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Posted by Philip on 28 August 2014, 8:00 am in , , , ,

The relativity of crime

If you watched Benefits Street last night, you may have been offended by the blatant depiction of crimes like shoplifting and drug selling. You may have felt disgusted or pity for the residents' dependence on welfare and substances, or simply for the squalor they lived in.

Or you may have just worried about the future of the kids growing up in James Turner Street.

According to Wikipedia, "the show was controversial, with the police, Channel 4 and the media regulator Ofcom receiving hundreds of complaints. There were Twitter death threats made against the residents of the street."

I couldn't help thinking about the other side of poverty and marginalisation — wealth and privilege — and the societal acceptance and rewards they get. However, isn't it as criminal and immoral as we judge its shadow?

We hold in esteem and encourage the mass accumulation of wealth and assets as if it's an inherent right. We celebrate the ability to learn certain skills or have certain attributes that attract high salaries, as if it's an equal playing field. And we allow bankers and stock brokers to manipulate the monetary system for personal gain as if it has no consequence.

We don't think twice that children are brought up to perpetuate wealth and asset acquisition to the detriment of the poor and marginalised.

This week I've been aware of my growing frustration with the segmentation of problems and issues, and the futile attempts to solve them, when the real problem we face is a systemic myopia — a refusal to see that the big picture of society and humanity is fundamentally flawed.

Until we admit that the only crime of criminal behaviour is the imbalance of wealth and entitlement that causes it, these "problems" will continue to worsen.

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