We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Say the bad spell backwards, that’ll work!

“Shoplifting isn’t the real crime, poverty is”, tweets Owen Jones.

The tweet links to this video excerpt from the Jeremy Vine Show, in which the host tries several times to get Mr Jones and the other panellists to give straight answers on whether it is wrong for shops to put anti-theft tags on commonly stolen goods. He doesn’t get any. The responses he does get are variations on two themes, firstly, the non-sequitur “Yes, it is wrong for shops to try and stop their goods being stolen because poverty is the bigger crime”, and secondly, “I don’t condone shoplifting, but here’s why I condone shoplifting.”

At 2:25 Mr Jones says, “The way to abolish shoplifting is to abolish the underlying cause, which is poverty and the cost of living crisis”.

So the answer was in front of our silly noses the whole time!

In future videos Mr Jones will tackle the shocking prevalence of “food deserts” and “health care deserts” in poor areas because so many supermarkets, corner shops and pharmacies have closed down.

20 comments to Say the bad spell backwards, that’ll work!

  • If someone steals the laptop on which I am typing this, the wealth of the world will diminish a little (a very little in the case of this laptop 🙂 ). This laptop is worth much more to me, who am used to it, have lots of stuff on it, know where it is, etc., etc., than to a random thief, who has no such ability to extract value from it.

    So Owen Jones is indeed saying the spell backwards. Poverty does not cause crime. Crime causes poverty. It destroys wealth directly, and in the cost of the security measures it makes necessary, and in the opportunity costs it imposes: the cost of crime can render an economic opportunity uneconomic; so can the fear of crime that prevents someone taking a job with anti-social hours and/or a commute on a dangerous subway at a dangerous time.

    These costs are very regressive. I’d wager that Owen Jones’ job can survive a burglary, or his car being stolen. Someone a lot poorer in a start-up job can easily have their foot pushed off the first rung of the ladder by such an event.

  • Steven R

    In one of my classes in college we had a discussion of poverty and crime. It naturally turned into a “Capitalism is the real crime, it causes poverty, that causes theft, etc.”

    They never had an answer when someone would bring up white collar crime.

  • Ferox

    I think the only fair response to Owen Jones is to list his address so that hungry people can go and help themselves to the contents of his larder.

    I can only assume that Mr. Jones would make no objection.

  • People like Owen Jones look at San Francisco and think “yeah, that’s the way for us to go”

  • Steven R

    “SF wouldn’t have open air drug markets, homeless everywhere, and street fecelators if only we had even more social spending, oh, and fewer cops.”
    -Owen Jones (probably)

  • bobby b

    I grew up poor. My friends at the time were poor. We must have missed the memo that said that crime should be our natural response.

    Poverty only triggers crime amongst the immoral, and they likely would be criminals anyway. The moral always seem to find a better way.

  • Nolan Parker

    They would not have to steal from the store if they just went and stole from the bank. That would be as morally acceptable. Then they could have the things that are not so easily stolen. They could have anything in the store.

  • Steven R

    I’m not going to go all Inspector Javert if someone swipes a loaf of bread to feed their starving daughter even though I also recognize that the store owner is a victim of crime, but at the same time there’s always a way to get fed without breaking the law.

    Crime isn’t because of financial status but because of a flaw in the human character.

  • Fraser Orr

    @bobby b
    I grew up poor. My friends at the time were poor. We must have missed the memo that said that crime should be our natural response.

    I did too. And none of my friends from childhood are in jail today, they are all productive members of society. In fact, one of them is a Church of Scotland minister.

    Poverty only triggers crime amongst the immoral, and they likely would be criminals anyway. The moral always seem to find a better way.

    People are not born moral or immoral. For sure a small number of people are born psychopaths, but most aren’t. People become immoral (at least by your lights and mine) when they are given a framework of behavior, a moral code so to speak, that allows it.

    People like Owen Jones saying that stealing is perfectly justified is just one such giver of moral codes. Owen Jones is in many respects at the very root of the problem.

    However, what do you expect from a country where it is considered moral to take by force half the income of some people, in fact where it is considered immoral not to? When the moral code is “jealousy demands we all gang up to soak the rich” I mean what do you expect really when theft is built into the very moral fiber of the national psyche?

  • Stuart Noyes

    Jones once talked about the establishment and described it with such eloquence, I took note.

    Everything else he’s ever said is tosh.

  • Nicholas (Unlicensed Joker) Gray

    Lots of things are relative. When even a rich guy like Ex-president Trump complains of theft (Stop the Steal), you know it’s a big problem. I grew up not knowing that I was poor, until I visited some of Sydney’s Richest suburbs. I never felt an urge to steal from shops. My brother’s piggy-bank wasn’t safe, but that wasn’t stealing. Not really.

  • Exasperated

    Does real Capitalism even exist in the UK or elsewhere? Doesn’t Capitalism imply some level of competition? Isn’t competition, today, an illusion created by Marketing?

  • Stonyground

    Capitalism causes poverty? Not only not true but the exact opposite of the truth.

  • Stonyground

    Regarding theft, see this recent post from Longrider.


    I remember this being talked about years ago, I had no idea that it had actually been implemented. An organisation that literally steals directly from private bank accounts.

  • Paul Marks

    This “poverty is the real crime” is the attitude that destroyed so many stores, jobs and opportunities, in areas of American cities in the 1960s and is doing so again.

    The brother of Thomas Sowell went out on to the streets during the 1960s riots begging people to not destroy their own neighbourhood – but they laughed at him, and the neighbourhood, the poverty of the people was made WORSE – much worse.

    He was lucky – when David Dorn tried to convince “Black Lives Matter” Marxists to not loot stores in St Louis in 2020 they killed him, David Dorn (a retired Police Captain) was black – but “Black Lives Matter” was never about saving black lives, indeed whenever the police were pulled out an area (to appease Marxist BLM – which shared fund raising facilities with the Democrats and was actively helped by the Biden/Harris campaign).

    As for Mr Owen Jones – well approved of theft, at least by the poor.

    I am poor – so, by the logic of Mr Jones, I should rob him.

    Or does Mr Jones just approve of robbing other people – not himself.

  • Martin

    If someone robbed Owen Jones, he’d probably claim it was because of homophobia. With his ilk, when his approved groups commit crimes, it is due to poverty and oppression. When crimes are committed against his ilk of course, it must be because of evil motivations.

  • SkippyTony

    The deeply depressing (if not surprising) thing about that is they are all educated rational people. They have presumably travelled a bit and seen something of the world. Had access to every educational and information resource and met many people who have studied the world and its ways.

    And yet still, after everything the last 100 years have taught us, their answer is to use violence to redistribute the cake, not focus on growing the cake. And thats the answer for about half the population of the richest countries in the world.

    Truly, we are fucked.

  • The deeply depressing (if not surprising) thing about that is they are all educated rational people. (SkippyTony, November 28, 2022 at 8:51 pm)

    Being ‘educated’ can indeed be the (depressing but unsurprising) problem. A certain kind of education can be much better at teaching arrogance than wisdom; at credentialling you into a caste than at conveying skill; at inculcating in you the belief that you know rather than giving you actual knowledge; at teaching you simply to despise all that came before before you and your ‘educators’ rather than wondering if the past could be learned from with respect – or imagining yourself as one day to be the past.

    It can be the same with ‘rational’. We think it is rational to let our beliefs be tested in free-speech debate, but the term can be used to express contempt for any who dissent from the rationalist’s philosophy.

    A little learning is a dangerous thing.

  • NickM

    Owen Jones is an epic wanker. That is all.

  • Paul Marks

    Martin – yes.

    NickM – no.

    Because you are implying (perhaps – at least it could be interpreted in the following way) that Mr Jones is just some bad man – he is a bad man, but he is a representative of a vast movement, the movement of “Social Justice”.

    “Social Justice” is the doctrine that income and wealth should be “distributed” according to some principle of “fairness” – that income and wealth do not “really” belong to their private owners, but (rather) belong to “the community”.

    So when Mr Jones says, for example, “poverty is the real crime” – this is not one lunatic talking rubbish, this is a vast international movement.

    For example, the American government and the modern Vatican (yes even the Vatican – and other churches to) have in more common with the beliefs of Mr Jones, than they do with the traditional view of what justice means (private property rights).

    They are closer to him, than they are to us.