Go big or go home

Published 7:00 am Thursday, August 27, 2015

This week Lumberton Alderman Jay McGraw made statewide news when e was caught shoplifting a lighter from a Shell station. McGraw said he didn’t know what possessed him to steal, though the lighter’s $26-dollar price tag might have provided some motivation. Personally, I didn’t know gas stations sold anything that cost $26 dollars, and I am eager to get a glimpse of a lighter that should fetch so much.

McGraw’s ignominy reminded me of a similar story from some years back in Clarksdale, my old home, when our school board president was arrested for shoplifting from a dollar store. She pled guilty to stealing $5 worth of car air fresheners and, like McGraw, she claimed to have had no reason for stealing. No motivation at all. Some people steal because they’re desperate and others because they’re greedy and ambitious. I get all that. It’s these folks who have no idea why they’re stealing who confuse me. Sometimes I will walk into a room and forget why I walked in, but that’s about as far as that goes.

One wonders whether these poor souls go home at the end of the day only to find, to their surprise, they’ve amassed a small bagful of knickknacks and penny ante junk with no recollection of its origin and not a receipt to be found anywhere.

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I didn’t take a single psychology course in college, so I really couldn’t begin to guess why anyone would steal cigarette lighters and car air fresheners, but I can say, as a constituent, I certainly expect better of my public officials. In an ideal world our public officials wouldn’t steal but, they do, and I guess they always will, so I have some advice: Have some ambition, folks.

Say what you will about sleazy politicians like Rob Blagojevich, the former Illinois governor who is now serving a 14-year prison sentence for corruption, but the man didn’t think small. Of course, I reckon few politicians of any era could come close to the corruption of Huey “Kingfish” Long, the governor of and senator from Louisiana who maintained such extensive influence over state politics that his critics called him a dictator. Say what you will about his corrupt political machine, but at least none of it was accidental.