Theft and other bits of guerrilla warfare by employees against a despised corporation have long, deep roots. Greedy, embittered, politically alienated, or just plain loose-fingered employees took home an unauthorized twelve billion dollars in 1979. This bit of larceny is so easy and requires so little thought that most experts regard it as little more than another expense of doing business.
“We figure the cost of a certain percentage of employee theft right in with our other costs like rent, advertising, overhead, salaries,” says business economist Ivo Neglagenti. “Most companies add this cost right into the amounts they charge the public for goods and services.”
Does that mean if you steal from your employer you are simply stealing from yourself? One anti-corporate guerrilla has a ready response: “Simply steal more than your share of the cost. Like the old bromide goes, never steal anything small, and if you do, do it often.”
Abbie Hoffman gives you the operational details in his classic STEAL THIS BOOK. Good luck finding it, though. It is apparently “out of theft,” and no publisher wishes to reprint it! Try used-book shops. It’s an instructive book.
If you’re interested in petty larceny, Loran Eugene suggests you experiment with various sizes of brass washers in coin-operated vending machines. If you don’t like a particular newspaper, he suggests you use number-fourteen washers in their vending machines, remove all the newspapers, take them into bars and other places, and sell them yourself.
Braden adds. “Hey, even if the washers don’t operate the machines there’s always the hope they will jam the coin slots. So you don’t really lose in any case.”
Obviously, some of the radical advocates of rights for ordinary citizens are both preaching and practicing theft as a form of fighting back. I was brought up to believe that stealing is not nice. On the other hand, maybe some of these anti establishment tactics aren’t really stealing. I leave the decision to you.
Most modern philosophers recognize a major difference between theft for fun, for survival, for a career, and for protest purposes. As the premier corrections officer Wallace R. Croup points out, “A common thief will steal from anyone, whereas a protestor will steal only from his institutional enemy — a corporation, utility, or some other establishment target.”
Even so, maybe you still have a moral block about theft. If so, think how thin the dividing line is between business as usual and stealing. Some of the Detroit auto companies know that their products are dangerous death traps; yet they sell them anyway. You pay nine dollars for a tiny container of a prescription drug. Do you really believe that the compound drug costs that much? Talk to a salesperson for a large drug company if you doubt me. I wish you could see the breakdown of costs in producing laundry detergent. I worked in advertising. I saw those figures, and know how many dollars you have to pay for how few cents’ worth of materials and labor.
There is a very thin line between business and theft.