mad anthony

Rants, politics, and thoughts on politics, technology, life,
and stuff from a generally politically conservative Baltimoron.

Friday, April 06, 2012

If I stole a million dollars, I'd spend it on better stuff...

So last weekend, I was doing what I do every weekend - reading the auction listings in the Baltimore Sun while drinking my morning coffee. And I came across an ad for a "court-ordered auction to recover assets for criminal restitution". The auction company conducting the auction has done a few other auctions I've been to, and I've scored some good deals at them. So with visions of drug-dealer type property coming up for auction - gold chains, giant flat screens, Range Rovers on twenty-six inch rims - i went to the website. And what I found wasn't drug dealer bling at all. It looked like a hoarder's house full of old-lady stuff. The only TV's were ancient CRT's. So why was some old lady's crap being sold at auction?

The auction listing gave a case number, which I plugged into the Maryland Judiciary Case Search, which gave me little except that the crime was embezzlement - and the name of the embezzler. Which I googled, and found out that the criminal was a 69-year old woman who ripped off close to a million dollars from an Alzheimer's patient. And, with the exception of a couple cars, spent most of that million dollars on crap she mail-ordered from QVC. Crap that, if you feel like going to an auction in a couple weeks, you can probably buy for pennies on the dollar.

I'm coming back from Vegas the night before, so I'll probably sit this one out, although otherwise I'd probably go just for morbid curiosity. But it does make you think - who steals from the elderly so they can buy crap from QVC? I can understand and agree with stealing bread to feed your starving kid. I can understand - but not agree - with stealing to live like some kind of rap video superstar, with blinged out cars and chicks in bikinis. But stealing to have a housefull of ugly clothes and "collectible" dolls? I think that there has to be something deeply psychologically wrong with you. I haven't been too sympathetic to critics who have accused QVC of, well, selling people crap they shouldn't be buying- but maybe there is something to it. Not that I think QVC is doing something wrong, anymore than Anheiser-Busch is doing something wrong by selling beer - but that, like alcoholics, there are really shopaholics, people who feel a deep compulsion to buy stuff, and will go to any length to get their fix - including stealing from helpless old ladies.

Just because i'm for smaller government doesn't mean I like to torture puppies...

One of Megan McCardle's guest bloggers had an article a couple weeks ago on research suggesting that part of the reason people of different political bents don't get along is because they often don't really understand how they think. It was based on a study where liberals and conservatives were asked to answer a bunch of questions, and then answer how they think the other side would answer.

One of the more interesting quotes was this: he biggest errors in the whole study came when liberals answered the care and fairness questions while pretending to be conservatives. When faced with statements such as "one of the worst things a person could do is hurt a defenseless animal" or "justice is the most important requirement for a society," liberals assumed that conservatives would disagree.

Wow. I hope this really isn't how people on the left see me. It seemed kind of ironic that I read this while holding Nibbler the cat and my laptop precariously on my lap.

I have plenty of friends and acquaintances who are to the left of me. Many may think I'm wrong in my views, or that I'm ignorant, or that I put too much faith in the individual and in effort and in individual rights, and that's fine. But I hope they don't think I'm a bad person for those views. Because, by the same token, I often think they are misguided, that they put too much faith in government, that they don't put enough faith in the individual, or the constitution. But I also think that they believe they are doing the right thing, that they feel their policies will make people most people better off without major negative impacts. I usually think they are wrong. But I don't think they are bad people.

Maybe part of it is that I tend to be surrounded by people with views different than mine - I live in a blue state, I work in higher ed, that great bastion of liberal thought. Maybe it's that my views don't always fit perfectly into the typical conservative box - I tend to be fiscally conservative and hawkish on defense, but also much more liberal/libertarian on some social issues. But I've come to realize many of the people I know on the left are also not as easily categorized as one would expect - that even people i generally disagree with on most issues hold some views that are identical to my own on other issues.

I'm not suggesting that everyone should compromise, that all political debates should be completely civil, that nobody should stake out a position all the way to the right or the left and hold on to it. What I'm suggesting is that when someone has a view that is different than ours, that we should assume they hold the wrong view for all the right reasons, that they aren't bad people for having a different view of how the government should work or what it's power should be or, when there is a conflict between two different rights, which one should take precedence.