Crise financeira e virtude

"The world has been capitalized on paper. Every time a fellow had a new idea, they'd increase the capital stock — give themselves so much cash and their stockholders so much paper. The rich got richer; the stockholders speculated with the paper. Someone found out it paid to keep a rumor factory going. Someone else interested women in gambling on the big board. The world was wild.

"Amalgamations took place. The more clever a fellow was with turning paper recapitalizations into cash, the greater became his vice-presidential titles. Young men who ought, many of them, to be resting behind the bars of penitentiaries for stealing paper rose overnight in the world of prosperity. Our entire prospectus of living turned topsy-turvy.

"Crooked bankers who take people's hard-earned cash for stock they know is worthless would be far better clients at penal institutions than the poor little man who robs so that his wife and babies may live. Why, down in Florida, the year I lived there, a shady newspaper publisher's friend was running a bank. He had unloaded a lot of worthless securities upon unsuspecting people. One day his bank went flooey. I was just thanking the powers that be that he'd got what was coming to him when I learned of another business trick that would make safe-cracking look like miniature golf.

"The crooked publisher and the banker were urging bankrupt depositors who were being paid thirty cents on the dollar to put their money in another friend's bank. Many did so; and just about sixty days later that bank collapsed like a house of cards too.

"Do you think those bankers went to jail? No, sir. They're among Florida's most representative citizens. They're just as bad as the crooked politicians! I ought to know about them. I've been feeding and clothing them long enough. I never knew until I got into this racket how many crooks there were dressed in expensive clothes and talking with affected accents.

"Why, when I was held the other day for evasion of federal taxes I nearly got myself into a fine pickle. Certain officials wished to make a bargain with me. If I'd plead guilty and go to jail for two and a half years they'd dismiss the charges they had against me. A pretty penny had to be paid, but I thought that that was better than the strain of a long-winded trial. A day or so before the bargain was to be struck, though, I learned that someone was going to go to the Appellate Court and that there'd be a fly in the ointment and they'd have me in Leavenworth for ten and a half years. So I decided I could be just as foxy, and we entered a plea of not guilty, and when the case comes up we'll see what we will see.

"A little while ago in one of the Chicago newspapers it said that a local millionaire manufacturer had been found to be some fifty-five thousand dollars in arrears with his personal-property tax. A day later it was printed that this had been printed in error, and that the situation had been satisfactorily cleaned up.

"If Mr. Hoover's government wants me to explain my federal taxes I shall be very glad to do so. I think I could enlighten him and several other officials a considerable bit, and any time they need any sensational matters to talk about I shall have them ready to give out.

"Graft," he continued, "is a byword in American life today. It is law where no other law is obeyed. It is undermining this country. The honest lawmakers of any city can be counted on your fingers. I could count Chicago's on one hand!

"Virtue, honor, truth, and the law have all vanished from our life. We are smart-Alecky. We like to be able to 'get away with' things. And if we can't make a living at some honest profession, we're going to make one anyway."

Al Capone, 17 de Outubro de 1931

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