Desperate Times

It is widely accepted that when unemployment is high, crime will also be high. We all know that adage “desperate times call for desperate measures.” Allow me to go up to Mount Utopia as I ask you, “must this be reality?” How desperate is too desperate?

As a child and an adolescent, the phrase, “desperate times call for desperate measures” meant that my mother would embark a period of frugality. I understood it to mean that there would be heightened conscious thought when it came to spending. Desperate measures, from my understanding meant stringent measures, the denial of wants and the prioritizing or even the re-prioritizing of needs. Perhaps I never fully understood the depth of the phrase until after I went to college…after I had lived a little.

I’ve seen individuals in desperate situations. It must be noted that what is desperate for one isn’t necessarily desperate for another. There is one kind of desperate situation, where individuals have little to no money, food, shelter etc. In the other kind of situation, desperate simply means reduced disposable income, reduced ability to maximise profit. In both desperate scenarios, their specific situation is used as justification for crime- theft, robbery, tax evasion, paying less than minimum wage… the list goes on. However, I have never believed that such situations should merit their dishonesty. Having ten kids, no house , no food, no means of income, does not in any way justify, for example, the theft of goods from a market so as to have a meal, neither does it justify one keeping another’s wallet which was found because it contains money which is so desperately needed. Likewise, paying a worker significantly less, and violating other labour laws as a means of ensuring that the business remains lucrative ought not be justified. No the ends does not justify the means!

Desperate measures should mean innovation; creating something from nothing. Transforming trash into treasure, rather than simply transferring one’s treasures to another. Why is it so easy to innovate crime? Why is it so easy to find new ways of wrong doing? Why is there a need for schemes? Why assume that the one from whom you take is able to easily absorb the loss? Why rationalize that this is the only way to make ends meet? Why appoint yourself as the one to distribute the wealth?

Despite whatever social and economic instability countries may face, it is important to understand that though the times be desperate, the measures need not be so. Desperate measures tend to translate to increased crime and increased immorality. Against a background of social and economic instability, desperate measures (as they have come to be known) will only serve to exacerbate an already unfavourable situation.

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