Most of my postings to this blog are about degrowth issues. However, the unrest in London and the uniform mainstream media portrayal of all young people as hoodlums and the breakdown of social order as a problem of the family upbringings of black youth, are covering up the complex roots of social inequalities behind the social unrest in London, the Middle East and elsewhere. In trying to understand where this violence is coming from, it is important to look beyond what David Cameron, other political leaders and the mainstream press tell us, and I feel the urge to respond.
This urge was catalyzed this morning by a recent Pew Research study which looks at U.S. government data showing that the median wealth of white households in the United States is now 20 times that of black households and 18 times that of Hispanic households, according to figures from 2009. The typical black household had just $5,677 in wealth (assets minus debts) in 2009; the typical Hispanic household $6,325; and the typical white household $113,149. From 2005 to 2009, inflation-adjusted median wealth fell by 66% among Hispanic households and 53% among black households, compared with just 16% among white households. I haven’t had time to look for similar data for the UK, but it would surprise me if it were much different.
Young people see major banks looting the public treasury of trillions of dollars to cover their deliberately risky loan portfolios and ask, why can’t we loot a store for a pair of $200 Converse shoes that the TV tells us we must have to be “cool”. When the US Congress votes against tax increases for the rich and for cuts to social services for the poor, many young people despair of ever getting out of the misery they and their families experience every day. It’s unfortunate that they lash out against small business as well as big corporate interests, but our underfunded and blinkered educational system hasn’t provided them with the analytical skills or the overall economic, social and political context which would help them direct their anger more constructively.
The New Economics Foundation in London UK is blogging on these issues and appears to be an interesting source of analysis and news.
Have a look at “England: an explosion of bitterness and rage” as well.
And on a more positive front: A North London Unity Assembly Demonstration – Give Our Kids A Future!
So there’s my rant for the day.