It's an old theme and an old tune, but always valid. Woody Guthrie put it in an oddly delicate way: "Some will rob you with a six-gun, and some with a fountain pen."
The standard intro of the 1952 TV series 'Racket Squad'
puts it much more accurately: "The carefully worked-out frauds and schemes by which confidence men take more money each year from the American public than all the bank robbers and thugs with their violence."
Certainly fits my own experience. I've been robbed with digital fountain pens several times, totalling more than one year of income. A couple of debit-card identity thefts, $6000 in lost interest on savings, and right now JPMorgan is snatching part of my annual royalties to satisfy
its hostile-takeover debts against the bankrupt publisher.
I've been physically robbed only once. It was tiny and nonviolent, and left me feeling more guilty than angry.
In 1974 I was making good money for an unskilled dickhead, somewhere around $9K per year, or $40K in today's Bernanke Bucks. (Old Economy Steve, spot on.)
I lived simply, in a Ponca neighborhood well below what I could afford. Every week I'd cash my paycheck, put most in savings, and keep a rationed amount in green rectangles. Paid bills in person when possible, or with cash in envelopes in the night-drop boxes of utility companies. One night I came home from work, left the prepared envelopes in my unlocked VW Bug (of course) and went inside to eat. When I came out to run the cash-drop errand, I saw that the envelopes had disappeared. Called the cops and learned that the cops already knew
about the theft. The kids across the street had seen and grabbed the cash-filled envelopes. Their mother had immediately reported the event to the police. The cop and I went across the street where I identified the envelopes and took them back. Cop wanted me to give the kids a lecture, but I couldn't muster up any anger. Clearly the mom had already administered sufficient punishment.
These neighbors needed the money much more than I did. They were truly struggling for survival, and the kids were probably happy to bring home a little windfall. Mom thought it was more important to raise law-abiding kids than to have 30 extra dollars. Heroic. Nothing less.
= = = = =
This is where my rented house was.
Another emptied-out neighborhood!
Boom-bust ratchet again. Ponca is in a big bust now, and might not recover soon. Enid, with income from wheat and oil services and an Air Force base, always bounces back from oil losses. Ponca has nothing but Continental, and now Continental has moved all its offices to Houston.