Cuts and riots: they’re linked!

See this article in today’s Guardian for research linking government austerity with civil unrest.

The research paper the Guardian article was based on, Austerity & Anarchy: Budget Cuts and Social Unrest in Europe 1919-2009, can be found here.

About I Am Not A Number

I Am Not A Number is written by Chris Jury. For 30 years Chris Jury was a TV actor, director and writer best known for playing Eric Catchpole in over 60 episodes of the BBC’s antique classic, Lovejoy, and for directing over 50 episodes of Eastenders. In 2008 he was appointed as the Senior Lecturer in Recorded Media in the School Of Music & Performing Arts at Bath Spa University. He currently presents, Agitpop, a pop & politics radio discussion programme on North Cotswold Community Radio He is currently the Communications Officer for UCU at Bath Spa University and a UCU SW Regional Rep at SWTUC.
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12 Responses to Cuts and riots: they’re linked!

  1. Sorry, I don’t quite buy that. The moral quality of the people is an important factor. People faced with adversity have a number of options for courses of action. If they choose to throw a tantrum and harm their neighbors then they’ve simply proven what scumbags they are – and they’re cruisin for a bruisin.

    • So what don’t you buy? Are you denying that the statistical link between cuts and civil disorder exists? Which is all this article suggests.

      You seem to be defending a statement that isn’t being made. You seem to think that to suggest there is a link between poverty and crime is to say that criminals are therefore not responsible for their actions. But that doesn’t follow and is not the claim being made.

      What is being said is that statistically poverty and crime are linked. When poverty increases so does crime and civil disturbance, it’s simply a fact. What the causes that link is what we should be arguing about.

      I have made it clear that as individuals we are each responsible for our actions and to attack, intimidate, disrespect or steal from your fellow citizens for whatever reason is not only illegal it is morally deplorable – no exceptions.

      But if at the level of policy we want to try to make our streets safer surely we need to look at the causes of crime and civil unrest – and it is clear that poverty is a significant factor in both these phenomenon.

      My response to this is to recognise that I am part of the same society as poor people and that their poverty has negative effects on my life and that to mitigate their poverty would have positive benefits for me.

      Conservatives want to deny that and insist that poor people are nothing to do with them and that if poor people break the law, a law designed primarily to protect the property of the wealthy from the poor, then the poor must be harshly punished. Indeed, Conservatives would rather spend billions of dollars keeping poor people in prison rather than spending the same money on relieving the poverty. The USA has the largest proportion of it’s citizens in gaol than any other nation in the world – the vast majority of whom are from poor backgrounds.

      Refusing to acknowledge a simple truth about poverty and crime locks you into a never-ending cycle of crime and punishment that has an overwhelmingly negative effect on your society.

  2. It appears that you are claiming a simple answer to a complex problem: the Conservatives did it.

    • Not at all. I am commenting on the Conservative knee-jerk reaction that refuses to acknowledge the link between poverty and crime.

      Because to do so they would have to acknowledge that policies that increase poverty also increase crime and they are committed to reducing crime.

  3. Poor people should be generously provided with the means to improve their situations, but it is up to them to make the effort to use the “tools” to fix their lot in life. If they’re too lazy to make the effort to improve themselves once provided with the means to do so then their predicament is their own fault. Society should provide to all of its citizens, with no strings attached, the necessities to sustain healthy life – food, shelter, clothing, security.

    • OK. Agreed! So what we are disagreeing about is what constitutes “the means to improve their situations”. The free-marketeers claim that these ‘means’ are simply a free market because that is all that is needed to for anyone to “improve their situation” through entrepreneurial endeavour. I would claim that this view ignores the impact of inherited wealth, social position, racial prejudice and monopolistic corporate power. Thus a free-market is only part of the story.

  4. Ok, I admit that there is a link between poverty and crime. If I may represent Conservatives everywhere, as a celebration of my acknowledgement of there being a link between crime and poverty, and in honor of Marie Antoinette who famously stated “Let them eat cake!” I hereby decree that all subjects of the Crown, regardless of social class will be presented with a cake, the name of which rhymes with “link” – namely “twink” – specifically “twinky.” Now let there no longer be in whining throughout the land!

  5. It seems to me that having an adequate education is a key prerequisite for improving one’s lot. I feel that providing free educations for everyone – cradle to grave – (Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard – free) would do more to “leveling the playing field” than just about anything else. Far-fetched or reasonable?

    • It’s not far-fetched at all!!!! In fact this was the system in the UK from 1946 up until 1998 and still is the system in Scotland and Wales and most of Europe. In England students not only paid no fees there was also a means-tested grant system that meant that children from poorer backgrounds were given a modest (equivalent to about $4,000 a year at today’s prices) living allowance if they were offered a place at Uni. This maintenance grant was a grant not a loan – i.e. it didn’t have to be repaid.

      Our current government all benefited from this system but are now forcing all students to borrow £50,000 to attend university. The repayments are 9% of earnings above £21,000 for 35 years! It’s an appalling tragedy being committed in the name of a free-market ideology that almost brought the world’s entire financial system to collapse only three years ago. It beggars believe.

  6. Thanks for enlightening me. I was totally ignorant of all that. That’s an unfortunate turn of events. Eventhough the financing of a free education for everyone who is willing to earn it is a costly concept I feel that it is one of the best investments that a society can make for its own good.

  7. I know! They just want to be like AMERICA!

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