Some of the most well-respected members of the community are criminals. No,
I'm not referring to sex crimes between consenting adults or use of recreational
drugs. I'm not even referring to fireworks or fishing out of season. I am referring
to crimes that are worth many billions of dollars in the U.S. economy and which
cost thousands of innocent lives each year.
These are the so-called "white collar" crimes. These are the crimes
of business, finance, and retailing. These are crimes of the middle and upper
classes. These are the crimes for which the criminals rarely are accused, rarely
brought to trial, and almost never sent to prison. Yet these crimes cost the
average citizen thousands of dollars each year.
Occasionally some white collar crime will make it to the headlines. The dollar
amounts are usually in the millions in those cases. Sometimes, as in the case
of the defective tires several years ago, lives are reported as being lost.
Sometimes the failure of a bridge, building, or highway makes headlines with
or without injury or loss of life. Sometimes, a celebrity is involved or a
big name political figure and then the headlines appear because of who is involved.
But generally, the crimes go unreported, unnoticed, unremarked, and certainly
These crimes are often committed by businesses as means of selling merchandise
or getting people to sign contracts by misrepresentation (lying) or in providing
a product that does not meet specifications. The employees of a company may
be required, as a condition of keeping their job, to participate in these crimes.
In this way, millions of people become accomplices to crimes.
But all the above is how things are now in a POM (physical
object money) economy. How would a non-POM or post-POM type of society fare
with regard to white collar
crime? The answer is that it would do quite well. (You weren't expecting me
to say it would fail, were you?) Almost all these crimes are committed for
money. That is, they are committed in order to get money. These actions
would not gain anyone money in a post-POM economy. Many of the industries which
in white collar crime do not even exist in a post-POM economy. There
are no banks or insurance companies or stock markets or government regulation
There are no lawsuits. This eliminates the opportunity for a very wide range
of white collar crimes.
When we move to the area of retail, a similar situation is found. Those who
sell items are not paid by the consumer but by a third party. That third party
is an expert (relative to the consumer) in the product. That third party is
much more difficult to fool. Also, the pay is made only after the product has
been consumed at least to some degree and it continues so long as the product
is generating benefits. Therefore, the motivation of the retailer is to provide
the best product which is as exactly suited to the customer's needs as possible
in order to maximize their own pay. The owner of the retail establishment does
not pay the clerks so the clerks are there to serve the customer, not to keep
the owner happy. Of course, by maximizing their own personal pay they also
will maximize the owner's pay so the owner will want them to do what's best
for the customer.
Reputation is also very important in post-POM business in part because the
customers can easily discover the reputation of those with whom they are dealing.
The coming information society, the society in which all one's actions are
monitored by the computer system regardless of whether the economy is a POM
or non-POM economy, will make it very difficult to cheat without being found
out and without having everyone that one later deals with knowing how one cheated.
One simply will not have to blindly trust those one works with or one buys
from. This removes most of the temptation to even try to cheat.
The conclusion is that in a non-POM society since there will be few opportunities
to gain money by unethical conduct, there will be few temptations to be unethical,
and the enforcement of law and convention will be swift and effective. Therefore,
white collar crime will almost completely disappear in post-POM society.
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