The Stinkiest Stealing is Legal: Three Top Ten Lists
By Jeff Gee
A. Top Ten Forms of Illegal Theft
- Grand Theft Auto
- Home and Office Burglary
- Cheating on Taxes
- Shoplifting from Department Stores
- Pirating DVDs
- Swiping Office Supplies
- Calling In Sick When You’re Really Not
- Stealing the Little Kid’s Lunch Money
These are crimes we commit against each other. They hurt the perpetrator as well as the victim.
B. Top Ten Forms of Legal Larceny
- Growing Income Disparity: should a hardworking entrepreneur who turns his business into a corporate empire by any and all means necessary take home 100 times the salary of a hardworking engineer who designed the product, 300 times that of the hardworking assembler who builds it, and 600 times that of the hardworking maintenance person who cleans up?
- Unemployment: depriving 1/8 of the adult population of the opportunity to be productive and secure while threatening the employed who ask for a living wage.
- Racism and Sexism: intensified exploitation which keeps us divided, contemptuous, and afraid of each other.
- The Impoverishment of America: the poor made even poorer, and the middle class cheated out of their homes and savings by Wall Street gamblers.
- Globalization: cut-rate pillaging of the human and natural resources of the Southern Hemisphere.
- Constant War: robbing us of the chance for world harmony by imposing the U.S. brand of “freedom” on indigenous peoples.
- Health Care In Critical Condition: billions of dollars for corporate and personal enrichment siphoned out of our medical system, leaving the public chronically ill and bankrupt.
- Bribery of the Government: to legalize, maintain, and enforce the Big Steal, but allowing for some limited tinkering by voters.
- The Privatization of Consciousness: continual invasion of our senses by product advertising, corporate media-approved thought, and political lies to persuade us that The System smells just fine.
- The Climate Emergency: rapacious consumption of Mother Earth by a bloated Machine that dumps its waste products in our air, land, and oceans. Of all the above cancerous crimes, this one is metastatic and inevitably fatal unless treated promptly and aggressively.
These are thefts committed by a tiny few against the many – they keep the vast majority of the world’s population struggling to survive day by day. They are the Tails side of the coin with Lies That Build Empire for Heads.
The crimes that threaten us the most are not perpetrated by street gangs, psycho killers, drug cartels, or “rogue nations.” We will not be protected from the true Crime Lords by special police units, overwhelming military superiority, or 007.
I am delighted that some relatively privileged Buddhists (myself included) are choosing not to ignore the material chains that bind humanity and deprive people of the opportunity to achieve spiritual potential.
C. Top Ten Things Buddhists Can Do to Stop Crime
- Go outside, open your eyes, ears, and nose. The worst Stink you smell is not that of the fecund Earth and Sea. It is the putrefaction of the zombified System and the blood and tears of those it beats down.
- If you form a study group, please don’t get bogged down in endless intellectual discussions of Right Action. Engage and learn from your experiences!
- Try to join a social movement that aims to improve things for you, your family, friends, coworkers, or neighbors. Long-distance charity should come second.
- Make the connection between material well-being for all, social progress, and spiritual growth.
- Learn strategies and passion for change from activists – teach solidarity based on love and empathy.
- Help take back our government from corporate lobbyists and malicious zealots. We can make a better System together.
- Have compassion for all but spend your time working with those who need justice the most. Gentle reproofs of the rich and famous will fall on deaf ears. They are not ashamed.
- People will need to firmly restrain the most egregious villains just as a teacher would stop a bully or a drug dealer from abusing schoolchildren. Stolen resources should be returned for the benefit of everyone.
- Recognize that crime fighting on every front will be necessary to win a long-term victory on any of them.
- Don’t fret about the people’s use of violence to bring radical change to The System. The System will use violence on us long before we pose a real threat to it. But take heart, it will not last. We are spiritual warriors.
(Disclaimer: many of these ideas are plagiarized)
Jeff Gee has lived in the SF Bay area since 1975 and has practiced Family Medicine in Daly City for 30 years. Fed up with the deteriorating health of the Earth and its population, he believes that it is time to move beyond self-aggrandizing capitalism to a society based on cooperation and compassion. He’s working out the details on this but is pretty sure it will require hard work and engagement with the broader community.