The government is not very different from organized crime.
Debate Rounds (3)
The United States government is made up of democratically elected representatives chosen by civilians. As Thomas Paine argued at the beginning of Common Sense, governments do not create society, but society creates a government. In the case of a republican democracy, society chooses to retain control over the act of governance. You cite taxes as an example of "extortion", but since taxes are levied by the House of Representatives, every member of which is democratically elected, we can only be extorting ourselves, which is absurd. When a mob member comes into your store and says something to the extent of "what a fine establishment you have here, shame if it burned down. I could offer you protection in the neighborhood for a monthly payment..." you cannot state that his actions are "unconstitutional" or that you will vote him out of office next term. You can merely pay him or lose your property. And while refusing to pay the IRS results in the same ultimatum, there is an entirely different option: changing government.
As for your example regarding the government telling us what is legal or illegal, we elect a president who presides over the FDA, we elected the congress which passed the Controlled Substances Act, and we can vote for candidates in favor of legalization.
The comparison you draw between the president and don, the congress and the caporegime, and the military and the boss's soldiers is illusory. Again, this model fails to account for the existence of the citizens who play an active role in determining the personnel of the hierarchy. In the USA there theoretically is no hierarchy, but mere checks and balances on the different actions of government.
While studying Italian history, I wrote a paper on the development of the Sicilian mafiosi out of the feudal structures the Normans implemented when controlling the island in the Central Middle Ages. Since French absolutist monarchy also stems from Norman feudalism, I would argue that the mafia actually resembles much more an absolute monarch, where the don is the king, the caporegime are the nobility who can plot to overthrow the king, and the soldiers act as vassals or serfs under this. Moreover, in a feudal kingdom or monarchy, there is no such thing as a "citizen", but rather there are "subjects" which make a lot more sense when comparing a government to the mob. The shop owner I used as an example would be a subject of the mafia, thus having no role in the affairs of the mob.
Italy as Case Study:
To further my case, I would like to examine modern Italy since 1870 as example of the incompatibility of your model. Because Sicily had been foreign controlled, until it was liberated by Garibaldi in the Risorgimento, since Roman times, Sicily had become very comfortable with creating internal power structures (ie. Mafiosi) to govern day-to-day life where a king presiding in Spain, France or the Holy Roman Empire could not. Mafia values of honor, retribution, and loyalty were very different in the city-states of the Northern Italian peninsula- whose values derived from their self-rule and included citizenship, civic humanism, and rule by law. So, when "Italy" implemented a liberal style democracy after unification, the South and Sicily in particular had difficulty adapting their medieval values into a USA style liberal democracy, whereas the north transferred smoothly to a liberal democracy. This well documented clash of socio-political values serves to show how different the structure of a mafia is from a US style republic.
Rule of Law:
You cite "punishment" and enforcement as similarities between mobs and the government. This is fallacious. We punish criminal based upon laws and a system of justice. The mafia has no laws and only is subject to the whims of the boss. So really, similar effects have entirely different causes.
In my opinion taxes are like extortion. Now what is extortion, extortion is "demanding or obtaining property from another through the use of threats, coercion, or intimidation. This can include threats of physical harm or some form of blackmail such as threats to cause harm to one's reputation, livelihood, marriage etc." http://criminal-law.freeadvice.com...
Now what is tax money use for? "The federal government uses your tax dollars to support Social Security, health care, national defense and social services such as food stamps and housing." http://www.sctax.org...
In reality, there are criminals who protect stores from other criminals but receiving a form of payment from the store owner. It could be considered a mutual agreement. Citizens pay taxes to pay for the things listed above, but really is that all that tax money is going to? I believe Obama even admitted that his salary was paid for by citizens, and if he receives good health care, his citizens should as well. Bottom line is, we pay taxes as a mutual agreement, just as those who are extorted pay for a mutual agreement. In the end, both parties receive something out of it, although each party may not be fully comfortable with the situation.
As for the power structure, I defiantly believe that it is similar. The Mafia in Italy was more of a monarch, but the American mafias are defiantly similar to the structure of American government. As I said before, the foot soldiers compare to the soldiers of America and policemen. They keep things in line and do the dirty work. They murdering and the handling of those who refuse to abide by the rules. They work they way up becoming made men, in American government's situation, high politicians. The more respect you gain, the better your rank. Policemen and solider rank up to lts, sgts, and possibly higher. The first president of the United States, George Washington, was a general of the army. Here is a list of presidents who served in the military before becoming president. http://en.wikipedia.org...
Even so when you become the president, it may appear that you have the most power but you don't. The president's power can always be over ruled by congress. He can be impeached. Just as with organized crime, if the family feels as though the Don is not doing a great job he can be taken care of and gotten rid of.
And the Rule of Law
Sure we can believe that we punish citizens on rules and system of justice. This is what we appear to do. There are countless citizens punished for reasons that are unjustified. Justice is not always served. The government punishes those who they want to be punished. Why are so many criminals let go? Because they choose what is sufficient evidence and reasons to punish a person and what is not. The same goes for organized crime. They choose who needs to be taken care of, or taught a lesson, and who doesn't. In reality, the two organizations connect on this subject. Why has organized crime taken place and held a stronghold in America for so long? Because the government makes deals with them and chooses who to punish and who not to. If justice was truly to be served on American soil, the government would not allow organized crime to occur for as long as it has in this country, but instead they make deals and turn their heads in order to benefit.
waylon.fairbanks forfeited this round.
My last point really undermines every other point you make. You say taxes are extortion like taxes because it's a mutual agreement, but we elect members of the congress who set tax rates. If we decided to elect members to lower the tax rate to zero, we theoretically could. Moreover, there wasn't even a national income tax until 1914 in this country because it was unconstitutional till we amended the Constitution. There is no document universally protecting your rights when it comes to the mob- it's their way or the highway. And it's not exactly mutual when the choice is between damaging your property and extorting money. Taxes are simply part of the social contract in a democracy.
There is no difference structurally between the mob in Italy and in the United States. We're not speaking of organized crime in general, such as gangs or the Russian "mafia". The Italian Mafia (aka. the Mafia) in America is very traditional and deviates little from the Sicilian model. Again, the US govt and the Italian mafia both have stratification based upon merit but that is like every organization pretty much as well. Are the boy scouts like the mafia because you move up? come on. You can show all the presidents that served in the military but it doesn't prove much. Many populist politicians rose from nothing to dominate state and national political scenes. Moreover, many state govts use the initiative and referendum process which enables direct lawmaking. Nothing like that in the mob.
The principle difference between the US and the mob in terms of justice is that we have a code which defines crimes. A man could have sex with a boss's wife and be killed, but if a man has sex with the president's wife, the president wouldn't be able to practice unlimited punishment. Our Bill of Rights protects the innocent from cruel punishment, gives the innocence into proved guilty, an attorney and right to trial by peers. Find me a mafia like that.
So I conclude, your arguments fall into two categories: those similarities that are common to most organizational structures (ie. merit, hierarchy, wealth, corruption) and those which simply don't work (ie. taxes are extortion, citizens are equivalent to subjects, etc.).
As I have proved, the relationship between the US govt and Mob, and the electorate and extorted is not direct or similar. A man under the rule of the feudal dictator is fundamentally different than under a democratically elected president. While a dictator may be assassinated by his inter circle, this is far different than voting a man out of office. Therefore, be it resolved, the US government's is different than organized crime... very different.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Cobo 5 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: forfiet for the conduct, but Con arguments were better
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