Like a Government, Minus the Hypocrisy

The US government rolled out its latest crackdown on “organized crime” last week, announcing indictments versus 14 alleged members of the Gambino “family.”

Every time some prosecutor struts out with this kind of thing, I’m reminded of the sign that Congressman Ron Paul supposedly keeps on his desk: “Don’t steal — the government hates competition.”

Charges against the accused mafiosi include murder, racketeering, prostitution and jury tampering — in other words, activities the government itself engages in on a daily basis.

If the government kills you (and governments have killed hundreds of millions over the last century), it’s legal. If the mob kills you, it’s a crime. If you’re the killer, you’re a soldier or enforcer in either case, but be sure to put scare quotes around the word if you’re not a government employee.

Drag a businessman out of his establishment and board the place up because he didn’t fork over for the proper “business permits,” you’re a “public servant.” Drag a businessman out of his establishment and set the place on fire because he didn’t cough up “protection money,” you’re a goon.

Play the government lottery, you’re an upstanding citizen. Put $50 on your neighborhood numbers game — or worse, help set up that game — you’re a crook.

Give a pimp or madam a hundred bucks for an hour with one of his escorts, you’re a john. Pay the county clerk $50 for a “marriage license” and keep up with the attendant annual tax penalties, have all the sex you want for life — it’s “legit.”

Buy or sell an oxycodone tablet on the street, you’re a “drug dealer” or a “substance abuser.” Get a license from the DEA to sell, or a prescription from a doctor to buy, that same pill and you’re a “pharmacist” or a “patient.”

Pressure a jury to acquit your associate, you’re a “mobster” engaged in “jury tampering.” Pressure a jury to convict your opponent, you’re a “prosecutor” making good use of “voir dire.”

The differences between what Barack Hussein Obama II does on a daily basis and what John Gotti, Jr. is accused of doing aren’t differences of kind, they’re differences of degree. And even if Gotti’s guilty, he comes out of the comparison looking like a piker.

Furthermore, while the legend of the American mafia is rife with tales of the boss-men dispensing charity in their neighborhoods, through their churches and among their ethnic group, there’s no pretense that that charity is what the enterprise is all about. “La Cosa Nostra” is crime for profit, without evasion or apology. It’s “we’ve got the muscle, and you’ll play and pay or we’ll hurt you.”

It’s like a government, without the hypocrisy.

Of all the things I hate about government, it’s this:

These grifters rake a double-digit percentage off the top of damn near every payroll and sale of goods or services in their countries. They use part of that money to ensconce themselves in oak-paneled offices, pay themselves healthy salaries, and provide for their own well-appointed retirements. The rest of the money, they use to reward their benefactors and allies with sinecures and monopolies and sweetheart contracts, and to punish their victims and competitors with extortion, abduction, sometimes even death. Just like the mafia writ large.

Except that the mafia doesn’t try to tell us it’s for our own good.

The mafia doesn’t pose as our benefactor.

The mafia doesn’t guilt-trip us for our vices while simultaneously profiting from those vices.

Unlike government, the mafia doesn’t give us the 1950s-television-dad, more-in-sorrow-than-in-anger, “this is going to hurt me more than it hurts you” line when it takes off its belt. It doesn’t pretend to be helping you, or to be protecting society from you. When the mafia comes after you, it wants you (and anyone who’s watching) to know that you’re utterly screwed and being made an example of. Government wants to be feared like the mafia — and loved like Dear Old Dad.

I take back what I said about government being like the mafia minus the hypocrisy. The comparison is insulting — to the mafia.

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