8/CHRONICLESnPERSPECTIVEnSUCCESSFUL CRIMESnCrime is big business in the U.S. It is bigger than thenbilHons of dollars that are made in the drug trafficnevery year and the astronomical revenues from prostitution,ngambling, and armed robbery. (Robbers alone are estimatednto cost us $355 thousand a day.) Even honest citizens get anpiece of the action: law enforcement professionals, judgesnand lawyers, criminologists, and building contractors eagernto satisfy the demand for new prison construction—wherenwould they all be if we all suddenly started behavingnourselves?nEven after they retire from business, some criminalsncondnue to profit from their career. The Chicago Tribunenrecently disclosed that Aladena Fratianno has received morenthan $662,000 from the Federal government as reimbursementnfor testimony against his former colleagues. Last year,nhe had the effrontery to complain that he had lost moneynon the deal, but Fratianno has already recouped his lossesnby coauthoring a best-seller on—what else?—organizedncrime. As Dryden observed in a somewhat different context,n”Successful crimes alone are justified.”nUntil recentiy, the only class getting nothing out of thenbusiness were the ordinary Americans who are the victimsnof crime. In the past few years, however, 35 states havenestablished victims’ compensation programs. Most of themnprovide some form of reimbursement for medical expensesnor lost property. Several have followed New York’s lead innpassing so-called Son of Sam laws. Named in honor ofnserial murderer David Berkowitz, who signed his notesn”Son of Sam,” these statutes make it impossible for criminalsnto make money on books or movies describing theirnillegal activities. Such laws are endorsed by the President’sntask force on victims of crime.nIt is hard not to sympathize with the plight of crimenvictims, especially since the poor are the most frequentntargets of violent crimes. But before we commit ourselves asna nation to the general principle of victims’ compensation,nwe ought to be clear about where we are headed.nOne question almost no one seems to be asking is. Who’sngoing to pay? If a criminal is caught and convicted, henought to be made to shoulder the burden—if he can. Butnfew muggers or rapists are members of the New York StocknExchange. Crimes of violence are not only committednagainst the poor, they are committed by the poor, thenuneducated, and the unemployed. In some cases it isnpossible to set up a work-release program in which anconvicted felon surrenders part of his earnings to hisnvictim—or rather victims, since street criminals are rarelynone-time offenders. But it is unreasonable to suppose thatnmore than a tiny fraction of victims will ever benefit fromnsuch a program.nnnIn fact, it is the taxpayers who will end up underwritingnthe costs of any compensation program. Like anything thengovernment does undertake, it will end up costing far morenthan the money actually paid out to victims. As RobertnWoodson, president of the National Center for NeighborhoodnEnterprise, has shown, most of the Federal moneynallocated for victims’ restitution ends up in the pockets ofnprofessionals in the form of salaries and expenses. Likenmany worthy ideas, victims’ compensation will requirencostiy programs. Few state legislatures are currently disposednto mandate new programs that will result in higher taxes.nPredictably, there has been a call for Federal subsidy to thenstates. But if Vermonters and Nebraskans are rejectingnhigher taxes at the state level, why do we imagine they arenwilling to swallow higher Federal income taxes? Evenncongressmen have begun to realize they can’t fool all of thenpeople all of the time, however hard they try.nThe Son of Sam laws have the virtue of costing next tonnothing. If a criminal does write a successful book, then thenproceeds will go to the victims. But there is a serious dangernin these laws. Traditionally, an author has held “intellectualnproperty rights” in his creation. If a book makes money, henis entitied to a share of the profits. In our desire to punishnthe guilty, we should not let animosity blind us to thenserious constitutional question at stake. The idea of privatenproperty is far older than our Constitution, older even thannthe common law tradition that underlies the American legalnsystem. Are we ready to declare that there are some classesnof citizens who can be deprived of fundamental rights?nConvicted criminals do give up certain rights when theynenter prison, but once they have “paid their debt tonsociety,” they are free to enjoy the full rights of Americanncitizenship. How can we impose a permanent disability onnany citizen, and if we do, who can be entrusted with suchnpower? What is an even more serious question, where donwe draw the line? Some criminal activities involve politics.nPerhaps we should include members and former membersnof the Communist Party and the Ku Klux Klan, thenWatergate burglars, and anyone who burned a flag in 1968.nIf communities want to ban the publication and distributionnof books they find offensive, that is one thing. It’s calledncensorship, and it is something we have always done and,nperhaps, ought to do more of But we don’t have thenstomach for that, or so it seems. Instead we want to gonaround to the back door and undermine a basic foundationnof our civil liberties, all because of our deep sympathy fornthe victims.nOur response to violent crime is symptomatic of anmentality that can be traced at best to the beginning of thisncentury. We have it in our heads that crime and vice andn