America, You’re Funny: Theft

In America it is well understood that stealing is wrong. That you do not take that which is not yours. The penalty for taking is stiff and the more you take the worse the punishment.
That is true, for the most part. The part that is nuanced though is that who you steal from is what matters.
For instance, a kid stealing from Wal-Mart can put him into Juvenile Hall. Wal-Mart stealing from a kid by underpaying his mother however, perfectly fine. The government requires us to pay taxes and taking from the government means paying interest and sometimes jail. However no such penalties fall on the government should it take too much from a person. It is illegal for a bank to charge too high of a late fee or too high of interest and when the government takes $100 or more from me for parking two minutes over and thus shortchanging government $.25 is completely ok.
You see it not only matters who you steal from, but whether you are above or bellow the one you steal with on the social ladder and how much above and bellow also matters.
For instance, much has been stolen from homeowners and pensioners in 2008. Most of them were poor or middle class and no one went to jail. However, when Madoff stole, he stole from people, rich people, some much richer than he and that became a big no no.
America, sometimes you’re funny.

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