise, or into a distant future where we can inhabit machine bodies, communicate with other worlds and finally make accurate predictions about whether it will be sunny at the weekend or foggy at the airport.
The past is ours for the taking. As long as we remain vigilant to the risks that our new technology may be abused by intelligent robots, talking monkeys or Bill & Ted there’s literally nothing that can go wrong. If it turns out I meet my doom at the hands of robot Hitler, riding a cyborg velociraptor, please make sure you send somebody back to tell me that writing this article was a really bad idea.