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34 comments

How to Halt Black Market Metals

Posted February 10, 2011 12:35 PM by Steve Melito

Manhole covers aren't safe. Neither are copper wires, bronze plaques, or the catalytic converters from cars. Some blame drug addicts in search of easy money for a quick fix. Others note the combination of a bad economy and high prices for copper, bronze, and other metals. Politicians like someone or something to blame, but is New Mexico State Senator Steven Neville taking aim at the wrong target in the war on black market metals?

Neville, who hails from Aztec in the state's northwest corner, risks losing at least one vote in nearby Farmington. Mickey Roberts, the owner of MR Salvage, has already been arrested for failing to require photo identification from sellers of scrap metals. Although Roberts claims he'll just "shut the doors" on his business if there's more government regulation, Senator Neville has sponsored a bill that would require secondhand metal dealers to pay $100 for a three-year license.

New Mexico isn't the only state that's tightening controls over secondhand metal dealers. In 2008, Missouri passed an even stricter law than the one Senator Neville is proposing. The Show Me State statute prohibits dealers from buying items such as sewer covers, street signs, and traffic signal boxes at all.

Is this the best way to halt the sales of black market metals?

Source: Carlsbad Current-Argus

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Guru

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#1

Re: How to Halt Black Market Metals

02/10/2011 1:23 PM

Catalytic converters? Oh man the driveway in front of my shop must be worth a fortune by now from all the converter guts I have dumped out there over the years.

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#2

Re: How to Halt Black Market Metals

02/10/2011 3:54 PM

I think the senator might be on the right track.

Only the public authorities would be expected to have manhole covers for return, and there should be some reasonable proof that any individual suddenly has 300# of copper plaques to cash in.

The "cowboys" like Mr Roberts seem to believe they have no social responsibility for what is going on, almost the reverse of the illicit drug cartels where the Mr big feels he's immune to the impact and if one of his "scavengers" is caught stealing copper pipe from a construction site the small fry cops the flack.

People like Mr Roberts need to practice some level of "due dilligence" in what they process.

Good on the senator for trying to overcome the inertia and get society back on track.

Heck, our local scrap dealer helps the cops tremendously by taking photos of all drivers who deliver more than $50 worth of material and the load they deliver in the same picture. He also takes a copy of their individual "proof of identity" (Usually drivers licence.) Such actions seem to have shut down the levels of theft for scrap here.

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#3
In reply to #2

Re: How to Halt Black Market Metals

02/11/2011 1:55 AM

CR4 ADMIN: Deleted Post

Politics/Religion: This post was deleted because it was overly religious or political. While each user is entitled to his or her own opinion on these topics, CR4 is not the place for discussion about them. Please review Section 14 of the CR4 Site FAQ and the CR4 Rules of Conduct.

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#26
In reply to #3

Re: How to Halt Black Market Metals

02/16/2011 12:17 AM

Overly political???

Come on!

The topic is about whether a law should be passed. How absurd.

This was not derisive. There was no hate speech. No party was villified or praised.

Please justify your choice to stifle the commentary.

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#28
In reply to #3

Re: How to Halt Black Market Metals

02/17/2011 3:14 AM

1. A suggestion to Develop a lock mechanism for manhole covers.

2. An appeal to enforcing laws already on the books such as possession of stolen property, rather than create yet another law.

3. A proposal to switch to less sought-after materials for road signs.

4. A reminder that legislative attempts are seldom helpful and usually harmful, often creating lucrative niche markets for criminals, stimulating crime.

5. A sincere request for everyone who lives in or frequents the USA, to google 'corporations are not persons, money is not speech.'

6. A 'heads-up' to those who quote Ayn Rand.... are you sure YOU know John Galt? Since corporations are government sanctioned organizations provided with special privledges, are you sure Galt would appreciate being made their champion?

Of these six ideas, two or possibly three are fairly called 'off-topic'. Three are definate on topic. I understand a legitimate user-voted 'off-topic' rating. But attempting to stifle by removing a legitimate contribution by labling it as 'overly political' is wrong. Removing commentary you may personally disagree with by claiming it is 'overly political' is an obvious abuse of power, especially considering the subject matter asks if new legislation is the answer.

No inappropriate language is in the original commentary. No political party is touted or defamed or even mentioned. No politician is named nor even alluded to.

. .

What, pray tell, did you find so objectionable that compelled you to censor the comment. I consider cr4 regulars to be, for the most part, well adjusted and sensable adults that would not be harmed by even the most vile commentary, but the comment was something so bland it could be read aloud to kindergardeners before naptime without any worry of causing nightmares.

. .

There have been several other comments by other members removed recently.

I bet CR4 readers would like be able to decide for themselves....how about repost my original as an example of comments likey to be censored, detailing the specific areas of concern?

thank you

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Guru

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#30
In reply to #28

Re: How to Halt Black Market Metals

02/17/2011 11:52 AM

Don't Really here of anyone stealing man hole covers to sell as salvage metals. Many municipalities have the City name stamped in thier man hole covers as a written standard, so those are obviously stolen, and a salvager would not have much option if one was found in their yard. Also, their are already locking mechanisms for man hole covers, if the municipality wants those types of covers. The real problem has been copper. Copper is used for wire, there is no less expensive alternative that is anywhere close to as effective as copper (of course gold and silver would make better power conductors, but really wouldn't help problem). People are stripping copper wire out of facilities and selling it. Since copper hasn't been marked in the past, there is no way for it to be distinguished from other any other copper wire used on any jobsite that may need to be disposed of after the project is completed. Regarding the rest of the comments, Not really sure that they are relevent to anything anywhere, very broad ambiguous somewhat disconnected statements that seem to imply some disdain for corporations in the US (don't see any connection to people stealing copper).

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#32
In reply to #30

Re: How to Halt Black Market Metals

02/17/2011 10:54 PM

Here is the connection.... This article paints a picture of a politician fighting the good fight to make things better (reduce theft and vandalism).

Missing is any mention of the possibility that, although intentions may be good (actual improvement) or understandable (get reelected), there is significant support for the idea that additional legislation of already illegal activities not only fails to improve situations, but often exaserbates the problem.

The idea that 'government is best which governs the least' is not a new idea. The idea has many vocal proponents.

But this cause has been hyjacked and distorted to the point that many believing in thes cause are fighting to save corporations from government regulation.

This is folly since corporations are government ordained organizations that essentially pose the same risks as large governent.

Ordinary citizens are devolving to a subculture of conscripted labor, tasked with doing the bidding of these super-citizens; corporations.

As super-citizens, corporations enjoy freedoms and privledges unavailable to regular citizens..... limited liability..... unlimited monitary contributions....not subject to criminal laws that would end all business dealing (corporations cannot be hanged or serve life).....unlimited life....multiple favorable tax structure options.

So while you may not agree with my viewpoint, see no cause for concern, and have no interest in researching 'corporations are not persons, speech is not money'; I am happy you have had the opportunity to make up your own mind about it.

What disturbed me was not that people might not agree nor was it that some might think some of my comment was off-topic and label it as such....

What disturbed me was that people would not be able to make that judgement because the entire comment was removed under the guise of being too-political (the act of which itself stinks of being overly political), when infact the comment's true crime was that of holding an unpopular viewpoint (and possibly being a bit too wordy).

I do appreciate the your feedback.

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#10
In reply to #2

Re: How to Halt Black Market Metals

02/11/2011 11:43 AM

Copper pipe from a construction pipe? These guys are stealing copper wire from Municipal signal poles in the middle of the night. In California a number of law enforcement agencies have been running sting operations against salvagers who buy stolen metal. Threaten to take their license? It is the same as buying any other stolen goods, licensure isn't the way to go, imprisonment gets a much better response out of the salvagers. Have law enforcement run a few stings, and throw a few in jail in high profile cases, the others will think a bit more about buying stolen goods.

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#4

Re: How to Halt Black Market Metals

02/11/2011 3:25 AM

Targeting the scrap metal dealer is the only way to solve this problem (I always, and wrongly ofcourse, thought this was a major problem in developing countries! There is a huge theft of useful metals for scrap simply because there is a market for the stuff. Simply put, if dealers refuse to buy second hand manhole covers there will be no need to steal same for instance. Dealers need to be trusted to fight vandals/thieves if they detest government control. Societies have all sorts of laws simply because people are so stupid to understand simple things: market dictates demand and supply: if there is no demand there will not be supply.

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#7
In reply to #4

Re: How to Halt Black Market Metals

02/11/2011 9:11 AM

except that you cannot licence a problem away.

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#16
In reply to #7

Re: How to Halt Black Market Metals

02/13/2011 12:06 PM

but look at the revenue the licence will bring...........i think that's just an excuse to use a problem for a tax

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#5

Re: How to Halt Black Market Metals

02/11/2011 3:45 AM

Here in South Africa we have a lot of manhole covers that dissapear. Now they get replaced with plastic covers that disintegrate or cheap concrete covers that does not fit propperly. Some protrude 5 Inches above the tarred surface causing even more damage if you drive over it. I think there should be a better design for concrete man hole covers but city council does not want to pay for this... maybe it can get sponsored by the public or a company and you get their name on it or an advert.

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#6

Re: How to Halt Black Market Metals

02/11/2011 7:45 AM

While in Guam back in 06, a series of bronze plaques commemorating WWII actions there were stolen. Thieves have no honor. Here in the nations capitol, catalytic converter theft comes and goes. It seems to go with the drug trade. While I can understand people in need, work is available if you want it.

The problem is the same as many of our young people, "instant gratification". Working for low wages just doesn't satisfy. Education is the answer, unfortunately, our system has begun to educate to the lowest common denominator rather than pushing each child to do their best.

Sorry for the rant. Must be the chaos in Egypt causing it.

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#8

Re: How to Halt Black Market Metals

02/11/2011 10:37 AM

Considering the price of copper today something should be done to prevent the outright theft and destruction that is being wreaked upon the public. Years ago during a spike in copper prices thieves went to Roselle Park, NJ and cut the statue of a WWI Dog face soldier off at the ankles and sold it to a scrap dealer. When police found it at the scrap-yard the owner replied how was he to know it wasn't theirs to sell.

Thieves are going into houses being built and ripping out new copper piping as fast as the builders are putting it in. Someone showing up at a scrap-yard with shiny new copper piping/tubing should be a clue to most people.

A friend had someone sneak into his building over a frigid weekend and rip out all the copper wiring and piping. Turned off the electricity to get the wire but not the water and the water poured out all over, froze up and made a heck of a mess.

Photo IDs, digital pictures of what's being bought with the people holding it should do a lot to prevent this type of theft. Let's face it, scrap-yard dealers have not been promoted as Mr. Best Citizen Award candidates for a long time.

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#11
In reply to #8

Re: How to Halt Black Market Metals

02/11/2011 12:20 PM

This kind of theft is happening all the time in the UK, and some of the thieves have even stolen the copper cables from beside the railway tracks that pass information to the signal boxes! Another thing these people do is to break into electricity junction boxes and steal the copper from them, all while the electricity is coursing through the cables (25,000 v), very dangerous indeed!!!

Scrap metal merchants here in the UK have to take down all the details of the driver, and of the vehicle when someone comes to them with any scrap metal!

Xanasax

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#12
In reply to #8

Re: How to Halt Black Market Metals

02/11/2011 12:52 PM

Isn't it a crime to be a receiver of stolen goods?

So, like the legislation is already in place.

Now, to enforce it.

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#17
In reply to #12

Re: How to Halt Black Market Metals

02/13/2011 12:11 PM

exactly

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Anonymous Poster
#9

Re: How to Halt Black Market Metals

02/11/2011 11:19 AM

Hi Moose,

Put away for "5 years ferm without parole" a thief for more than 1 gram or metal stolen. Punish the buyer the same way, which will stop these people. They are nuisance for the society anyway, Gil.

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#13
In reply to #9

Re: How to Halt Black Market Metals

02/11/2011 1:12 PM

5-years without parole for receiving 1 gram of metal? These guys deal in hundred if not thousands of pounds at a time. What would that be 25 to life? 5 years without parole is more than drug offenders get for a first offense, that is something a first offender drunk driver might get on manslaughter. Besides, I suspect that for a nuissance crime the penalties for the receipt of stolen goods are already well established and more like 6 months or 1 year in prisoner, possibly order reimbursement, etc.. 1 year in a real prison (not someplace like Lompoc) would definitely make any businessman change operating procedures and take them more seriously. What we are really talking about here afterall is adequately documenting the receipt of goods, think about this the next time you sign for a UPS package (how well are those goods docuemnted).

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Anonymous Poster
#18
In reply to #13

Re: How to Halt Black Market Metals

02/14/2011 9:10 AM

Hi RCE,

I understand that you want to promote traffic of stolen metals. The thief knows that the metal is stolen. The buyer can see and know that the metal is stolen. Both individual are maintaining illegal commerce, isn't it? When you punish strongly someone this someone remember that next time could be more severe the punishement and defer to others to do the illegal work. I cannot change people but higher punishments are make thinking people to do something bad. Why we have thiefs today? Because we don't punish them. This what develop the market for stolen objects, Gil.

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#20
In reply to #18

Re: How to Halt Black Market Metals

02/14/2011 12:41 PM

Why would I want to promote the traffic of stolen metals, but everyone can not do as you mention and keep applying extreme punishments to minor crimes, because then what do you do for extreme crimes like murder or man slaughter. Of course this does assume that you believe these to be crimes worse than stealing metal. If the punishment is bad enough, there is nothing to stop the criminals from doing something worse to cover their crimes. If you execute rapists, thieves, bankers, drug dealers, pedophiles,drunk drivers, then what stops them from just committing murder to cover their crimes when there is any hint of potential risk. You have to put the crime in context against other crimes, and make the punishment fit the crime. BTW we do punish people for selling and buying stolen metal. Many local law enforcement agencies run sting operations to identify those who may be accepting stolen metals, but this is really an issue of them not keeping proper records of the transactions as there is not identification attached to metal products like wire that distinguishes it as obviously stolen, and since many of the theives are suspected of being electricians (afterall who else would know they could walk downtown in a 500,000 person City and pull all the wiring from signal lights 2 blocks from the central police headquaters, and not get caught). Electricians always have extra wire pieces anyways from project clean up, and none of it is distinguishable from stolen wire. Now if the metals sold were easily identifiable, such that it would be reasonable for a person to look at the metal and see that it was stolen, then it would be easy to prosecute for receiving stolen goods.

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Anonymous Poster
#22
In reply to #20

Re: How to Halt Black Market Metals

02/15/2011 9:19 AM

Hi RCE,

Could you stay on the subject of stolen metals? If yes, we can continue about punishment exagerated by my theory of making justice.

Yes, you promote crime and you don't want to punish who do crimes! I don't have explanation for that because is your theory, and you want to live in this type of society, isn't it?

Please, your next comment must be contain about stolen metal thieves subject. Did you catch that RCE. Or you want to get a good answer as distributed to complaining people very often, Gil.

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#25
In reply to #22

Re: How to Halt Black Market Metals

02/15/2011 12:36 PM

LOL, not promoting crime. I am saying the punishment should fit the crime. You exagerate the punishment to fit your own little narrow considerations at this specific point, every narrow special interest tends to consider their criminal concerns the worst thing in the world deserving of the most extreme punishments. However, if you use extreme punishments for relatively minor, though pervasive, crimes, then what do you do to stop them from escalating to worse crimes to cover their minor crimes or protect agaisnt imprisonment. If the punishment for traffic violations was execution, you might as well shoot the cop who pulls you over, the punishment can get any worse. The punishment must fit the crime!

In the case of stolen metal like wire, since there is very little identification afixed to wire, the prosecution is really over whether or not the salvagers keep proper documentation, drivers license and vehicle license plate. Consider that application to other industries and you might see it in a different light, especially next time you return something for cash, give something to someone or sell something. How would you respond if they had to record your license number and vehicle number everytime. How would you feel if you were buying something and had to maintain documentation of the person selling the item to you, for every item you have ever bought. Now if the metal had identifications on it like a car and some database to show it as stolen, then it could be obvious and the expectations could be different as the purchaser would be knowledgable that the items were definitely stolen. This is why some agencies want to stamp their metal products.

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Anonymous Poster
#29
In reply to #25

Re: How to Halt Black Market Metals

02/17/2011 11:34 AM

Hi RCE,

Just to tell you that every murderer started with some little crime. Development and evolution are present for crimes too.

Do I exagerate the punishment to fit my own little narrow considerations at this specific point? Really? For example: I steal from you a pen worth, let say, $0.50. How much cost when I appear in front of a judge? Ah, you don't want to go to court? Fine for me! Later, I steal another object from you and valued to $100. Still the expenses in court will be higher, isn't it? Still you don't call the justice. It's fine for me! I continue because I'm convinced that you don't sue me again, I steal from you something worth $10,000. You call the police, I'm arrested. What will be the expenses for the court appearance and lawyer fees? I will never be punished to $10,000, so, I will be never able to pay back the stolen value. You will be the loser but I will be punished.

This is the way you want to develop criminals. Starting with small thefts and finishing with serious matters. You give the opportunity to do it. I don't like that, Gil.

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#31
In reply to #29

Re: How to Halt Black Market Metals

02/17/2011 12:27 PM

It is not necessarily true that every murderer started with some little crime, sometimes it is a crime of opportunity and a recent personal situation drives the person to take the opportunity, examples are the most common murders are those committed by family members and there are many reasons they occur, but ther eis alway the need and opportunity. Sometimes the crime was a one time event, and they just saw an opportunity, they had the need, and took advantage. You fit the punishment to the crime. It is a farily simple thing to understand, and the basis of all 1st world legal systems, and written into the bible as an eye for an eye, which simply mean fit the punishment to the crime (soem forms sharia law is much stricter for some crimes than an eye for an eye, and most of the world finds it repugnant, but to those who practice stoning a woman to death for showing her face might seem reasonable).

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Anonymous Poster
#14

Re: How to Halt Black Market Metals

02/11/2011 4:56 PM

Why cant these thefts be looked at as economic stimulation? These thieves work hard to get the material, and earn a wage in so doing. The people who make manhole covers now have a new order. Unless you would prefer to pay the theives ahead of time to sit home. At least in this case they have to work for it.

Joking aside, the scrap dealers hope they can get the suff on a container to Asia before they get caught. They know exactly what it is, and where it comes from. Posession of stolen property is a good start. Before that can happen, all pipes and covers and wires need to be uniquly identified so that even if the thieves dont get caught, we can at least establish the items as stolen. now that job would be an economic stimulator!

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#15
In reply to #14

Re: How to Halt Black Market Metals

02/11/2011 7:42 PM

Caltrans has already started doing that with Wire used on their projects, not just to avoid scrap theft but also contractor theft for use on other project (apparently this has also become an issue that the State has to address now, contractors overbilling for materials and using paid for materials on other jobs to reduce materials cost and increase profits). It is supposed to be a unique identifier. However, I understand it cost extra, which means the projects materials costs are increased. It is apparently some automated stamping in the production of the wire, doesn't require any substantial extra labor.

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Anonymous Poster
#19
In reply to #14

Re: How to Halt Black Market Metals

02/14/2011 9:18 AM

Hi Guest,

You told me - without put your name on the comment - that I should improve my English. I think you should read the law concerning thieves, their actions, and the consequences of those actions.

If you want to pay thieves, it's your right but me, I want to send to the Baffin Island and let them there as did Stalin in Siberia. I'm not communist, I came out from one of these countries but I don't like any thieves operating as you mentioned, Gil.

NB: I sign because I like honesty!

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#21
In reply to #19

Re: How to Halt Black Market Metals

02/14/2011 11:19 PM

Gil, I commend you for not turning this into a guest against guest smackdown. you should get an account! You have good things to say.

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Anonymous Poster
#23
In reply to #21

Re: How to Halt Black Market Metals

02/15/2011 9:40 AM

Hi Yusef,

You are right to not comment on the favourites of CR4. RCE gets a "good answer" and can say: "Why cant these thefts be looked at as economic stimulation? These thieves work hard to get the material, and earn a wage in so doing." How come is not "off topic" or something like for these sentences?

I was a named member with account but I told someone who treated me as STUPID that he doesn't have the right to tell no one that. He repeated because I have different opinion. What's wrong with different opinions?

Many comments turn to ridiculous by official account! Can I change that, Gil.

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#24
In reply to #23

Re: How to Halt Black Market Metals

02/15/2011 10:30 AM

Well, at least you sign you name in your post. Helps me tell one "guest" from another.

Regards.

Bill

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#27
In reply to #23

Re: How to Halt Black Market Metals

02/16/2011 11:52 AM

I think you may be confused, there is some issue with your reading or interpretation, or your are trying to be manipulative in misleading statements. I did not receive a good answer for saying, "Why cant these thefts be looked at as economic stimulation? These thieves work hard to get the material, and earn a wage in so doing." as you have implied. I believe you have confused all the contributors comments together in a group.

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Anonymous Poster
#33
In reply to #27

Re: How to Halt Black Market Metals

02/24/2011 12:33 PM

Hi RCE,

The sentence you talk about is not mine. I just copied from someone else. What's confusion for you? I just comment on the subject like you do but I do with different opinion the most of the time. That's all!

It's different but not necessarily bad or good, isn't ti?

Originally, I was too punisher for these thieves. % years in jail without parol is to harsh for many but they are the first calling police when they are disturbed.

All the baest for the new BLACK MARKET, Gil.

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#34
In reply to #33

Re: How to Halt Black Market Metals

02/24/2011 6:59 PM

Huh? What are you trying to say?

It sounds like in part you are trying to say that an opinion is not necessaily good or bad, just different, which is true sometimes as there may be many different approaches to resolving some problems. However, many opinions do provide better benefit for the risk/cost, and others will require greater risk/cost for lesser benefit. So in that sense they might be deemed better or worse, though not necessarily in absolute terms as good or bad.

It is not clear, however, what you are trying to say about punishment. I don't even want to encumber you with the thought of degree of criminality and value of items for just various types of theft.

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