Poverty Is The Mother Of Crime

Sheltering from the torrential Devon downpours in the allotment shed, Dad and I shared a drink of tea from his old thermos flask, whilst having a lengthy discussion about some of the bar boys exploiting the tourists back in good old Tinky Town.

My Dad pointed out that I have never known real poverty; as in where my next meal is coming from and whether I will have a safe haven to sleep that night. God willing I will never have to, therefore, should I be so quick to judge someone else that faces these challenges and also has the responsibility of dependents to provide for as well. Many of these young men will return home without money when the wages promised them by unscrupulous bar owners, fail to materialise. The shame of returning to a family without any funds to see them through the winter is a bitter pill to swallow and can have a devastating impact on a household when there is no other form of earnings. I am sure that the burden of providing for beloved family members may compel some to make unethical choices without considering the consequences for others. Ahmed and I know only too well the repercussions of another’s dishonesty having once lost a deposit for an apartment to a deceitful landlord at a time when we could ill afford it.

Most of these young men will never hope to earn as much money as we spend on a family package holiday. They will have worked six or seven days a week and become dependent on tips or commission as their main source of income. During the course of their sixteen hour day, holiday makers will disclose in general conversation, that they have paid a substantial amount in excess baggage charges. They may even discuss the cost of putting a treasured family pet into kennels for the duration which again would seem extravagant and unnecessary to those that simply don’t have the funds available for a bus ticket home.

Some of them will have led a fairly traditional life and will be overwhelmed when they arrive to work at a resort for the first time. A few will find it difficult to return to their villages after a summer season spent amongst the worldly and wealthy tourists. They will soon learn that declarations of love will earn them a gift from the UK on the next visit or perhaps if they are very lucky a visa to a land where the streets are paved with gold. In addition they may have noticed that drunken holidaymakers seldom check their bar bills and have ample cash to spend; subsequently they will assume rightly or wrongly, that it is unlikely a few pounds will be missed. Although, I wouldn’t be fair, if I didn’t point out that not all Turkish bar boys subscribe to the same moral code of ethics.

My only foray into a life of crime was when as a small child I took a small roll of sellotape from the village Post Office. The guilt was a heavy burden for a six-year-old to bear and I almost immediately confessed. Subsequently, I was frogmarched back to same Post Office by my Dad to apologise and hand it back in person. Funnily, enough I was never again tempted to become light-fingered and my sister to this day, introduces me to her friends as my sister “the shoplifter”.

Of course, I realise now that my Dad was simply teaching me that ill-advised actions have consequences and that my motive was one of foolishness and not necessity. So tell me then can poverty truly justify, what at the end of the day, is simply thievery?

I believe that, as long as there is plenty, poverty is evil.
Robert Kennedy

lira

63 thoughts on “Poverty Is The Mother Of Crime

  1. I have never been in that position but know people who have, and can’t blame them if the person being stolen from is not harmed or left without any means. Steal a little bit of my money if you really need it, but keep your hands off my camera with that precious memory card full of travel photos in it.

    Like

  2. Here in Portugal there is much poverty as you can imagine. Not perhaps the poverty many expereince but soical security is only paid for 2 years I discovered the other day, and even if a job cannot be found payments cease. I was horrified. How can people live on nothing? How can a govenment riddled by corruption turn it’s back on these people – are they not men of God?

    Many won’t ask for help because of the shame of not being able to provide for their family. However, others will steel to provide.

    Like

      • I find it amazing that in the 21st century there are people in civilised counties who go hungry. The people in the UK should think themselves luck!

        A while back Edwina Curry said there were no real starving people in the UK and I think in part she is right compared to other countries. She went to the home of one of a single Mother claiming an extra benefit to do with food, She had a great big TV, a pedigree boxer dog and various other animals. She was also the size of a house and claimed she was hungry and if she lost the befit of 50 she would go hungry.

        To add insult to injur she also would not work because she could not find a job a job she liked!

        Needless to say I was shouting at the TV

        Like

  3. This is tricky one – people steel, destroy and damage today – most for the money for drugs … no respect for others property.
    Then we have people that has nearly nothing and still respect others property.
    Would I steel to survive – yes, probably would – but I wouldn’t damage, destroy or hurt to get it. It’s the opportunity that makes a thief.
    Totally agree that poverty is reason for crimes, but also greed has a bigger blame, I think.

    Like

  4. You are to say that not all are the same. I got hammered twice in Istanbul, I honestly don’t know how I made it back to the hotel, of what thing I’m sure, and is that never, a taxi driver took advantage of my condition. Considering I didn’t speak the language and the only thing I knew was that my hotel was around Gran Bazaar I was very lucky. However, a different story happened at a barbershop, where we were literally ripped off, 100 liras for a haircut.
    We are lucky to live a comfy life, many would kill to have half of what we throw away.

    Like

  5. I think poverty can justify thievery, but only for immediate survival purposes. I too have been homeless, or just about although I had friends and family to help me. Some people aren’t so lucky.

    Like

  6. Our world will never be at peace unless we address poverty. But the solution starts with me – how I live, share and encourage others within my sphere of influence. Everyone makes a difference.

    Like

  7. difficult for us to judge. Coming from comparatively rich countries, we should ask ourselves, would I do the same in the same circumstances? would I overcharge that drinks bill by a pound more, as the tourists would not notice? probably I would, if that was my only way to survive or provide a meal for my family. Probably. Maybe. I don’t know. I’ve thankfully never been in such situation.

    Like

  8. That’s a really tough one. I suspect that desperate people take desperate measures at times. I don’t have a clue what I might do when push comes to shove.

    Like

  9. I would never judge someone for stealing to feed themselves or their family. I often wonder what the people who work at these holiday resorts, really think of the ‘wealthy’ tourists that they serve. What thoughts lie behind their ready smiles and greetings. “The poor you will always have with you,” are probably the truest words ever spoken. Love your writing, Dallas.

    Like

    • Thank you and I loved your quote – how very true. Really enjoy reading about your holiday, it makes me feel marginally better when I look at your pictures even though the weather is so pants here in rainy Devon and can you believe we have snow forecasted for the weekend!

      Like

  10. Can you even imagine what slaves must have been thinking? I’m watching “The Abolitionists” on PBS and it is eye-opening. (not that my eyes were closed before). Great post, Dallas! – Kayehttp://www.youtube.com/user/kittrellkaye PS. I’m looking forward to your dad’s review of my 20th episode!

    Like

  11. There is definitely a lot to think about here, Dallas. When our son was young, I was quite the absolutist, and I would tell him, “Stealing is wrong for all people, at all times, under any circumstances.” We didn’t take so much as a pinecone from the yard of another. However, life has shown me that no matter how good our intentions, we never know how we will truly react in a situation until we are faced with it.

    Like

  12. It depends – if you’ve exhausted all avenues (e.g. some places have food banks) and you’re desperate, then provided you’re not causing harm then I guess you’ve gotta do what you’ve gotta do. But if thieving is seen as the easy way out, then nup. Could be a slippery slope too: dipping your toes in the murky water of ‘justified crime’ could start to change your mindset and blur your moral boundaries. On the other hand, experiencing rock bottom can help propel people to greatness.

    Like

  13. My sister is trapped in Aleppo, Syria where troubles are now. She told me; people steal, fight and kill for a piece of bread since so many lost their jobs and homes. She has to hide what she can get because people are dying from hunger.

    Like

    • How worrying for you – I have a friend who is a journalist and is covering the Syrian refugee camps on the border so I know how thoroughly distressing and helpless she must feel. I hope she makes it home very soon and don’t forget to keep us posted

      Like

  14. “So tell me then can poverty truly justify, what at the end of the day, is simply thievery?”

    Not poverty — there are varying levels of poverty — but hunger, illness, and desperation (all of which often accompany levels of poverty) sometimes can. As your dear, sweet dad says, “Walk in their shoes first before you decide.”

    Like

  15. I think it’s understandable, but still wrong. It goes for the bar owners as well though, greed is a bigger wrong in my opinion! If they just payed as promised, then the youngsters wouldn’t have to scam the tourists. Once the scamming starts, it’ll just get worse (because it is such easy money, tourists are almost begging to be scammed). The tourists won’t come and in the end no one will have anything…
    Tourists should take responsibility as well! I mean the type that lives the high-life for ten days in their all-inclusive resorts and boast about their awesome lives back home, while they may also worry how to pay the electricity bill (for different reasons, but still). They behave like complete a*holes and should be shown the same respect they show their hosts.
    I guess in the end maybe it comes down to: “Do not do unto others what you would not want them do unto you.”

    Like

    • I completely agree with you about tourists, sometimes I’m ashamed to be British when I see how badly some of the holidaymakers behave. As some of them have no respect for themselves after a few cocktails, it’s unlikely that they will have any for anyone else

      Like

  16. Another great thought provoking post Dallas. I agree with your Dad, don’t judge till you have walked in the other persons shoes. Here is another thought, Australia was populated 150 years ago by people from Britain that were thieves, but in many cases it was only food that had been stolen to feed their starving families or a rabbit poached from the countryside.(Of course that is generalising and there were murderers and hardened criminals as well) This is our convict heritage and many Australians today are now proud of that background. If the convict survived the horrendous boat trip over here, then the alien country they had to learn to live in it produced resiliant, larriken personalities that have shaped this countries history.

    Like

    • My great grandfather stole a horse from County Mayo and rode it to Dublin so was offered a trip on a convict ship or enlisting in the army and as the chance of survival on the ships was low, he chose the army and went off to fight at Gallipoli with the army when he was just seventeen. His family lived through the potato famine and it saddens me greatly that he we are nearly a hundred years on in a world of plenty and we still have learned nothing

      Like

      • That is an interesting background you have. Love the fact that he was given a choice. If he knew what Gallipoli was going to be like he may have changed his mind. Did he survive the horror of that conflict? Did you have ancestors go to USA during the potatoe famine? .

        Like

      • He did survive and I’m proud to say that we still have his army issue shaving kit which we’re trying to donate to a museum but as he was so young, the experience changed him forever. As far as I’m aware none of our clan made it to America but you never know

        Like

  17. I think most people would do whatever it takes to feed their families; the difference is that in western countries people are not that poor in relative terms. We often say we are but it’s not the same. I can remember working for a pittance in a posh club in London in one of my first jobs and seeing people come in and spend more in one night than I made in a month and thinking ‘well they wouldn’t notice a few extra quid on the bill’.

    Like

  18. I don’t believe any of us can ever judge. I lived in Singapore for a while, when I first moved I stayed in a hotel on the main shopping street and directly across from me was a special place commonly called ‘four floors of whores’. The bar girls were always there, on the street; not soliciting just talking and then returning to one of the bars in the building. Finally one day I asked my in country sponsor about it and he explained.

    Most of the girls came in from different countries in Asia. They came on 2 year visas. They came mostly from improvised villages and they knew exactly what they were coming for, there was no lying or force. They were treated very well and provided for, including medical care. The government of Singapore had rules about their Visa’s and how they were to be treated (very odd considering pornography was illegal). These young women worked as prostitutes and bar girls for two years (I think that was the timeline). They earned more money than their entire village earned in most cases. Then they returned to their homes. In nearly all cases, they didn’t break any rules, moral or otherwise. They returned with enough money to buy the land their family farmed, fund dowry’s for sisters and themselves and make their families lives better.

    Suddenly I saw their lives far differently. Suddenly I saw their choices much differently. I think abject poverty is something most of us don’t understand and thus cannot judge.

    Like

    • It’s the oldest profession in the world and I often wonder how different they are from a wife using her wiles to secure a much wanted present or holiday. I’ve never had to make those choices but who knows if the welfare of my family depended on it. Incidentally I loved the name of the place!

      Like

  19. Such a poignant post and to walk a mile in another man’s shoes is the quote that came to my mind too. It saddens me that these young men are used by the bar/restaurant owners and not paid – l also had no idea there is no social security system in Turkey. I travelled to Turkey for the first time last year and found all the Turkish people we came into contact with to be pleasant and helpful and we weren’t ripped off at all while there; in the city or resort. Some tourists, however, were a different story – rude, flashy and embarrassing. I’m fortunate that my children (grown up now) have never been starving but if they had…

    Like

    • There is no system in place for the Turkish if they fall on hard times. It breaks my heart seeing Turkish beggars particularly as you know that they are starving and the gypsy families sleeping under tarpaulins at the side of the road. We are so fortunate!

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s