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How Fragile the Racketeer Economy

Plastic pollution is certainly one of the top ten rackets in the world today. The entire enterprise of pollution must be in the top three, and plastic is now a significant percentage of that. Disposable-plastic pollution is POLLUTION, which is illegal in most countries, for what should be obvious reasons. Its producers, distributors, and financiers share responsibility with the careless people who throw it down, but whose names are not printed on the bottles, bags, wraps, pouches, plates, trays, molds, cups, lids, straws, clips, caps, gloves, masks, tapes, and flossing wands choking our environment and food chain.

Racketeering means profiting from illegal activity. Successful racketeers are experts in not getting caught or not being stopped, through some combination of concealment, bribery, or for the really insidious ones, influencing governments to turn a blind eye to their bad actions, thus making illegal activities legal. This describes most of the rackets causing environmental degradation--pollution, deforestation, overharvesting, and pesticides to name the worst. Human trafficking, insurance fraud, utilities fraud, securities fraud, junk food, and misinformation media are some other particularly hot rackets, especially in the United States. Considering that many government employees are engaged in politics to shield these and other rackets, news media report on and legitimize these politics, and so many people buy and sell racket stock, it's not a stretch to call the current US economy, among others, a racketeer economy.


Misinformation media is a special racket since it can be used to bundle multiple rackets into a single political cause or persona. That happened in the United States in the years leading-up to the January '21 attempted coup. Many people who are not directly "on the take" of racketeers can still be rallied around such a political persona, especially if it taps into psychological vulnerabilities. This has been done many times throughout history. A racketeer economy eventually causes the demise of a society, but only after doing incredible damage to the environment, health, quality-of-life, and equity of its people. This story is still unfolding in the United States, and in other countries, although the rupture that occurred in January '21 was not part of the racketeers' plan. The coup attempt drew too much attention to them, and the resulting scrutiny could curtail their success.


What the coup attempt really exposed is the fragility of the racketeer economy. When working well, as it has to increasing levels in the United States over the past 50 years, the racketeer economy satisfies enough people, either directly or psychologically, to pass as the norm. But with the coronavirus pandemic disrupting so many norms and comfort zones, people are no longer content watching the rackets unfold on TV. People are angry, scared, and desperate because the racketeer economy had no answer to the pandemic.


After witnessing the fallout over this failed racketeer economy, people should be wise enough to follow better ones. Follow economies that value sustainability rather than short-term gain, economies that honor law, equity, health, environment, and natural capital...economies more robust against pandemics. Follow economies that reinvest in the future and banish the rackets, including plastic pollution, before they bring the demise of our society.


Such economic ideas are gaining momentum around the world, exemplified by the UNEP report Making Peace with Nature: A Scientific Blueprint to Tackle the Climate, Biodiversity, and Pollution Emergencies. UN Secretary General Guterres calls it a "postwar rebuilding program," which is certainly an appropriate mentality. The resistance you are sure to hear is the political cry of the racketeer economy.