Poor People Forced to Steal . . . ?


There were two articles in the Advertiser this morning that made me especially stroppy. Here the headlines and opening paragraphs:

  • Families driven to steal fuel
    Desperate householders are resorting to drive-off fuel rip-offs [taking fuel at a self-service station and driving off without paying] to survive, the state’s peak welfare body says.
  • Parents tell fibs to save cash on family holidays
    Cash-strapped parents are lying about the age of their children and even sneaking them into their accommodation in a desperate bid to bring school holiday costs down. New analysis by travel website Wotif has examined the hacks parents confessed to.

I both cases the thieves and liars are said to be ‘desperate’. In the first, their very survival is said to depend on their dishonesty, and their poverty is evidenced by the relative prevalence of drive-offs in low-income suburbs.

Perhaps I’m old-fashioned, but in my world theft is theft, lying is lying and fraud is fraud. One’s financial circumstances are irrelevant. If you can’t afford to buy petrol, get a bike. If you can’t afford to go on a family holiday, stay at home.

2 thoughts on “Poor People Forced to Steal . . . ?

  1. I take your point, Ron, but I think we must assume that the vendor has pitched his room rates, including concessionary pricing for children, so as to maximise his revenue; and that in doing so he has a) assumed that he will be dealing with honest people and b) taken account of the trade-off between pricing poor families out and having vacant rooms.


  2. If you cannot afford fuel, sell the car. Be rich for a day.

    If you can afford holidays, you can afford to pay for the kids– make holidays shorter.

    But, wait! There’s a difference.

    When you steal fuel someone loses. Zero sum game.

    If you forgo a family holiday both parties may lose. You miss out on a holiday and the room may remain vacant. Better to rent the room than have it empty.

    It’s the fixed and variable cost issue. When your costs are fixed you price to maximise revenue. (Charging per person is a roughly charging according to ‘ability to pay’.)

    When a family cheats you don’t lose unless it displaces a higher-paying family.


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