The Mob Bust
It appears that the FBI rounded up an Italian seniors club! The Mafia, the Mob is a mere shadow of itself. It is almost a vestigial relic of a time past.
The Mob needs Contraband as its very oxygen. Almost nothing is contraband any longer to those with connections or enough money.
The Mob thrives in an environment in which there is an important underground economy. The Government has essentially taken over the main revenue generators.
What does the Mob do to make money?
Essentially, they provide the goods and services that the Government denies the people from consuming or doing. Before the Drug Epidemic of the Sixties narcotics were shunned by “legitimate” mobsters (if that isn’t too oxymoronic?). They had plenty of honorable sources of revenue.
They ran the Numbers. The FBI, the NYPD, made entire careers for some men in the Vice Squad. Always trimming the Hydra-headed mob, but they were unable (or unwilling) to kill it. But then, Lotto! The State muscled in! The noy-ve!
If you got in over your head with the bookies, or just needed a quick loan to buy medicine for a sick child at home, your needs were met by the Loan Sharks.
What is “a loan shark”? A loan shark lends money at as high an interest rate as he can find borrowers. He, being outside of the law, has no recourse to legal measures in case of defaulting. Part of his success depended upon knowing his clientele, knowing what they possibly can pay back, and if they have ever “burnt” other “sharks”. Since legal redress in not an option, violence, more often threatened then delivered must be employed to collect delinquent loans. Once again the State muscled in! Banks once had to have a certain percentage of liquidity in order to make loans. The State lowered that amount, freeing the Bankers to have a larger amount of loans outstanding per liquidity. This increased the amount of credit available and therefore lowered its cost. In addition the Federal Government insured the depositors’ savings, and hence no longer was it thought necessary to act with due diligence when selecting a bank to deposit ones savings. Suddenly loans were easy to get, low interest and bankruptcy did not necessitate wearing leg casts for six months or being fitted with Cement Shoes on some west side dock. There are store front “Pay Day Loans” available down the block from speak easy.
But the speak easy is boarded up. Why. The State, muscling in everywhere! How can a man make a livin’ anymore? Legalized alcohol sucked the oxygen out of The Mob we loved from Hollywood. The romantic battles between the Untouchables and The Syndicate in Chicago ended with a merger. Alcohol would be legalized and taxed. Its sale was restricted perhaps by Sunday laws, closing times, age requirements and other fences. But, the black market profitability diminished to the point where the risks outweighed the potential profits.
“Psst, want some French pictures?” No, thanks, I will just go to the corner store and pick up Hustler when I buy my Lotto tickets. Thank goodness there’s an ATM on the way! A woman? No thanks I am late already for my escort servicing. “Spare change for an unemployed Racketeer?” And that sucking sound is not what it used to be. It is the sex industry being muscled in on by licensed tax paying procurers.
Counterfeit operations are rendered passé. Cameras stare down at the rare cash transactions, and anyone passing out homemade Fifties would not be doing so for long. And twenties? With all the high tech countermeasures, it costs more to counterfeit a twenty than $20!
What is a Crook to do?
Drugs. Not done. No, an honorable Mobster does not deal with narcotics. “That is for the “niggers”, ya know? Gimme some respect” growls Don Corleone. But he had his nest egg. “Not so the yutes. Nope, the yutes gotta get a piece uh’ de action.” (Sorry, I tried writing “the N-Word”, but felt foolish. Clearly I am voicing a Brooklyn or Staten Island stereotypic Mobster voice. If you are too offended, just stop reading.)
But, the Italian Mob was fading by this time. Most Italians like most Americans were nine to fivers with a wife and kids and a mortgage. The Italian mob was elbowed out of the way by the Hispanics. Continuity of product from South American sources through Mexico and to a downtown corner made for a smoother operation. Then the Federal Government “declared War On Drugs”. With demand skyrocketing, and an entirely new Federal paramilitary organization, The DEA, battling the importers, the border soon separated a massive price differential. Like potential energy, the greater the difference between positive and the negative charges, or the height and the floor the harder it becomes to maintain the status quo. At some level something will have to give. In nature, it is lightning. Water released to flow down from a dammed reservoir and spinning magnetic turbines creates electricity. Harnessing the difference in the water pressure at the level of the sluice to the level of the turbines generates power. The price “voltage” separated by The Border became too great to resist. The DEA harnessed that power. The CIA knew a good thing when they saw it. How to get around the Congress’ Constitutionally clear monopoly on spending? Answer: generate an independent income stream. Compartmentalized humans are capable of any deed. Congress did not appreciate the Sandanistas’ threat to American security in Central America. Well, who needs Congress anyhow? “We know what must be done.” Perhaps at the beginning it was rogue DEA members who were “turned” by the Latin Mob. But as the potential inherent in the power to selectively turn a blind eye to some importers and not others became too great, it “had” to be harnessed by “those who knew best”. Don Corleone? Are you kidding me? Those who control the drug spigots have leveraged this power into truly global power. Especially as the very people involved are also involved in the Intelligence and Military worlds.
Back to The MOB and Why did Attorney Holder decide today was the day that these elderly Italian mobsters needed to be rounded up in a military-like operation involving multiple states and nations? These men probably spend their days doping out the horses, meeting for drinks and reminiscing about stories from back in The Day.
The Mob is a relic of the past. As I described its Oxygen has been sucked out. It depends upon a Black Market to thrive. Black Markets require a Government that seeks to control the populations’ appetites for goods and/ or services that arbitrarily are made illegal, or taxed so punitively that the differential between its unregulated real price and its street price produces a potential capable of producing Power. This is not the case now. There is no economic space for a black market, thus no oxygen for the Mob. Now. That is what chills me about this story.
What is coming down the road that those with the knowledge of running Black Market systems need to be arrested en masse? Will it be “Shower Heads” as in the Seinfeld episode? Will it be normal light bulbs that do not contain toxic Mercury? Unregulated garden vegetables? False documents certifying vaccinations? “Empty Calories” are perhaps to be regulated and kept from certain age groups to combat childhood obesity. Psst, got chocolate milk? Gasoline or Carbon allotment coupons will be Black Market best sellers.
This round up of the elderly Italian retired “mobsters” is the most chilling news I’ve read so far this amazingly chilling new year.