One problem that plagues our society is crime. Crime is all around us in our everyday lives. Daily we hear of murders, robberies, and rapes. These are categorized as “street crimes. ” For many people, such crimes are the only “tragic” crimes, the ones that are senseless and preventable. In Finsterbusch’s book, Taking Sides, another variety of crime is exposed. This other form of crime is “white collar” crime. Both have victims, and the effects of both can be devastating to the individuals involved and to the community.
The views of the two arguments proposed in the text do reach one common conclusion. Both street and white collar crime have severe consequences. In most instances, white collar crime is, financially, more costly. This does not mean that white-collar crime does not inflict bodily harm upon people. Multi-million dollar corporations can be twice as deadly as a gang member. When a woman dies of lead exposure from her job, it is murder. Whether a man is murdered by a gun or by an unsafe gas tank in his car, it is still called murder.
In both scenarios, there is a defined victim. The one answer that our politicians give for solving street crime is more money for the Justice system. More cops, more judges, and definitely more jails and prisons. There are shows, such as “Cops,” that shows America the “truth” about crime in the US. All the attention is given to street crime. Unless it is a huge scandal, you will seldom hear of white collar crime through the media. When white collar crime is reported, it gets little publicity compared to a gang shoot-out that killed a mother and her three kids.
There is a reason for this. Since violent street crime is predominantly an urban problem, there is no better scapegoat than the lower class that live in these inner-city communities. Since urban communities are concentrated with people of color, the image of minorities soon becomes that of a criminal. By creating the idea that its “us against them,” the justice system convinces voters that street crime is the evil of all evils. This allows money to be justifiably funneled into the justice system.
This mind set says that its acceptable for people to be murdered by unsafe working conditions, and unsafe products. In addition, its unacceptable for murder to be committed by means of a gun, knife, or weapon. As well as supporting isolation from other people, such policies cause racism and stereotyping. Police have pictures of “criminals” in their minds. These images are male people of color, ages 14-25. If you know who the criminal is, you will make a point to find him. If you think all minorities are criminals, you will find reason to arrest them without hesitation.
The effects of spending all funding on street crime can be seen and felt in other government programs. As we’ve discussed, the US education system is in a state of crisis. Schools do not have adequate funding to educate the kids. This is especially a problem in urban areas, where the alternative to school is life on the streets. Social services are also being eliminated, giving many no other option but to stay in poverty. Healthcare is a fantasy for many Americans, and yet our government can justify constructing massive prisons to hold all the “deviant ones” in society.
White collar crime is 90 times more costly than street crime, and yet no one seems to want to address the problem. Many of the ones who commit white collar crimes are the same ones who have the power to decide where funding goes. The upper class has the money, and the voting and legislative power to decide whether law enforcement will even deal with white collar crime. When the corrupt have the power, “justice” in America is a farce, and white collar crime will continue to decay our country’s structure.