Plundering

We are almost all taught that stealing is wrong. In some cases, it really is. Stealing from your dear old grandmother’s purse is wrong (unless she’s mean). Do not sneak into town to steal gifts from poor kids on Christmas Eve. That guy in high school who stole my portable CD player just after I got the thing for my birthday—that guy was wrong. Seriously, don’t be a dick about it.

But the head of Walmart is not your grandmother. Stealing from a corrupt class of corporate elites who would rather a thousand Bangladeshis die horrific deaths in burning sweatshops than see profits fall half a percent, for example, is not wrong at all. Indeed, taking from the unjustly rich and giving back to the undeservedly poor, even if that’s just you and your own, is the most morally upright thing one can do in an age of multinational robber barons exploiting and polluting the commons.

At The New Inquiry, Charles Davis discusses stealing from evil corporations and although I see the point (corporations don’t always play by the rules, so why should we?), I don’t see how it makes walking into a retail store and stealing a flatscreen TV an OK thing to do, although “Corporations Steal, So I’m Stealing This TV” would make a pretty good #slatepitches piece. [Thanks to Jon for the link.]

Photo: Rusty Clark

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12 Comments / Post A Comment

UrbanGarlic (#4,303)

Interesting provocation piece. There are a few things wrong with it in a legal and economic context but I’ll leave it to the writer to figure them out.

deepomega (#22)

@UrbanGarlic “I’ll leave the economic implications of stealing from Wal-Mart as an exercise for ther eader”

Wilgrims (#1,318)

Aren’t the low-wage workers used as an excuse here often directly punished for retail theft? Like being denied bonuses, etc.

eraserface (#1,628)

I feel like the only way this would work and maybe be okay is if you took said merchandise and either sold it for cash to give to the needy, or gave it directly to the needy. A much more sustainable, less morally questionable solution, and overall more feasible solution for profit-driven corporations would be enact a living wage.

deepomega (#22)

@eraserface Uhhh, excuse me Mr. Face, I don’t think you understand how badly I want the things I’m stealing. I want them VERY badly.

aetataureate (#1,310)

Kill the head of the snake, not the tail. Jesus christ.

@aetataureate So you’re saying we should break directly into rich people’s homes and steal THEIR stuff?

deepomega (#22)

This piece sent me into a rage cycle when I first read it – I kept trying to find somewhere to talk about what an asshole the author was, then stopping, kept writing FB posts about it then deleting them because it is so TRANSPARENTLY AWFUL and yet it was run by TNI and yet OBVIOUSLY it is terrible, agh.

deepomega (#22)

@deepomega I will just say that “Stealing from your dear old grandmother’s purse is wrong (unless she’s mean).” is perhaps the perfect summary of how asinine this line of argument is.

Again, something I cannot bring myself to care about in the scale of injustices is anyone stealing from walmart. There is way too much to justly be infuriated about. How about that Post article about an elderly man losing his house over $134? How many angry facebook posts did you write about that?

deepomega (#22)

@Jake Reinhardt This is not a question of “justice” – as evidence by the “mean grandmother” example. It’s a question of outcomes. What, exactly, do you think will happen if people crank up the theft? Wal Mart will… shrug and disappear? (And if it did – what do you think would happen to its employees?)

WayDownSouth (#3,431)

This article was pathetic. If you want to steal, then steal. It’s just pathetic to try to justify self-serving theft as an act of social good.

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