Thousands of pages have already been written in explication of the British rioting and (quite lesser incidence of) American flash mobbing. If one combines these analyses with direct news accounts, op-eds, Youtube confessionals, and official government pronouncements describing constantly changing strategies, I think one can draw three disinterested conclusions.
- Material well-being is now defined in relative rather than absolute terms. That is, poverty means lacking the opportunities afforded the 21st-century upper middle classes, not in being deprived, in a Dickensian sense, of food (obesity, not hunger, is a Western epidemic), shelter, hot water, or access to transportation.
- There is a natural assumption that inequality is attributable to oppression of some sort, rather than luck, fate, circumstances of birth, hard work, education, and all the multitude of complex factors that determine that a few work for $200 an hour and far more earn $20 or less. That someone appears more fortunate ipso facto seems somewhat unfair, without much reflection about the unique circumstances that bestow such advantages (or the unfairness of nature herself in blessing only some with talent or good health), as if the emergency-room surgeon or nuclear-plant engineer was allotted such privileged employment rather than sacrificed to earn it.