A couple of weeks ago, we ran a poll on the MorrisWorkman.com website. The poll asked "Which are the biggest villains in the U.S.?" The choices included "Banks," "Congress," "Health Care Industry," "Mafia," and "Oil Industry."
You want to hear the funny part? "Mafia" was the only answer to receive zero votes.
Not surprisingly, "Congress" was the winner by a landslide.
In other words, people like the Mafia more than the four other "legitimate" entities. Of course, that's fair, since the Mob is a lot more honest and steals a lot less than any of the other four.
I've come to the conclusion that what America really needs is a new Eliot Ness and his band of Untouchables, an incorruptible collection of crime fighters prepared to take on the biggest criminals of our time, namely the large collection of Senators, Congressmen, bankers and CEO's who are ruining the country.
Instead of Kevin Costner toting a Tommy gun, the new hero would more likely be the nebbishy accountant played by Charles Martin Smith, armed with a Toshiba laptop computer.
But even that might not work.
One of the problems would be the media.
Back in the most corrupt, dangerous days of gangland Chicago, the newspapers were courageous enough to print stories about the heinous crimes committed by the Windy City's mobsters. Capone and Frank Nitty couldn't intimidate the Chicago Tribune into hiding the truth about their activities. While the paper was often used to wrap fishes, the Trib wasn't afraid of "sleeping with the fishes."
Today, Capone and Nitty wouldn't need to "make the newspapers an offer they couldn't refuse." They could simply take out an olive oil ad or two.
In the 21st century, if a newspaper even hinted about an upcoming expose' on the greed and corruption which permeates the oil and healthcare industries, you'd see Viagra and Shell ads disappear so fast from their pages it would make your head spin. And da bosses at da media conglomerates wouldn't like dat. Today's newspapers and TV news stations capitulate with nary a peep about the price gouging, Medicare fraud, and the wholesale purchase of politicians that take place every single day in America. The Untouchables would become The Invisibles, because no advertisement-dependent news source would dare to report on them (and let's be honest, ALL major news sources today are ad-dependent).
Chicagoans in the 1930's didn't raise much of a squawk about the gangland corruption and blatant crime, believing it was an undeniable inevitability, something you didn't like but had to live with because "what are ya gunna do?"
We all know Congress is a collection of on-the-take crooks who don't give a damn about the American people, for sale to the highest bidder; and that banks, oil companies, and pharmaceutical companies always have plenty of cash available to pay whatever a politician demands. Oh, it's all nice and legal with PACs and campaign contributions and "legitimate" junkets, but there's no denying the Payola. We all know it, and accept it as "it is what it is" (which is the new age variation on "what are ya gunna do").
Best of all, like the Mob paying off cops with money earned from gambling, liquor, and prostitution in the 1930's, today's banks, oil companies, and pharmaceuticals are using the money they get from us, the citizens, to pay off politicos and game the system. They're safe in the understanding that if they need more cash to make sure a Congressman stays bought, that increase is just one new penis pill/pretend oil shortage/rigged stock market transaction away. In other words, we always get to pay for the privilege of having these mega moneymakers screw us harder. And as soon as we try to get rid of one of Washington, D.C.'s ripoff artists, another one takes his place with his hand out and his toothy smile at the ready, like a boardwalk game of Whack A Mole.
Or maybe the answer is the Mafia itself. Instead of letting the government pay other members of the government to do "investigations" and then pretend to prosecute the one or two "bad guys" (who never seem to be the really bad guys), let's hire the Mafia.
For starters, sometimes it takes a crook to catch a crook. Second, it gives whatever yakking head happens to occupy the White House at the time "plausible deniability" (as opposed to the current approach of "undeniable stupidity").
When the mob figures out which one of those oil executives is responsible for charging Americans $3.75 a gallon when the actual cost is around 89 cents a gallon, the guy wakes up with Trigger's head in his bed. If some button guys stumble upon a snitch who rats out the fact that thousands of people are dying each year because the medicine which could save their lives is being sold for $80 a pill, when it actually costs the pharmaceutical company 23 cents apiece to research and produce, a couple of heavies invite that CEO out for a nice ride on a boat.
As for the Congressmen and Senators, that's probably the easiest fix of all. Nobody understands bribery and extortion like La Cosa Nostra. In fact, that organization probably still owns a few politicians just out of nostalgia. If we ask the mob to put a few hundred legislators on the payroll with the instruction that from now on they vote only to help Americans and the country, "or else," it's a pretty good bet that the bent-nose bunch would ensure that those purchased politicians would stay bought.
Of course, the Mafia would have to get paid for these things, but I'm confident it would be cheaper than the current set up. And maybe we could trade them these favors for a few extra guns the government has laying around now that we no longer have to supply the rebels in Libya, and we've stopped sending guns to the drug cartels in Mexico.
Also, we'd turn over the entire American banking system to the Mafia's shylocks. For starters, the mob's vig is way lower than the interest rate on your average MasterCard. The shys have also had a lot of success over the decades in lending without collateral, something that would be helpful here in this era of underwater mortgages and depressed property values. And be honest, the mob is also much better at collections.
We'd also turn over the administration of Wall Street to the mob. Most thinking people understand that the stock market is really nothing but a high stakes poker game, complete with card cheats from places like Bear Stearns and Goldman Sachs. If there's one thing the mob has perfected, it's gambling. Doubt it? Then just look at how corporations have wrecked Las Vegas and Atlantic City over the last decade. Believe me, those two gambling meccas were much better and more successful when it was exclusively in the mob's hands.
Yes, this all sounds pretty outlandish. But so does the notion that Americans today think the Mafia is more trustworthy than Congress, banks or industry.
We've had enough of our current crop of crooks. Let's see if some old school criminals can clean up the messes created by the Harvard and Wharton school criminals.