If you want to get a feeling for why Congress freaked out about hippies, go read that article. It's hilarious and disturbing. There's the commune called The Orphanage that has a sign on the wall reading: "The Best Things in Life Are Free — If You Steal Them From the Bourgeoisie." They collected unemployment, welfare, and food stamps (which they sold). The preferred method of getting food was shoplifting.
Ripping off — stealing to the uninitiated — is rapidly become as much a part of the counterculture as drugs and rock music.... [H]undreds of young people live solely off goods they are able to liberate from private enterprise and funds they manage to extract from the Government. Thousands more supplement conventional income with frequent forays, as often for the sheer joy of bilking hated institutions as for the plunder itself.Here, the NYT notes the amendment to the food stamp law that was held unconstitutional in Moreno.
... College graduates who once might have dreamed of, say, a law partnership, now fantasize knocking over a Brink's truck....
Behind the new morality of theft without guilt is a radical ideology — some would call it a rationalization — which sees America as a society based on the rip off, its most respected citizens businessmen who have most successfully held up the most people... "The dictionary of law is written by the bosses of order," writes [Abbie] Hoffman. "Our moral dictionary says no heisting from each other. To steal from a brother or sister is evil. To not steal from the institutions that are the pillars of the Pig Empire is equally immoral."...
Youths line up at unemployment insurance offices, happily explaining they can't find work because potential employers object to long hair, and at supermarket checkout counters where the signs say, "We Accept Food Stamps."
"Programs intended to help deserving poor folks are perverted to subsidize hippie communes," charges California Gov. Ronald Reagan. "Poverty-stricken mothers stand in line at the market to buy meager amounts of beans and dried milk, and watch shaggy dropouts use food stamps to pay for steaks and butter." ...
Is ripping off piecemeal revolution, an unorganized conspiracy of hit-and-run assaults on capitalism, or is it simply criminality without the extenuating circumstances of forced poverty?The NYT had to ask! They consulted a sociology professor, Irving Louis Horowitz, who gave them this incredible quote:
"There's no longer any distinction between political dissent and deviant behavior.... The two are becoming one, and obviously the merger is going to lead to strategies that are traditionally considered criminal."Ah! Sociology professors. What would we do without them?
"But when blacks riot in the ghettos, is it a crime or a political act?... When young radicals steal from corporations that are involved in price-fixing, tax evasion and false advertising, is it a crime or a political statement? Ripping off is essentially a moral outcry. The ambiguity is where morality ends and petty thievery begins."
Meanwhile, Gov. Ronald Reagan went on to become President of the United States in 1981. And that was the same year the fantasy of "knocking over a Brink's truck" came true. A friend of a friend of the Brink's robber-murderers is now President of the United States, and people who don't like him like to ascribe radical ideas to him, but in fact he's a little younger than the Baby Boomers like me who, en masse, warmed to the ideology of Abbie Hoffman, et al., back in 1971. The radicalism of today is tame stuff compared to what was freely spouted and admired back then.