No one should steal a shopping cart. It is wrong to steal. That being said, smashing stolen property so that it no longer works is not a sensible plan. For one thing, if it is easy to steal shopping carts then smashing the ones that are already stolen, and whose original owner cannot be identified, will only increase the demand for more stolen carts.
Why am I discussing the economics of smashing stolen grocery store carts? Because a Democrat State Representative in Hawaii has decided to make a name for himself by carrying around a sledge hammer and bashing into uselessness any abandoned shopping cart that he finds if it is not identifiable (others he returns to the stores). He says he hasn’t grabbed one from a homeless person yet, but he might.
State Rep. Tom Brower has taken a sledgehammer and a novel approach to Hawaii’s homeless problem.
“I got tired of telling people I’m trying to pass laws. I want to do something practical that will really clean up the streets,” he said.
In his spare time he scours streets and parks in his district, looking for shopping carts homeless use to store and move their belongings. He returns good ones to stores and destroys others with his sledgehammer.
His personal efforts to “deal with” homeless people include other activities:
Brower, according to the Star-Advertiser, is “disgusted” by the city’s chronic homelessness problem and has decided to take a self-proclaimed “tough-guy” approach to solving it. In addition to his shopping cart rampage, he also rouses homeless people if he sees them sleeping at bus stops during the day.
“If someone is sleeping at night on the bus stop, I don’t do anything,” he told the Star-Advertiser. “But if they are sleeping during the day, I’ll walk up and say, ‘Get your ass moving.'”
As someone who expects that we will be seeing more homeless people soon, as well as homeless families, I find this Democrat politician’s approach an interesting possible indicator of what the future holds.
And I don’t really like it.
I realize that these carts are mostly stolen (though Brower doesn’t have real proof of that), but if private property and personal responsibility are such important values, then can’t we expect the merchants who are the victims of theft to take the actions they think are appropriate? This reasoning makes no sense to me:
But Waikiki Neighborhood Board chairman Robert Finley thinks Brower’s actions may spur merchants who’ve lost shopping carts to do something about it.
“It might get these owners to say, ‘Hey! This has got to stop, and I’m going to start filing police complaints,'” he said.
Why do merchants need a roving hammer-wielding do-gooder to teach them to look out for their own economic interests?
This behavior doesn’t seem all that compassionate. It makes me wonder if Democrats support the welfare state as a strategy for helping the poor, or for pushing them out of sight.