How Crime Keeps America Healthy, Wealthy, Cleaner and More Beautiful

{“The following piece was written by the late Mario Puzo from his little book of essays, “The Godfather Papers and other Confessions.”}

Mario puzo Godfather papers

I wrote this piece in 1966. I think it has some interest because it shows how the whole concept of The Godfather was germinating in my head. It’s always irritated me that most critics have missed the casual irony in my books, and I sometimes thought it was my fault as a writer. But I hated to lean on an idea, I hated to use intellectual concepts in fiction as some writers do, simply as a coat of paint to hide thinness of character and lack of narrative drive.

So in this piece I used all the obvious ironies, and when I came to the writing of The Godfather, I was much more oblique. So oblique in fact that most of the critics missed the irony in the novel and attacked me for glorifying the Mafia. This piece should prove that I was on the side of the good guys even in the beginning.

The piece appearing in 1966 was attacked as excessively cynical and a slander on police and fudges. In 1971 New York City’s Knapp Commission investigating corruption in law enforcement agencies backed up a great deal implied here.

How Crime Keeps America Healthy, Wealthy, Cleaner and More Beautiful

“CRIME” is good for America. Exactly that. Nothing more is implied. No oblique plea for social justice. No cynical “cool” critique jeering human greed. This is not a discussion of morals; such discussion has found its proper place and level in the jingles of rock ’n’ roll. No. What follows is a level-headed explanation of the dynamic force that makes our country the most affluent society on earth.

It must be said at once that not all criminals benefit society: muggers who smash old girls on the head to snatch purses; kidnap artists and stickup guys; rampaging rapists; these the world can do without.

It is not relevant here that their fathers deserted them, their mothers perverted them, the social system demoralized them. They are a minority in then-class and not productive. We have huge stone prisons for such types, crammed full it is true. But the economy is booming, we can build thousands more. And the electric chair is not just a Chippendale antique, after all. We can forget these troublemakers.

This is a brief for the “productive” criminal who, like insects exterminated by DDT-mad scientists, is later found to be necessary in preserving a mysterious balance in nature. The productive criminal could very well be responsible for the millions of split-level homes sprouting out of our nation’s marshlands, the thousands of new colleges opening their doors to bright-eyed youngsters, the countless automobile litters turned out in Detroit’s warren of lust-mad mechanical rats.

This is also an explanation to those happily bewildered house builders, delighted educators, and affluent automobile salesmen who continually ask, “Where the hell is the money coming from?” Puzzled by Civil Service people earning $150 a week who go for $250-a-month mortgages; by badly paid bookkeepers and gas station jockeys who send their kids to those colleges which pump out money as they pump in learning; and by department-store floorwalkers shelling out hard cash for new Buicks.

To be specific:
Every day newspapers print stories about the FBI scooping up shoals of government employees taking bribes; district attorneys who bring city housing and fire inspectors before the grand jury; elected officials resigning to accept a diplomatic post abroad in a nonsummonsable country. Smaller items tell of the indictments of bookkeepers, accountants, bank tellers and even ministers. All these unfortunates are called “white-collar” criminals and they are to our society what the finest manure is to an exhausted vegetable garden.

Consider there are 2,000,000 federal government employees, another 4,000,000 on state and city levels, plus many more millions of bookkeepers and other woefully underpaid employees who form the broad base of our economy.

On salary alone they could never afford to buy their own homes or send their children to college. If all these people (remember they are in the millions) accepted their fate, the economy would stagnate. The boom of the sixties would bust. But, luckily, most of these people spring from the old-country adventurous pioneer stock that dared to seek its fortune in a new land. It is not relevant that many of them had the police at their heels even then.

Starting with federal employees, it must be made clear at once that the vast majority are honest, hardworking and poverty-stricken. But there are a few rotten apples in every pork barrel. It has been conservatively estimated that 10 percent, or 200,000, have illegally accepted bribes. With state and city employees the percentage jumps to 20 percent, or 800,000, for a total of 1,000,000 “criminals” in public service alone.

Too much? Statistics, naturally, are not available; but figure this way. Everybody knows that most traffic policemen will accept a few dollars not to write a ticket. One cynical PTA parent has even proposed that the procedure—no idle chatter, dollar bills neatly folded inside a driver’s license—be taught in every high school’s “Driver’s Ed” course. And how many traffic cops are there across the United States? To say nothing of greedy sheriffs and vulturine justices of the peace. How much does the total graft come to? In New York City, where a new and innocent mayor, John Lindsay, has proposed a $50 parking fine to clear up traffic, it is anticipated that a few fortunate cops will zoom into the 90 percent income-tax bracket.

Not fair? Bribing traffic cops is not a crime and accepting that bribe does not make our police criminals? OK. What is not generally known is that in many of our greatest cities there is a payoff sheet in every precinct station house. On that sheet is listed every cop, from captain down, and next to his name is the amount he receives every month from the consolidated “clean graft” paid by criminals in that precinct.

Clean graft is bookmaker protection money, call-girl “rent,” store owners who break city ordinances constantly, confidence-man “fix” money. (Confidence artists never operate in any territory until the cops have been taken care of in advance. If the caper is big enough, the district attorney and the local judge will also be prepared for any slipups.)

No condemnation of such practices is intended. All this “black” money is put to good use and serves the American economy in the most constructive way.

Then there are the federal functionaries. Is the figure of bribe-takers too high? An inside joke among these employees is that “Federal Indictment Insurance” should and can be taken out as automatically as Blue Cross and Blue Shield.

It is time to refute the slander that bureaucrats are stupid. Wiseacre newspaper humorists and satirical novelists jeer at the mountains of red tape, gobbledygook language and unenforceable laws created by government agencies. But if everything were clear and instantly workable, who would pay graft? Bureaucrats would have to live on their salaries and that would take real genius.

The flip side of this technique is the top tax lawyer who patriotically works as a “dollar-a-year” consultant in order to write intricate loopholes in the law. This same expert hires himself out to a wealthy client and “finds” these same loopholes. There are no loopholes for people making a hundred bucks a week.

There are many things even the lowliest government clerk can do to help the public so it is not surprising when individual citizens are anxious to show their gratitude. (Internal Revenue agents can go blind, draft board clerks do lose draftee personnel files.)

In private industry such enterprise is as extensive, if not as dangerous. Bookkeepers are expected to flesh out meager salaries from the petty cash box. Department-store clerks, if they keep their heads, can cut their cost-of-living index considerably. Gas station jockeys can and do retire to Florida at the age of forty. And these people have something extra going. When they are caught, no FBI swoops down on them. Their employer, limp from figuring out how to cheat on his income tax and shove shoddy goods down his customers’ throats, is understanding and merciful. He fires them with perhaps just a word of hurt reproach.

There is one exception to the above—the famous “bookkeeper draw play.” Once or twice a year a headlined story appears in the newspapers on how an $85-a-week bookkeeper has milked her company of $200,000. The real story is that the employer has already run the business into the ground, looting the till for racetrack afternoons, mistress minks and winters in Miami Beach. So:

He sees the bookkeeper making a few bucks and pays no attention. He gives her more authority. Het tells her to sign the checks. He forgets to check the bills, invoices and incoming checks. He leaves it all to her. He may even introduce her to some young handsome bummers who need rent money. Then at the right time, usually after the bookkeeper has mustered enough courage to go up the middle with $967, the employer comes indignantly awake and has her arrested for stealing half a million bucks.

But how does all this help the American economy grow stronger? Why is it good for America? Because these policemen, government employees, bookkeepers, sundry clerks do not spend their “black” money on wine, women and song. They do not roister and revel. They are solid members of society. The money goes for a new house in suburbia where the kids can grow up untainted by crime-breeding slums. The money goes for college tuitions that will transform prospective welfare clients into society-enriching doctors, engineers and certified accountants.

The Wall Street Dow-Jones index goes up, thousands of jobs are created. These people pour adrenalin into our social system. They pay their bank debts and the bloodcurdling interest attached. They do not drink or fornicate to excess, and they support our policy in Vietnam. In short, they are not troublemakers. They just do not have quite enough money to get along.

Curiously enough, “crime” helps not only make America healthy in its body, but also makes it healthy in its mind. Take a truly honest person who stays honest no matter how violent the social stress. This worker had just been fired from his job, he has no bank account, his wife needs medicine, his kids need shoes. His meager talents preclude any brighter future. He is, therefore, naturally overwhelmed by the logic of becoming a criminal. However, because of a fine upbringing and moral training, he finds it impossible to make the logical choice. The resulting struggle, according to psychiatrists, is what makes schizophrenia modem man’s most popular retreat. Fortunately for society such extreme cases are relatively rare. People adjust. The following is a happier and more instructive case history.

Married, father of three children, this federal employee earned less that $100 a week. His wife treated him with the disillusioned, oblique contempt of a woman who has learned that love is not quite all in a happy marriage.

He could have partially solved his problem by sending his wife out to work, but he had read the famous Glueck report on juvenile delinquency which proved that four out of five children who get in trouble come from homes where the mother is employed.

Meanwhile the man’s ego was being destroyed. He became mean-tempered. He refused his children bedtime stories, quarreled with his supervisor to the point of blows and grew dangerously psychotic with resentment against a society that had not recognized its obligation to him.

Then by a stroke of good fortune he was transferred to a department where he processed government contract applications submitted by small businessmen. He was surprised and touched when these supposedly insensitive materialists treated him with friendliness and respect. A garment manufacturer sent his children a box of expensive clothing, factory fresh, for Christmas. Out of innocent gratitude, the government employee flipped this man’s contract application to the top of his work file.

Soon he had a brisk little trade going. For $50 he would process any application the same day it was received. This eliminated a wait of three months. For his clients it was a superlative bargain.

In five years this government employee climbed into the upper middle class. He bolstered the American economy by buying a split-level house and a new Buick to go into its garage. He took his wife to a nightclub every New Year’s Eve and his children to the World’s Fair twice a month. He has already started a college fund, and his kids will not be trapped on a low economic plateau that might make them a burden to society.

Most important of all was the change in this man’s personality. He became an absolutely charming fellow, more friendly, outgoing, considerate, as people are apt to become when they are treated with respect and paid what they are worth. Since his opportunity to take bribes hinged on his controlling all the paper work in his section, he became tremendously efficient and for the first time in a long Civil Service career earned a letter of commendation from his supervisor. He is one of thousands.

But perhaps this is all sophistry, being a wise guy. Isn’t bribe-taking despicable behavior? And, yet, what about those people who do approximately the same thing but have the expensive expert advice to do it legally? The retired admirals and general officers, war heroes all, what exactly do they do for the $100,000 a year they get from big industrial concerns?

And then, of course, there are the legislatures of our fifty sovereign states. A character in The Great McGinty says, “If you didn’t have graft, you’d get a very low grade of person in politics.” When the gentle Thoreau heard that the Massachusetts legislature had convened, he told a friend, “I must hurry to town to buy a lock for my back door.”

These are kinder remarks than the opinion of cynical experts that most state politicos are as crooked as a snake with diarrhea. Now it stands to reason that not all of them are dishonest; this may even be a case of a few rotten apples spoiling that barrel again. But it is common knowledge that if you want to open such certified gold mines as a racetrack, a liquor store or a loan company, you had better set aside a few percentage points for the more powerful guardians of the public interest in your state capitol.

So much for the obvious. Other “forms of left-handed human endeavor” are harder to justify. What about the bookmakers, the “shylocks,” the inhuman drug peddlers? The truth is bookmakers and “shylocks” lead a terribly hard life. They put in long hours and are subject to considerable anxiety. They are as much on call as doctors. And they, too, dream the American dream. They work to buy houses, send their kids to college, and since they are more romantically sentimental than the usual businessman, they plan ahead to buy their wives a valuable trinket.

In Claude Brown’s brilliant autobiography, Manchild in the Promised Land, there is even a justification for the dreaded drug peddler. Brown states that in his experience the drug addict who kicks the habit and accepts the usual low-paying menial job offered to blacks then invariably slips back into addiction and takes his family with him down into degradation. But those who peddle drugs, who turn sellers instead of users, become otherwise respectable citizens, house their loved ones in a resentful suburbia and embrace the rewards of a sober middle-class life.

Even our great corporations have fought in their own fashion to help the American dream. Seventy percent of the top U.S. companies are convicted felons, their executives judged guilty of conspiracy to violate the Sherman Antitrust Act. In one $300,000,000 bilking, a few of them even served two months in jail. One of them complained to a fellow prisoner that at least he didn’t go out on the street with a gun to hurt people. To which his fellow prisoner, a black serving ten years for armed robbery, replied in the same injured tone, “Hell, I never got my chance to break the Sherman Antitrust Act.”

Yes, because of all this hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of American families have escaped the crime-breeding slums of the cities. Hundreds of thousands of young men will become atomic scientists, lawyers, medical researchers, instead of frustrated clerks and dockwallopers.

There is also favorable historical evidence for our thesis. Prohibition raised a whole generation of Italian peasants into middle-class bootleggers. Who is more law-abiding today? Whose sons become major-league ballplayers in greater numbers? In what walk of professional life have they not made their mark? But perhaps this is too narrow, too special an example. Let’s get more scope.

In 1939 America was in the grip of the Depression. There was no work, people lived badly, few owned their own homes or cars. Then World War H broke out. Twenty, thirty, forty million people died, who remembers? Enough materiel to build a home for everybody was blown to dust. Enough man-labor hours were wasted to construct those homes, and more. Yet, because of that war and that waste, we live in unparalleled prosperity.

Again, this is not a moral discussion. It is, perhaps, a search for adjustment. If “crime” is good for America, what follows?

How are we to adjust to a society that permits cigarette manufacturers to cram cancer down the throats of 100,000,000 Americans?

How are we to adjust to a society that has the means to manufacture blood-cleansing machines that will save the lives of thousands of kidney-disease sufferers, but prefers to spend its money on new jet fighters?

How are we to adjust to a society in which industrialists sell deforming drugs and then, to protect their investment, use powerful lobbies to prevent government interference?

How are we to adjust to a society that drafts human beings to fight a war, yet permits its businessmen to make a profit from the shedding of blood?

How are we to adjust to a society whose chief official admits to lying to his people, and the world, on an action that could have led to atomic war?

Again, this is not denunciation, this is not a moral discussion. Such “crimes” are inevitable. But, as society becomes more and more criminal, the well-adjusted citizen, by definition, must become more criminal. So let us now dare to take the final step.

Is it not the duty of every American to live as selfishly and dishonestly as possible? What else will make the wheels of industry hum? The maligned businessman, fighting as ferociously for profit as sharks fight for a man overboard, was he on the right track all the time? Could it really be true that what is good for General Motors is good for America? Is the road to the happy life paved with lying, cheating and stealing? In our society the answer must be yes. And so “crime” is good for America.

For those who disagree, there is only one alternative. That society, cloaked in the robes of law, masked by religion, armed with authority sprung from the beginning of history, is itself the archcriminal of mankind.


Filipinas are a Man’s Chattel

Where were Vhong Navarro’s supporters in 2009?

It has been three months since Cedric Lee and friends brutally beat Vhong Navarro. To this day, Vhong Navarro enjoys an overwhelming level of support from the public. His supporters have been criticized as blind fanatics who are incapable of being fair regarding the merits of the entirety of this case. After all, Vhong Navarro allegedly sexually assaulted Cedric Lee’s rumored girlfriend, Deniece Cornejo.

Read the original article here.

Why Did Angelo Reyes Kill Himself?

The tragic death of Former Defense Secretary Angelo Reyes made all Filipinos draw into a quiet contemplation. When I heard the news I immediately think that this could be it, this could be the end of all the madness this country is going through.

But why did Angelo Reyes kill himself? Reyes could have denied all the charges against him. He could have appeared today in the Senate investigation and answer all allegations against him, or maneuver the inquiry slyly so he can be vindicated. Or perhaps, if above all his conscience he’s guilty, he could have admitted the crime and suffer the consequences that he had done. But why did he do it?
Maybe Angelo Reyes did it because he can’t scream his regrets to the heavens.  It’s because perhaps too many big people are going to be involved should he come out in the open and admit the crime. Maybe Reyes has to give in. Maybe Reyes can’t no longer take all the blame combined with all the loyalty he had given his Commander in Chiefs in the past and the services he had done to the people. Maybe he has also been a victim of the evil nature of the world, and that there is no way he can turn back. Maybe it is his own way of bringing a message to Filipinos that this evilness must be stop.

But can’t it be stopped?

The Secret to Manny Pacquiao’s Success

Note: This article was previously published by under my name, of course. But I’ve made some modifications and revisions for highest quality possible for this blog. For whose rights this article belongs to is basically me.

There has never been a boxer that shocked the whole world more than Manny Pacquiao. This little Filipino boxer, as many people would say, is larger than life. Due to his seven different weight division world title champions, many ask about the secret behind his success.

Most people expect the keys to Manny Pacquiao’s success are the things most successful people do to reach their goals. These include hard work, belief in oneself, and passion in what you do. But there is something about this Filipino boxer that is totally different from the rest of all successful people in the world, especially in the field of sports.

Probably the secret to Manny’s success has little to do with his dedication to the sport of boxing. It has something to do with his faith in God.  His success is already written on his palms. It is his fate. His talent in boxing has so much to tell about how he achieved his success. His God-given talent is too remarkable that no one could have ever imagined.

Manny’s hand speed is unthinkable; too incredible that they are like typebars of a typewriter printing perpetually on a paper by a fast typist; a kind of speed that had not seen before from any boxer in history. And most of all his power punch, a power that is beyond human comprehension.

Despite this natural genius in him, Manny has a lot to tell about how he have achieved success. First is his history. He was born to a poor family; the reason why he stopped going to school in fourth grade to support his mother and siblings. He became a doughnut vendor, a tricycle driver, and a worker in a fish port. These struggles made him decide to engage himself in the world of boxing not only because of the love of the sport and the love of his dream to become like his idol Mike Tyson, but mainly because to save his family from poverty. This decision first came to his mind after listening to a Douglas-Tyson fight from a portable radio. His determination is so strong that he would do anything to achieve his goal against all adversities.  This is how his faith in God became his source of strength. The rest was history.

Manny Pacquiao stepped every rung of ladder to success gradually but overwhelmingly. Every fist thrown to every opponent is heartily dedicated to his fellow Filipino citizens, who gave him more inspiration to win not just the game of boxing but the game of life.

Poverty had been a very big factor that made Manny Pacuqiao what he is right now. If it hadn’t been for poverty he wouldn’t be great as he is today. Probably his God-given talent has a purpose for him and had given to him to use it as an instrument for him to succeed and to show to all people in the world that anyone can succeed in life as long as he/she have faith in God.  As he would always say, “Every dream can be achieved if you only believe in Him.”

Most people expected him to say it differently, that his success has something to do with strong will and hardwork, but he just said it simply just as the simple person he is: faith in God.  If it hadn’t been for God he wouldn’t have that talent in him.

Voice of the People

It is a common statement in any country. The voice of the people is the voice of God. Vox Populi Vox Dei.

I have read a lot of essays and columns about making the people the first priority in terms of governance. Most of which I’ve read were from Conrado De Quiros, a political pundit writing for Philippine Daily Inquirer. His columns touched the deepest of my gut and the marrows of my soul, as he always put it. They made my heart stop beating for a second. The entirety of every message raises my sense of righteousness into a higher level. It simply awakens my common sense. His message will keep you awake at night. It will liberate your mind and change your whole perspective in life.

What De Quiros always give importance to is the people, the Filipino people. He always has great compassion to the masses to the point of criticizing the government of its morals and the responsibility to lead the people.

Everytime I read De Quiros’s columns on Inquirer and past collection of essays Flowers From the Rubble I think about the people I see everyday. I see them roaming the streets with doubtful faces and ragged clothes, kids with no slippers begging for loose change, a family of five who lives next door to my room, people like me who are trying their luck in a far away land. They are everywhere. It makes me think about their lives. I know they have stories to tell that most of us don’t want to hear about, not even the leaders and politicians who have certain obligations with them.

Seeing these people and contemplating about them makes me wonder who is responsible with their fate. Why people are born poor and will always live as poor? I also think about the wealthy and the fortunate ones who have such class when they get out of their luxury cars near an expensive restaurant. How did they acquire those riches? Were they born rich? Or is the status that they’re in the outcome of hardwork?

Despite De Quiros’s always logically points out that the people are the ones who should be benefited from the country’s resources, he also tries to wake them up from their shortcomings. This is why I wonder why poor people allow themselves to live in their state. Is it the fault of the government? Or is it the people’s who have the power to govern their lives?

You can think both ways. You can think the people themselves are to be blamed. It is not the world and God that makes them suffer from their grim lot. It is us and within us that make our lives. You can also think that the government is the one responsible for the fate of the poor people; which brings us to the question: what the hell is wrong with Filipinos?

It’s the mystery that lies behind the realities of poverty. It is perhaps one fact of life that reminds us that God really works in mysterious ways. Maybe God speaks through the destitute and the weak. Maybe it is His voice that echoes in the conscience of men and forever rings and begging to be heard.