You may think that it's OK to yank a free paper from a vending box (see the opening line of vectormane's writeup if you're unsure). After all, those bastards who print the Wall Street Journal or USA Today are raking in major bucks. They sell bazillions of papers, so what do they care if you walk off with a dollars worth of newsprint?

For starters, you normally are not ripping off "the man". You're stealing from some poor gent or lady who paid for the papers at a discount, then drove around all night stocking the boxes. The markup is minimal, and they hope that volume will make up for the small markup. If a paper does not sell, they collect it and return it for a credit. If you stole it, they're out about seven paper's worth of profit. In other words, to make up for the one you stole, they have to sell seven just to break even.

Another point is the failure of many regional and metropolitan papers. It's just too tough to make a profit these days. Reading takes time, and people would rather get a soundbite off of CNN than read the whole damn paper. Us older folks have noticed the general decline in quality of writing and grammar. Luckily, it doesn't intrude much here on E2. If everyone stole a paper on one day, it could be enough to bankrupt the local rag.

In conclusion, read newspapers because everyone can use the practice, and don't steal. Some of those newspaper delivery guys carry baseball bats.