The Public Interest

Fact, fancy, and organized crime

Jonathan B. Rubinstein & Peter Reuter

Fall 1978

ORGANIZED crime has become firmly established on the agenda of national problems requiring Federal action for control. Since it was made a national issue by the Kefauver Committee’s successful exploitation of the latent power of the emerging television networks, every President has been required to make a statement deploring the growth of organized crime and outlining a program to eliminate it. As an issue, its rise to prominence has not been slowed by the failure of any legislative or administrative body to define adequately what it is, or who is involved.  Lacking such a definition, it is obviously difficult to determine whether the phenomenon is indeed growing or declining-but this has not prevented the continued, and successful, demand for increased authority and resources to fight it. The evident lack of any strategy behind these demands also has had a curiously small impact.  Countless government reports are filled with “estimates” of the degree to which organized crime controls lucrative illegal activities, whose monopoly profits are then used to take over legitimate industries.

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