Monday, June 20, 2011
The Metaphysics of Contemporary Theft
Reflections on the Redistributive State
I think the public would react in two different ways to the above occurrences — and such a dichotomy explains a lot why the nation has never been more divided.
A majority would believe the thieves took things for drugs, excitement, or to buy things like an iPhone or DVD, rather than out of elemental need (e.g., the thief hawked the chainsaw to purchase the family’s rice allotment for the week). In this view, contemporary American crime arises not so much then from Dickensian poverty, as we see in South America or Africa, but out of a sense of resentment, of boredom, from a certain contempt for the more law-abiding and successful, or on the assurance that apprehension is unlikely, and punishment rarer still. After all, Hollywood, pop music, the court system, and the government itself sympathize with, even romanticizethose forced to take a chainsaw, not the old middle-class bore who bought it.
The remedy to address theft would be not more government help — public assistance, social welfare, counseling — but far less, given that human nature rises to the occasion when forced to work and sinks when leisured and exempt. I don’t believed my thieves have worked much; instead, they figured a day’s theft beats tile setting or concrete work beginning at 5 AM.