Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

The middle class just pays and pays

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THE left-thinking crowd has taken a massive hit, square in the beak. At least in England.

Riots, only hours old (that made Vancouver look like Romper Room,) had the left out in full force, chirping from their perches that the wanton violence, burning and looting were the fault of rising tuition, government cutbacks, overbearing police and lack of opportunity.

We now know from the demographic portrait of looters that such condemnation of the so-called establishment was rushed and, other than left-wing prejudice, based on nothing.

It was utter nonsense.

Instead, the atrocious actions, witnessed by a shocked world, were all about criminal opportunism, free clothes, flat screens and fun (although, about now, the thousands making their way through the British justice system may be re-thinking that one.)

Right- (read proper-) thinking people are applauding the stand taken by British Prime Minister David Cameron as he pledges to take the thugs on with no holds barred and sparing no effort to see justice prevail.

He's been 100 per cent clear. He doesn't want to hear from that self-absorbed, dishonest segment of the intellectual class weighing in with the usual rubbish. Not this time. He pledged the "culture of fear" produced by gangs of rioters would be crushed.

Afterwards, the prime minister may entertain a sociology debate.

Anecdotal stories of ordinary people hopelessly trying to protect their property include that of a hundred-year-old business and property, in a single family for five generations, going up in smoke in just minutes.

The helpless being robbed and the slaying of an elderly man are ammunition enough to ignore the dreamed-up excuses the system has previously, and to its peril, given so much weight.

Never mind this fictional revolution of oppressed, BlackBerry-toting Englishmen. If anyone has a reason to revolt, it's the middle class of the modern world. Remember them? The working class. Those who pay public bills through income, property, sales and other taxes.

The ones who keep society going with their blood, sweat and toil. The ones that ensure there are roads, social housing, parks and welfare.

The larger middle class ensures there are public institutions, like law enforcement, to chase after the rabble-rousing scum. They pay to prosecute miscreants and, for good measure, pick up their legal tabs too (no matter how many times they've been to the trough.) They pay to house the incarcerated and pay for the programs to keep them in the community. They pay and pay and pay to keep the revolving door spinning.

The middle class. They're the ones who have no money left at the end of the day to seek out generous tax shelters and just a fraction too much to enjoy any of the social benefits they pay for.

It's the middle and working class in England who will be hit hardest. They're the ones who will pony up to repair and replace the businesses and properties that were damaged, demolished and set ablaze by those who don't give a damn.

It's the middle class who's getting increasingly tired of those that drink from the endless stream of legal aid and those who time and again create the mess that's inevitably left for someone else to clean up.

The disorder in England is not about social justice. Had it been, there may have been more concern about the famine in Africa than securing a new television. It was about convenience and opportunity and the absence of personal responsibility for property -- something usually not found in the justice playbook of the "socially conscious" left (and strangely absent as well from the Canadian Charter of Rights.)

The extent of rioting was predicated on a perceived impotence of the system to deal with such disorder. Consequence didn't enter the equation. Instead, a sense of impunity ruled the day -- and the mobs.

The lack of personal responsibility is a recent phenomenon. Winston Churchill could have never inspired victory if he'd had to work with this rag-tag bunch of British hooligans, the type who would have heckled John F. Kennedy when he put to the American public "...ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country."

Given the Olympics are just a few months away, if a newsman were to ask Prime Minister Cameron how far he'd go to combat Britain's "slow-motion moral collapse" that's spawned a sub-culture of laziness, irresponsibility and selfishness, maybe he'd answer, "just watch me."

The middle class might just cheer.


Robert Marshall is a former Winnipeg police detective.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 20, 2011 J6

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