Free Markets, Free People

The NYT on the UK riots — the Grey Lady still doesn’t get it

The New York Times published an editorial today that reminds one how  liberally biased the paper’s editorial board is.  In its editorial it claims that all of the problems the UK has recently undergone are the result of the current administration and their austerity measures.

Cameron has been talking tough, suggesting that perhaps eviction or cutting off benefits to looters who are on the public dole might be one means of punishing offenders and making others think twice about committing such crimes again.   He’s even talked about cutting off internet service in areas hit by flash looting mobs to cut their communication links.

The Times finds all of that an abhorrent over-reaction, and there are some good arguments against such moves by government.  But that’s not where the NYT editorial board gets it wrong.  It is here:

Such draconian proposals often win public applause in the traumatized aftermath of riots. But Mr. Cameron, and his Liberal Democrat coalition partners, should know better. They risk long-term damage to Britain’s already fraying social compact.

Making poor people poorer will not make them less likely to steal. Making them, or their families, homeless will not promote respect for the law. Trying to shut down the Internet in neighborhoods would be an appalling violation of civil liberties and a threat to public safety, denying vital real-time information to frightened residents.

Britain’s urban wastelands need constructive attention from the Cameron government, not just punishment. His government’s wrongheaded austerity policies have meant fewer public sector jobs and social services. Even police strength is scheduled to be cut. The poor are generally more dependent on government than the affluent, so they have been hit the hardest.

What Britain’s sputtering economy really needs is short-term stimulus, not more budget cutting. Unfortunately, there is no sign that Mr. Cameron has figured that out. But, at a minimum, burdens need to be more fairly shared between rich and poor — not as a reward to anyone, but because it is right.

This is utter nonsense.  As with most on the left the Times prefers to cast blame at those who they disagree with ideologically instead of actually analyzing the problem and admitting that perhaps it is their ideology which has led to these problems.

Point one – these riots weren’t a result of several months or even several years of austerity.  They are the culmination of a decades long social engineering project that has created a culture and is dependent upon government for everything.  It has coddled it, excused its behavior and now finds it can’t afford it.   The socialists have finally run out of other people’s money and are now paying the price for such foolhardy social engineering.

Point two – the answer to the problem isn’t now nor has it ever been more “public sector jobs and social services”.  Instead the answer is to entice the private sector into these areas and have them produce productive jobs.  Of course, if the benefits program, i.e. the dole or “the game”, continue as it has, there’s absolutely no incentive for anyone to take a job.   One of the standing jokes is about an government appeal for businesses in the UK to hire Brits instead of Eastern Europeans.  But British businesses know that Eastern Europeans will actually show up, on time and work, whereas Brits won’t.   That is a cultural problem – not an austerity problem.   And it is a cultural problem that has been caused and nurtured by the likes of those who write editorials for the New York Times.

Point three – it won’t get better by doing the same thing again.   As has been said by many, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over again and expecting different results.   This is a social engineering project that has failed.  Committing money they don’t have to recreate it is the height of idiocy.

The Times also stoops to a bit of class warfare by claiming David Cameron is a product of “Britain’s upper classes and schools”.  The implication being he has no concept of the problem, being so far removed by class, and thus “he has blamed the looting and burning on a compound of national moral decline, bad parenting and perverse inner-city subculture”.

Janet Daley at the UK’s Telegraph rips into that premise and calls the Times on its hypocrisy:

Yes indeed he has, thus putting himself in agreement with about 90 per cent of the British population. But the New York Times in as uninterested in the overwhelming majority of British public opinion as it is in the great mass of American public opinion. It is as smugly and narrowly orthodox in its Left-liberal posturing as its counterparts in Britain. (If the BBC were to be reincarnated as an American newspaper, it would be the New York Times.) So it carries on in class war mode with accusations about Mr Cameron’s blithe imperiousness: “Would he find similar blame – this time in the culture of the well housed and well-off – for Britain’s recent tabloid phone hacking scandals or the egregious abuse of expense accounts by members of Parliament?”

Well as it happens, the MPs’ expenses scandal is pretty small beer by comparison to the “pork barrel” and lobbying scandals which have dogged the US Congress for generations. Would the New York Times like to opine on how much relevance the class backgrounds of Washington legislators have to those problems?

If the Times could find an angle that would help it push its outmoded ideological argument, probably so, but her point is well taken.  Dailey concludes with the real reason for the editorial, fact free as it is – it’s all about certain politics:

The remedies which it criticises Mr Cameron for adopting are, in fact, not within his personal power at all: evicting tenants from council housing is a matter for local councils not for the Westminister government. And he has not proposed “shutting down the internet in neighbourhoods [where there is civil disorder]“. As far as the New York Times is concerned, the riots of last week were all about the state of the economy and the Government’s spending cuts: an argument so untenable that even the Labour party does not advance it. In its pious conclusion, the editorial states unequivocally that “what Britain’s sputtering economy really needs is short-term stimulus, not more budget cutting.” Barack Obama couldn’t have asked for a more generous endorsement. And that, one assumes, is what this ludicrous exercise in Schadenfreude was all about.

I couldn’t have said it better myself.


Twitter: @McQandO

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15 Responses to The NYT on the UK riots — the Grey Lady still doesn’t get it

  • They live in a different reality (literally).
    They’ve been inculcated with Kantian “über reality” and Hegelian “Omnipotent state” since they were toddlers. Their response could not be any different.

  • For the Collective, NOTHING can trump ideology…NO reality, NO common sense, NO horrible, grating life lesson.
    “Hand-wave”…after all…

  • The New York Times began its latest round of layoffs Wednesday, as too few employees accepted voluntary buyouts.
    The New York Post’s Keith Kelly reported Wednesday morning that 26 staffers would be laid off, since only 74 employees accepted buyout offers and the target was to cut 100 positions. — Posted 12-16-09

    These heartless “Brain Hemorrahage Through Your Nose” bast*#ds.. What the Times’ sputtering economy really needs is short-term stimulus, not more budget cutting.
    It’s interesting that the Times uses the same sort of management techniques with no hint of hypocrisy.

    • Hey, an internal tax on the “rich”…Frank Rich, Paul “Enron” Krugman, etc….THAT would be the ticket…!!!
      Yeah!  Eat the Rich…and the Krugman…and…

      • A tax on anyone who says they don’t pay enough taxes.
        Sqwat !*#!  Yes Sir, may I have another ?

        • In Joe Shrugged, I proposed a tax called “the money where your mouth is tax”.
          For anyone caught openly advocating Collectivism, it would strip them of all wealth, and provide them a stipend equal to that of a “citizen of the world”.
          Heh.  Bet it would work, too!!!

  • “Gray Lady”? I think that’s obsolete unless it gets changed to “Gray Lady of the Night”.

  • Shorter NYT:  “Just pay the f*cking danegeld!”

    Seriously, though, what “attention” does the NYT suggest that Cameron give blighted areas in Britain?  More welfare handouts?  Less police patrols?  More “unemployment benefits” to yobs who’ve never worked a day in their lives?

    The Other McCain has this sickening story about “poor people” in Britain (and I thought that “sorry white trash” was purely a Southern thing; silly me):

    So “mum” Janis, 48, has apparently never had a husband or a job, and lives with her four children, one of them already herself a mother and the other now pregnant by the 17-year-old boyfriend whom Janis permitted to spend the night in their 3-bedroom public housing apartment. All of this social pathology is subsidized by the British taxpayer!

    I realize that there are people in Britain who DON’T game the system, but (apparently) this sort of thing is quite common.  The British have paid people to be lazy degenerates, and are now suprised that… they are lazy degenerates.  The NYT’s advice: don’t stop paying them to be lazy degenerates, because that would be wrong, and they might riot.


  • To me the most distasteful aspect of the riots (aside from the wanton destruction itself) are the self-absorbed aging lefties who are upset that the rioters turned out not to be the inevitable vanguard of a new uprising like they had in the late 60s. To them it is more troubling that there isn’t a new breed of good class warriors emerging, just a bunch of nihilistic, materialist thugs bent on looting. Then they go on a bender about how this is the end of the “social contract”.

    None of them turn around and say “well maybe my theory of social contracts and class warfare and all that jazz is, well, a load of shit”. Nope, they just try and turn it back into pretending this occured because of the Cameron government being forced into austerity measures after decades of expensive social democracy since WW2. After all, to confront reality would mean to admit that they’ve bred a violent and apathetic sub-class that they have absolutely no control over. I’m sure someone like Erb can confirm that the textbooks said it wasn’t supposed to happen like this.

    But they do get to crap on about how the rioters are using Blackberries and social media, just like in Egypt, so that makes it all cool again. Just don’t go out at night and stay away from the thugs in hooded sweatshirts, yeah, it’s safest just to lock the doors and stay on Twitter and hope they ransack some other suburb tonight.

    Everybody now… fingers in ears, close eyes hard, “nya nya nya I can’t hear you!”

    • DocDTo me the most distasteful aspect of the riots (aside from the wanton destruction itself) are the self-absorbed aging lefties who are upset that the rioters turned out not to be the inevitable vanguard of a new uprising like they had in the late 60s.

      Good point.  My own experience is that lefties actually feel a certain smugness about the whole thing: “Yeah, man!  The poor are, like, rising up, man!  Like, you know, those rich b*stards are finally gonna get what they deserve!  Can’t wait till, like, it comes here!”

      I’m not sure where they get the idea that the rioters are a hoard of starving peasants stealing food and warm clothing and not a pack of lazy yobs stealing Playstations and TV’s, but that’s the left for you.  Never let reality interfere with The Narrative.

      • Till it hits something they like. There was some Sony building burnt to the ground, which housed a whole lot of original material from various artists. There was much wailing and gnashing of teeth about that being trashed. But other businesses, meh, couldn’t really care less. Some things are blessed, some are just dirty business.

        • DocDSome things are blessed, some are just dirty business.

          Something else I don’t get about the left and their approving response to the riots: who, exactly, do they think is being hurt?  If a shop is trashed or looted or burnt to the ground, who suffers?  The owner who may lose everything he’s worked for?  His employees who are out of a job?  Even if a big box store is trashed or burnt, who suffers?  Yeah, the “fat cats” who run the corporation might see a small change in their bottom line, but the people who really suffer are the employees who are out of a job and the customers who suddenly have to travel a longer distance (generating CO2, oh noes!) to buy what they want / need.  Oh, and the government suffers a bit as that store no longer provides sales tax revenue.

          This hatred of business on the left… it’s stupid, pointless, and ultimately self-destructive.

    • That’s what happens when a person merges their politics with their faith.

      I believe people are hardwired to feel faith in something bigger than themselves. In Europe, government has basically replaced the church in people’s minds as the institution that tells them their place in the world and looks after them. The same thing is true in mostly left-leaning areas of the US. (I say this as someone who is personally not very faith-oriented. It’s simply an observation.) This isn’t original, of course. The most pithy formulation is “When people stop believing in God, they don’t believe in nothing — they believe in anything.” by G.K. Chesterson about a century ago.

      When people consciously choose a faith (as those on the left chose collectivism), then their attachment to it is often quite strong. It becomes their world view.

      Many such, particularly those with weak minds and/or weak self images, become absolutely incapable of testing their faith against the real world. They subconsciously realize that questioning one thing about the faith could grow to questioning everything about it, and that’s not mentally acceptable.

      So they weave ever more elaborate justifications, rationalizations, and logically fallacious responses to those pointing out flaws in their faith.

      There’s nothing about this restricted to leftists – young earth creationists have the same dynamic. However, only leftists have grown as a movement to threaten the rest of us with financial ruin, potential civil violence, and oppression by an ever-more-authoritarian government.