Having his chain saw stolen from his driveway and the copper wire pilfered from machinery on his farm got Victor Davis Hanson at Pajamas Media to thinking about “The Metaphysics of Contemporary Theft”:
A majority [of the public] 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…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 romanticize those 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 believe my thieves have worked much; instead, they figured a day’s theft beats tile setting or concrete work beginning at 5 AM.
From there, he offers an all-too-true insight into the inevitable collapse of such parasitism:
The taxpayer cannot indefinitely fund the emergency room treatment for the [gang-member] shooter and his [gang-member] victim on Saturday night if society cannot put a tool down for five minutes without a likely theft, or a farmer cannot turn on a 50-year old pump without expecting its electrical connections to have been ripped out. Civilization simply cannot function that way for either the productive citizen or the parasite, who still needs a live host.
This, he writes, relates to immigration and the government redistributive state (”Note the surrealism of the European unrest: who are the ‘they’ who ’stole’ the money that is now no longer there to fund socialism? Did not the socialists at last get what they wanted?”), as well as energy policy. In short, it touches on the entire progressive-leftist governing agenda — which, he reiterates, “is a sort of parasitism that assumes the survivability of the enfeebled host.”
Read the whole thing. If nothing else, it offers some bleak hope — an appropriate oxymoron for our age — that the “taking” class can only take so much before the natural order dictates a reversal. Whether that reversal will take place before it’s too late is, I suppose, the key question.
– By Kyle Wingfield