Your October 1998 issue struck a particularly agreeable note. I am 62, and the society that I knew as a child and young man has been so corrupted that, when I describe that former time to young people, they believe I am indulging some sort of fantasy.

Still, the question posed by Thomas Fleming (“Mob Rules“) seems unduly tentative: “What if politics in the modern state really is, by definition, a criminal profession?” We know the answer to that question. The United States government is, today, the largest and most successful criminal enterprise in all of human history.

It began in exactly the same way that the Mafia began, with limited goals and limited demands. The defense of the nation, courts of law, interstate trade, international trade and tariffs, a common currency, and common dealings with foreign powers were funded by agreeable extortions: It was protection. We paid a little, and we got peace of mind. It was no big deal. There were benefits.

But both the Mafia and the government discovered, at about the same time, that they could go “big time” by transferring wealth from the pockets of those who actually produce something to those who produce nothing. Unlike the Mafia, however, the government made no attempt to limit its membership; it would accept everyone who applied. But it turned out that there were too many people to take care of. More and more money had to be extorted from the victim-citizen, and inevitably, the producer lost his incentive to keep producing.

Is the mob taking over the United States? To the contrary. The government has replaced the mob, with one important difference: Uncle Sam no longer provides protection for those who pay up.

        —George E. Mohun, M.D.
Novato, CA