White-collar crime

Please post your comments and suggestions for this article.

Comment by Pat on April 23rd, 2009 at 7:47 am


Blue collar crime (a.k.a., street crime larceny or embezzlement) does not automatically mean the imposition of force or violence, and may be little more than the one time crime of auto theft, burglary, pickpocketing, or purse snatching, many of which are non-violent crimes.

White collar crimes (a.k.a., office-based larceny or embezzlement) can be most functional by the imposition of force or violence, though it may be characterized by coercive techniques rooted in intellectual and emotional arguments, or negligence, or lack of disclosures that would otherwise be required under any system of organized regulation of commercial activities for which consumer or UCC law commands. Further, they are much more likely to be repetitive, and harm entire segments of industries, therefore, robbing thousands, as some think credit card and health care companies do with their misdirected perception of what is crime and what isn’t.

Yet, blue collar criminals are often locked up, while white collar criminals go free, sometimes even without the use of force.

The law is archaic in its privileges, and in its perceptions of blue and white collar crimes as well as its penalties. One Bernie Madoff is worth 1,000,000 of the typical blue collar petty theft criminals that exist, in that millions or billions may be stolen with little more than a handshake or a signature – and usually under the color of legitimacy or of law.

Some would even suggest that a Presidential pen authorizing a stimulus check, or a bail out, could fall into the category of White Collar crime just as easily as destroying the minutes on the Nixon tape that would have subjected him to certain impeachment, as the story goes.

Comment by Jennifer Tanabe on April 23rd, 2009 at 8:31 am

Thank your for your feedback. Indeed, white collar crime often involves much greater financial gain (and loss by the victims) than blue collar crime. As the article notes, there is differential treatment and often penalties are remarkably different, apparently unfairly so, for white collar crimes. In many cases the white collar criminal has access to better legal representation, although there have also been cases where those accused of violent crimes have had the wealth and prestige to obtain the best defense.

Generally the law, and some argue appropriately, judges physical violence or threat of violence, to be more egregious than stealing money. Interestingly, though, as noted in the article, those involved in criminal activity that includes violence have at times been convicted and sentenced to prison for non-violent crimes when conviction for their violent crimes was difficult to obtain.

It is also true that the law struggles to keep up with developments in society, including types of crime. However, the real solution, as pointed out in the article, lies not so much in developing new laws to punish offenders as it does in a change in the attitude of human beings toward other human beings, leading to an end to such crimes. Again, thank you for your comments on this important topic.

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