I was not going to use this blog for ranting, however I feel pretty strongly about what’s happening in London at the moment.
I am not for a moment condoning the rioters actions, but I do think the government has to look at why these events are happening. I think the root cause is an obsession with the free market economics so beloved of all the political parties. To maintain the profits of huge multi-national corporations, banks and other industries they want to keep wages as low as possible. The free market determines that the best way to keep a compliant workforce is by having a massive pool of unemployed people to compete for these low waged jobs.
What the market does not do is recognise that we are animals and as such will adapt to overcome these circumstances. The riots and the attendant looting (along with other criminal activity such as the rise is metal theft) are just signs of animals adapting to fill one environmental niche when another route becomes too difficult.
Now I’m not naive enough to believe that ditching the free market completely will free us from these problems, but let’s look at what is happening out there.
There are fewer job opportunities all round. Further education is being perceived as being priced out of the grasp of many families, students are going to be leaving university owing huge amounts of money with the uncertainty of finding jobs when they come out and at the same time older people are being forced to extend their working lives, thus denying replacement job opportunities to those entering the market. Wages are under constant pressure but prices for basic commodities like food are going up. At the same time the people at the top are seen to be getting huge bonus payments on top of their already sizable incomes.
What the underclass needs now is hope. the hope of a job with a decent wage so that they can provide for their loved ones and have a bit left over for something that gives them pleasure, the hope of escape from rubbish housing racked with social disorder and crime, decent transport, decent healthcare and an education system that delivers the skills people need to integrate into society.
We need to divorce ourselves from the mantra of the management consultants and free market idealogues, society just won’t sort itself out according to market economics. In the 1930s that former paragon of the free market, the USA, had to invest in huge infrastructure projects like the Tennessee Valley Authority to create jobs that put honest money in people’s pockets and stimulated consumer spending on manufactured products. I think this is what we need now, so Cameron ditch the ideology so we can build those new high-speed railways and urban transport networks, flood barriers, recycling plants etc, and give people the hope of decent future.