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I don’t subscribe to retaliatory action, the tit for tat approach that says; “you do this to me and I’ll do that to you”. I adhere strongly to the adage that two wrongs don’t make a right. In principle, getting back at someone or something by committing the very transgression you oppose is like slinging mud at the pigs; you get your own hands filthy in the process.


 I do, however, subscribe to the idea that higher-uppers set the bar, meaning the higher up you are on the economic / financial totem pole, which often includes your own assessment of yourself, the more of an example you set.


Take, for instance, the kid who lifts a chocolate bar from a local convenience store. The owner, justifiably outraged at the audacity of someone taking something without paying for it, calls the police. The police may or may not press charges depending upon a slew of factors. Be that as it may, everyone seems to be in agreement that this sort of thing needs to stop. The issues and reasons behind the action that caused someone to lift the chocolate bar without paying for it are extensive and complicated, ranging anywhere from feelings of poverty to entitlement.


In any case, you can be sure the shopkeeper or owner of the convenience assumes a rather self-righteous position full of indignation at the crime and infraction against him. This is understandable as theft costs all of us in some way or other, but let’s take a closer look at the store owner for example. Day after day, week after week, year after year, he sells his products at whatever price he determines, and goes about earning his keep. Quite frequently though, he ‘forgets’ to ring in his sale on a legitimate numbered sales receipt and more than likely charges his customer HST in the process  In fact, when was the last time you were handed an official sales receipt unless you asked for one?  The very store owner who fumes at being robbed often and habitually himself commits theft against the public purse on almost a daily basis. It’s called tax evasion and it is a crime against the tax policy and a criminal offense under the law. It’s another way of stealing and it essentially means an individual, such as the shopkeeper, is getting benefits with the taxes paid by other individuals.  In a sense, Mr. Shop Keeper has no more moral fortitude than Mr. Shop Lifter, ergo; two crimes don’t make a right...


Onto the big shots…oops…big shops! Their advertising budgets may exceed the GNP of small nations!  Foremost on their agenda is to convince us we are simply not complete or adequate human beings without a specific product or service, one that assuredly makes them money. Billions of dollars will be spent bombarding our senses and minds persuading and influencing our every purchase. These marketing masters clearly understand what fuels us is not so much our intellect as the sensations we link to their products. As a result they’ve become experts in learning how to use all means and modes, such as exciting or soothing music, rapid or beautiful imagery, bright or subdued color, all designed to make our reasoning abilities languid and heighten our emotional states; then when our emotions are at their peak, when the sensations are their most intense, they flash an image of their product continuously until we link it to these desired feelings.


What we’ve got to realize is that this is all based on linking pleasurable sensations to specific behaviors. It’s the idea that if we use the product, we’ll live out fantasies or become the ideal personification of glamour, success, power, etc… Advertisers have taught all of us that if you don’t have a Gucci handbag you are not part of the “in” crowd, or if you are not donning Chanel’s newest shade of lipstick you never be desirable enough, and if you don’t drive a BMW, well, you know where that’s going…The force and power behind the shaping of world opinion and consumer’s buying habits is also the same force that shapes all of our actions.


 The force and power behind the shaping of world opinion and consumer’s buying habits is also the same force that shapes all of our actions. It’s up to you and me to take control of this force and decide our own actions consciously, because if we don’t direct out thoughts we’ll fall under the influence of those who would condition us to behave in a way they desire.


In the most convoluted sense of logic, there’s a new method some of the larger retail stores employ to actually make a profit from theft. Despite the fact shoplifting is an enormous problem, the rectification or restitution of monetary losses, i.e. compensation, seems to be the focus of these conglomerates instead of understanding and dealing with the mindset that shoplifts. Truth is, these huge retailers can do a lot more to dissuade and discourage would-be shoplifters than they currently do. Instead they assign the task to so called ‘civil recovery’ companies to recover far more than any fair compensation would ever mandate but which keeps the CR firm not only in business but thriving. There’s no vested interest in preventing shoplifting, either for the store or the CR firm.


Think about it. You walk through the doors of a huge retailer and perhaps you’ll catch sight of some small sign or other that says something about surveillance and theft. Aside from that, the moment you enter the doors you’ll be hit with a tsunami of tantalizing products being thrust at you left, right, and center. Imagine instead bold notices against theft were being jammed in your face with the same voltage. Constant and endless reminders about how you’re being watched from the moment you entered the store; the consequences of the crime; and even messages telling you that virtually none of the consumer junk being sold should compromise your integrity. Problem is, such messages, though highly effective in deterring theft, might also deter sprees.


Instead, they prefer the nuisance of shoplifters and hire these civil recovery agencies to supposedly recover some of the revenue lost as a result of theft. The stores, however, already set their prices having calculated the cost of theft, both from employee and non-employee sectors, and factors it into the final sale price the consumer absorbs. Essentially the loss from shoplifting is already covered, but they devised a way to actually profit from shoplifting.


Actually it’s quite innovative, albeit just as unethical and corrupt as the very crime it purports to fight. Once a shoplifter is caught, despite recovering the stolen goods and therefore incurring no loss, they now fine you for supposedly covering the cost of the security personnel and all it encompasses. The tactics these firms employ are not only questionable but may be downright illegal. The more money they swindle off of you, the more money both the store and civil recovery agency make, splitting profits by pre-set percentages. They do it by intimidation, threats, and innuendo and get you so worked up you may find yourself paying an astronomical fine that would never withstand the scrutiny of a true legal proceeding.


Shame on these big retailors! As if 18-28% interest rates on their credit cards isn’t theft in itself!

Kati Thibault

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