The closure of nine Target stores in coastal cities reflects poorly on Democrats
The discount department chain Target recently announced that it will be closing nine stores across the United States in cities such as San Francisco, Portland and Seattle. The stated reason is rampant organised retail theft, which has created more shrinkage (loss of inventory from other than sales) than can be dealt with, and an unsafe shopping environment driving prospective customers away. A precedence has already been set for this. Macys and Best Buy have closed a few of their stores citing similar reasons.
It is important to note that not all these closures are due to theft alone. Multiple factors are involved, including economic downturn, changing consumer behaviour, declining profit margins and increased competition from online retail. Nevertheless, if theft rises to a certain level it can greatly impact a retailer’s bottom line, especially if the store in question is in a poor area and facing multiple challenges.
In the last few years, we have become accustomed to seeing viral social media clips of big retail stores in American cities being raided flash mob style by masked individuals grabbing whatever they desire and walking out with the security guards standing helpless. Usually, these raids are conducted in an organised fashion so that the crews can sell the stolen property onto the black market for profit. In many cities, carjacking has become so prominent that even city politicians and state senators are the victims of such crimes.
What are the reasons behind such rampant theft? One potential answer is that American police are faced with a recruiting crisis, meaning they’re more likely to be overstretched and organised criminals sense an opportunity to exploit this shortage.
However, since 2020, American progressives have tended to dismiss the rising crime wave as little more than a Right-wing moral panic, a convenient diversion by the ruling class away from their own knavery and iniquities. This is often done to protect the image and reputation of “blue America”, including the “progressive prosecutors” like George Gascon of Los Angeles and Chesa Boudin of San Francisco. These figures have become known for cash bail reform and declining to prosecute low-level offences, for fear of giving ammunition to the Right that reverse efforts at criminal justice reform.
Interestingly, these same people would portray gun violence as a “red state problem“, when it is in fact a national problem that cuts through both red & blue states and requires more serious thought than tendentious argumentation.
They feel more passionate in propagandising over guns as a “public health crisis” because it logically chimes in with their culture war crusade for gun control. Retail theft or carjacking and other “quality of life” crimes doesn’t bother them in the same way because there’s the idea that theft of property, especially from a corporation, isn’t really something to be bothered about since property is “bad”.
Leftists are fond of saying crime is caused by poverty and inequality. But it is also the case that crime can at least exacerbate impoverishment and social decay. The old Marxists argued that rising crime was symptomatic of the real, socially disintegrative side of capitalism. So, to truly address crime one must, as any radical should, grapple with the roots of it. But that requires taking crime seriously enough to investigate it, since crime and violence harms ordinary people above all.