Rising Crime, Legalized Shoplifting, and Other Disturbing Trends in US Cities

April 20, 2023 in Columnists, News by RBN Staff



by Doug Casey

New York, NY – June 1, 2020: Protests turn into looting and destructions in Manhattan before first curfew imposed. View of Performix optical store broken windows and looted.

via: LewRockwell.com

Doug Casey on Rising Crime, Legalized Shoplifting, and Other Disturbing Trends in US Cities

International Man: In parts of California and other states, shoplifting under $950 has been de-facto decriminalized.

The practical reality is that thieves can now walk into a store and steal whatever they can without fear of police intervening—as long as it’s under $950.

The trend of de-facto legalization of shoplifting is spreading across the country.

What is your take?

Doug Casey: The rise in crime in general and the veritable legalization of shoplifting, in particular, are really just symptoms.

The real problem is that the moral fabric of the US and many other Western countries are torn. There’s not much of a moral compass left. It’s no longer clear to the average American what is right and what is wrong. Right and wrong is now viewed as arbitrary social constructs. Property rights are barely even seen as rights, which is perverse since the very concept of rights is based on property—starting with your own body, which is the most basic form of property.

This degeneration is understandable in a world where black is white and wrong is right. It’s become unclear in many people’s minds what a man is, what a woman is, and what the difference is. If there’s no recognition of something as basic and obvious as that, the meaning of words, and any logic in thought, becomes meaningless. So, of course, they have trouble understanding concepts like right and wrong. But it goes beyond that.

For instance, many people think that reparations are due to black people simply because they’re black, and many blacks were slaves over 160 years ago. Incidentally, I don’t capitalize that word, something which has become a widespread affectation. It only serves to draw attention to race, which is part of the problem.

Let’s pursue the absurd matter of racial reparations for a moment since some miscreants have said all blacks in California are due $5 million. But are reparations due to American blacks, by any stretch of fact or logic? The average income of blacks in the US is many, many times that of blacks who are still in Africa. Should blacks in the US, therefore, pay whites something out of gratitude? The answer, just in case anybody is wondering: Of course not.

When people think they’re due reparations, the next step is for them to think—or rather feel, since there’s no logical thought involved—that they have a moral right to steal to take the reparations they imagine they’re owed. Does that have any relation to the fact that, although blacks are only 13% of the population, they commit 50% of the crime?

Anyway, the nonobservance of shoplifting laws is just one more symptom of a corrupt culture and a collapsing civilization.

International Man: Videos of “smash and grab” robberies—where large groups rush into a large store like Walmart or a very expensive one like Louis Vuitton and grab as much merchandise as they can carry—are circulating online.

In places like Portland, Walmart has decided to permanently close all of its stores because of the rise in theft.

For similar reasons, Target has closed stores in downtown Chicago, Minneapolis, and Washington, DC.

How is rising crime affecting businesses, and what are the implications?

Doug Casey: From a criminal’s point of view, in the kind of societal environment we’re in right now, flash mobs make a lot of sense.

If you call together your posse to raid a store, and a hundred people overwhelm it to steal all they can, there’s nothing the employees can do about it. In fact, there’s likely nothing that the police can do about it, if only because it happens so quickly.

It’s a clever tactic. But this type of thing happens not because they’re poor, black, or there aren’t enough police but because people no longer have a sense of right or wrong. The police are loath to stop them for fear of being called racists.

Increasingly, business itself makes no sense, with the amount of taxes and regulations an entrepreneur has to deal with added to the lack of defense from common criminals.

I expect this trend to continue. If it does, not just ghettos but central business districts will be devoid of retail stores. Many large office buildings will be empty. Others will opt to become self-contained fortresses.

International Man: Many cities which have decided to “defund the police” have seen a surge in violent crime generally and carjackings, armed robbery, and murder.

What do you make of the trend of rising crime?

Doug Casey: Once again, it’s an indicator of the general degradation of civilization itself.

If you’re wondering where the US is going, you can look at Venezuela, where the standard of living has collapsed since being totally taken over by socialist values in the last 20 years. And Argentina, which has been on a shallower glide path for the last 80 years. Latins seem to have learned absolutely nothing, however, since every country in South America, with the exception of Uruguay, is run by a doctrinaire socialist.

Look at South Africa, which is still the most advanced country on the continent. Americans rarely hear about it, but power is only available half the day. The blacks have practically declared open season on whites in parts of the country. That’s the direction we’re going in the US.

All over the West, criminals and welfare recipients are rewarded while producers are punished. China has some huge problems, but this is one area where they’re doing much better than the rest of the world.

Common criminality is not tolerated in China—or anywhere in the Orient. Welfare barely exists. That’s one reason why China has risen relative to the US in recent years. The social and moral underpinnings of China are shockingly better than they are in the “woke” US. In fact, the US seems to be undergoing its own version of the Great Cultural Revolution that nearly destroyed China in the 60’s.

International Man: Amid rising crime, the police are failing miserably to protect life and property.

Could the free market provide these services better than the government? How would that work?

Doug Casey: First of all, it’s essential to turn around the moral climate. That’s possible, but a whole different question.

From a shorter term practical viewpoint, the police, the courts, and the prisons should all be privatized. Rather than being State employees enforcing arbitrary and often ridiculous laws, the US should revert to its founding principles.

I’ve explained how this shocking proposal would work in much more detail elsewhere.

Private police would be compensated based on their effectiveness. More like Mike Hammer or Mannix than the praetorian operative who puts away the tools at the end of a shift. Arbitration agencies whose profitability would depend on the speed, fairness, and low cost of their decisions would be a huge improvement over today’s highly political courts. Sentences would be assessed as dollar amounts to compensate victims, not costly sentences of incarceration. The first order of business should be to make the victim whole, not punish the perpetrator.

If somebody steals a thousand dollars, the criminal must first pay back the victim—which rarely happens today—plus the costs of his capture and the arbitration costs. This takes the profit out of crime.

If a person is murdered, a value assigned to his life would be paid to his estate. If the perpetrator is unable or unwilling to pay, his body parts should be sold.

There’s much more to be said on the subject, examining solutions that haven’t crossed many minds.

International Man: US cities are degenerating into expensive, unsafe, crime-ridden dumps that rival—or are even worse than—their Third World counterparts.

Yet, the public continues to elect politicians that enact the policies that create these conditions in the first place.

What do you make of this trend? Is there any hope? What can the average person do?

Doug Casey: The real problem started with the government’s involvement in the economy. It started small, then took a quantum leap with the creation of the income tax and the Fed in 1913, which allowed it to finance WW1 starting in 1917. The process is now completely out of control.

Notwithstanding what I just said about the police, the courts, and the prisons, the only involvement government should have in society is to protect people from force, which means that those things, plus a purely defensive military, are the only things government should be involved in. Perversely, these things are too important for the functioning of a civil society to allow the State a monopoly.

What the State mostly does today is interfere in the economy and enrich the politically well-connected. It does not reliably protect the average person from crime and violence.

At the founding of this country, the State represented only a tiny proportion of the economy. Now it’s 50%, and people expect its involvement everywhere. People have come to treat it as a cornucopia, not the dangerous predator it is.

Welfare is available everywhere, from corporations to individuals. Food, shelter, medical care, education, and even jobs are expected to be the province of the government. These things should have nothing to do with the government.

All the news that we hear about every day is what the government’s doing. We should be a lot more like Switzerland. Nobody knows, and nobody cares who the president of Switzerland is, which is one reason why Switzerland is a stable and prosperous country, and the US is becoming less that way daily.

The bottom line is that we can expect crime to continue rising. And the State is now more the cause than the cure of the problem.

Reprinted with permission from International Man.