Barbarians at the Gate

Did you know that London is burning? Didn’t think so.

Looters claim, “We’ve got no jobs. This is payback” Yet, they break windows wearing designer sneakers and coordinate their anarchy on I-Phones. This is not materialistic poverty. It’s moral poverty.

Watch as a man with a bloody nose is helped off the ground. His “rescuers” proceed to steal from his backpack.

Get the latest coverage at the Telegraph UK web site because you’re not going to get it on American T.V.

H/T for video: Small Dead Animals

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5 responses to “Barbarians at the Gate

  1. Not to suggest that rioting and robbery are ever okay, but I have to disagree that owning an iPhone and designer sneakers means that one isn’t poor (in a materialistic sense). By that logic, only rich people smoke cigarettes. They’re so expensive! People have weird and messed-up priorities as to what they ought to spend their money on, the poor as well as the rich.

    • What is your definition of Western poverty? I’ve written before that North America and western Europe have eliminated material poverty but what makes the poor, poor in our society? Because they can’t earn an income? Lack of education?

  2. I don’t think I’d agree that we’ve eliminated material poverty, though I would certainly agree that compared to most of the rest of the world we don’t have anything to complain about.

    I think poverty in the West (as anywhere else) is complicated, and often results from a tangled web of inadequate employment opportunities, lack of education, lack of emotional and financial support from family (either because the family is unwilling or unable), poor decisions made by those who are poor (causing them to become poorer). Our society puts a lot of importance on material wealth and conspicuous consumption (go shopping! stimulate the economy!), which I think encourages a lot of people to spend money on things they don’t need and can’t afford.

    But I feel I should point out that I was not, in fact, arguing that the London rioters ARE poor (my reading on the story, mostly on the BBC website, suggests to me that some are, some aren’t). Merely that possession of a smart phone and expensive sneakers do not constitute proof to the contrary.

    • What I mean by the elimination of material poverty is that in the U.S. the poor (I’m generalizing) have the basics covered: shelter, food, healthcare and to take it a step further, public education. (The levels of each of these basics can be argued.)

      Real world example: Hubby has a relative who receives, per month, $1200 in MA.state welfare, $300 in federal food stamps and free healthcare via MassHealth. His girlfriend receives the same benefits and between them they pool their resources and are able to rent a decent apartment, eat well and can afford the extras. They have better “stuff” than I do. So on the surface, yes, they are not lacking in the material (large screen t.v., cable, WII, lap tops) because their basics are covered by the government.

      What makes them poor? They do not save so they are dependent on what they receive each month. There is NO accountability from the state. If told that the amount of benefits would be cut back, it would be an incentive to look for a part-time job; anything to give them a sense of purpose in their lives. They are both able bodied young people (late 20’s/early 30’s) who are playing the system.

      I think most people want to help the “poor” because they imagine a husband unable to provide food for his family or a single mother who can’t pay the rent. There are some folks receiving assistance who desperately need it. But the U.S. flash mobs and the U.K. rioters (from council-housing inhabitants to upper-class toffs in Notting Hill) are not lacking in the material/basic necessities. In the case of my husband’s relative, lack of self control on spending and government assistance are not helping him or his girlfriend get out of poverty, the poverty of the spirit.

      I think I’ve written too much but I guess what I’m saying is that the poor of today are not the poor of 60 years ago.

      Besides, I like this little back and forth! Hope your writing is going well!!!

  3. I know that some people abuse the system, but I think there are more people receiving government assistance who need it than who don’t. I’d rather err on the side of letting some people get away with it, than risk cutting off people who really do need it. Since you have to balance any savings you’d see from cutting off the slackers with the increased cost of hiring additional people to police the system more effectively.

    With respect to those who maybe shouldn’t be receiving government assistance, we have a culture of entitlement that permeates every stratum of our society. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to defend my decision not to file for unemployment insurance, as if I’m doing something wrong (or incredibly stupid) by refusing to lie and claim that I’m actively looking for work and would take a job right now if it were offered to me. If everyone I encounter (except my husband) believes I should lie to the government in order to take money I’m not legally entitled to and don’t need, it’s hard to convince those who haven’t managed to save anything that they shouldn’t also try to get whatever they can out of the system.

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