WORTH REPEATING: The Wages Of Austerity

London_Riot_Police.jpg

NEW YORK TIMES: Mr. Cameron was good at selling people on the idea of cutting costs, but he has failed to make the case for what and how to cut: efforts to increase university fees, to overhaul the National Health Service, to reduce the military and the police, even to sell off the nation’s forests, have all backfired, with the government hedging or simply abandoning its plans. In attempting to carry out reform, the government appears incompetent; it has lost legitimacy. This has prompted some people living on Kingsland Road to become vigilantes. “We have to do things for ourselves,” a 16-year-old in Hackney told The Guardian, convinced that the authorities did not care about, or know how to protect, communities like his. A street of shuttered shops, locked playgrounds and closed clinics, a street patrolled by citizens armed with knives and bats, is not a place to build a life. Americans ought to ponder this aspect of Britain’s trauma. After all, London is one of the world’s wealthiest cities, but large sections of it are impoverished. New York is not so different. The American right today is obsessed with cutting government spending. In many ways, Mr. Cameron’s austerity program is the Tea Party’s dream come true. But Britain is now grappling with the consequences of those cuts, which have led to the neglect and exclusion of many vulnerable, disaffected young people who are acting out violently and irresponsibly — driven by rage rather than an explicit political agenda. America is in many ways different from Britain, but the two countries today are alike in their extremes of inequality, and in the desire of many politicians to solve economic and social ills by reducing the power of the state. Britain’s current crisis should cause us to reflect on the fact that a smaller government can actually increase communal fear and diminish our quality of life. Is that a fate America wishes upon itself? MORE

RELATED: Britain’s cities were largely quiet Thursday after days of rioting and looting that drew thousands of extra police officers onto the streets and a stern warning from Prime Minister David Cameron that order would be restored by whatever means necessary. Police vowed to round up rioters who have so far avoided the net, and began raiding houses across London. Deputy Assistant Commissioner Stephen Kavanagh said the raids began overnight, and more than 100 warrants would be executed. Police have already arrested almost 900 people in London since trouble began on Saturday, and 371 have been charged. Hugh Orde, head of the Association of Chief Police Officers, said there would be “hundreds more people in custody” by the end of the day. MORE

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.