There is an all too predicable Op-Ed in today’s NYT (“Cameron’s Broken Windows”) by Richard Sennett and Saskia Sassen. The core argument: the riots in London are a product of austerity and if the Tea Party has its way, the same riots may be heading our way.
According to the authors, “Mr. Cameron’s austerity program is the Tea Party’s dream come true” and the spending cuts “have led to the neglect and exclusion of many vulnerable, disaffected young people who are acting out violently and irresponsibly — driven by rage rather than an explicit political agenda.”
The authors conclude:
Britain’s current crisis should cause us to reflect on the fact that a smaller government can actually increase communal fear and diminish our quality of life. Is that a fate America wishes upon itself?
Obviously, there is any number of explanations one could develop for the riots in London. One should not be surprised with the general argument and the suggestion that efforts to reduce the growth of federal spending could lead to a similar outcome in the United States (indeed, I would have been shocked if this argument did not emerge in the NYT).
While I think the argument is a bit tortured when addressing the current problems in London, it seems to me that the kind of changes necessary to address the long-term structural deficit and debt and the $54 trillion in unfunded liabilities could be quite destabilizing. Of course, a failure to make the necessary reforms could also prove quite destabilizing, as generations are consigned to confiscatory tax levels, stagnant growth, and little hope of prosperity.
Is London our future?