Dear Mr. President,
I just read an article on the cost of retail theft- which is, apparently, down in 2010 from 2009- and averages out to about $423 per family. This kind of makes me feel pretty awesome, not because I enjoy paying more for things because of thieves, but because I like to think I play a tiny, tiny part in making that number smaller. Especially recently. For the first few months working at my new job, I felt almost entirely useless. In the last few weeks, however, I've had some success and, with a lot of help from my coworkers, finally feel like I'm making some progress. I suppose every one just wants to feel like the work they do serves some purpose. I don't imagine I'm unique in getting a thrill at seeing my profession mentioned on CNN, or that the work we do is on par with the work of real law enforcement, but it is nice to know that we make a difference, too.
The comments posted on the article are sort of amusing. Plenty of angry commenters suggest that, in this economic climate, theft is a sane and rational response. I've encountered this mentality before, especially while working for a large corporate bookstore. Stealing from businesses (seen as wealthy) is OK, because they can afford the loss. I hear it still from thieves who shoplift while also making a purchase, citing their perception of the inflated prices as justification. (Pointing out that theft causes price inflation doesn't often have much persuasive effect in these casses.)
This bizarre rationale always makes me angry. It isn't corporate CEO's who are getting shoved, struck and even stabbed by the more violent shoplifters, it's me, my coworkers and people like us who are probably just as poor (or even more so) than many of the shoplifters. If there is one thing my job has taught me it is that everyone steals. Rich, poor, middle class. Black, white, or any color. College kids, housewives, the homeless, spoiled children looking for a thrill. Everyone steals. And, as this article illustrates, the people who pay the price for this theft are not the companies being stolen from but the consumers who pay higher prices as a result.
I feel like this mentality is reflected in the arguments against social services and, recently, health care reform. People don't seem to understand that the cost of crime and illness and suffering is passed on to all of us, one way or another. When I go to work everyday, I'm not thinking about serving any higher purpose, either. It's enough to me to enjoy what I do and to try to be decent at it. The fact that I'm also trying to save consumers more than $400 a year just kind of makes my job a little more interesting.