So sayeth the measured authors of this report, a short overview of which I’ve just read on the Kindle version of the Guardian. Let me quote from the Guardian overview – in particular, the following paragraph, which is the one that really catches my eye:
To construct our measure of unrest, we looked at five indicators: riots, anti-government demonstrations, general strikes, political assassinations, and attempted revolutions. In a typical year and country, there are about 1.5 incidents of this type. The more you cut, the more incidents you get. By the time austerity measures hit 3% or more, the number of incidents has doubled. Interestingly, for the UK, the pattern is even stronger: for every percentage point of cut-backs, instability surges by more than it does on average in the rest of the countries. Importantly, these effects are in addition to the well-known relationship between lower growth (associated with more unemployment) and higher instability.
And so, in the full knowledge that these things will happen, it clearly involves the kind of cold-hearted button-pressing you can easily imagine those in charge applying to us robots – as well as those sorry processes where risk is calculated in order to determine where spending cuts are best made (the bold is mine):
[…] The annualized loss expectancy is a calculation of the single loss expectancy multiplied by the annual rate of occurrence, or how much an organization could estimate to lose from an asset based on the risks, threats, and vulnerabilities. It then becomes possible from a financial perspective to justify expenditures to implement countermeasures to protect the asset.
Or not, as the case may be. In other rather simpler and more straightforward words, if the cuts are going to mean more than 1,700 Londoners will be arrested for violent disorder, as well as allow for the introduction of draconian sentencing policies without the traditional resort to parliamentary approval, that then is a fair assessment of assumable consequence someone somewhere down the line must have decided at least fifteen months ago to make.
The question that comes to mind is: will they be able to get away with it?