It’s not the two-bit petty criminal whose causing the real danger in our lives and neighborhoods, it’s the Corporate criminals. The guys in suits, two steps removed from the people they are inflicting life threatening damage to that are wrecking havoc on our lives and our nation.
Corporate crime is often violent crime with very real victims. Mokhiber points out that while the FBI estimates that 16,000 Americans are murdered every year “56,000 Americans die every year on the job or from occupational diseases such as black lung and asbestosis while tens of thousands of other Americans fall victim to the silent violence of pollution, contaminated foods, hazardous consumer products, and hospital malpractice.” –Gene Racz
Literally thousands of people dying because of purposeful oversight and ignorance by those whose only concern is often the bottom line. And your probably thinking, “It’s a good thing are government is taking care of them,” wondering how many CEOs will come to the same fate as Skilling and Lay (of Enron). And then you find out this tidbit:
The New York Times recently reported that the government has basically stopped prosecuting corporations for crimes despite the fact that costs of corporate crime far outweighs street crime. Eric Lichtblau, writing for the Times, noted that during the last three years, the U.S. Justice Department has put off prosecuting more than 50 corporations on charges ranging from bribery to fraud. Instead, it has been entering into so-called deferred prosecution agreements and non-prosecution agreements, in which companies are allowed to pay fines and hire monitors to watch over them.
Now, this isn’t to say that all CEOs are corrupt, but simply that it’s a terrible statement about our society that those with money are allowed to keep stealing from the rest of us and not be prosecuted for it. Seriously, they are stealing from all of us, not only on the product side of things but also in our tax dollars:
Health-care fraud alone, he said, costs Americans $100 billion to $400 billion a year. The taxpayer bill to clean up the savings and loan fraud was anywhere from $300 billion to $500 billion.
Not only do we need to speak up to our Justice Department about how this is unjust and unfair, but this knowledge should change and challenge the way you talk about and think about criminals. You should either conjure up the same disgust and suspicion of CEO’s as you currently have of street criminals and those you think look like criminals, or you should try and balance your perspective on both to a more understanding, but equally just perspective on both.