Great White Collar Crime

I saw an article in The Economist the other day titled, “Does Crime Pay?” Even before I clicked through to the full article, I already knew the answer was, “Yes!”

On my more cynical days, I imagine that poverty is something like a shark from Deep Blue Sea and we are all just people in the ocean. Most of us just try to swim as fast as we can. The lucky ones actually make it to land, or achieve “fuck you money.” Some of these lucky ones turn around and try to help the rest of us, like Bruce Wayne or Bill Gates. Some of the lucky ones try to keep the islands for themselves. The worst, though, is the swimmers who push others towards the sharks in order to get a little further ahead – those who will do anything for an edge.

In a purely game-theory perspective, crime exists because it is more effective than playing it straight. Sure, there are some Jokers who act simply to act. But I would hazard to guess that most criminals make a calculated decision and weigh the profit of the standard act versus the criminal act, adjusted for punishment and chance of getting caught, and decide they would still come out ahead. White collar crimes has an abundance of this character because of its complex nature. Anyone can see a mugging on the street and say that is a crime. Not the same for a wire transfer. (The article above gives specific figures on company profits from dubious deeds, government fines, and chance of getting caught/getting fined.)

In Gotham, the most famous white collar criminal is Warren “Great White Shark” White. He was a finance genius who got caught embezzling funds and then claimed insanity in an attempt to get a lighter sentence. The judge on the case gave him a healthy serving of “be careful what you wish for” by accepting the insanity plan and sentencing him to Arkham Asylum indefinitely. While inside, he did not fare too well, including being locked into a Mr. Freeze tank and suffering extreme frostbite that made him look like this:

To his credit, Great White Shark ended up thriving in Arkham, running a criminal empire from inside, which was about as good of an alibi as you can get.

Oh, and while I am on the topic of sharks, one of the things I would like to do as part of my Batman training is to swim with sharks. Besides learning the physical skills, I assume I would learn a thing or two about controlling my fear. I even found out that I can do it locally! The downside is that it’s cage diving and not truly swimming with the sharks. (And that it is exorbitantly expensive for me right now.) But I guess that is still better than sleeping with the fishes. And do not worry on that front, when I do get around to doing this, I will be sure to pack my shark repellant bat-spray.

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