… unless the value is less than $950.
Of course, that is NOT what the 7th Commandment, given to Moses on Sinai, says.
Unless, of course, you live in California. There, Proposition 47 was passed back in 2014. It makes the theft of anything less than $950 a misdemeanor, not a felony. And in essence, it means that there is no prosecution – or even investigation – of any theft or robbery of anything less than that. Whether it is shoplifting or burglary or picking pockets or breaking into cars or robbing a passerby.
As a result, Fox News tells us that there is an epidemic of theft and shoplifting, among other crimes, across California. And one that grows daily. Especially those big urban areas and dens of (other) iniquity (like LA and SF and the like). It is so bad that it is driving people out of business, making normal life impossible for many. And further degrading the quality of life and causing more problems as California spins down the drain.
The Ten Commandments, from the Bible, of course cannot be considered to be any real reason for a government law these days: after all, that is mixing religion and the state.
On the other hand, both Jews (well, Orthodox, at least) and Christians (New Testament, at least) believe that one of the few excuses for human government is (as the Apostle Paul wrote), “for he [human rulers] is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. “
But stealing, at least less than $950, isn’t “evil” in California any more. It is no more evil than failing to keep your lawn mowed or having your stereo on too loud. Actually, less than that: the cops (or at least the code enforcement cops) will respond to complaints about grass that is too high or music that is too loud. Many places in California, now, they won’t do that. But stealing this amount apparently is as serious as giving someone a plastic straw or a plastic shopping bag. Which is something, I suppose.
But in essence, the State of California has demonstrated that it has no legitimacy.
What really takes the cake about this is that it was not that cabal, the General Assembly of California and the mob-boss-like Governor that passed this law. As a proposition on the election ballot, it was the “PEOPLE” of California. The voters. The proposition passed by a large margin, supposedly to “free up” government resources to go after worse crimes.
$950 is NOT a petty amount: that is about 2/3 of the value of an ounce of gold. That is more than two weeks’ wages for many people: as much as 86 hours of work – at California minimum wage.
It is a lot of food, a lot of medicine, a lot of clothing. Except in the big urban areas, its a month’s worth of rent. It is enough for a homeless person to be murdered – or to murder – over.
Is this an example of California’s growing insanity? Absolutely. But California is far from alone in such mainstreaming of wickedness and evil.
I do not see how even the most “left” of libertarians, much less a mainstream libertarian, can justify this. It is clearly an act of aggression against another person – against the owner of the property which was stolen.
For “liberal” regressives and Tranzis, I cannot fathom how they can justify this other than as just plain theft which is tolerated, and for which they have the example of government stealing taxes from people. Is it supposed to be some bizarre form of “social justice?” Of reparations? Or just another way to punish the business owners and more wealthy persons whose property is stolen? The Fox article talks about how the theft of such “low-value” items is not just a few one-offs, but a constant stream of stolen merchandise fenced and sold either inside or outside of California.
What I do believe it does is strip away yet another of the few remaining excuses for legitimacy of Californian state and local governments. And the State didn’t have many excuses before this.
And we now have one more reason to get rid of California, or at least its governments. And more and more people have one more reason to flee the state.
Today I heard on the radio the spokesman for a national retailer’s group. The subject was shoplifting, specifically and increase in shoplifting both in number of crimes and in dollar value. The cry was that as long as any individual shoplifter steals less than $950, no matter how often they steal, they will face only a misdemeanor. An individual could be caught with thousands of dollars of stolen goods yet be charged only with misdemeanor since no single theft exceeded the $950 threshold.
Whether that is written into the law or that is only the police’s response, I do not know. I suspect the latter but who can say in this idiotic state.
The spokesman continued by saying that the higher threshold has resulted in criminals coming in from out of state. This has resulted in a sharp increase in shoplifting.
Residential burglaries are up too since passage of Prop 47. Many hand guns have a retail value of less than $950 and it is the gun which is favored by criminals. The higher threshold has made it more attractive to the criminal to target theft of hand guns. From the statistics I’ve seen put out by various police depts, I conclude that Prop 47 has created a new impetus from crime.
To take from someone else without permission or not paying for it is stealing. What will happen will be stores will put in a glass wall, with a clerk behind it. You give that person your order, they fill it and you pay. In short, you will not be allowed to just walk around and do general shopping.
Yes! In other words, we will be going back to merchandising in the day of the Old West General Store, where the clerk did exactly that (without the bulletproof glass wall).
Pingback: California revolt before or after Calexit, New California? | The Price of Liberty
Pingback: Thou shalt not steal… – Rational Review News Digest
“I do not see how even the most ‘left’ of libertarians, much less a mainstream libertarian, can justify this.”
1) Even in states where thefts of lower amounts are still considered felonies, good luck getting an actual investigation unless there’s physical violence against a person involved. As far back as the 1980s, police response to burglaries of my house and break-ins of my car have amounted to “we’ll take a report, but don’t expect to see your stuff ever again.”
2) Calling the police is putting your own life, and the lives of everyone around you, in the hands of the police, who occasionally find reasons to arrested the victims instead of find the perpetrators, or even gun innocent people down without good explanation.
3) Excluding thefts of less than $X from felony classification makes it less likely that victims will go to the police and more likely that they’ll put their valuables in a safe, install an alarm, buy a gun with which to defend themselves and their property, etc.; and …
4) The next time the police or sheriff ask voters for a sales tax increase, “sorry — you’ve reduced the level of service you provide. We’re not going to pay more for less.”
Tom, thanks for the excellent points. I agree with them – but not to justify the stupidity of the overall action. As for your first point, I’ve experienced that on behalf of family members and business acquaintances. Your second point is true regardless of how crimes are defined. Hopefully, the third point is one people pay attention to regardless of felony classification, but in California, businesses and homeowners (and car owners) are not able to take as much preventive action as the new circumstances would justify. (Similar to what the UK and Australia are suffering.)
I especially like your last point! I hope that readers will remember and make that point – and not just in California. I guess I would consider that making lemonade out of lemons in this case.