It figures that the one subject I didn’t prepare for in my Wisconsin Public Radio appearance Friday was the riots in Great Britain. So when that was the last subject that came up, I stammered through an answer that I really did not know why riots were taking place in Britain, or in Vancouver after the Stanley Cup Finals, or on the first day of the Wisconsin State Fair.
My counterpart had an answer, although it apparently required little thought — evil Conservative governnment cutbacks, no hope for youth, the gap between the rich and the poor, etc., etc., etc.
Someone who has done more thought on both of this is Theodore Dalrymple, British physician and author:
The youth of Britain have long placed a de facto curfew on the old, who in most places would no more think of venturing forth after dark than would peasants in Bram Stoker’s Transylvania. Indeed, well before the riots last week, respectable persons would not venture into the centers of most British cities or towns on Friday and Saturday nights, for fear—and in the certainty—of encountering drunken and aggressive youngsters. In Britain nowadays, the difference between ordinary social life and riot is only a matter of degree, not of type. …
The rioters in the news last week had a thwarted sense of entitlement that has been assiduously cultivated by an alliance of intellectuals, governments and bureaucrats. “We’re fed up with being broke,” one rioter was reported as having said, as if having enough money to satisfy one’s desires were a human right rather than something to be earned.
“There are people here with nothing,” this rioter continued: nothing, that is, except an education that has cost $80,000, a roof over their head, clothes on their back and shoes on their feet, food in their stomachs, a cellphone, a flat-screen TV, a refrigerator, an electric stove, heating and lighting, hot and cold running water, a guaranteed income, free medical care, and all of the same for any of the children that they might care to propagate.
But while the rioters have been maintained in a condition of near-permanent unemployment by government subvention augmented by criminal activity, Britain was importing labor to man its service industries. You can travel up and down the country and you can be sure that all the decent hotels and restaurants will be manned overwhelmingly by young foreigners; not a young Briton in sight (thank God).
The reason for this is clear: The young unemployed Britons not only have the wrong attitude to work, for example regarding fixed hours as a form of oppression, but they are also dramatically badly educated. Within six months of arrival in the country, the average young Pole speaks better, more cultivated English than they do.
The icing on the cake, as it were, is that social charges on labor and the minimum wage are so high that no employer can possibly extract from the young unemployed Briton anything like the value of what it costs to employ him. And thus we have the paradox of high youth unemployment at the very same time that we suck in young workers from abroad.
The culture in which the young unemployed have immersed themselves is not one that is likely to promote virtues such as self-discipline, honesty and diligence. Four lines from the most famous lyric of the late and unlamentable Amy Winehouse should establish the point:
I didn’t get a lot in class
But I know it don’t come in a shot glass
They tried to make me go to rehab
But I said ‘no, no, no’
This message is not quite the same as, for example, “Go to the ant, thou sluggard, consider her ways and be wise.”
Canadian Mark Steyn adds:
The [debt rating] downgrade and the riots are part of the same story: Big Government debauches not only a nation’s finances but its human capital, too. …
The London rioters are the children of dependency, the progeny of Big Government: They have been marinated in “stimulus” their entire lives. …
While the British Treasury is busy writing checks to Amsterdam prostitutes, one-fifth of children are raised in homes in which no adult works — in which the weekday ritual of rising, dressing, and leaving for gainful employment is entirely unknown. One tenth of the adult population has done not a day’s work since Tony Blair took office on May 1, 1997. …
The great-grandparents of these [rioters] stood alone against a Fascist Europe in that dark year after the fall of France in 1940. Their grandparents were raised in one of the most peaceful and crime-free nations on the planet. Were those Englishmen of the mid-20th century to be magically transplanted to London today, they’d assume they were in some fantastical remote galaxy. If Charlton Heston was horrified to discover the Planet of the Apes was his own, Britons are beginning to realize that the remote desert island of Lord of the Flies is, in fact, located just off the coast of Europe in the north-east Atlantic. Within two generations of the Blitz and the Battle of Britain, a significant proportion of the once-free British people entrusted themselves to social rewiring by liberal compassionate Big Government and thereby rendered themselves paralytic and unemployable save for non-speaking parts in Rise of the Planet of the Apes. And even that would likely be too much like hard work. …
This is the logical dead end of the Nanny State. When William Beveridge laid out his blueprint for the British welfare regime in 1942, his goal was the “abolition of want” to be accomplished by “co-operation between the State and the individual.” In attempting to insulate the citizenry from life’s vicissitudes, Sir William succeeded beyond his wildest dreams. As I write in my book: “Want has been all but abolished. Today, fewer and fewer Britons want to work, want to marry, want to raise children, want to lead a life of any purpose or dignity.” The United Kingdom has the highest drug use in Europe, the highest incidence of sexually transmitted disease, the highest number of single mothers, the highest abortion rate. Marriage is all but defunct, except for William and Kate, fellow toffs, upscale gays, and Muslims. …
Big Government means small citizens: It corrodes the integrity of a people, catastrophically. Within living memory, the city in flames on our TV screens every night governed a fifth of the earth’s surface and a quarter of its population. When you’re imperialists on that scale, there are bound to be a few mishaps along the way. But nothing the British Empire did to its subject peoples has been as total and catastrophic as what a post-great Britain did to its own.
There are lessons for all of us there.
There is, however, one crucial difference between Great Britain and the U.S. Unlike in Britain, thanks to the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, you have the right to arm and defend yourself. Without it, the National Rifle Association’s Chris Cox says …
If you want to see what a disarmed society looks like, look no further than England.
Thousands of angry, drunk, violent thugs running wild and stealing anything they can carry. Shopkeepers and homeowners crippled with fear, unable to defend their loved ones or their property. Innocent citizens forced to watch helplessly while their life’s dreams — everything they worked so hard to build and acquire — are carried out the door, or smashed to pieces, or burned to the ground. …
The fact is, when British politicians stripped their citizens of their God-given right to self-defense, they robbed them of their freedom and their dignity.