More on the Hollowing Out of California

by baldilocks

One of my favorite writer quirks is term coinage.

Years ago. I made up the term “Coconut Treatment, ” but it never caught on; something I chalk up to my sometimes twisted way of applying metaphors to real-world things. Most of the time, I’m able to walk others along in exploration of my mental picture, but not always.

However, the term applies perfectly – at least to me – to what has been perpetrated upon California. To wit:

Take a coconut, slice it in half, scoop out the meat from both halves and toss the meat—the substance–into the garbage disposal. Then take a pile of dog manure that Fido deposited into your yard, fill both halves of the coconut shells with it and glue the halves back together. What do you have now?

A “coconut.”

Good and sweet things driven out, bad and smelly things in.

Here’s another weapon in the Coconut Treatment of California.

When I was a kid, a television show called Supermarket Sweep featured teams of middle Americans bolting through grocery store aisles and filling their carts with food, household products, and pet supplies. The show’s premise was that, for two minutes, the rule of law—in this case, the law against shoplifting—would be suspended. The team with the largest haul could take home their bounty of groceries, win prizes, and compete for the championship.

Today, in some West Coast cities, the Supermarket Sweep isn’t a game show—it’s a dark reality, fueled by addiction, crime, and bad public policy. From Seattle to Los Angeles, a “shoplifting boom” is hitting major retailers, which deal with thousands of thefts, drug overdoses, and assaults each year. Since 2010, thefts increased by 22 percent in Portland, 50 percent in San Francisco, and 61 percent in Los Angeles. In total, California, Oregon, and Washington reported 864,326 thefts to the FBI last year. The real figure is likely much higher, as many retailers have stopped reporting most shoplifting incidents to police.

Drug addiction is driving this shoplifting boom. In recent years, West Coast cities have witnessed an explosion in addiction rates for heroin, fentanyl, and meth; property crime helps feed the habit. According to federal data, adults with substance-abuse disorders make up just 2.6 percent of the total population but 72 percent of all jail inmates sentenced for property crimes. Addicts are 29 times more likely to commit property crimes than the average American. Furthermore, as the Bureau of Justice Statistics found, “[39 percent of jail inmates] held for property offenses said they committed the crime for money for drugs”—the most common single motivation for crime throughout the justice system. (…)

[T]he shoplifting boom has only accelerated because of decriminalization. California’s Proposition 47, approved by nearly 60 percent of voters statewide in 2014, reclassified many drug and property felonies as misdemeanors, effectively decriminalizing thefts of $1,000 or less.  Many criminals now believe, justifiably, that they can steal with impunity.

This is a two-pronged tactic. Remember what I said about the homeless in this state: California’s Organized Left enables their less-that-savory habits – like thievery in support of drug usage — to drive out the middle class, of which business owners are a huge subclass.

Almost every business – large and small –  in my LA neighborhood keeps personal items like deodorant, razors, soap, lotion, etc. in a locked case in order to prevent shoplifting of these items. In order to purchase an item, one must push a button to notify a clerk to come and unlock the case.

Some of these stores I don’t even bother with: not because of the case, but because I have waited up to 15 minutes for a clerk to arrive.

Who would want to own a business, especially a small one, under such conditions? Here’s what the state is shooting for: no one.

Meanwhile, I’m plotting my escape.

Juliette Akinyi Ochieng has been blogging since 2003 as baldilocks. Her older blog is here.  She published her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game in 2012.

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