Rioters & Politicians: Both Ignore Consequences


It’s true. There’s a distinct behavioural trait common to people in Parliament and those rioting on the streets of Tottenham.

Politicians are quick to decry civil unrest. It seems there’s no point in trying to find the root cause — clearly these people are anarchists, or spongers, or opportunists (if you believe many politicians) who are incapable of seeing the consequences of their actions.

In this episode of BTalk I weave through some recent BTalk and Twisted Wire podcasts to ask whether politicians are any different. Just like the rioters, most don’t seem too concerned with the long-term consequences of what they do. Increasingly, their actions seem to be nothing more than a transparent grab for power. Ten years on from Tampa, John Hewson gives the example of how John Howard stooped to playing the race card to win an election — with no thought for the consequences. If he’s right, are our pollies any better than those behind the UK riots?

There are, of course, a myriad of reasons why the UK riots happened, but unrest tends to happen at times of high youth unemployment, which is the case right now in the UK and, to a lesser extent, herein Australia. It’s happening because the world economy is going through turbulent times, not just because of debt, but also because of structural change. Nobel economist Michael Spence says that doesn’t mean we have to accept lower living standards, but it’s a change we need to plan for.

I ask, how can we plan for something as fundamental as our place in the new world order, when our politicians can’t think beyond the next news bulletin?

First published on CBS News

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