Thinking Citizen Blog — Anomaly Alert: California Becomes a Shoplifter’s Paradise

Thinking Citizen Blog — Saturday is Justice, Freedom, Law, and Values Day

Today’s Topic: Anomaly Alert: California Becomes a Shoplifter’s Paradise

When I was a college Marxist-hippie in the early 1970s, I thought of shoplifting as “liberating.” Harvard freshman me would have cheered California’s effective decriminalization of shoplifting of items under $950. Now 68 years old and perhaps a little more knowledgeable in matters of economics, I am not so thrilled. The closure of 22 Walgreens pharmacies in San Francisco alone is an absolute nightmare for law-abiding local residents who need their services. Is there a better poster child for the law of unintended (but perfectly predictable) consequences? Today, a few more details on Proposition 47, the ballot initiative that led to this situation and the consequences of it. Experts — please chime in. Correct, elaborate, elucidate.

PROPOSITION 47 — converted nonviolent felonies into misdemeanors

1. Passed by a vote of 59.6% to 40.4%.

2. Supported by the editorial boards of both the New York Times and LA Times editors, as well as the ACLU. Supporters ranged from Democrat Jay-Z to Republican Newt Gingrich.

3. It was seen by many as a sensible way to reduce overcrowding in state prisons.


1. “Out of concern for safety and potential lawsuits, stores tell employees and security guards not to intervene when they witness a crime.”

2. “Most suspects, if they are pursued at all by police, are soon released.”

3. Californians effectively decriminalized shoplifting. Not surprisingly, they have more of it.” (first link)


1. They lose the services the stores provided.

2. They lose the jobs they might have had.

3. Local politicians tend to blame the stores for leaving rather than the shoplifters for making it impossible for the stores to stay in business.

NB: “Theft in Walgreens’ San Francisco stores is four times the average for stores elsewhere in the country, and the chain spends 35 times more on security guards in the city than elsewhere.”

2014 California Proposition 47

Opinion | San Francisco Has Become a Shoplifter’s Paradise

16 Key Pros and Cons of California Prop 47

Why Shoplifting Is Now De Facto Legal In California

Last three years of posts organized thematically:

PDF with headlines — Google Drive


Please share the coolest thing you learned in the last week related to justice, freedom, the law or basic values. Or the coolest, most important thing you learned in your life related to justice, freedom, the law, or basic values. Or just some random justice-related fact that blew you away.

This is your chance to make some one’s day. Or to cement in your mind something that you might otherwise forget. Or to think more deeply about something dear to your heart.


Passionate about education, thinking citizenship, art, and passing bits on of wisdom of a long lifetime.

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John Muresianu

Passionate about education, thinking citizenship, art, and passing bits on of wisdom of a long lifetime.