Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Welfare State's Offspring

My favorite conservative writer, Theodore Dalrymple, has provided a "postmortem" on the past summers riots in the U.K.. His essay is called, appropriately enough, "Barbarians on the Thames."

His piece makes an excellent follow-up to his earlier and compelling, "The Barbarians Inside Britain's Gates," in which he argues that the root causes of the English riots is the welfare state. In both, he explains how a sense of entitlement coupled with little threat of punishment created an environment ripe for social destruction.

The rioters in the news last week had a thwarted sense of entitlement that has been assiduously cultivated by an alliance of intellectuals, governments and bureaucrats. "We're fed up with being broke," one rioter was reported as having said, as if having enough money to satisfy one's desires were a human right rather than something to be earned.
When a culture fosters such values, it is playing with fire.
The culture in which the young unemployed have immersed themselves is not one that is likely to promote virtues such as self-discipline, honesty and diligence. Four lines from the most famous lyric of the late and unlamentable Amy Winehouse should establish the point:
I didn't get a lot in class

But I know it don't come in a shot glass

They tried to make me go to rehab

But I said 'no, no, no'

This message is not quite the same as, for example, "Go to the ant, thou sluggard, consider her ways and be wise."

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