The store I work at has been attacked by waves of thieves and robbers, which is understandable given the location of the store is frequented by low lives. Fear was the only emotion I had during such encounters, but now I have experienced a new emotion: Anger. Hence I shall set forth and talk about a topic not unfamiliar to Objectivists but it is one rarely talked about: crime.
So what is crime? Simply speaking, it is the act of taking or destroying something that belongs to another rational animal without voluntary permission/compensation or physically harming another rational animal without compensation.
What is not a crime:
- Not paying tax
- Offending someone
- Using recreational drugs
- Littering not on private property
- Smoking (air is not privately owned)
- Driving fast without causing accidents
In all the above cases, no one has been physically harmed and a price is paid to exchange goods or services (including information). However, arbitrary laws in most nations forbid us to do some or all of these things. Others place restrictions on how much we can do these things.
One theory that I find particularly convincing in explaining crime is the differential association theory, it was coined by criminologist Edwin Sutherland who proposed that violation is a learned behaviour through interaction with others, Sutherland took a Chicago school approach to explain things in terms of the environmental factors. This makes sense in terms of seeing repeating offenders who share similar characteristics and some of them learn through getting away from initial petty crime to larger operations overtime, until they are stopped. The second theory which explains my plight quite well is the rational choice theory, it proposes that criminals behaves in such way by weighing the cost and benefit of the action. Albeit most criminals don’t act in such ways, they are “driven” to do so as we shall see.
The sales of alcohol and tobacco are always at high risk, the first risk is the nature of the products which are commonly used inappropriately by the degenerates, which spreads through peer pressure and as a culture for the deviant. The deviancy of course would attract attention by the tyrants who wish to curb their enthusiasm for the “greater good”. Since they don’t want to lose their support, they can’t outright ban these vices, so what do they do? Why, make a profit out of it in the name of public service, kill two birds with one stone! According to Alcohol Healthwatch, New Zealand alcohol tax are 10% of the retail price for beer, 15% for wine, and 38% for spirits (not including GST); for cigarette, total tax is 80% of the retail price! No wonder so many people resorted to crime when their itches are not scratched.
Has the result actually helped us reduce deaths? There was very little decrease in tobacco usage after all the tax hikes, meanwhile, dairy owners are the primary target of violence created by these “life saving” taxation , etc. At the same time, the shop owners can’t even defend themselves with weapons like guns but they need to improvise such as using stools and brooms. So how did we go from a low crime utopia to this? Greed plus socialism equals violence, this is the path we are heading if we do not start rethinking about what we are doing to reduce crime and protect the business owners (who are often immigrants). I believe soon, we will see Rooftop Korean becoming fashionable again.
To finish, I shall share the quote of Ayn Rand on Justice:
Justice is the recognition of the fact that you cannot fake the character of men as you cannot fake the character of nature, that you must judge all men as conscientiously as you judge inanimate objects, with the same respect for truth, with the same incorruptible vision, by as pure and as rational a process of identification—that every man must be judged for what he is and treated accordingly, that just as you do not pay a higher price for a rusty chunk of scrap than for a piece of shining metal, so you do not value a rotter above a hero—that your moral appraisal is the coin paying men for their virtues or vices, and this payment demands of you as scrupulous an honour as you bring to financial transactions—that to withhold your contempt from men’s vices is an act of moral counterfeiting, and to withhold your admiration from their virtues is an act of moral embezzlement—that to place any other concern higher than justice is to devaluate your moral currency and defraud the good in favour of the evil, since only the good can lose by a default of justice and only the evil can profit—and that the bottom of the pit at the end of that road, the act of moral bankruptcy, is to punish men for their virtues and reward them for their vices, that that is the collapse to full depravity, the Black Mass of the worship of death, the dedication of your consciousness to the destruction of existence.