The Public Interest

Outlaw economics

Louis Winnick

Winter 1995

SURROUNDING America’s towering measured economy toils an unmeasured economy of frenetic energy and voluminous dimension. Unweighed, unscaled, it waxes fatter every year, engorging on a global drug market and incessant tides of immigrants. The second economy’s appetite is continuously whetted and restored by burdensome taxes and regulations, a pervasive mistrust of government’s prying busybodies, and, of course, the criminal code. Moreover, contrary to Harry Greenfield’s title, Invisible, Outlawed, and Untaxed: Americas Underground Economy,† the underground economy is not at all invisible. Its labor force is employed in myriad factories, farms, and homes, and no small part of it is openly and defiantly engaged on inner-city streets. An elaborate money-laundering system connects major branches of the upper and lower economies through convoluted circuits that join Jackson Heights to Medellin, Caribbean isles to Alpine banking centers. 

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