Metals Theft Makes the Oregon Legislative Agenda – The Right Solution?

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Macroeconomics, Supply & Demand

I’d like to welcome guest editor Jason Busch of SpendMatters who contributed this blog post. In the name of full disclosure, Jason is also Lisa Reisman’s  husband.

It’s difficult to find a recent day that’s gone by without metals theft hitting the headlines. From stolen statues to lifted catalytic converters to hot air conditioning condensing units, metals theft is all the rage. But one legislative body is hoping that harsher sanctions will help combat metals theft. According to a recent AP wire story, “Oregon Republicans say they plan to seek legislation to crack down on metal theft when the Legislature reconvenes in 2009. The legislation could include stronger anti-theft laws, tougher sentencing rules and new rules on how metal can be sold and transported.” I suppose such laws make sense given the attractiveness of metals to thieves given high scrap prices. But personally, considering many metals pirates are selling metal in a loosely organized fashion to fund drug habits, perhaps there might be a better way to reduce threats by legalizing what the thieves are really after. This would cut prices to the point where metals theft would not be necessary (and would allow states to target those for treatment instead of driving up taxes through incarceration). And heck, it might also help us avoid the problem of thieves who are literally going to school  on the metals markets!  

Jason Busch

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