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Why Don’t You Steal?

Editor’s Pick. Written by Wendy McElroy.

As a starting point, I assume readers do not engage in the initiation of force, including theft. You may refrain from doing so because of a moral code or from a respect for rights. But, at least for me, the admonition not to steal isn’t written in stone. I hold my values in a hierarchy by which some are simply more important than others.

Jean Valjean is the fictional character from Victor Hugo’s novel Les Miserables. Valjean is sentenced to a brutal prison term for stealing bread to feed his sister’s starving children. In his situation, with no honest ways left to obtain food, I would probably do the same. Equally, if my husband needed an operation to live and there was no honest way to pay for it, then I would steal.

The foregoing acknowledgement comes with context:

  • It would take a life-and-death situation for me to use force against another human being;
  • In stealing, I would freely admit I was violating libertarian principle and just laws. I would be legally guilty, and should be found so;
  • I would provide restitution when I could whether or not I was caught;
  • One reason I argue for the free market is because it provides bread and medical care at prices that do not require people to steal to survive.

Read the full thing at TheDailyBell.com ยป