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White Coller vs. Blue Coller Crime

April 29, 2009

In 2004, the total cost of all robberies in the United States was $525 million, and the average loss from a single robbery was about $1,300. – Nina Mazar and Dan Ariely, “Dishonesty in Everyday Life and Its Policy Implications,” Journal of Public Policy and Marketing (2006)

Ariely goes on to share numbers that relate to white collar crimes that take place in the workplace (Predictable Irrational). This number is $600 billion.

That is a B not an M. This is even more poignant considering recent financial events.

My question for you is why do we view those rough and tumble crimes like robbery differently then those carried out in the workplace? Do we view someone like Bernie Madoff differently than someone who robbed the local Circle-K?

I think we do and yet white collar crime is far more destructive and harmful in the long run. It costs more jobs and bankruptcies than any petty crook and yet they are viewed differently.

Why is that?

I think we need to deal with these discrepancies. We need to see sin as sin and stop thinking that some are worse than others. I also find it interesting that when confronted with these types of scenarios we tend to soften our stance to the other sin instead of stiffening.


2 Comments leave one →
  1. April 29, 2009 6:24 pm

    I agree that the white-collar billions are more significant that the blue-collar millions.

    I think one reason we make the distinction, right or wrong, is because Madoff didn’t threaten anyone physically and directly when he made off with the money. The guy at the Circle K did. “Rough and tumble” can lead to injury or death. Physical violence and even the threat of it compound the seriousness of a crime in the eyes of the law.

    A lot to think about here. Thanks for another good post.

  2. April 29, 2009 8:20 pm

    I think you are right Frank. It is like so many sins, some of the harmful impact is easy to see, the guy is waving a gun in my face, and yet how many people have been impacted by white collar crime and just can’t point to the gun to understand?

    Thanks for the comment.

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