Stealing is Bad

Why is stealing no good? I wasn’t really sure, besides a vague moral feeling, until I was mugged last week. Now I realize stealing reduces the value of goods.


From an evolutionary point of view it is as easy as that. After the Vikings visited a French village there was not much left except what little the Vikings could carry away. The rest was broken, spilled, burned, dead or traumatized. The village, as a value producing entity, was worth more than the plunder the Vikings dragged away. However the French had little to say to the Vikings until somebody came up with the idea of giving away the whole village and renaming it Normandy.


On my smaller scale some Sri Lankans climbed over the roof and into my unprotected office. They emptied a tray of gems and ran. Nobody got hurt, no window was broken, and yet the loss for Sri Lanka as a whole was much greater than the value of the stolen goods.


Without certificates, without grading reports and with no international sales channel those gems are now worth only a fraction. Sri Lanka as an exporting country has suffered a loss.


I think our bible-writing forefathers knew that for society as a whole stealing is a bad deal.


There may also be a reason why organized international theft is much less frowned upon that stealing somebody’s workshop tools in the village. While the latter damages the same society that also punishes the theft the former causes damage to a remote and powerless entity. The reaction of society varies thus from hacking off hands to praising the homecoming conqueror.


That is why stealing is bad and the UN is such a good idea. 


2 Comments on “Stealing is Bad”

  1. Jessica Wheeler says:

    Like many I first came to your site through gem searching and found much to delight in and despair in through your writings.
    Again, like many others, after a short amount of time, I am a devoted fan. Reading this article about the theft left me wondering if the gems have so little worth stolen (without papers of all kinds) why bother at all – or are the people so desperate and poverty stricken that even at a fraction of thier worth , the stones were still worth stealing? Is it so difficult for the theives to have forgeries of the papers made? Take care and keep writing – you are truly gifted with words – they fall together for you like streams joining with the river – flowing like the water. Take care and be well. Jessica

    • edwardbristol says:

      Jessica, thanks for your kind words.

      Of course they can re-sell them, with or without papers, but the true economic value from the country point of view (our work) was lost. What was a valuable product ready for endconsumer retail had become a mere mineral again.

      The same happens if somebody steals, say, a loved painting from your house. It was very valuable for you but the thief will only get a few dollars.

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