Few life events are more traumatic than being mugged. Recognising this, society has created deterrents.
If some ratbag accosts you in the street and steals your wallet, the law’s on your side. If caught and convicted, the thief may be imprisoned and your property, if found, will be lawfully returned to you. Despite this legal discouragement, robbery still happens, but at least you’ve got some chance of restitution if the offender gets caught. Most of the time citizens can walk the streets in daylight without constant apprehension of being mugged.
Outside of a small amoral underclass, daylight robbery is socially unacceptable in New Zealand.
Unfortunately for some people, other sorts of robbery are legal, and, at the moment, socially tolerated. Unscrupulous individuals can legally wreck other people’s lives by stealing their jobs or reducing their income.
The effect of a victim of such a crime is at least as traumatic as loss of a wallet. Grief counsellors have long recognised that job loss is up there with the loss of a close relative or partner. The ongoing impact of this type of theft on a laid off victim’s elderly dependents or little children counts for nothing. Job thefts do damage, they can wreck relationships, exacerbate substance addictions, trash people’s dreams. Over periods of time they can drive some unemployed workers down into the rotting underclass that exists on petty crime, such as street mugging.
At the moment theft of workers’ jobs is entirely legal and also socially acceptable. Yes, when there is a large lay off like the Warehouse one announced today, there is some brief outcry. Politicians in power say its a shame but there’s nothing they can do. Politicians out of power say they lay offs would never have happened on their watch. Either way, in a few days, the fuss dies down, the rest of us get on with what we were doing and the victims of job theft are left forgotten. Forcing workers into unemployment is currently socially acceptable just as unlimited wealth accumulation is socially acceptable. Thousands of innocent people will continue to suffer until workers realise that it’s not enough to vote Labour or National in the hope that they might be a bit nicer, or create more jobs somewhere. Thousands of innocent people will continue to suffer as long as we continue to put up with living under capitalism.