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?

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?


  1. i don't see how macy's is different than any other company. shrink happens everywhere, and is a factor in prices everywhere, as retailers have to take that into account when setting prices. and which company is going to tell a customer what he can or can't afford? we live in a nanny state where government will soon control our healthcare and what kind of freakin light bulb to use, now we need the private sector to handle our finances too? personal responsibilty: learn it, love it, live it

  2. You MUST read the whole piece.

  3. Steve says it's no problem.

  4. Your previous involvement in theft and fraud indicate you clearly have no problem with it!

  5. Anon2 - LOL

    Anon3 - LOL, right. Clearly you don't know me AND you can't read.

  6. The bit there reminds me of what some students (not in YU) said to justify switching around price tags on clothes at stores like Macy's to pay the price of a cheaper item without setting off alarms built into the clothes.