Riots Calm Down

After days of rioting and looting, the tensions in London appear to be winding down. On Wednesday, PM David Cameron vowed to stand behind the police with whatever force was necessary. His message seems to have struck a chord among would-be rioters. As the fighting quells, however, the public must face the greater challenge of explaining this chaos.

The spark that set London burning occurred last week, when police in the neighborhood of Tottenham shot and killed a minority named Mark Duggan.

The coalition government has denied any link the ensuing violence might have to their most recent round of fiscal austerity measures. The fact that looters are robbing their own people, breaking into mom-and-pop stores in their own neighborhoods, certainly adds weight to the government’s argument.

But anger is almost never logical. The government has cut entitlements and raised taxes, and the poorest in London, where inequality runs rampant, are deeply frustrated. Although the conditions in London are perhaps riper for unrest than ours at home (greater income inequality, proximity of rich and poor, deeper racial tensions, etc.), the riots should serve a dire warning to all those who think we can delay addressing our own fiscal house. The longer wait, the harder the sacrifice, and the more uncertain the reaction will be.

–Thomas L. Hauch