British Prime Minister David Cameron was a guest today on This Week with Christiane Amanpour, and it left me flabbergasted. How much pure crap can one man spew in such a short period of time? Let's be clear about this one thing: Austerity measures in the UK (and everywhere else) are not about "making our economy pay properly for itself." It's about picking up the staggering casino tab for the bankers, and anyone with two synapses to rub together knows it:
AMANPOUR: Let's switch to the economy and to what we all saw in England during August, the riots on the street.
CAMERON: Well, first of all, I don't think it was in any way linked to the economy. These were not protests. They were not political arguments. They weren't political demonstrations. It was, quite simply, looting. It was criminality.
AMANPOUR: You've instituted austerity measures. The economic growth is not there. People are saying now, as they look at austerity, that perhaps your governments are focusing on the wrong thing and that it should be about growth and employment. What do you say to that?
CAMERON: Well, we obviously need growth and employment in our country. And actually, the British economy has grown this year. We have created jobs since the election, particularly jobs in the private sector. But the key point is this: You have to remember that Britain was forecast to have a bigger budget deficit than Greece. It was forecast to have the biggest budget deficit in the whole of the G-20. If we haven't got on top of our deficit and shown the world we had a plan to make our economy pay properly for itself, then we would have seen interest rates go up, we would have seen confidence sapped out of our economy. You can see in other parts of Europe where exactly that has happened. We have to understand, this is a debt crisis. It's not a traditional cyclical recession, where you just turn on the money taps. You've got to deal with the debts. You've got to show the world you can pay for your debts, as well as having a very strong growth strategy.
I'm sure it's just a coincidence that these riots took place in a time of severe austerity cuts, right? And let's just gloss over the fact that a police killing kicked off the cycle of violence, because polite people still pretend that cops don't routinely brutalize people.
The thing that the people at the top so blithely ignore is that social programs are holding what's left of the lower classes together. What seems like a small number on the spreadsheet translates to severe hardship and even death at the bottom of the social ladder, and to slash the safety net while the bankers go unpunished is just asking for trouble:
"I don't think the implications of this have been fully thought through or accepted yet," said Pepe Egger, western Europe analyst for London-based consultancy Exclusive Analysis.
"What we have here is the result of decades of growing divisions and marginalization, but austerity will almost certainly make it worse. Yes, the police can restore control with massive force but that is not sustainable either in the long term. You have to accept that this may happen again."
Speaking to Reuters late on Tuesday, looters and other local people in east London pointed to the wealth gap as the underlying cause, also blaming what they saw as police prejudice and a host of recent scandals.
Spending cuts were now hitting the poorest hardest, they said, and after tales of politicians claiming excessive expenses, alleged police corruption and bankers getting rich it was their turn to take what they wanted
"They set the example," said one youth after riots in the London district of Hackney. "It's time to loot."
And what an example it was, and continues to be.