are on Wall Street, what crimes did Al Capone, the notorious 1920s crime boss, have his henchmen commit? Did Capone’s thugs go around robbing convenience stores? Did they burglarize homes? Or lurk in the shadows and mug innocent passersby?
None of the above. Capone and his fellow kingpins of “organized crime” left high-risk, low-return illegality to the lowlife. Kingpins like Capone ran rackets instead. They sold “protection.” They loan-sharked. Most lucratively of all, they bootlegged outlawed alcohol.
Rackets like these guaranteed returns both steady and steep. Capone at one point was clearing $100,000 a week.
Racketeering, of course, is still going strong. But the getup of our contemporary racketeers has changed somewhat. Our most highly compensated racketeers today don’t wear fedoras. They fill power suits. Our top racketeers these days don’t run from the law. They run Wall Street. Capone had a point when he complained that the bankers were bigger crooks and that he was just a simple businessman.