Thursday, January 15, 2004

Rights and Reason: When is one's man need a mortgage on the life of another?

When one lives in Venezuela. According to Reuters:

The poor, oil-rich nation is considering decriminalizing the theft of food and medicine in cases where a thief is motivated by extreme hunger or need.

Supreme Court Judge Alejandro Angulo Fontiveros told Reuters on Wednesday that the so-called "famine theft" clause should be part of a broad penal code reform measure for humanitarian reasons.

"This is a guide for judges to avoid injustice," said Fontiveros, who is in charge of drafting the reforms. "They lock up for years a poor person who lives in atrocious misery and what they need is medicine."

Under Fontiveros' proposal to the Supreme Court, those who take food, medicine or inexpensive goods without using violence to ease hunger caused by prolonged, extreme poverty would not be punished.
I think the relevant appraisal comes from Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged:

"When you have made evil the means of survival, do not expect men to remain good. Do not expect them to stay moral and lose their lives for the purpose of becoming the fodder of the immoral. Do not expect them to produce, when production is punished and looting rewarded. Do not ask, 'Who is destroying the world?' You are.

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