Opinion: Organized Crime, Corruption, Politics and the Mob Museum

Since both my father and grandfather fought organized crime during their police careers, I have always had an interest in the subject. That being the case, ever since I have heard that the Mob Museum opened in Las Vegas, I have been planning to visit. In addition, I had several papers, photos, audio tapes, and other material that I wanted to donate and some that I was willing to let them copy. After contacting them, officials at the museum expressed an interest and in early March, I went to Las Vegas and spent a day and a half at the Mob Museum.

The building is a three story restored building, that I believe was at one time a courthouse. The tour starts on the third floor. There are thousands of exhibits, videos and audio presentations. There are many areas where one can sit and rest. Many, if not the vast majority of the activities that organized crime has become involved with over the past centuries, are covered. I understand that a lot of the exhibits are rotated in and out of the museum, so no two visits are likely to be the same.

Many of the rackets which made organized crime its money historically are on display on the different floors and areas. Gambling, prostitution, loansharking, and drugs are examined. Prohibition is highlighted because that was when the mobs really started making money. Smuggling, transporting, making, distributing and selling beer and alcohol, not only was profitable, but it gave organized crime a semi-respectability. (By the way, there is a Speakeasy type bar in the basement of the Mob Museum.)

Ever since the first tribes of humans started forming into nascent governments, there most probably has been corruption. Before Prohibition, a few cops, judges, building inspectors and other city, state and federal officials were bribed to allow certain illegal activities to be overlooked. What Prohibition did, was to cause a majority of people to view this breaking of a law as not a moral wrong. Therefore, more people in power, police officers and brass, judges, district attorneys and elected officials at all levels, looked the other way. Taking bribe money to allow what they did not see as a moral wrong anyway, was rationalized as a bonus.

The Mob Museum shows how the money organized crime got from smuggling, manufacturing, transporting and selling alcohol during Prohibition greatly surpassed the income they received from all of their rackets prior to the Eighteenth Amendment. Money is power and the power derived from their illegal activities permitted the gangsters to expand their operations. That is basically how the mob was able to expand their operations into seemingly legitimate areas, like entertainment, labor unions, pension plans, trash disposal and construction, just to name a few. If you have any interest in organized crime, the Mafia, the current cartels and their histories, the Mob Museum is the place to learn all about them.

Political corruption today isn’t so much powered by organized crime but by organized elites that run big corporations, big media, big tech and their lobbies. Political contributions are the mother’s milk of politics and all of the above groups donate large amounts of money, or in the case of the big media, positive public exposure to politicians. That money and exposure is a corrupting influence to the elected officials who accept it. Until we reform our political system, we will continue to have politicians who spend decades in office and respond to their patrons who provide the money and publicity that get them reelected, rather than the citizens they are supposed to represent.

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