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To Secure These Rights

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"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."  This is the most famous sentence of the declaration signed 235 years ago today. But the next two sentences are equally important:

That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
Safety is essential to happiness.  We are not happy living in a state of seige.  We are not productive when we must devote energy and attention to protecting ourselves and what we have already earned from predators, rather than concentrating on new productive endeavors.  And that is why we created government in the first place.

Yet in some places government seems to have forgotten that public safety is its first and foremost mission.  In California, we are entering an era that has been called "misdemeanor anarchy."  That is actually an understatement, because the list of crimes one can commit with a near-certainty of not suffering any substantial punishment includes many crimes that have been considered felonies up to now.

Stealing someone's horse was a capital offense in many places long after other forms of theft were not.  There was a good reason for that.  Take someone's mobility and you may have taken his livelihood.

Now car theft is a "non-non-non."  That is, it is a "non-sex" offense; it is a "non-violent" offense; it is not on the ill-named list of so-called "serious felonies," a list created for an entirely different purpose.

So car theft is on the list of offenses that our "enlightened" governor and legislature think are no big deal, and people who commit these offenses can be "safely" released back to the street and enrolled in "community based" programs which they will (correctly) perceive to be a joke and no punishment at all.

Why are our "enlightened" leaders so blase about car theft?  It may be a socioeconomic class divide in perception.  People of means park their cars in garages overnight, so they are much less likely to be stolen.  People of more limited income may not have a garage or may share quarters with people who collectively have more cars than garage space.  In addition, people of means generally carry comprehensive insurance that covers theft.  For people who drive older and less valuable cars, such insurance may be economically unfeasible. 

People who work for their money but are on the lower rungs of the economic ladder are the people hit the hardest by auto theft.  The Democratic Party was once the champions of this stratum of the population.  They fancy they still are, but they are not.

Our government has forgotten its first mission.  Securing our rights against those who would take what they want by force has been pushed down the list of priorities.

3 Comments

Decriminalizing car theft!

An exaggeration but we seem to be headed in that direction. ITSMV was the most commonly prosecuted crime by federal authorities at one time-now it is basically ignored unless a major ring is involved.

About 20 years ago, I was aghast when I learned that Philadelphia police would only take reports of a stolen motor vehicle over the phone. Of course, hot pursuit of a car thief is either discouraged or verboten.

All in the name of keeping criminals out of prison...............

Criminal coddling Dems. What else is new?

The other problem, besides the fact that car theft is going to explode, is that criminals rarely stay a "non-violent" offender. Today's car thief is, often enough, tomorrow's rapist of opportunity, home invader, armed robber or what have you. Also, society gives the impression that lawbreaking is no big deal, you give many kids a very bad lesson.

With respect to Plata, Barack Obama has a good deal of responsibility for this state of affairs. Without his Justices, this doesn't happen. He should own every murder, rape, robbery etc. of a prisoner that can be "safely" released.

Sadly, car theft has been a felony in name only for years in my CA jurisdiction. The local Probation Department does not recommend even filing a vehicle theft charge for minors (including gang members) on their first offense. Of course we rarely catch them their first time, but that matters little to the rehabilitative model. In adult court the sentences meted out for vehicle theft have looked a lot more like semi-serious misdemeanors for years. Only those with a substantial criminal history or repeat theft went to prison for vehicle theft but now they won't. Recently the largest city in my county reduced its vehicle theft detective bureau from 5 officers to 1. Next year, probably zero.

Victims have long been an inconvenience to the criminal justice system. For the poor who just cannot afford to take an active role by attending court or advocating our legislature, we have again failed them with our refusal to hold people accountable at all. This applies to vehicle theft, prostitution, drug dealing, open air drug use and the other "non- violent" offenses. The days of revolving door offenders shall return.

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