"We have never stopped sin by passing laws; and in the same way, we are not going to take a great moral ideal and achieve it merely by law." ~ Dwight D. Eisenhower
Addiopizzo -- Addiotasse
Exclusive to STR
One of the headlines on the Yahoo News home page on 13 January was "Website and crackdowns weakening Mafia's grip on Sicily ."
In the summer of 2004, some young people in Palermo wanted to start a business. One of them asked the question: "What about the pizzo?" (The "pizzo" is the "protection money" extorted by the Mafia from businesses in Sicily and elsewhere.) They answered the question by posting a large number of signs all over Palermo :
"Un intero popolo che paga il pizzo e un popolo senza dignita."
An entire people who pay the pizzo is a people without dignity.
Several business leaders rallied to their cause; and the result is an organization -- Addiopizzo -- Good-by to the Pizzo ' dedicated to ending the Sicilian Mafia's reign of extortion, fear, and death.
Many businesspeople in Sicily are now joining Addiopizzo; they are uniting in opposition to the Mafia and to paying the pizzo. In addition to the group in Palermo , there is another related group in Catania , Sicily 's second-largest city. And there is a website, http://www.addiopizzo.org, which has versions in several languages, including English.
The Mafia makes life miserable for people who do not pay the pizzo. But now the tables are being turned: some business organizations are making life miserable for people who continue to pay the pizzo. It appears that the Sicilian Mafia is finally on the defensive.
So far, so good. Most people applaud the Addiopizzo organization, its agenda, and its courageous leaders. But these same people would be surprised to learn that there is a larger, more fundamental, and much more important dimension to the concept of Addiopizzo: Addiotasse -- Good-by to the taxes.
* * *
No one signs a contract with the Mafia: there is no explicit understanding of the pizzo transaction; the "protection" provided by the Mafia is bogus; and the victims who pay the pizzo gain only a short respite before the pizzo extortion cycle begins again.
No one signs a contract with the Government; there is no explicit understanding of the tax transaction; the "protection" provided by the Government is bogus: the riots, the revolutions, and the wars continue. Indeed, the taxes cause the riots and the revolutions, and make the wars inevitable. And the victims who pay the taxes gain only a short respite before the tax extortion cycle begins again.
There is one crucial difference between the Mafia and the Government: The Government controls the education system, and teaches everyone to believe that the laws and the taxes are legitimate, but that the decrees of the Capo Mafioso and paying the pizzo are not legitimate. The Mafia cannot compete with the Government's propaganda machine.
* * *
The Italian Government has much greater resources and support than does the Italian Mafia. Why hasn't the Italian Government destroyed the Italian Mafia -- long ago?
The Russian Government has much greater resources and support than does the Russian Mafia. Why hasn't the Russian Government destroyed the Russian Mafia -- long ago?
The American Government has much greater resources and support than does the American Mafia. Why hasn't the American Government destroyed the American Mafia -- long ago?
Because these Governments need their respective Mafias. One of the alleged purposes of Government is "to fight organized crime." But if a Government destroyed its Mafia, it would have one less reason to exist, one less rationale to collect its taxes, one less excuse to control its citizens. Therefore, all Governments need their respective Mafias; and all Government programs to fight organized crime are basically bogus, which is why the Italian Mafia, the Russian Mafia, and the American Mafia are still in business.
The Mafia needs the Government too. The Mafia provides certain goods and services that are demanded in the marketplace, but which have been declared illegal by the Government: drugs, prostitution, etc. The laws against these goods and services increase the risk of providing them; and this "risk premium" is passed on to the Mafia's customers in the form of higher prices for drugs, prostitution, etc. If drugs were legal, and if prostitution were legal, that risk premium would disappear; prices for drugs and prostitution would be much lower; and the incentive for the Mafia to provide these goods and services would also disappear. The result would be less drugs and prostitution. Once again, the Mafia needs the Government.
And so we conclude that the Government and the Mafia need each other. The Government and the Mafia are partners in a Brotherhood of Evil.
* * *
Consider the "protection" offered by the Mafia and the Government.
The Capo Mafioso in Palermo flunked out of grade school; he rides around on a donkey and never appears on TV; he has a few "torpedoes" to do his dirty work; when he is angry, a few Sicilians die; we seldom see it in the news. The "Capo Mafioso" in Washington was miseducated at Yale; he rides around in a limousine and appears every day on TV; he has a Pentagon full of West Point and Annapolis peacekeepers ' and legions of "torpedoes" all around the world -- to do his dirty work; when he is angry, thousands of Iraqis die; every day it fills the news. Now, which Boss is the greater threat to peace?
The Capo Mafioso in Palermo is armed with a Beretta and a tommy gun. But the "Capo Mafioso" in Washington is armed with weapons of mass destruction that one of his predecessors used to incinerate Hiroshima and Nagasaki . Now, which Boss is the greater threat to human survival?
The Mafia and the Government are running "protection" rackets; all of these "protection" rackets routinely fail. The greatest failure of the Mafia "protection" racket was the St. Valentine's Day Massacre, which lasted six seconds and killed six thugs. But the greatest failure of the Government "protection" racket was World War II, which lasted six years and killed sixty million human beings, none of whom understood the organized criminal nature of all forms of Government, nor the futility of their own suffering and death. Now, which form of "protection" do you prefer?
* * *
The Mafia extorts pizzo money by threatening its victims: "Pay or die." It succeeds by instilling fear in its victims. The Government extorts tax money by miseducating its citizens to pay taxes and then threatening them: "Pay or go to jail." Like the Mafia, the Government succeeds by instilling fear in its victims. The truth is obvious: Most people fear the Mafia and most people fear the tax collector. The modus operandi of the Mafia and the modus operandi of the Government are similar, because the Mafia and the Government are similar. The only difference between a Mafia pizzo and a Government tax is the Government miseducation which brainwashes everyone to believe that the Government tax is legitimate. A tax may be legally legitimate, simply because the Government has decreed it to be so. But no Government tax is morally legitimate, because no one has ever agreed -- voluntarily, explicitly, and contractually -- to obey and to pay. In a rational society of sovereign individuals, a person is morally accountable and financially responsible only for those actions to which he/she has explicitly and contractually agreed.
Here's the bottom line: The pizzo is a legally illegitimate tax, and the Mafia is a legally illegitimate Government. A tax is a legally legitimate pizzo, and the Government is a legally legitimate Mafia. But neither the Mafia nor the Government is morally legitimate -- because no one ever voluntarily signs an explicit contract with either the Mafia or the Government -- to obey, to pay, to fight, and to die.
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During the Twentieth Century, the Mafia killed a few thousand people. But during that same century, the Governments of the world killed more than two hundred million people, most of whom were their own citizens who believed the Myth of The State: they obeyed the laws, they paid the taxes, they fought the wars -- and they died.
The Addiopizzo organization is ending the Mafia's reign of extortion, fear, and death. But where is the Addiotasse organization to end the Government's reign of extortion, fear, and death?
* * *
The home page of www.addiopizzo.org makes this incisive statement:
"As long as somebody continues to pay the pizzo, we will not be free. Because if my baker pays the pizzo, I am giving money to the Mafia when I buy bread too, and so I submit myself to the Mafia."
That should be paraphrased as follows:
As long as somebody continues to pay the taxes, we will not be free. Because if my baker pays the taxes, I am giving money to the Government when I buy bread too, and so I submit myself to the Government -- and to all of the Government's scandals, riots, revolutions, and wars.
Un intero popolo che paga le tasse e un popolo senza liberta.
An entire people who pay the taxes is a people without liberty.
Addiopizzo: Good-by to the pizzo.
Addiotasse: Good-by to the taxes.
Freedom in our time.