Yesterday I was walking along, getting angry about things that happened two years ago, you know, as you do. This episode of Getting Mad About Stuff On A Rainy Day concerned a conversation I had with my former housemate, Andrew, about the morality of stealing. I don’t steal from individuals, but I have sometimes stolen from big box stores, corporations, etc…When I was living with my friend Lauren in high school and had only a shitty-paying part-time job, I used to empty out a box of band-aids into another box of band-aids and just buy the one box with twice as many band-aids. And when I gave myself a “discount” of 100% on my daily cheese steak at Charley’s because we weren’t even given free lunch to make our ridiculous minimum wage paychecks sting a little less.
Andrew was aghast when I told him this. I pointed out that CVS can handle $1.19 worth of band-aids being stolen, and that I didn’t really care about the company’s feelings getting hurt. He said I was stealing from shareholders. Pointing out that the damage I was doing to families who had stock in CVS (or Charley’s) was so infinitesimal as to be completely harmless had no effect on his opinion–he, like many Americans, is obsessed with the idea that personal property is sacred.
Like Charles Davis points out, we live in a time of plenty, and a time of serious exploitation. It’s our attitude about who deserves what, and which ideals should be upheld by severe punishment, that are seriously messed up.