"The uprising of the working class..."
I have been following the riots in Britain. Britain is of interest to me because I lived there for 4 months in 2005.
From what I saw, Britain is a hard place to live. I was shocked at the number of 30-something-year-olds still living with mom and dad because there was little economic opportunity for them. I rented a tiny room in a house with 4 other adults and the cost of that rent would have gotten you a one bedroom apartment by yourself in Vancouver, and Vancouver is considered to have a high cost of living in Canada. The other adults in the home were spending a significant percentage of their income on rent and from what I could see, after paying their bills there wasn't much left over.
It seemed to me there was huge apathy and I spent a lot of time thinking about what leads to such apathy, which I concluded was also about the lack of economic opportunity. It seemed to me that Britain was probably 20 years ahead of Canada in declining lifestyle as you looked down the demographic cohorts.
And it seemed to me that government taxes were high and services were low. And they had creative taxation, like the TV tax. I forget how much it was, but by law if you had a TV you had to pay this TV tax. And then there was the council tax, which I also forget how much it was, but renters paid a municipal tax. In Canada the landlord pays the property tax which covers the municipal services.
Being in a completely out of control education system, as I was in Britain, I was doing comparisons on funding. It seemed to me the funding level was about 2/3rds of what we had in Canada. I didn't work it out exactly, but the per pupil funding that the headmaster said we got was small compared to Vancouver. And my teaching load was insane, 247 different students and 9 different preps. In Vancouver teachers report working an average of 51 hours per week. In Britain teachers who had been teaching for 20-30 years said they were working about 60 hours per week. I put in about 12 hour days during the week, but I refused to work my weekends as I had gone to work in another country to see and experience the country. No teacher there was keeping up with the marking despite the long working hours, and indeed many just weren't getting any marking done. Parents biggest complaint at the first parent teacher day was, according the headmaster, "not a stitch of red in their notebooks." I don't know what education funding has done there the last 5 years, but with their currency devaluation, with all else the same it would now be less then half rather then 2/3rds. They had been hiring a lot of foreign teachers, which is much harder to do with weak currency.
So, one of the blogs that I saw this week listed countries that still have triple A ratings, and Britain is on that list, which given one the first things I was saying about Britain when I started blogging was the pound was going to crash because of their financial situation. When I went to Britain it cost me $2.33 Canadian dollars per pound and today it would cost $1.54 Canadian dollars. This rating system makes little sense to me.
I thought services in Britain were low when I was there, which suggests to me further cuts to government spending would be very hard. But then, it could have been how they were spending their money, as they had the highest teenage pregnancy rate in all developed countries and the standard of living from welfare for those teen moms wasn't that much different from working at minimum wage.
In any event, reading the article about the riots, there has been increasing social unrest due to cuts to social programs, pensions, and education. The cuts they are making are being felt by a lot more people.
I do tend to think this rioting is more related to the long term declining lifestyle and it appears to be at a tipping point, at least for a very disenfranchised segment of their society, and what I quoted from the article in this blog title just really hit that point home for me.