Sunday, January 30, 2005

Italian Mafia

According to an article in The Business, the Italian Mafia's turnover has doubled in the last 2 years, from E43bn in 2002 to an estimated E100bn last year.

Once you see past the irresponsible glamorisation of the Mafia in much popular culture, you see what a burden it is on society.
In his interesting observational book on Italy, Charles Richards quotes the Italian judge, Falcone, who paid with his life for his attempts to rid Italy of the Mafia menace:

The Mafia is not a social service that operates for the benefit of all, but rather an exclusive association which acts against society as a whole for the sole benefit of its members.

Evidence of this can be found in the Godfather films when no act of generosity by the Mafia is complete without the recipient being burdened with a "promise" to repay the favour. Modern States act in a similar way, with taxes being raised to provide services contingent on adhering to a legal framework. This is perhaps the key difference between the Mafia and the State, and a powerful argument against those who condone the Mafia on account of its ability to fill gaps left by the State.

The advantage a State has is its relative stability, viz. the Mafia. You might not like the level of taxation, but you can be fairly sure how much you will be paying annually. This certainty is diluted under Mafia rule because individuals have far more discretionary power.

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