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.