Of course crime pays

January 25, 1994|By Russell Baker

EVERY politician in the United States obviously intends to run against crime as soon as possible. It is a noble strategy with a fatal flaw; to wit, it leaves a dearth of pro-crime candidates for crime-hating statesmen to run against.

Many politicians, saying they fear a complete absence of crime-loving candidates will end their dreams of serving the public, have asked my help. And so, seizing the chance to mix business and patriotism, I now announce formation of a new company called the Pro-Crime Party Inc.

For crime-hating politicians the Pro-Crime Party Inc. will provide candidates ready to stump in favor of such acts as armed robbery, auto theft, burglary, running a disorderly house and swindling the greedy with the old dropped-pocketbook scam.

Every one of our pro-crime candidates comes equipped with a standard speech for delivery at a public rally. If television news shows fail to use sound bites from the speech, our pro-crime candidate will deliver it in a paid political telecast, or in 10-, 20- or 30-second commercials, provided his opponent will pay for the television time.

Sample line from speech: "God forbid that this great country ever see the day when the voters choose to be governed by a man who would imprison his fellow citizens for committing those historic American felonies known to our forefathers as . . ."

Here the anti-crime politician using our services can insert in our pro-crime speech two crimes of his own choosing. There may be an additional charge for the basic speech if customers want our candidates to endorse the more distasteful crimes.

If, for instance, customers who want our pro-crime candidate to wage a gloves-off, no-holds-barred campaign in favor of murder and arson will naturally be charged considerably more than those who are content with a campaign on behalf of more driving with suspended licenses and decriminalizing the act of impersonating a policeman.

The basic fee entitles anti-crime politicians to choose one of the following three bumper stickers for our pro-crime candidates' cars: (1) "Criminals Don't Bother People, People Do"; (2) "Support Your Local Drug Pusher"; (3) "John Gotti Said It, I Believe It, And That Settles It."

Please note that our candidates are honest working people. They are not criminals, nor even politicians, and will not engage in criminal acts to assure victory for anti-crime politicians.

VTC For a supplemental charge, however, they will participate in staged "Moments of Illegality," illustrating what they hope to accomplish for the advancement of crime if elected.

In a typical "Moment," our candidate, visiting Washington, is accosted on the Capitol steps by a lobbyist wearing tasseled loafers and offering an illegal campaign contribution. Turning to the camera, he says:

"Can you believe, my fellow Americans, that under our present criminal-hating law I am forbidden to let decent citizens like this lobbyist give me so much money that even after buying the election I'd have enough left over to buy a 30-room house plus a little island in the Aegean for a summer place?"

Production costs of these "Moments" must, of course, be borne by the customer. (These include the cost of supplying tasseled loafers.) We supply free of charge, however, two videotapes of the "Moment," suitable for showing at lodge luncheons and League of Women Voters meetings.

Now what about debating? What is a campaign without a debate these days? Since our pro-crime candidates are honest working people rather than politicians, most are neither capable of nor interested in political argument.

For this reason we train each one to memorize an argument in praise of criminal drug activity. Its burden: Drug crime provides a living income for many thousands of poor, uneducated and unemployable young men. Moreover, since it flourishes in poor neighborhoods, its victims are mostly the poor.

If the crime did not exist, all those unemployable young men desperate for money would inevitably be forced to turn to other crimes, which might bring them down on unpoor neighborhoods where the victims would be the unpoor. In short, the illegal drug business is a blessing to the unpoor, and we ought to leave it alone.

We have designed this argument to cue the authentic anti-crime candidate to his explanation why practically everybody should be in prison, in most cases, forever.

Russell Baker is a columnist for the New York Times.

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