Lots of people believe that street crime is a very serious problem in this country. Others however, believe that corporate crime is far worse. Without a doubt, corporate crime is far more damaging to our society than all the street crimes put together. As a matter of fact, when one compares the dollar amount lost and bodily injuries inflicted as result of both crimes, corporate crime is way ahead of street crime. The FBI estimates that the total dollar amount lost to street crimes annually is about $4 billion. Now, this figure is chump change compared to the corporate crime losses from Enron, WorldCom and Tyco. Corporate health care fraud alone costs the taxpayers of this country about $300 billion, annually. Remember the savings and loan fraud of the nineties, called the biggest white collar crime in history, when a whooping $500 billon of taxpayers’ money went down the drain.
Well, some say corporate crime is not violent compared to street crime. They say victims of corporate crimes are usually not seriously injured or killed. This is absolutely false. Corporate crime can also be violent. According to the FBI, about 16,000 people are killed in street crimes in this country, annually. Now, compare this to the 56,000 who die every year as a result of corporate criminal negligence. These are people who die from occupational diseases, environmental pollution, contaminated foods, and hazardous products and so on. Case in point, the recent deaths of 25 workers in a West Virginia coal mine, where the company knew these workers were operating in unsafe conditions.
Unbelievably, prior to this preventable tragedy, this same company had received 458 citations from federal inspectors. But the company believes that it’s cheaper to run the mine in an unsafe way and risks people’s lives than it is for them to comply with the laws. And to make matters worse, a couple of years ago the Department of Justice introduced what they referred to as the deferred prosecution agreement. With this agreement they can bring charges against a company and then tell the company, if you behave yourself for the next couple of years and stay out trouble, we will drop all the charges. Makes you wonder if they are on the corporate criminal’s side or against them.
In conclusion, corporate crime is by far the most damaging crime in this country. While street murders are prosecuted every day, here in the United States, deaths from corporate criminal negligence are neither prosecuted as homicides nor as a violation of state or federal laws. Corporate crime is a cancer that is slowly killing this country and we must all work to toward getting rid of it.