Archive for March, 2011

Victimless Crime?

I was reading an article the other day that talked about victimless crime, or at least what the population at large consider to be victimless crime and it got me thinking about why people may consider some crime to be victimless and as such justify its undertaking or a least consider it less serious.

why people may consider some crime to be victimless?

In case you were wondering what might be considered victimless crime let me give you a few examples;

  • You go to a hole in the wall to get out some cash, you ask for £20 and if dispenses £40. If you take the money and not report it is that a crime and if so is it victimless?
  • Extended the one above a bit more, you hear that a cash machine is dispensing twice as much as it should, so you join the long queue to get some ‘free’ money and subsequently withdraw the maximum amount. A crime? Victimless?
  • When claiming your mileage expenses at work you list two trips as separate even though you managed to go from one to the other, your real mileage was say 50 miles but you claim the total miles if you had returned to base of 80 miles.  Who is harmed?

Very often if the victim is big business or the government we often consider them not to be genuine victims as they are big enough to stand it, but my question really is does it matter whether an individual or a company can ‘stand it’, if it’s not yours why take it?  Is a crime only a crime if it directly harms an individual?

does it matter whether an individual or a company can ‘stand it’?

My own answer to those question is that firstly if there is a law that say’s you shouldn’t do something that has a very high weighting, and if you don’t like the law you should lobby to get it changed by using any and all means that are within the law.  You’ll notice that I don’t have an absolute in the law, this is simply for a case where a law is so unjust, corrupt or violates our core beliefs that we are unable to follow it, not that I am advocating seeking out laws we don’t like and deliberately breaking them but when one presses itself into us we need to consider more.  I haven’t personally had any law in the UK pressed into me that I have felt the need to break it, not that I can claim I keep within the law but I have no justification for the times that I do break the law.

the important thing there is perspective.

Secondly I believe that whether the victim is a company that makes its money by breaking many laws across many nations or the little old lady down the road they are all capable of being victims and more importantly we are perpetrators.  The important thing there is perspective, if we have a perspective of whether the victim suffers or not is the wrong perspective, our perspective should be one of our own behaviour towards others, does what we do build society or break it down.

As a Christian I read in the Bible of an occasion where Jesus was asked about paying taxes, the theory being that He would so no as the taxes were paid to the Roman occupiers, but Jesus tells them to pay their taxes.  There is another occasion where Paul is advising the Christian community in Rome about whether they should obey the authorities or not, in essence should they abide by the laws of the land.  Paul very clearly states that they should and give a clear reasoning as to why that is the case, Paul even goes beyond obeying the law but that is probably for another time.

but Jesus tells them to pay their taxes.

As you can see this is just a few quick thoughts but I am interested in what everybody else thinks, so please leave a comment about what your thoughts are, the only thing I ask is that you say why they are your thoughts so we can form an understanding and not just gather information.


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