From the Los Angeles Times, 08/08/2011
‘London Riots Cause Alarm.
A march in the Tottenham area of north London to protest the shooting of 29-year-old Mark Duggan in a police operation to control firearms two days earlier turned violent late Saturday. Buildings were looted and torched, 26 police officers and three civilians were injured, and 55 arrests were made. Several families were left homeless.
It was regarded as the worst mob violence in London since disturbances in the nearby Broadwater Farm area 25 years ago, in which a police officer was hacked to death.’
Some observers say more unrest is to be expected in poor areas hit hard by government cutbacks….’
So London boiled over last Saturday. And again today. So why not LA or Detroit, Cleveland or Miami tomorrow? Last October, Great Britain, while bailing out its failed financial ‘institutions’ and restoring the salaries of the monied class slashed a tradition of social solidarity with the vulnerable and poor. The Conservative Cameron government gutted the European ideal of equal opportunity in higher education by proposing to double fees, thus reinforcing a moribund class system and stunting talent.
To Britain’ credit, however, National Health and foreign aid spending remained untouched. And the hard cuts were much augmented in their deficit reducing power by tax increases. Including raising the value-added tax from 17.5 to 20 percent.
Meanwhile, how’s it going in the US? There are parallels. Financial ‘institutions’ that would have/should have failed because of gross incompetence, malfeasance and greed have been made whole, like it or not, by the taxpayers. Bankers and investment analysts and floor traders are hauling in record-breaking bonuses. This joyous restoration is paid for through the ‘bail-out’ by the taxpayers– a heterogeneous group that includes students (loan programs slashed), those teetering because of job loss, or because they just got back from war and can’t find jobs, those on the brink of poverty and homelessness (transfer payments, that no-no, slashed, no redress from the mortgage trap debacle) and old people (Medicare cuts). All those shiftless folks. Good-for-nothings in the view of a Congressional majority, perhaps because they don’t cut checks for lobbies and election campaigns. Unlike the GB case, the last-hour American ‘solution’ foresees no increase in revenues. Corporations can continue to profit tax-free. The rich-rich as well. To touch taxes is the new third rail. Given that, why is everyone so appalled by the down-grade? US-AA, look in the mirror.
Side note– a friend of pointdevue, an investment manager working for a Bank Too Big to Fail, has clients worth tens of millions who do not pay one red cent in income tax. This is one Wall Street guy who loves his country and is disgusted. Still waiting for Change to Believe In.
Last week’s debt ceiling debacle was no big deal, despite the hullabaloo. No real news. It was simply a stark acting-out of the economic hollowing-out that has been going on in this country since around 1980: the rich getting richer at the expense of the Left Behind, at an ever accelerating rate.
Bertold Brecht (no stranger to theft himself, but that’s another story) famously wrote, ‘First comes the bread, then comes the morality.’
Brecht was wrong. Sometimes even when people are hungry for bread, they are even thirstier for clear, transparent justice.
Let the rain come down.