Covid, Smash and Grab, and Crime in our Cities
It’s 2022 and I’m worried about the future of America. The purpose of this blog is to share my thoughts with you. There are three topics I address: Covid, the recent rash of smash and grab incidents, and the increase in crime in our big cities.
My primary concern is that our society has morphed into a selfish one. Obviously, not all people are selfish. But there are enough to have me stand up and take notice.
I believe failing to get vaccinated harms the public good, with some medical and religious exceptions. It’s obvious that smash and grab harms society, begets further violence, and is the height of a selfish act. As for an increase in crime, well it’s driven by self-interest – i.e., a grudge, hatred – and there are other factors. In each case, one’s self-interest is placed ahead of the “common good,” something many philosophers have written about.
Response to Covid
Let me start with Covid. Consider the following about anti-vaxxers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
“As of last week, federal data from the CDC show that 72.1% of the total population in the United States have received at least one dose of a Covid vaccine. While this achievement has led to steep declines in Covid cases and deaths, vaccination coverage—and the protections provided by it—remains uneven across the country. Amid the continued spread of the Delta variant and growing concerns related to the Omicron variant, unvaccinated people are at increased risk for infection, illness, and death.”
I realize antivaxxers have a right not to take the Covid vaccines. Some may deeply believe they are unsafe at least given some condition they have. But there’s no way that accounts for the fact that almost 30 percent of the population are still unvaccinated. Just imagine the effects if 30 percent of children did not get a shot for the measles.
All the data leads me to believe that taking the vaccination would not only protect the person but the population as a whole. I think it’s logical to assume that if one-half of the 30 percent had been vaccinated, the number of new cases and deaths could be cut by about one-half. Imagine all the grief saved by individuals and their families who are sick or dying in part because they were exposed to unvaccinated individuals.
Smash and Grab
I have blogged before about “smash and grab” incidents. A wave of "smash-and-grab" crimes is plaguing upscale stores in major US cities, with mobs of thieves making off with expensive goods in brazen, nighttime raids.
California seems to be on the “leading edge” of smash and grab incidents. Google “Shoplifting in San Francisco” and you will find more than 100,000 hits. And you will find lots of YouTube videos, where you can watch a single thief, or an entire gang, walk into an SF Walgreens or CVS and empty the shelves. Most walk in, go about their pilfering, and then walk out, though at least one thief rode their bike into the store and departed the same way, carefully navigating their two-wheeler down a narrow aisle.
Why is this form of shoplifting so rampant? Because CA state law holds that stealing merchandise worth $950 or less is just a misdemeanor, which means that law enforcement probably won’t bother to investigate, and if they do, prosecutors will let it go. What does it say about a society that sends the message: Steal $950 in merchandise or less and we won’t prosecute you?
Why won’t store employees do anything about this theft? Because they don’t want to take the risk. I doubt many would, knowing that a Rite Aid employee was murdered recently after trying to stop two thieves. Moreover, a confrontation within the store risks harming not only store staff but also customers, so employees are almost certainly instructed by their managers to do nothing.
Increase in Crime
Preliminary data from four of California’s major cities—Los Angeles, Oakland, San Diego, and San Francisco—show increases in property and violent crime numbers in 2021. In particular, the troubling increase in homicides that we saw in 2020 appears to continue—homicides in these cities are up by about 17% in 2021. The increase in property crime in 2021 was driven by car break-ins and auto thefts.
The year of 2021 ended as one of the most violent on record in Chicago, as a rise in the number of shootings left more people dead than in any single year in a quarter-century, according to statistics released by the police department.
According to the department, 2021 ended with 797 homicides. That is 25 more than were recorded 2020, 299 more than in 2019 and the most since 1996. And there were 3,561 shooting incidents in 2021, which is just over 300 more than were recorded in 2020 and a staggering 1,415 more shooting incidents than were recorded in the city in 2019.
Do you feel safer in your home today than years passed? Do you feel safer in the streets? In stores? How about your kids in school? When a government cannot protect society it’s possible that, at some point in the future, anarchy will follow.
We all need to band together, lobby our leaders to increase funding for police, provide more resource specialists to deal with the crime in schools and elsewhere, as well as the root causes, and enhance mental health awareness and treatment. Mental health is the challenge for 2022 and beyond. It affects all aspects of society.
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Blog posted by Dr. Steven Mintz, The Ethics Sage, on January 11, 2022. You can sign up for his newsletter and learn more about his activities at: https://www.stevenmintzethics.com/. Follow him on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/StevenMintzEthics and on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/ethicssage.