There are a number of films that we’ve all seen that depict a dystopian, maybe post-apocalyptic world where some sort of gang controls much of the society and/or economy. Many times the gangs are super-violent, enjoy casually murdering innocent people, and get their funding from the sale of illegal drugs or engage in some other black market. The hero of the story is usually a lone soul fighting evil in the name of the law.
The markets these gangs do business in are always illegal. Whether its drugs or prostitution or any other unsavory activity, they work to operate above the law to meet the demand of their customers. The stakes are high. Competition is often relatively low, so prices can get high.
What is their tool for solving problems? Violence.
Is it the substances or services that are violent by their own nature? Do narcotics or prostitution cause violence by themselves?
During Prohibition, a massive amount of violence occurred surrounding the illegal sale of alcohol. If we are to believe that the sale of alcohol itself caused the violence, then why didn’t we continue to see the same violence once Prohibition was overturned and alcohol became legal?
The last beer I purchased at a bar was a coffee stout. I did not go on a murderous rampage after the transaction.
The problem with dealing with business involving contraband is that you can’t take someone to court and sue them if they cheat you. Instead you have to take matters into your own hands if you want to be taken seriously. Let some people pull fast ones on you, and you’ll soon develop a reputation and your business won’t last. How do you get the “cred?” You have to make examples of people. If Big Jim cuts your crack with powdered sugar, you don’t write to the editorial section of your local newspaper to write a scathing review of your drug dealer.
Because of the required discreetness of black markets, transactions cannot be made in the open. Payment or delivery of goods and services are difficult to guarantee. I’m pretty sure you can’t use a MasterCard to pay for your dope. In the black market, you can’t threaten someone with a bad credit rating or a bad review from the Better Business Bureau.
Drugs may not be the best examples to use to win over opinions, so let’s look at something different. Restrictions on gambling have been becoming looser even though there is still a crackdown on gambling websites. When you use the mafia to gamble, you’ll get your legs broken if you don’t pay off your debt. How often do casinos threaten to break their patrons’ legs?
How do we get rid of violent gangs and the mob? We need to open up competition and stop using the force of government in order to make violence a less preferable way to handle day to day operations. Most people don’t want to end up with a bullet in their head if they miss a payment, so it is in the best interest of the consumer to choose the “nicer” people, and businesses adjust as such.