Scrolling Twitter–a practice I detest but is required for the job–does have its upside. I occasionally have an “aha” moment spurred on by an insight thrown out into the world by somebody else. I almost makes the drudgery of sorting the wheat from the chaff bearable. Almost.

Josh Barro started a conversation that struck a chord with me. It is something that I had noticed, but only silently grumbled about. But it is worth thinking about for a moment.

Barrow had lots of responses, for obvious reasons. We have all noticed that one of the downstream consequences of shoplifting is that our easy access to goods has been diminished by the lawlessness of others. Lots and lots and LOTS of others who regard societal norms as obstacles to their own desires. Along with other crimes, shoplifting has been increasing for years, and since the 2020 riots it has skyrocketed.

We are all painfully aware of the huge rise in shoplifting and even violent robberies of stores. We watch the videos of thugs brazenly raiding stores, and read about the organized crime rings that have sprung up to profit from the trend. Shoplifting has become a big, if criminal business. Chance are that if you use eBay to purchase a wide range of products at reduced prices you have unwittingly purchased stolen goods. No good way for eBay to stop the practice.

The consequences are both obvious and less so. Drug stores are closing in major cities, reducing access to basic goods for people who have decided to stick it out in the increasingly third-world-type urban areas. But there is an even more insidious consequence that spreads beyond those urban cores.

Life is just getting suckier and less convenient for people who hop out to the drugstore to pick up a few things they have run out of. More and more things are not accessible without help from surly staff. Razors, shampoo, other products are being placed behind plastic barriers. High value/high profit/high volume items are targets for thieves, so they become less accessible.

Megan McArdle (one of my favorite columnists) makes the point that stores just have to do it to keep in business.

It goes much further than plastic barriers suddenly popping up everywhere and stores being forced to close. Retailers who had been experimenting with self-scanning apps have abandoned the attempt, despite the potential for increasing the bottom line and improving customer experience by speeding up the process of shopping.

Not all of this increase in what some consider “nuisance” crimes can be attributed to the Soros prosecutors who abhor prosecuting, the reduction in enforcement, the decriminalization of shoplifting, and other liberal policies.

Almost all of it is, though. Leftists in government bear the vast majority of the blame. The rest of the blame goes to the grievance mongers who attack societal norms and encourage people to stand up to the capitalist autocratic patriarchy or whatever. And stand up they do, by stealing and committing other crimes.

The financial impact is relatively minor, adding a bit to the cost of products at a time when we can ill afford it. But much worse is the impact it has on both our quality of life and the social trust that makes living in a liberal democracy with a free market so much better than living anywhere else. It undermines the very foundation of civilization.

Leftists. They ruin everything they touch. They kill civilization and dance on its grave.

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