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Blue Collar vs. White Collar Crime
There are many distinctions that can be made regarding different types of crime, but people seem to like to make simple distinctions so that they do not have to think about it too much. So, crime can easily be broken into two broad categories which give a broad description of what they are. The first division is called "blue collar crimes" and they make up the largest part of what people regard as crime. All violent crimes and direct crimes against individuals are in this group. The second designation is white collar crime. These are generally crimes that are done for some type of financial gain and are usually perpetrated against a large group of people at the same time. This essay looks at these two different types of crime as they relate to type, victims and punishment.
Types of Crimes Committed
The nomenclature of the two types of crime has to do with, or originally had to do with, was the color and style of collar worm by the average person working in an office (white) versus the style and color worn by a person who works for a living (blue) (Bly). Therefore, white collar crime refers to those done, which some in the past have called victimless, that involve money more than individual people. Blue collar types of crimes are those like rape and murder which are more likely to occur to those farther down the socioeconomic scale.
A great recent example of white collar crime is that perpetrated by Bernie Madoff. He was, supposedly, a hedge fund manager who was making his investors rich. The problem was that, through accounting wizardry (apparently he kept two sets of books), he was bilking the investors out of tens of millions of dollars while making them think he was making them immensely wealthy (FBI). He was eventually caught by an FBI probe that had looked into his fund and found that most of the earnings were falsified.
Another way to describe the difference in a blue collar crime and that done by a person like Bernie Madoff concerns the temperature of their blood. White collar crimes are calculated and long-term (FBI). Therefore they can be said to be cold-blooded. In this sense, and from the immense damage they are likely to do to a greater number of people, these crimes should actually be judged much more harshly than they are. Blue collar crimes are hot-blooded, or passionate, actions (Bly). While there may be a cold-blooded, calculating aspect to some of them, many are done in the heat of the moment when the passions are the highest.
Blue collar crimes take this form because they are done face-to-face. The perpetrator and the victim see each other, often know each other, and the crime is still committed. Many are also power crimes, such as rape and murder, which are meant to demonstrate one person's dominance over another (Doring). These are often not crimes that are meant to give the criminal any financial gain, although robbery is labeled as a blue collar crime most of the time, they are meant to create mayhem.
Victims Affected by Different Crimes
This is an interesting study because there are so many different types of crime that fall under the "blue collar" label, and very few that are seen as truly white collar. It is also interesting that a white collar worker can commit a blue collar crime, but, really, not the other way around. The victims of these crimes then are very different, but in another sense they are very much the same.
The reason for saying that they are the same is that it is often blue collar types, the average worker who has unfortunately depended on unscrupulous managers to provide them with a job and a pension. These people are often extremely surprised when all of their life savings vanish because a group of individuals lost it all while trying to somehow make themselves immensely rich by thwarting the rules (D'Alleva). A good example of this was the Enron scandal. The company executives at Enron were using the employee pension fund, and other company monies, as a hedge to grow their business. Unfortunately, they were also presenting profits on the books they presented too the SEC which were not real. The company eventually collapsed under its own weight, and people who were already retired but either had company guaranteed 401k money, or a pension that was guaranteed by Enron, lost their entire retirement. For some people this amounted to more than a million dollars in savings. Thousands of people lost their jobs and their savings in an instant because a few people were involved in criminal actions with the company money. The executives basically laughed the whole thing off and received a very light sentence for the immensity of the crimes they had committed against a great number of people.
The victims of blue collar crimes are usually more limited, but they are no less devastated. One author says that victims of blue collar crimes can be seen as forming concentric rings with the most affected on the inner circle and those who are less so on the receding circles of the ripple (Doring). This is due to the fact that there may be a single individual who is the target of a murder, but there are others in their sphere who are also victims. The murder victim may have been the sole provider for a family which now has to sell the family house, live on the street, accept lower paying jobs, go to a more crime ridden school, etc. In a recent case a little girl, who has achieved national recognition because of a letter she wrote to the drunk driver who paralyzed her from the chest down, proved the example for the victims of blue collar crime. She was the same as any pre-teen girl who was preparing for her eighth birthday party. The drunk driver made her a paralytic for life, but he affected other people also. Her parents now have medical bills that have taken away some of the income they may have been able to use to send their children to college, the little girl requires constant supervision and someone to help her with such functions as going to the bathroom, the school system now has to provide for her to have someone to help her during the day as she attends school, and the list goes on from there. One small action caused a ripple effect which, in some ways, altered the lives of many more people than just the victim.
Treatment/Punishment of Criminal
When people think of the punishment that criminals receive it is usually that garnered by blue collar criminals. Blue crime can generate anything from a simple fine to a death sentence. It is unlikely that a white collar criminal will receive the death penalty for their actions unless there is some type of blue collar crime also involved. The reason that white collar crimes are not considered capital offenses is two-fold, and needs some explaining.
The two issues involved in the sentencing harshness, or lack thereof, for white collar crimes is the fact that for many years they have been considered largely victimless, and because the people who pass laws wear the same color collars. Lawmakers, and, to be perfectly honest, the population in general, does not consider greed, no matter how many people it hurts, as a sin that is as deadly as murder or armed robbery. The number of victims is not considered in sentencing as much as whether the victim was physically harmed or not (Bly). However, white collar crimes are receiving much stiffer sentences in today's world because people are beginning…[continue]
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