How the London riots will benefit the economy


The riots that swept Britain recently are said to have cost around £200 million, but the Government is looking on the black side; there are rich pickings to be made here that will benefit the economy no end.

Those of a certain political persuasion who excuse the outrageous behaviour of the rioters have nothing to be ashamed of, because the recent riots will actually be good for the British economy in the medium to long term, in fact, we have already seen considerable benefits in the short term.

In the first place, insurance companies are set to pay out some £200 million; that will create a lot of paperwork for accountants, etc. Before the riots there was much talk about the cuts being extended to the police, now there are signs that will be reversed. The fires that raged in Tottenham, Croydon and other places may have caused a great deal of damage, but they have certainly kept firefighters busy, and accident and emergency departments. Do we really want to see firefighters lounging around and doctors getting paid for nothing?

Magistrates courts have been operating round the clock; although most magistrates are unpaid – doing their bit for what David Cameron calls “big society” – court staff and others are earning overtime; hopefully they are being paid time and a half or even double time.

The private security firms that transport prisoners are on a nice little earner too, as are prison staff. Some people may have been made homeless, but the good news is that homeless people need homes, so more will doubtless be built. The shops that have been pillaged will order more goods from their suppliers – those shops that haven’t been bankrupted, that is. The media is having a field day, and doubtless many photographers are selling some alluring snaps to media outlets worldwide. In the long term, a whole host of people will make lots of money out of the riots including film companies that make documentaries; playwrights and others who will produce fictionalised accounts of them. No doubt songs will be written about them and maybe even a musical or two – ask the man from Songfacts, he has no less than 9 songs in his database that have the word riot in their titles. Also in the future, academics will profit greatly from the riots; they will be sponsored by charities, various funds and perhaps their own universities to research and publish lengthy articles and full length monographs on them, and lots more besides.

Back to the short term, there is a lot of maintenance, repair work and rebuilding to be done, that will generate a lot of employment, the riots really will stimulate the broken down British economy. Sadly, three innocent men have been murdered in Birmingham, but heck, look on the bright side, unless Aubrey de Grey and his SENS team turn up trumps in the next few years, we’re all going to die eventually, try to see the bigger picture. This tragedy means more work for the police and courts, and in the event of a conviction or two, more work for the prisons. You see, riots really are good for the economy. Perhaps we should have them every year, or every month. Maybe the government could pass a riot act making them compulsory?

Anyone who agrees with any of the above should read the article here, with specific reference to the broken window fallacy. There is though a serious point to all of it. In the first place, creating jobs for the sake of it is a ludicrous proposition, but the British Government and governments worldwide never seem to learn; they are fixated on the wage slave mentality – for their subjects, if not for themselves.

Turning to less abstract matters, when the recent madness ensued in London, there were 6,000 police officers on the streets. Next thing we knew, there were 16,000. The big question is, how can a government that is intent on making cuts to the real wealth of the country for the sake of reducing a deficit that is created simply by writing figures in a book have found another 10,000 police officers just like that? Obviously, it didn’t. Just as obviously, this heavy presence cannot be maintained indefinitely anymore than the magistrates’ courts can be run 24/7. Shortly after the police had begun to regain control we were told that every single police cell in London was full.

What we can learn from the above is that as long as the community can produce real wealth, the economy can function. When the Chancellor says we must pay down the deficit he is simply wrong; as Ben Dyson and his Positive Money gang point out, no government ever need face a shortage of money because it can create its own – with the caveat that it has the resources to issue it against. Britain is not rich in natural resources, but we fare better than many countries; we have a reasonable amount of sunlight, a lot of wind (not just in Parliament), and other ways to develop cheap, clean, renewable energy resources. We have a fair amount of farm land, some of the most innovative brains in all fields from computer technology to music, and most of all, willing hands.

There is absolutely no reason for those who are employable to be thrown on the scrapheap for “lack of money”, and for those who are not employable, there are other, more humane and realistic solutions than workfare, means tested benefits, or David Cameron’s (work for nothing) big society.

[The above op-ed was first published August 12, 2011 (London time), not August 11 as shown here. My original title was How the riots will benefit the economy. These actually became known as the English riots. Yeah, right. They were triggered by the murder of Mark Duggan.]

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