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Sit with these thoughts for awhile

 On another journal a discussion was rounding out about crime and people committing them being more rather than less poor, younger rather than older, non-white rather than white, etc. One commenter rather eloquently spoke about it. I wanted to share it because I believe it is worth reading and just sitting with it for a bit.

She started with a Terry Pratchett quote and then added her why’s.

[personal profile] megpie71
2013-02-07 05:56 pm (local)

"He hadn’t had much experience with the rich and powerful. Coppers didn’t, as a rule. It wasn’t that they were less prone to commit crimes, it was just that the crimes they committed tended to be so far above the normal level of criminality that they were beyond the reach of men with bad boots and rusting mail. Owning a hundred slum properties wasn’t a crime, although living in one was, almost. Being an Assassin – the Guild never actually said so, but an important qualification was being the son or daughter of a gentleman – wasn’t a crime. If you had enough money, you could hardly commit crimes at all. You just perpetrated amusing little peccadilloes." (Pratchett, 1994, 115-116)

Pratchett, Terry (1994). Men At Arms. Corgi Books, Ealing, London, UK.

 

[personal profile] megpie71 
2013-02-07 06:07 pm (local)

My point being (I realise I hadn’t actually put that in there) that one of the things which leads to a lot of crimes being committed by the less well off rather than the more well off is the more well off are the ones who are generally defining what crime is. Nobody thinks of themselves as criminal, therefore the things which are done by the well-off which harm people and property aren’t necessarily crimes. In the spirit of the above: encouraging people to take on financial risks beyond their ability to repay, destroying the ownership trails of numerous mortgages, and damn near wrecking the global economy aren’t crimes. Being a victim of a shonky salesman who sold you an underwater mortgage you couldn’t afford, or having your home foreclosed on you by a bank you didn’t even know you were in debt to, or being bankrupted by the global financial crisis – those lead to you being treated as a criminal.

There’s a similar argument to be advanced with regards to race: owning slaves in pre-emancipation America wasn’t a crime. Being a slave just about was. Being descended from former slaves still is largely treated as being a crime. Dispossessing the indigenous inhabitants of a continent isn’t a crime. Being descended from the dispossessors isn’t a crime. Being descended from the dispossessees, now THAT is very nearly a crime.

This entry was originally posted at http://pj.dreamwidth.org/371503.html. Please comment here or there there using your LJ ID or OpenID.

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One comment on “Sit with these thoughts for awhile

  1. A lot of folks got hit hard with the mortgage debacle. It used to be (prior to common practice of selling mortgages all around the nation) that approval did not come for an amount the client could not reasonably afford. So people went to the bank with the previous years understanding that the bank wouldn’t screw you or them if you default by loaning you a crazy high amount.

    The rules and practices changed when companies realized they didn’t have to give a shit if you could afford because they were selling your loan before the ink was dry. Such a sham and such a shame.

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