10/10/2005

Insult to Injury- Crime increases in wake of natural disaster

This past weekend, Pakistan and surrounding areas were devastated by a massive 7.6 scale earthquake. Over 20,000 people have died, and many more remain missing, or injured. Buildings, and homes throughout the area were completely destroyed, and thousands of people desperately await food, water, and supplies from relief parties. According to the Earthquake article, the United States has vowed to contribute nearly $50 million dollars in aid. Other countries throughout the world have also given their support, including Japan, Russia, and China, etc. While it is wonderful that so many nations have come together to help during this horrific time, many atrocities have also occurred. Some of the worst events that have occurred since the deadly earthquake have been violent killings, and robberies. The linked article reported that 10 people were killed by militant groups, while many stores and homes have been robbed because of owners’ vulnerability during such a difficult time. If people losing their lives, homes, businesses, and jobs, etc. isn't bad enough in the wake of a natural disaster, it seems that there are inevitably other negative externalities that occur simultaneously, causing victims to become victims again. When a poor, struggling store owner is robbed, who loses? Sadly, it is the store owner, and the other poor consumers that buy from him, because he will likely have to raise prices to compensate for losses, and so the negative cycle continues. It is my plea that criminals will take a much needed vacation, especially during times of natural disasters. I hope that criminals will give it a rest, and will start contributing to society in a legitimate way, behind bars!!!

5 comments:

Dan said...

These type of actions are pathetic, but are a common occurance when people are left vulnerable by natural disasters. One positive about the Pakistan situation is that those who are caught will definiatly not receive the plush treatment that US criminals get. US criminals pay their debt to society by costing taxpayers around $30,000 year.

Chloe said...

It's so frustrating to see these criminals get away with so much, and very difficult to see why they take advantage of so many others. I guess it goes back to the fact that human nature is all about self-interest and if they can get away with these things they figure it's ok because it makes them better off regardless of who it hurts. It's sad to see when these horrible natural disasters happen many people turn to violence.

Logan said...

I like your comment Dan, the same type of behavior that was recently seen in Pakistan happened in our own country just a few weeks ago. The only difference is in Pakistan, the prosecutors can still do their job effectively unlike here in the U.S.A. where left wing politicians have made it almost impossible to prosecute a criminal legitimately.

Dr. Tufte said...

-1 on Morgan's post for a capitalization error.

The economics here is that you can tell the difference between those who are professionally predatory and those who are casually predatory by how they respond to disasters.

What we are seeing in Pakistan is professional predation by people who should be locked up. They are committing crimes now because the costs of them are lower.

Alternatively, when we see predation go down in response to a disaster, it is usually a sign that it is due to juvenile or immoral thinking. These folks tend to commit crimes out of convenience or boredom, and when their lives get a little more difficult they tend to disappear.

This doesn't exactly address how to punish this behavior, but it does give some insight into the causes.

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