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from Too Much: A Commentary on Excess and Inequality:
Racketeering Then and Racketeering Now AUGUST 24, 2013
Back in Al Capones day, Prohibition helped give rise to a rash of epic crime-boss fortunes. In our day, deregulation has spawned on Wall Street an entire new generation of fabulously rich racketeers.
By Sam Pizzigati
What crimes did Al Capone, the notorious 1920s crime boss, have his henchmen commit? Did Capones thugs go around robbing convenience stores? Did they burglarize homes? Or lurk in the shadows and mug innocent passersby?
None of the above. Capone and his fellow kingpins of organized crime left high-risk, low-return illegality to the lowlife. Kingpins like Capone ran rackets instead. They sold protection. They loan-sharked. Most lucratively of all, they bootlegged outlawed alcohol.
Rackets like these guaranteed returns both steady and steep. Capone at one point was clearing $100,000 a week.
Racketeering, of course, is still going strong. But the getup of our contemporary racketeers has changed somewhat. Our most highly compensated racketeers today dont wear fedoras. They fill power suits. Our top racketeers these days dont run from the law. They run Wall Street. ....................................(more)