Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Should I Steal?

One of the best articles I've read in a long time, at The Atlantic. (Hat tip: Farbs)

Should I Steal From Macy's?

Excerpt:
Macy's is a large corporation.  They are not particularly nice to me.   They issue credit cards with high interest rates.

Many of the things I purchased at Macy's have not really made me better off.  In fact, some have made me worse off. Once I bought a suit for $800 that I couldn't really afford, but the sales clerk at Macy's didn't even ask me to rethink before I paid.  All she cared about was selling me that suit.

Macy's makes an allowance for theft (euphemistically known as "shrinkage" in the retail trade).  It's factored into the price of the product.  They knew when they let me into the store that there was a risk that I might try to steal something.  As soon as they opened the doors, everyone knew what was going to happen: a bunch of stuff would get bought, and some stuff would be stolen.  One could argue that every time I have bought something at retail, paying an extra percentage to cover losses from shrinkage, I have been paying for the right to steal at some point in the future.

Macy's doesn't even use written contracts for most transactions!  If they had wanted to, they could have asked me to sign a contract agreeing not to steal.  Since they didn't, why do I have an obligation not to steal?

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