Thursday, July 14, 2011

Federal and state governments attempt to treat symptoms of inflation

Various states and the federal government are considering measures to make it more difficult to sell stolen copper. These measures are being considered in response to the upsurge in stolen copper and other metals in recent years:
When thieves ransacked eight air conditioners in an apartment complex in the city of Mobile, Alabama, the culprits made off with $800 worth of scrap metal and left residents with $38,000 worth of damages. "We've had copper robberies since forever," said Officer Christopher Levy of the Mobile Police Department, "but we've seen a spike so far this summer." Record copper prices have caused a surge in U.S. copper thefts, plaguing law enforcement and local governments and prompting states to pass new laws. "Since the beginning of the 2004 spike in copper prices, copper theft and copper prices have been directly linked," a 2010 U.S. Department of Energy study on copper wire thefts said.
These laws will not address the real problem, as metal prices will continue to rise as long as the currency is being devalued. The Reuters article attempts to explain the rise with reference to increased Chinese usage, but that explanation tells only part of the story. Copper is not the only metal that is being stolen in larger amounts. Other commodities have seen rising prices for several years, including fuel, gold and silver. The new laws will only treat the symptoms. If the government truly wants to stop the brazen metal thefts that now plague homes and businesses, the government must stop reckless deficit spending.

In related news, California scrap metal thieves have stolen the irrigation system from a vineyard, threatening the entire grape crop.

For other examples of rampant metal theft in recent months, click here.

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