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Unemployed steal to maintain lifestyle; Freegans delve into your trash

stole from walmart shoplifting

University of Melbourne criminologist Dennis Challinger said there were links between a worsening economy and rising crime.

This is easily explained if one understands how “official” unemployment is reported to and by the media in the U.S. Putting aside all the jargon, any person who is on unemployment long enough and then runs out of unemployment benefits are no longer counted. Then the government says that things have improved when these people are off these benefits. Incidentally, this is not the way a majority of European countries count their unemployed. Indeed, Europe has generally been much more honest about their numbers than the American system.

With the election of Obongo over, we see that it is to the benefit of all political parties to show the American public their lie that the economy is improving. The Republicans must continue to fool us into believing the American economic system is still viable and the Democrats must show that under Obama, “prosperity is just around the corner.” So believe me, neither party will fight to extend benefits.

Here in the rust belt of America — Detroit, Ohio, and Southwestern Ontario, Canada — it is easy to see see the true face of the economic collapse of Western society. Things are destitute for formerly desperate people who were already poor and many former middle class citizens who had disposable income are now struggling for survival. Is it any wonder that people are resorting to theft to keep up their livelihoods.

Middle-class workers on dole queue resorting to shoplifting
By Karen Collier Herald Sun November 11, 2009 12:01am

MIDDLE-class workers dumped on the dole queue are resorting to shoplifting to maintain their lifestyles, the Herald Sun reports.

White-collar professionals, who have lost their jobs or had their hours cut, have emerged as a new breed of criminal fuelling a record crime rise in the global recession.

Clothing, cosmetics, perfumes and luxury foods such as fine cheeses, speciality meats and expensive fish are being snatched as thieves struggle to forgo their usual perks, according to the 2009 Retail Theft Barometer.

Industry insiders say theft and fraud cost $5 billion a year, with the value of items stolen rising by $150 million.

The report, commissioned by security expert Checkpoint Systems, said alcohol, toys, hardware goods, electronic games and DVDs were commonly stolen.

Checkpoint managing director Mark Gentle said mothers, white-collar professionals and seniors had joined youth and organised criminals in theft.

Rising theft came with an increase in unemployment.

University of Melbourne criminologist Dennis Challinger said there were links between a worsening economy and rising crime.

New breed of middle class thieves blamed for 20% rise in shoplifting
Debt Management Today Wednesday 11th November 2009

Whilst shoplifting has often been associated with fourteen year old boys in white tracksuits skulking around the aisles of Woolworths it now has an altogether different face.

As Woolworths is consigned to BC (before-crunch) history books and financial woes begin to affect the middle classes, you are now more likely to find smartly dressed ladies in Waitrose sneaking salmon steaks into their designer handbags.

Well, this is according to the latest survey by the Centre for Retail Research, carried out for Checkpoint Systems, a retail security company.

The centre’s annual study has found that there has been a sharp rise in shoplifting since last year, increasing by 20% to reach a staggering £4.88 billion.

Luxury items such as seafood, cosmetics, wine and gadgets are all said to feature strongly on the lists of the new breed of shoplifter.
According to the study, middle class shoplifters are turning to crime in order to sustain their pre-recession lifestyles and keep up appearances.
Neil Matthews, vice president of Checkpoint Systems NCE, commented on the survey’s findings, saying: “We are seeing more instances of amateur thieves stealing goods for their own personal use rather than to sell on.”

Debt experts have urged the financially-pressured middle classes to seek help with their finances, warning that a life of crime will only add to their problems.

Boro Freegan Dines On Your Trash

Janet Kalish travels to a Fresh Meadows food market a few days a week after her work day is done. But rather than fill her cart and check out at the cash register like the rest of the shoppers do, Kalish takes part in a covert supermarket operation.

Once the manager sees her, he swiftly scurries to the back, emerges with large black garbage bags of newly-expired food for Kalish to “rescue” and quickly hurries her out the door. If the supply is low, Kalish will use the assortment of packaged crackers, cereals and pretzels as her food for the week. If it is a large, she will take what she needs and donate the rest to a Queens drug rehabilitation center.

Kalish is a modern-day forager – a Freegan – who finds her food supply through agreements with understanding store owners or rummaging through trash bins after dark. She clothes herself with outfits she finds while dumpster diving or through barters deals at local “free markets.”

And she is not alone. Kalish says the Freegan community boasts hundreds of members across the City, including a handful from Queens, although she says it is difficult to count just how many in total.

According to Kalish, Freegans are environmental- and waste-conscious; rally against consumerism and over-consumption; are committed to enhancing a sense of community by sharing, repairing and assisting; and although they understand it takes “longer to clean up then to make a mess,” they are committed to remedying society’s problems with pollution and waste.

Kalish, 46, who got involved in Freeganism five years ago after taking part in an introductory trash tour, said throughout her life she was committed to sustainability and conservation, characteristics she credits to an innate sensibility as well as her accountant father. Kalish said she even remembers budgeting her chocolate into rations as a young child.

Kalish is a rarity in the Freegan community. As a veteran of the New York City educational system, Kalish makes a top-tier salary. She owns a home in Richmond Hill as well as a residence in upstate New York that she currently rents out but plans to live in when she retires, which will be in the next few years since she has saved more than enough money to sustain herself.

Kalish said most Freegans work very little, since their expenses are so low, and dedicate their lives to ventures they are passionate about like activism and peace movements. Kalish, on the other hand, works full-time as a Spanish teacher at Cardozo High School, in addition to her extensive involvement in the Freegan movement.

This year, since she was featured on the WETV show “Secret Lives of Women: Extreme Diets,” she choose to speak about her Freeganism in the classroom.

“I spent the next day in class saying ‘I’ll talk about it today because you have questions but I’m not going to keep on talking about freeganism because I’m a Spanish teacher,’” she said.

Kalish said she addressed the issue so that the students could understand her perspective and so that it would not affect their ability to learn from her.

“I don’t want them to be disgusted with me and think I’m the grossest person in the world for the rest of the semester,” she said. “It might make them not even want to learn from me. It does seem disgusting to get your food from the trash.”

Kalish also said it is strange to be in a high school environment – where pop culture trends reign supreme and teenagers are often on a constant quest to keep up with the Jonses – seemingly, the antithesis of Freegan values. In fact, this year there was no interest in the environmental club Kalish usually heads and instead students asked her to advise their fashion club, which she deems “more sexy” from a teenaged point of view.

“I guess it keeps me with my finger on the pulse of what I’m up against and I’m not against the teenager,” she said. “I feel like maybe they need me to have a balanced influence to show them that they don’t have to zombie-like obey the ads.”

She said with her students – as well as friends, family and colleagues – some respect her lifestyle while others and are repulsed by it. Kalish said regardless of whether they admire or abhor Freeganism, she hopes learning about her makes them recognize there is a larger problem in society.

You can read more about Freeganism at Queens tribune

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  1. Annie Oakley Annie Oakley November 12, 2009

    Dumpster diving for me has a life saver. That and soup kitchens and food banks. I’ve been in and out of work for over 2 years. I get a job and I either get laid off as there is no more work or money OR the place closes down! This will be the third lousy holidays with no money to spend. I have so many sleepless nights I cannot even begin to tell you.

    Since I’m a single Caucasian lady with no kids, I’m eneligible for food stamps. I’ve already tried. I guess I should lie and say I’m a refugee from another country, maybe I’d get treated better.

    My unemployment barely covers my rent and utilities. So in order to not be homeless, rent and the light bill needs to be paid first. So that leaves barely nothing for food. Hence dumpster diving. I’ve never gotten sick from any of the food I’ve found and neither has anyone I’ve given it to.

    Shame on these grocery stores who throw out good food. I’ve had grocery store managers tell me they themselves hate the food they have to throw out, same with hotels, restaurants and fast food chains.

    They claim it’s a liability issue. I say BS! They’re too lazy to come up with a program to get that food to local food banks or the homeless. They just don’t care. They figure they have a job, to tell with everyone else.

    I’ve personally seen non-food items trashed that were WAY before their expiration date. They needed to move the products so they throw perfectly good food away.

    As long as they continue to throw food away, I’ll go behind the dumpsters and get it. Many of my friends and neighbors are hurting and living on the edge. Our politicians don’t give a crap but I do.

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