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Wealth & Economics > Is stealing from a thief excusable?

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message 1: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 13438 comments Yeah, it's more like a lounge theme, but at the same time feels like 'wealth and economics', so here it is.
So, what do you think?
If a driver knows his boss plunders a country big time and that law enforcement is in boss's pocket, would you pardon him for stealing from a boss a bit of gasoline for personal use?


message 2: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 13438 comments I'd also go with no, because then the difference between the two blurs. However and it's not a strict analogy, under certain circumstances killing the killer is considered legit. Nobody mourns that bin laden was liquidated rather than brought to justice..


message 3: by J.J. (new)

J.J. Mainor | 2144 comments Honestly, though, how would Bin Laden ever get impartial due process? Obama would have sought conviction in a civilian court. There's no way you're going to find 12 Americans anywhere who would be impartial enough to sit on a jury. It would get tied up in the courts for decades on appeals, convictions would probably get overturned, and the country would never feel he really paid for 9/11.

To Nik's question, if the drive knows of his boss' crimes and has a problem with it, then he should go to the police and become an informant to send him to jail...what is it they say about two wrongs not making a right?"


message 4: by Graeme (last edited Dec 18, 2018 08:58PM) (new)

Graeme Rodaughan | 7222 comments Kinda begs the following questions,

If stealing from a thief is OK, then is

Raping a rapist?
Kidnapping a kidnapper?
Murdering a murderer?
Torturing a torturer?
Eating a cannibal?
Beheading a headhunter?
Lying to a liar?

I suspect the answer lies with what each person is willing to do.

Is turn-about always fair play?

Is that game worth playing?


message 5: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 13438 comments Yeah, a lot of questions. The countries with a capital punishment do murder a murderer.
I can imagine situs, where proper justice delivery would not be possible. If stealing from a thief is just for personal gain where moral deficiency of the 'victim' is just a false justification is one thing, but where it's the only way to set things 'right' might be another.
Don't say this is the way and don't even know whether it's a true story, but that was claimed to be the way to deal with a hostage crisis: https://www.chroniclesmagazine.org/ho...


message 6: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 13438 comments Iain wrote: "Sometimes getting your hands dirty short-term works out for the better in the long-term, on a case-by-case basis...."

Yeah, there are dudes that being civil and humane with them is a sure way to be beaten or in some cases - eaten...


message 7: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 13438 comments There is law and there is equity. Although fused at some stage, the notion kinda remains -:)
And sometimes laws are drafted for others to abide, leaving sufficient loopholes for those, who order them, to avoid..
And of course there are ppl who believe in law and some who believe in not being caught, the latter apparently doesn't work well for the entourage of one US president..


message 8: by Mehreen (last edited Dec 19, 2018 07:49PM) (new)

Mehreen Ahmed (mehreen2) | 1911 comments stealing from a thief is the same as eye for an eye. I don't believe in that concept at all, so my answer would be a resounding, NO.


message 9: by Scout (new)

Scout (goodreadscomscout) | 5332 comments You're not in favor of capital punishment, then. Neither am I. But back to the original question about a guy stealing a bit of gas from a criminal, of course it's wrong, but only deserves minimal punishment, as it's only a bit of gas.


message 10: by Mehreen (last edited Dec 19, 2018 07:53PM) (new)

Mehreen Ahmed (mehreen2) | 1911 comments Scout wrote: "You're not in favor of capital punishment, then. Neither am I. But back to the original question about a guy stealing a bit of gas from a criminal, of course it's wrong, but only deserves minimal p..."

When the poor steal from the rich, that is pardonable. Governments should investigate into the matter to find a cure, perhaps help him set-up. However, in the case of the rich stealing from their kinds of thieves, is another issue. That amounts to greed and should be punishable, if authorities can catch them.


message 11: by Mehreen (new)

Mehreen Ahmed (mehreen2) | 1911 comments Iain wrote: ""When the poor steal from the rich, that is pardonable"? How is that pardonable?"

Pardon me. I should have said, "When the poor steal from the rich that "should" be pardonable, given that they have so little to start with.


message 12: by Mehreen (new)

Mehreen Ahmed (mehreen2) | 1911 comments Iain wrote: "Mehreen wrote: "Iain wrote: ""When the poor steal from the rich, that is pardonable"? How is that pardonable?"

Pardon me. I should have said, "When the poor steal from the rich that "should" be pa..."


It doesn't matter what they steal. It doesn't change what circumstances they steal under. They are still poor. Particularly, if the rich dude had been a thief too.


message 13: by Mehreen (last edited Dec 19, 2018 08:38PM) (new)

Mehreen Ahmed (mehreen2) | 1911 comments Iain wrote: "Mehreen wrote: "Iain wrote: "Mehreen wrote: "Iain wrote: ""When the poor steal from the rich, that is pardonable"? How is that pardonable?"

Pardon me. I should have said, "When the poor steal from..."


No. It's not a crime to be rich. But it is a crime to be rich by stealing from others. This poor man may have stolen a sentimental object, but he may have stole it because 1) It was accessible 2) Maybe because he has to buy medication for his dying babies. Stealing committed out of desperation and stealing committed out of greed, are not the same.


message 14: by Mehreen (new)

Mehreen Ahmed (mehreen2) | 1911 comments Iain wrote: "Mehreen wrote: "Iain wrote: "Mehreen wrote: "Iain wrote: "Mehreen wrote: "Iain wrote: ""When the poor steal from the rich, that is pardonable"? How is that pardonable?"

Pardon me. I should have sa..."


I don't have aversion to wealthy people per se. However, getting wealthy through stealing is different. That's cheating. I don't need to be pushed. I think I'm quite clear about what I want to say.


message 15: by Scout (new)

Scout (goodreadscomscout) | 5332 comments Mehreen, you did say, "Stealing from a thief is the same as eye for an eye. I don't believe in that concept at all, so my answer would be a resounding, NO."


message 16: by Graeme (last edited Dec 19, 2018 11:03PM) (new)

Graeme Rodaughan | 7222 comments Hi Mehreen,

You said,

[#14] "stealing from a thief is the same as eye for an eye. I don't believe in that concept at all, so my answer would be a resounding, NO."

[#18] "Pardon me. I should have said, "When the poor steal from the rich that "should" be pardonable, given that they have so little to start with."

[#20] "It doesn't matter what they steal. It doesn't change what circumstances they steal under. They are still poor. Particularly, if the rich dude had been a thief too."

Noting that "Pardoned," equals "Get off without any punishment."

Starting to qualify that "Rich Thieves." might have a special problem, but being Rich is still a legitimate target for thievery.

[#22] "No. It's not a crime to be rich. But it is a crime to be rich by stealing from others. This poor man may have stolen a sentimental object, but he may have stole it because 1) It was accessible 2) Maybe because he has to buy medication for his dying babies. Stealing committed out of desperation and stealing committed out of greed, are not the same."

So if I get this straight - you have said that thieving from a thief is just an example of an eye for an eye and is therefore wrong (in principle). You then qualify this heavily in two ways,

[1] If the thief is poor and the target is rich - the thief should be pardoned. Hence rich people are a legitimate target for thievery by poor people.

[2] If the thief is stealing from 'honorable,' intent (to defend the defenceless, etc) this is also a free pass.

Are those two points correct?


message 17: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 13438 comments Hey Mehreen, long time no see -:)
I assume Mehreen just expresses compassion with the needy and is ready to be lenient in some cases and opposes unlawful enrichment when it goes unpunished.


message 18: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 13438 comments The distinction between the source of wealth and history of its accumulation is relatively new and comes with aggressive promotion of anti-money laundering regulations. In some places still, in others - maybe only a few years ago the idea was - if you are rich, we want you, no questions asked. You can get investor's visa, residence, citizenship, whatever, just bring some money, open a biz or buy a property. I suspect that this money-laundering may not be completely bona fide and partially designed as an instrument to prevent rapid expansion of eastern European and Asian Nouveau riches, while those who already 'laundered' their riches in previous decades are out of scope. Nevertheless the general idea of distinguishing between legit and illegitimate wealth seems sound...


message 19: by J.J. (new)

J.J. Mainor | 2144 comments Mehreen wrote: "When the poor steal from the rich, that is pardonable..."

But the poor don't usually steal from the rich. Usually they steal from people only slightly better off them themselves...the rich protect their property and their money better than everybody else, so the middle class, senior citizens, the handicap, are easier targets.


message 20: by Graeme (new)

Graeme Rodaughan | 7222 comments Tyranny institutionalizes methods of theft to empower the wholesale transfer of the goods and services (especially premium goods and services) of society from the many to the few.

The enforcement of private property rights for everyone is a simple bulwark against the forces of tyranny.


message 21: by Graeme (new)

Graeme Rodaughan | 7222 comments J.J. wrote: "But the poor don't usually steal from the rich. Usually they steal from people only slightly better off them themselves...the rich protect their property and their money better than everybody else, so the middle class, senior citizens, the handicap, are easier targets......"

Indeed.


message 22: by Graeme (new)

Graeme Rodaughan | 7222 comments Iain wrote: "If you want to talk about crime, the worst thing though is when your life is stolen from you on the basis of a lie...."

Hi Iain, could you please expand on this, perhaps with an example. I'm not quite sure what you mean.


message 23: by Graeme (new)

Graeme Rodaughan | 7222 comments Sounds like you are talking from personal experience.


message 24: by Scout (new)

Scout (goodreadscomscout) | 5332 comments Let's say your boss told you when you were hired that you would receive a raise every 6 months, yet it's been a year, and you've not seen a raise. Is this theft of services? If so, are you justified in filling up your car on his dime?


message 25: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 9477 comments Sorry, Scout, but no. If your boss is a liar, that does not justify defrauding him or stealing from him. Another point, though, is the fact you haven't seen a raise because your work is, shall we say, less than adequate. If your work has been good, I do think you have the right to look for anther employer.


message 26: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 13438 comments Excusable or not, may be the question of accountability of the one in a higher position. As an example, in a place run by a ruthless dictator, certain illegal forms of resistance may look legit.


message 27: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 9477 comments Nik, you may be sending this discussion down a dangerous path. People will agree, maybe, on "ruthless dictator" but what about "ruthless leader"? Who decides? Are those after Julian Assange ruthless? The situation very soon gets fairly mirky.


message 28: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 13438 comments As long as it's a discussion and not the path, I hope we can discuss -:)
As with everything, anyone should decide for him/herself according to his/her compass of conscience.
In a free world there is more or less a consensus about who ruthless dictators are.
As of Assange - I think it's a good example of a contentious figure. Who's after him? UK, US? Don't know whether May or Donald are kind or ruthless, but they aren't dictators (at least not yet)-:)


message 29: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 9477 comments Yes, I got the impression the US wants Assange to make an example to discourage others from letting the public know what is really going on, which in my view is ruthless, or at least there is not much ruth there, and "hiding what is really going on" is hardly a hall-mark of democracy. Of course May and Donald are not dictators - a bit pig-headed, though?

In my previous post, "dangerous path" was probably not a very apt choice of words :-( It was more intended as a caution against getting too far off-topic :-)


message 30: by Graeme (new)

Graeme Rodaughan | 7222 comments Ian wrote: "Yes, I got the impression the US wants Assange to make an example to discourage others from letting the public know what is really going on..."

The criminalisation of whistleblowers is a very bad trend.


message 31: by J.J. (new)

J.J. Mainor | 2144 comments There is a lot of information classified by governments for very good reasons...what if an insurgent group is able to locate and ambush troops based on information leaked by a whistleblower? If people die because of that whistleblower, is it really bad for a government to prosecute him or her?

There's been a lot of talk about the leaked DNC emails from 2016, but those emails contained a lot of personal information about donors. If you gave the DNC just $5 ahead of the hack, your information went up on wikileaks for scammers to get hold of. Is it really ruthless of the US government to want to prosecute Assange when he's posting information like that?


message 32: by Graeme (new)

Graeme Rodaughan | 7222 comments Hi J.J.

The distinction to be made is between who first releases the information and who publishes it.

News agencies are not legally liable for publishing 'newsworthy,' information that has been obtained illegally.

Works like this.

1. There is 'secret,' or at least 'hidden,' information.
2. Someone "The Leaker," releases the information to a news service.
3. The news service deems the information is not news worthy, and does not publish it OR, they deem it news worthy and do publish it.

The Leaker is legally liable for their actions if they have broken any laws, or contracts.

The News service is just doing their job.

Matt Taibbi at Rolling Stone explains this issue in full at https://www.rollingstone.com/politics...

"Courts have held reporters cannot be held liable for illegal behavior of sources. The 2001 Supreme Court case Bartnicki v. Vopper involved an illegal wiretap of Pennsylvania teachers’ union officials, who were having an unsavory conversation about collective bargaining tactics. The tape was passed to a local radio jock, Frederick Vopper, who put it on the air.

The Court ruled Vopper couldn’t be liable for the behavior of the wiretapper."


Personally, I think the media on average is a voice for the powerful and no more likely to speak truth to power than I am to grow a pair of wings and fly to the moon.

However, if we criminalize the publishing of information obtained illegally we simply give comfort to those who are already in positions of power to do heinous acts with even less expectation of being discovered and revealed.


message 33: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 9477 comments The problem for a news agency is that much of the real news, as opposed to press releases or public speeches, which are hardly reliable, will be obtained by questionable means. If they do a search on every piece off information, the will never get around to anything.

As for scammers getting names, so what? Scammers get huge numbers of addresses etc from major companies that are busy selling such information for not much. If someone gave $5 and had his name up and the amount, I would suspect that would discourage scammers. That person thinks about the value of money.


message 34: by J.J. (new)

J.J. Mainor | 2144 comments So maybe Wikileaks wouldn't be on the hook for releasing personal info, but what about when classified info compromises national security? "National security" tends to be the accepted excuse for tossing out Constitutional rights these days.


message 35: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 9477 comments National security seems to me to be a useful catch-phrase to bog everyone down in long-winded legal issues where the small guy has to fold.

My feeling is the first question is, how did the "secret stuff" get out? Perhaps the person who stole it is a spy, but I am far from convinced the guy who publishes it is. If the various agencies can't keep control of their "secrets" and any =one can walk in and get them, then they are not secret. Suppose you quote a politician - they can eb pretty loose with security. So again, I think the guy who stole the information is the guilty one. And if the question is protection of agents, as soon as a leak ensues, ALL relevant agents are at risk and should get out.


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