Despite Good Times, Some Will Try to Steal

In an era when gas prices are hardly manageable and movie ticket prices have almost tripled, consumers have resorted to breaking the rules.

Cheating: It is a word that has come up time and time again, whether in school, relationships or even in the White House. But the term “”cheating”” has taken a phenomenal turn with many well-off people nowadays. With the economy in full bloom, more and more people are, for some twisted reason, taking advantage of the system by cheating at their own convenience.

For some time, Americans have been involved in what is known as “”petty cheating.”” With such acts as stiffing the bill at a restaurant, returning already-worn clothes, sneaking into movie theaters and crashing expensive golf courses, people have increasingly decided to cheat the system yet gain its rewards.

Though we have all been known to break the rules at one time or another, the concept of breaking the law has never been a problem for those who feel the repercussions are worth it. While some do it to protest the high prices that have surfaced recently for staples such as gas and food, others feel that paying is nothing compared to the thrill or satisfaction of taking what they feel was theirs to begin with.

According to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, one man would sneak from coach to first-class seating in airplanes: “”The humiliation of getting sent back to coach was nothing compared to the thrill of a free upgrade.””

While petty cheating has always existed, it has been reported that there has been an increase since the recent economic boom. This, however, is the ironic point of the issue at hand, and quite a bothersome one at that. While many have reaped the benefits of this economic boom, they are the same people who are resorting to petty thefts and cheating. This begs the question: Why?

The anger and frustration of paying endless taxes and being shortchanged after the economic boom has driven most to cheat the system, not necessarily by stealing, but rather by trying to get back what they feel they deserve. According to the Wall Street Journal, “”In an era of $3 greeting cards and $2-a-gallon gasoline, a surprising number of consumers feel entitled to cheat.”” With “”entitled”” being the key word, consumers are finally putting their foot down, and it seems that they are doing so just in time.

It is only fair to say that it is Americans that are being cheated, not organizations cheating Americans. Although stiffing the bill at a restaurant and sneaking into first class are not suitable ways to get back at the government for high prices, people nowadays seem to have no other choice. Americans are slowly beginning to feel the pressure of the high prices and the enormous strains they have to go through in order to get what they want.

For instance, going out to a single movie today costs an average of $8 for the ticket, not to mention another $10 for popcorn and drinks — $20 to see a single movie, when only 30 years ago, it cost $2 at most. With these numbers, it is no wonder that Americans have resorted to cheating the system. By taking back what they feel was taken from them, Americans are fighting back.

It may seem as though these so-called “”cheaters”” are getting away with what they want; the truth is that they are. Businesses today are more lenient than they once were because competition is increasing and the satisfaction of the customer seems to be first on the list.

Again, the concept of the economy and high prices have resulted in a different mode of expectations. Clothing stores have loosened their policies on returns. Restaurants believe that a happy customer is a paying customer. While all of this may seem like it would discourage cheaters, it has unexpectedly enticed them to behave even more badly.

In a sense, that is the problem: While most businesses stand to complain about these cheaters, they do not take the necessary actions to stop them. With businesses failing to act out on the problem, the problem is getting worse.

What is interesting in this game of cat and mouse is that people are cheating in situations that have very little worth. Well-off, middle-class consumers are willing to get caught saving $5 on a movie ticket by sneaking in, rather than opting to be civil citizens and obey the laws, despite the fact that they have more than enough money to pay for a movie ticket. One way or the other, it seems that the thrill of being “”naughty”” and going against businesses is a way in which consumers can get back at a system that has continuously cheated them.

Breaking the rules has been a continuing backlash against a government that the American people believe to be unjust. It is evident that there should be something done on the side of both the government and the people in order to reduce the continuous stealing that has developed. Since the economy is at such a high, the government could take some of its surplus and use it to reduce prices of goods such as gasoline. People could also do their part by refraining from taking away from businesses and cheating the system.

Although there might not be one solution to this disillusioning problem, there are ways in which it can be handled with peace. With the cooperation of both sides, petty cheating could be greatly decreased. Crime could decline steadily.

While it may seem like the people are cheating the system, it is the system that is actually cheating the people. Naturally, there is no excuse for how people have been behaving, but it should be taken into consideration that this is America, and once a movement has started, it is difficult to stop. As long as cheaters feel free enough to do what they want, and as long as America is known as “”the land of the free and the home of the brave,”” the door of opportunity is wide open.