VICIOUS CIRCLES: The Mafia in the Marketplace by Jonathan Kwitny

VICIOUS CIRCLES: The Mafia in the Marketplace

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Yes, professors, there is a Mafia,"" says Kwitny, who has no use for ivorytower illusions--or for Gay Talese's ""willing-victim"" apologia. Organized Crime operates insidiously in the legitimate marketplace, where it victimizes everyone: the lunchwagon owner ""invited"" to pay weekly dues to a new Association, and his customer who'll pay more for his daily hot dog; the trucker whose wages go down when his boss makes a ""sweetheart contract"" with the Union, his protector; the stockholders of a bank that folds because it's already lost more on quid pro quo loans that it ever stood to gain on the leverage-deposit (of, probably, Teamster pension funds). Kwitny, who covers the Mob for the Wall Street Journal, devotes half of his book to the meat industry. A chain of threats and bribes extending to government inspectors and butcher-union leaders connects suppliers to middlemen and middlemen to retailers--and the unwitting consumer buys noxious ""stinger meat,"" whose stench is camouflaged by toxic formaldehyde. Then, when it comes to prosecution, the Mafia's moral casualness sets the standard for the law: until recently the commercial bribery that glues the Mafia to the marketplace netted 90 days maximum penalty; now it's one year. Crime pays, and Kwitny indicts the whole system. He's a natural crusader and a good scenarist, whose occasional imprudence is worth overlooking.

Pub Date: March 26th, 1979
ISBN: 039300029X
Publisher: Norton