Chicago police released this picture in a video of gang members looting an upscale clothing store Oct. 11, 2021, while a female clerk watches helplessly.

America in decline can take tips from Third World

By Jay Brodell

With the influx of millions of Third Worlders and the breakdown of the rule of law, Americans need to make changes to the way they live. Traditions in real Third World countries might be instructive.

Mobs of shoplifters in major U.S. cities, coupled with prosecutors declining to press charges, put the responsibility firmly on store owners. Americans may have fewer freedoms to roam stores to purchase items.

For many decades Latin American supermarkets and banks have been protected by their own guards, many armed with shotguns and protected by steel. Some banks and high value retail outlets use a system of double automatic doors to prevent robberies, be they smash-and-grab or armed incursions.

Unfortunately the private guards carrying the weapons are not always the most responsible. Couple irresponsibility with macho pride and the result can be unnecessary violence. One supermarket guard responded that way in Caracas when a motorcyclist sped by and made an obscene gesture. The guard cut him down with both barrels.

Even in Costa Rica, usually considered a country in transition to First World, some shops pair employees with customers to prevent theft. The employee brings the items to be purchased to yet another party who tallies the amount, and yet another employee takes the money, makes the change and surrendered the items. The culture there assumes everyone is a thief, and the policies and even store layouts are designed to thwart larceny. Some liquor stores only dispense their wares through an outside window protected by iron bars.

Certainly chain stores forced to close outlets due to pillaging are considering protective options.

The theory in the United States and other First World countries usually has been that dishonesty is unusual but, if it takes place, the police will pounce.

That theory is being eroded as more and more prosecutors decline to bring criminal complaints into court on the grounds that prosecution is racist. Several states have passed laws limiting cash bail, so even if arrested, many criminals do not even spend a night in jail. The problem has been compounded by the covid epidemic.

There once was a time in America when some stores operated on the honor system if employees were not present and some even provided books of blank checks from local banks at the cashier’s station.

As the government loses belief in the honesty of the public, more strict tax measures might be instituted, in part to pay for massive spending. The Biden Administration is under fire because it wanted the tax-collecting Internal Revenue Service to probe into nearly all bank accounts without warrants. The agency has gone further overseas. Under I.R.S. guidance Costa Rica set up a central server that tracks every financial transaction. A store operator does not issue individual receipts. Instead, information about the transaction is fed into a government computer via the internet. The government computer then issues the receipt and keeps track of the transaction to compare against the tax returns of the store operator.

Criminal gangs, many with Central American links, have been a real problem for immigrants in the U.S. MS-13 and others use blackmail, abduction and extortion to raise money along with running prostitution, drug rings and similar. As the numbers of illegal crooks increase, the criminality is bound to spread to non-immigrant populations.

There is another troubling trend in Latin America. That is the policy of some criminal gangs to infiltrate the police and political organizations. Having a gang member monitoring the police from inside is more reliable than bribing random officers. Some Latin Americans regard the police as just another criminal gang anyway, sometimes with good reason.

Widespread corruption of the judiciary and other institutions is the norm in many Third World countries. An example today is the flood of immigrants pouring into the United States at the southern border. Usually the illegal immigrants head north through South and Central American countries until they reach the U.S. southern border with Mexico. Each of the countries to the south have immigration rules that prohibit this type of transit, yet the migrants continue to come.

Certainly some countries establish policies to help migrants on their way. The U.S. State Department even has provided tent cities for the crowds. Still, the migrants are cash cows for entrepreneurs in the countries they cross. The police and border guards seek bribes for access. Others charge for land transportation. Others charge for housing and supplies. In addition, organized gangs shepherd thousands.

It is naive not to think many in the United States also are getting rich on migrants.

Costa Rica even provided air transport for Cuban migrants when Nicaragua closed its border to them for political reasons. The air hop took the migrants from Costa Rica to Honduras where the Cubans continued their trips north.

Then there is the Third World problem of personal safety. Visitors to Latin America frequently comment on the many homes surrounded by bars and walls. This is not a tradition but a necessity, despite the lack of access in case of fire. Some Americans in crime-ridden areas have protected their homes with bars and dogs for years, but the practice still is unusual. Without adequate policing and a dramatic rise in crime, these precautions are bound to spread.

The price for an assassination today in some parts of Latin America is $300 or less. Typically, the crime involves one criminal gang fighting another, and the body count is high on drug dealers. Yet, mistakes are not uncommon as is so-called collateral damage. Colombians and Mexicans are the preferred operators because of their experience with weapons. All that is needed is a little background, a motorcycle and two killers. There is a suspicion that killing on demand can also be used to further non-drug business interests.

Individuals are most vulnerable while on the highway. That is why high-profile Latin Americans and visiting American business executives hire bodyguards and armed drivers. There also is a steady market for armored vehicles.

Many Latin American homeowners have contracts with private guards. This is not unheard of in the United States, but, except for some upscale subdivisions and businesses, still is uncommon. Many Latin Americans know it is foolish to leave the house without having someone present. Crooks have been know to clean out a residence in a short time, much to the horror of the returning occupants. In fact, police usually warn residents in some Latin American countries that they should leave someone at home when the family leaves for an extended Christmas or Easter holiday at the beach or mountains.

That someone could be a guard, a family member or a live-in maid. Sometimes, though, the watcher is in league with the crooks.

Clearly the change in the U.S. population and its economic status will require lifestyle changes for many. The Third World can serve as an example.

This article was published Oct. 24, 2021. The author has extensive business experience in Latin America.

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Brodell is a long-time daily newspaper owner, editor and reporter as well as a tenured college professor. Email him at jbrodell@jamesbrodell.com

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Jay Brodell

Jay Brodell

Brodell is a long-time daily newspaper owner, editor and reporter as well as a tenured college professor. Email him at jbrodell@jamesbrodell.com

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