People ask me what can be done about corporate crime. Usually I say, “Enforce the laws we have on the books and make them do real prison time as well as pay fines.” That will go along way to stopping that kind of crime.
But there is something, we all can do – we can take our moral responsibilities seriously.
You see we depend on the state to enforce the law and generally we assume that is enough. It is not.
When a white collar criminal walks the street after a wrist slap of a fine, justice is defied and the nation tarnished.
But You have a duty to justice as well. People would think twice about committing crime if the passive acceptance that justice was done by prison or fine disappeared as people realized their continuing duty. How do you exercise your duty for justice? When you meet one of these thieves, walk to the other side of the street, refuse to shake their hand. When these criminals are hired by a new company that explains blithely that they want their expertise, you can stop doing business with that company.
But above all it is our silence that demonstrates our lack of commitment to the principles of justice and citizenship. These criminal should be afraid to walk the streets not because of physical danger but because they are likely to be cut or insulted.
“White collar” criminals (and I truly hate that phrase – whoever commits serious crimes against the larger society to the tune of millions of dollars is a scoundrel and a disgrace to be shunned and despised just like the lowest bank robber) live in a cocoon of comfort. They go to the right churches, have the right friends, zealous business writers will minimize or deny their guilt, and their connections in industry and government continue unabated. Everything they hear is that everybody does it and if only the little people, the little people like you, could understand their job pressures and the unreasonable nature of the regulations, and the cruelty of the prosecutor and the randomness of it all – (other people have done worse so why arrest me), you would not persecute them like Christ on the Cross but honor their contributions to society.
You have a duty to justice to shock them out of that cocoon, to make it hard for them to get work, to stigmatize them and make them suffer. Justice does not stop at the prison door. If we can maintain records of where pedophiles live, surely we can track the financial offenders who have stolen so much and damaged society so thoroughly.
It is for you as well as the government to wield the sword of justice. Do not forget your duty. Do not forget your nation and your responsibility to it. Remember the evil that these men have done.
Do not harm them physically, take them down a peg. Don’t hurt their bodies, hurt their feelings.
I tell you truly when the great malefactors of this society are punished by the public in this fashion, a very large portion of this kind of crime will simply disappear.
When we act as negatively toward a white collar criminal as we do a man wearing a shirt and pants with opposite patterns, when we are as critical of these criminals as we are of people who live on the streets, when we are as uncomfortable in their presence as when a thoughtless person talks loud and long on their cell phone, they will change their behavior.