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Thursday 22 March 2018

Robin Hood excuse won't do -- it's still immoral and criminal

Allison Keating

IT'S a Robin Hood mentality: robbing from the rich is okay because you're taking from somebody who has plenty.

But that's not just morally wrong -- it's criminally wrong. Stealing is stealing, no matter what way you look at it or who you take from.

Often, it's easier to take from the rich or the faceless -- social welfare fraud is a good case in point, as people believe that taking €200 from the State every week can be justified because you're not taking from any one person.

But what social welfare fraudsters choose to ignore is that they're stealing from the many because every taxpayer has had money taken out of their pay packet to fund payments to welfare recipients.

Others try to justify being light-fingered by telling themselves that it's okay to steal from someone rich; that it's a victimless crime, that the individual has plenty of money, and that taking a small sum from them won't really affect their lifestyle.

They're partly right. Stealing cash might not leave the victim severely out of pocket because they would still be able to pay their mortgage and wouldn't have any problems settling bills.

But putting your hand into your employer's pocket has more serious repercussions: it destroys their trust and will impact on their future behaviour.

Rich people have trouble enough finding somebody they can trust with their cash. Once somebody betrays that trust, they will find it very difficult to trust again.

When someone steals from their wealthy employer, it often comes down to jealousy. The jet-setting lifestyle is played out in front of them every day. They see private planes, exotic holidays, new cars and property portfolios. But instead of being part of it, they're on the fringes, on the outside looking in.

And because they are unhappy with their own lifestyle, they decide they want a slice of someone else's.

But what they've forgotten is that someone with great wealth has generally worked very hard to get there. They've taken risks, worked long hours, and sacrificed other aspects of their life in order to become successful.

To spot a potential thief, you need to look for the four Ds: divorce or infidelity; drug and alcohol abuse; debts and gambling; or disgruntlement and anger over their treatment at work. These problems propel some people to find a secret solution to their increasing desperation.

Previous studies have shown that the larger the gap between rich and poor in society, the more unhappy the poor are. Studies have compared the street children in Calcutta, India, with the homeless of Los Angeles. They found that those living on the streets in LA were more unhappy than those in Calcutta because every day they saw great wealth flaunted all around them. When they repeatedly saw what they couldn't have, they coveted it even more.

Psychologist Allison Keating owns and runs bWell Clinic in Malahide, Co Dublin. She is a specialist in behavioural science, as well as work and organisational psychology

Irish Independent

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