Just a thought about London prompted by Doug Saunders and this blog post (which appeared in a Naomi Klein tweet that was, I think ironically, RTd by Andrew Potter).
We would do well to remember what's happening in London the next time someone tries to suggest that unemployment payments, child daycare, free healthcare, public education, or any other publicly funded social welfare program is some sort of "charity". The social safety net was developed for a much bigger reason than to simply help the poor. When wealth is systematically removed from the areas in London we're seeing on the news and transferred to The City, and then The City (or Bay Street, of Wall Street) succeeds in slashing their taxes and shredding these social programs, I think it becomes pretty clear that everyone benefits when the highest provide some level of security for the lowest.
This isn't an excuse for the rioters. As Saunders points out there's no political cause being fought for, these kids don't care about public policy or social justice, they're out for a good time and a Blu-Ray player. It's senseless, but it's not random or without cause. They're kids with little education, poor families, no work, no prospect of work, and no hope that anything is going to get better. I'm a functionalist when it comes to the welfare state, and if we can't remember why the structures we created decades ago exist, then we should make an effort to remember what happens when they're taken away.
UPDATE: Another good article.
9 hours ago