Theft, parasites and our redistributive government

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

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114 comments Add your comment

Rightwing Troll

June 22nd, 2011
6:18 am

Deep stuff… Probably a bit too deep for your readers… big words and all…

Independent

June 22nd, 2011
6:30 am

The whole things centers around the lack of real prison time for criminals. It is like an oxymoron – in order to have a smaller prison population, you have to put more people in prison. That is, you have to give them sentences that will discourage them from ever committing another crime. Whenn you hand a theif a five-year sentence, four years to be served on probation, and the existing year cut to two months then parole on good behavior, is that a deterrent? NO! Some of these copper theives destroy a $10,000 air conditioning unit for the $200 in copper inside. They just stole $10,000, so they should be sentenced to, say, 10 years without the possibility of parole. If they commit another crime after getting out, it should be two strikes and you’re out – life without parole. Then criminals would be afraid to commit crimes. Of course, that means we initially need more prisons to house these criminals and that means more taxes – there, I said it, the T word. So what will it be, America, do you want lower taxes and more crime or higher taxes and less crime. You choose.

Independent

June 22nd, 2011
6:33 am

And carjackers that shoot a person but don’t kill them should stil get the death penalty – any crime involving a gun where the gun was discharged at a law-abiding person but missed should warrant the death penalty. Also, the death penalty should be applied to the mentally handicapped and to minors – congress needs to overrule the Supreme Court on that one.

ByteMe

June 22nd, 2011
6:47 am

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.

The problem with the entire musing is this: what if the view is wrong? What if his entire premise is incorrect? What if you take away the limited amount of financial/social support we provide to the poor… would theft then increase due to increased need and decreased ability to fill that need while further concentrating wealth in the hands of a (relatively) few? You think the “Arab Spring” was a response to a desire for democracy… or just because the price of food increased dramatically this past year and those countries had high unemployment/poverty amongst men between the ages of 18 and 30, creating a situation where looting/lawlessness was the easier option for those men?

MiltonMan

June 22nd, 2011
6:54 am

We can thank the class envy of the Democrats for this. Get after those evil rich people in this country.

wampum

June 22nd, 2011
6:58 am

And Susan Smith’s rolling her own children, locked in the car, into the lake 20 years ago was a direct result of failed liberal policies. Or so said Newton Leroy Gingrich at the time. I hear Leroy needs some staff, Kyle, keep up the let-them-eat-cake diatribes and you will interview well for the job.

Mongo

June 22nd, 2011
7:05 am

Yeah, we should bow down to the rich folks for wrecking the economy, stealing billions in “no strings attached” tax money, and sending jobs overseas to workers that earn pennies a day.

Does you tongue ever get tired from licking their Guccis?

Real American

June 22nd, 2011
7:06 am

Oh I thought this was about that $18 million the Cheney Administration “lost” in Iraq. Guess Kyle doesn’t want to write about that. LOL

Light on Policy

June 22nd, 2011
7:09 am

Wow what a bunch of drivel, your blogs are never short on faux idealism. Wonder if you would draw a similar conclusion of a unsustainable society of what statistics actually shows, which is the fact that our country has become a socialist oligarchy. A country where the rich keep their profits but the american citizenry share their risks. This is what is unsustainable.

Jimmy62

June 22nd, 2011
7:10 am

ByteMe: I think only fools and eternal optimists think that the Arab Spring is about Democracy. It’s about the other stuff and about religion, and it’s not going to end with peaceful democratic Arab states looking to become friends with the west.

hsn

June 22nd, 2011
7:11 am

Yea, to you cons, spending America’s money on AMERICANS is “parasitic,” “redistributive,” and “socialistic.”

However, spending America’s money on FOREIGN countries in useless wars to prop up the military industrial complex, unproductive “foreign aid” (check out the top receivers), and the bailing out of entire countries is perfectly fine — “self-reliant,” and “capitalistic,” “un-socialistic,” and “non-redistributive.”

You cons are the worst of the worst!

fat cat

June 22nd, 2011
7:14 am

i think it’s reprehensible to refer to the least of us as parasites, especially from someone born with a silver spoon in their mouth.

Ayn Rand

June 22nd, 2011
7:18 am

Hanson is justifiably angry at being robbed, but he falls back on ignorance and prejudice to explain the cause of and the remedy for crime.

Undisciplined young males are a threat to every society that breeds them by failing to temper their callous and rebellious nature.

Young men have been robbing and killing throughout the history of the human race. Crime is worse in starvation-level societies in Asia and Africa than in the well-off societies of western Europe and Japan, and even worse in Somalia, a perfectly libertarian state with no “government redistribution”, no government in fact.

There is no cheap, simple solution to crime in America. Bringing up children in a family setting with firm parental guidance and some adult male insensitivity would help. Strict education, job training, and a stint of military service would also help. Poverty and prisons don’t help: deprivation and social isolation does not produce hard-working, law-abiding citizens.

Show Low Here We Come

June 22nd, 2011
7:25 am

this is just one result of law enforcement practicing ‘catch and relaease’.

Lil' Barry Bailout

June 22nd, 2011
7:35 am

What the government does to the productive is just a “civilized” version of what the copper-thieving thugs do.

Lil' Barry Bailout

June 22nd, 2011
7:37 am

hsn: Yea, to you cons, spending America’s money on AMERICANS is “parasitic,” “redistributive,” and “socialistic.”
——

My property is not “America’s money”, parasite.

GW

June 22nd, 2011
7:47 am

It’s good to see Kyle being true to himself. Now let’s see you make a living without the things that you detest so much. Give up your use of the Internet and highways and airplanes and… all those things brought to you by the collective. Grow a beard, put on your plaid shirt and take yourself up to Alaska where you can be all that only you can be. Show that grizzly you the man.

Buzz G

June 22nd, 2011
7:54 am

Yes, Mr. Hanson, and it is about to get much worse now that a very liberal supreme court has ordered California to release tens of thousands of prisoners. California is the most beautiful place in the USA but has been rendered all but uninhabitable by 40 years of liberalism.

commoncents

June 22nd, 2011
8:09 am

Ayn Rand: “Poverty and prisons don’t help: deprivation and social isolation does not produce hard-working, law-abiding citizens”

Hard working, law-abiding citizens aren’t the ones being locked up, are they? And it sounds like you’re implying criminals will become hard working and law-abiding if only the mean gov’t wouldn’t lock them up!

jconservative

June 22nd, 2011
8:12 am

Taking. Parasitic. Redistributive. Socialistic.

Lets see, we can take the revenue slotted for government services, put it in our pockets through tax cuts, increase “vital” government services to each of us, take what little money government gets from taxpayers and redistribute it as corporate welfare and, of course, borrow the cash needed to fund the program.

Taking. Parasitic. Redistributive. Socialistic.

Or more simply, the Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush and Obama administrations.

And in November 2012 we will vote for more of the same.

ByteMe

June 22nd, 2011
8:14 am

I think only fools and eternal optimists think that the Arab Spring is about Democracy

Jimmy, you forgot the neo-cons who cheer every time we try to “bring democracy” to a country in the Middle East. Or are they just using that as an excuse to use the American Military to bring about a global American empire? I know, I know… off topic.

commoncents

June 22nd, 2011
8:17 am

jcon: “And in November 2012 we will vote for more of the same.”

Unfortunately.

The majority of voters will never elect somone promising to end the general welfare programs (healthcare, food stamps, SS, etc)

GW

June 22nd, 2011
8:19 am

By the way, did you happen to read about that latest little scam Goldman Sachs is into with the rental of warehouse space and the setup they have where things go in the warehouse fast but take years to come out just so they can collect a small fortune in monthly rental fees. There’s just one more example of greed-obsessed capitalism at its finest. They own storage facilities for oil and metals and who knows what else. Tell me all about how this sort of activity adds value and how it is not really thievery. And when they do get caught, they get slapped with a fine of a few million, like JP Morgan. They brush off such things as though they were gnat bites. So tell us all about how they would do so much for the world if only they were free to do as they pleased, unencumbered by regulations and taxation. They’ll know better than to self-destruct, right Greenspan, right Kyle. Riiight. And they’ll be generous, charitable Christians too.

Jefferson

June 22nd, 2011
8:20 am

You have to pay more taxes to get the services you want. Prision service is so socialistic.

Road Scholar

June 22nd, 2011
8:21 am

Yeah, common, we’d rather pay for corporate greed , endless wars, and anything which doesn’t upgrade our citizen’s lives.

commoncents

June 22nd, 2011
8:26 am

Road, I never said we should be paying for that either.I just gave an example of something the majority WON’T vote against

Dan

June 22nd, 2011
8:27 am

@Byteme I think you raise a valid point, a typical starting point for well intentioned left leaning arguments. I also think the comparison to the “Arab Spring” is an appropriate and timely comparison. However it is a comparison that supports the theory Kyle discusses in his article. The arab people are suffering under real poverty, a poverty that either doesn’t exist or exists very rarely in this country. Despite the rhetoric, if you are sick in this country you can walk into an ER and be taken care of, not so in the slums of Cairo, there are soup kitchens, and food banks, homeless shelters and public housing in every city, not so in Tripoli or Alexandria, and the complaint of the gap between the rich and poor? Well the difference is truly poor countries dwarfs the difference here. No I believe the author is all too correct

DebbieDoRight

June 22nd, 2011
8:30 am

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.

Oh come on Kyle! That has to be the world’s dumbest statement evah! The natural order dictates a reversal? WTH!? How about the natural order of evolution, only the strong survive? If you are too weak to hold on to what you have, then expect it to be taken from you. Every revolution in history did not start because of some rich, affluent, snob was discontent with his lot; but because of some poor, hungry, starving minions who got tired of the rich having everything and they having nothing. The taking class indeed.

Learn from history, Kyle. Learn from history.

Dan

June 22nd, 2011
8:31 am

@hsn I don’t think cons want to give money to other countries, I believe the majority would rather spend it here, despite the fact we already spend far to much here, or perhaps it would be more correct to say we spend it unwisely

Carlosgvv

June 22nd, 2011
8:35 am

Having a chain saw stolen from your driveway and blaiming the “government redistributive state” for it is a stretch beyond belief. Blaiming politicians for passing laws they have no intention of enforcing or ignoring laws already on the books, like immigration laws, makes far more sense. Strict and certain enforcing of every law on the books is the only answer.

Finn McCool

June 22nd, 2011
8:36 am

Yeah, doesn’t look like capitalism is working out too well either, does it?

mwuahahahahahaha

We needed a Socialist Muslim from Kenya to rescue capitalism. Whoodathunkit?

mwuahahahahaha

Finn McCool

June 22nd, 2011
8:39 am

You will know the new Georgia immigration laws will have teeth if you see expansion of the departments that are focused on investigating businesses for use of illegals/undocumented workers.

Anyone know which departments, units, etc that would be? Where does that jurisdiction fall?

tar and feathers party

June 22nd, 2011
9:00 am

Won’t be long now until the dusky hoards surge across the Chattahoochee looking to pillage, plunder and rape. To prepare, watch this video on how to defeat dusky hoards of looters: youtube DOT com/watch?v=IWuaSww3JnA&feature=related

ByteMe

June 22nd, 2011
9:00 am

Dan @ 8:27… interesting that you should pick Egypt as your country to make your case.

http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/ihsg/publications/pdf/No-81.PDF

The major provider of care is the Ministry of Health, which runs a nationwide system of health
services, ranging from outpatient clinics to large urban-based hospitals, and providing a mix of
inpatient and outpatient care. These services are administered on a decentralized basis, with
most service facilities run by Egypt’s 27 governorates, which are the major sub-national
governmental authorities in Egypt. The governorates are funded through a decentralized health
budget provided by the Ministry of Finance. MOH services are subsidized, and provided largely
free to all citizens.

There’s more, but in general, you can go to these clinics and get what you need provided you live close enough and are willing to tolerate somewhat substandard care.

But, that really doesn’t address the point of the article that redistribution via government somehow inspires further theft, so removing that redistribution would lower the rate of theft. So perhaps I missed how you tied that together.

Obozonomics

June 22nd, 2011
9:09 am

ByteMe, please explain to me what a poor American is? Could it be the guy in the trailer with the second hand washer drier and the $600 cell phone, or could it be the one you claim has no medical insurance, but is still get treatment at the hospital. Or could it be the poor, poor, woman who lives in section 8 housing with air-conditioning, cable and a cell phone? When I hear people talk about the “Poor in America” I can guarantee that they have never been outside of the US. There are places where people are really poor, try Semolina, how about Bangladesh…

tar and feathers party

June 22nd, 2011
9:14 am

Did you see where Michelle and her pack are visiting South Africa? Strangely enough, yesterday’s WSJ had an article on a raising SA black politician urging the seizing of all white farms, and redistributing the land to poor (politically connected) blacks. SA currently has a voluntary program in which farmers SELL their land to the government, which then redistributes it to politically connected blacks, but it has failed to meet its goals. This new demand involves no payment for the farms, just taking it and redistributing it to the local yokels. The 6% of farms that have been redistributed have seen a plunge in production, and most are failing.

Left wing management

June 22nd, 2011
9:17 am

The Washington Post just publishes a devastating report showing how the wealthy 1% of the population in this country are pulling away from the rest at a 60+ degree angle in the graphic (see charts at http://motherjones.com/politics/2011/06/speedup-americans-working-harder-charts) and Kyle Wingfield has the gall to suggest that the perpetrators of minor thefts constitute the “taking” class.

That’s some chutzpah, Wingfield. It never enters your mind that the true “taking” class are those rentiers who receive taxpayer funded bailouts and line their pockets, or those CEOs who profit from who can most efficiently deny health claims to their claimants, or those hedge fund managers who benefit from tax loopholes to pay 15% on their billion plus windfalls while providing nothing more of value to the society than your average drug dealer. But you never hear a peep from Wingfield about these outrages – he’s worried about petty theft afflicting comfortably middle class right wing bloggers.

tar and feathers party

June 22nd, 2011
9:20 am

Yo Left wing management – Just learn to eat cake and keep your hands off my money!

the guy on the couch

June 22nd, 2011
9:33 am

Rob Woodall has his free, socialized, government healthcare. Wants you to buy expensive, inferior healthcare from anyone but the government

June 22nd, 2011
9:35 am

His point is someone stole my chainsaw which means the Democrats are evil because they want to invest in alternative energy resources?

It is all well and good to go on a whiny, right-wing diatribe, but how about a fact or two to support your whiny, right-wing diatribe?

How does he know that the thieves voted for Nancy Pelosi, are collecting unemployment benefits, and handcuff themselves to the nearest nuclear power plant entrance on weekends for laughs? What evidence is there that locking someone up for a couple of decades because they stole some bread will improve society? Isn’t the opposite true? Did he not read Les Miserables?

ByteMe

June 22nd, 2011
9:38 am

@Obozonomics: ByteMe, please explain to me what a poor American is?

Not germaine to the discussion. The question is: when someone is in dire straits and their options are limited, is the author’s assumption that “given that human nature rises to the occasion when forced to work and sinks when leisured and exempt” correct? I say it’s wishful thinking and have a lot of countries I can point to where crime is the logical outcome from intractable income disparity. You?

ByteMe

June 22nd, 2011
9:45 am

Did he not read Les Miserables?

Is that a blogger on World News Daily? :lol:

Don't Tread

June 22nd, 2011
10:01 am

I suppose having your chainsaw and copper wire stolen would be some of the “wealth redistribution” practiced by liberals.

“from a certain contempt for the more law-abiding and successful, or on the assurance that apprehension is unlikely, and punishment rarer still”

How true. But at my house, punishment will be dispensed very quickly, and they won’t have to worry about being apprehended.

Halftrack

June 22nd, 2011
10:08 am

That the “taking” class can only take so much before the natural order dictates a reversal. The US is at this point now. Only 50% of the people pay income taxes, leaving 50% who do not. The host taxpayers are shriveling up and our jobs are going overseas. The future looks bleak, maybe an antidote can be found to change the prognosis of our Country.

BULLSEYE

June 22nd, 2011
10:11 am

Kyle, born on third base and thought he hit a triple.

UGA1999

June 22nd, 2011
10:14 am

Kyle….Great post! Finally someone calling Obama what he truly is! Wonderful!

Hillbilly D

June 22nd, 2011
10:28 am

One of the major reasons we have a crime problem is that there is no fear of punishment. I’ve heard people I knew, who spent the majority of their adult lives in prison, laugh about it. I remember hearing a guy discuss a possible 5 year sentence, by saying, “Hell, 5 years ain’t nothing. You can do that laying down”. Criminals don’t think like the average person and the only thing they understand is consequences.

BULLSEYE

June 22nd, 2011
10:28 am

Joe Mama

June 22nd, 2011
10:31 am

Mr. Wingfield — “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.”

Given Dr. Hanson’s background as a professor of history, I find it nothing short of hilarious that he’s positing some sort of top-down revolution in which the moneyed elites finally put the proles down and firmly in their place.

I feel pretty sure that most revolutions in which there was an economic component to the unrest involved the have-nots rising up against the haves. But surely that sort of predictable historical lesson is something Dr. Hanson would rather ignore in building his lushly appointed and fanciful myth of Why The Burglars Hit My Place And What Their Motivations Were Even Though I’ve Never Met Them.

Uncle Billy

June 22nd, 2011
10:33 am

Hanson deduces an entire metaphysic from the theft of a chain saw when he does not even know the identity of the thief. This is taking deduction too far. Some induction is needed, i.e actual evidence. Perhaps he should not have posted what was written on an eight hour flight in coach. That would make someone cranky as much as having been an enthusiastic supporter of the Iraq War. The Iraq War was another case where the outcome was deduced by people who had only false information. Remember how our troops were going to be welcomed to Baghdad? The only ones who welcomed them were those who took the opportunity to steal everything in sight. There is no evidence that they were progressives. What metaphysic they were operating under would be a good subject for Hanson or Wingfield, i.e those who need no evidence.
Furthermore, theft is not a purely contemporary phenomenon as Hanson should surely know since he has a Ph.D. in classical studies. There was plenty of theft in the ancient Greek and Roman worlds which did not clearly have a different metaphysic from the contemporary models. Would contemporary theft include selling securities to one’s customers which one was shorting as Goldman Sachs did? Or is that earning an honest living?
It seems that Hanson, like Wingfield, believes that the world is whatever exists in his head with no evidence required. It is purely deductive reasoning from the premise that everyone who has a lot of money earned it justly and honestly, except, I suppose, for those who stole it.