Systematic Crimes of the Powerful: Criminal Aspects of the Global Economy

By Mackenzie, Simon | Social Justice, Spring 2006 | Go to article overview

Systematic Crimes of the Powerful: Criminal Aspects of the Global Economy


Mackenzie, Simon, Social Justice


The Criminological Contours of Global Poverty

AT THE G8 SUMMIT IN GLENEAGLES IN JULY 2005, LEADERS OF THE WORLD'S eight richest countries finally agreed to write off 100% of the debt owed by 18 of the world s poorest countries, totaling around $40 billion. Such apparent altruism gives us pause to consider the historical development of these international debts, and the political economy, which may help us to give context to the generosity of the G8. The agreement to write off these debts came under the Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative, which links debt forgiveness to the implementation and maintenance of macroeconomic, poverty-reduction, and structural reform policies satisfactory to the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). In total, 38 countries are currently considered HIPCs; debt-relief campaigners argue that the total should be 62. It is difficult not to praise this debt relief, insufficient as it may be, knowing that it will save lives. As it is linked to the policy requirements of the World Bank and the IMF, however, we should ask whether these policies are themselves helpful in relieving poverty, and whether they have systematically beneficial outputs to poor countries, to rich countries, or are neutral in this regard. Or, more tersely, do we agree that "a man is benefiting his wife if he beats her up ever less frequently" (Pogge, 2004: 273)?

Almost half of the world's population (47%) together earn one-quarter percent of global income. Not one quarter of global income--which in itself might seem iniquitous--but one-quarter percent. One-fifth of the world's population exist in conditions of abject poverty (Kim et al., 2000). The harms caused by such massive poverty are manifold, and avoidable:

   We confront poverty statistics such as these: out of a total of
   6 billion human beings, some 2.8 billion live below $2/day,
   and nearly 1.2 billion of them live below the $1/day
   international poverty line. 799 million are undernourished, 1
   billion lack access to safe water, 2.4 billion lack access
   to basic sanitation, and 876 million adults are illiterate.
   More than 880
   million lack access to basic health services. Approximately 1
   billion have no adequate shelter and 2 billion no electricity. Two
   out of five children in the developing world are stunted, one in
   three is underweight, and one in ten is wasted ... Roughly
   one-third of all human deaths, some 50,000 daily, are due to
   poverty-related causes, easily preventable through better
   nutrition, safe drinking water, vaccines, cheap re-hydration
   packs, and antibiotics (Pogge, 2004: 265-266).

The analysis in this article begs two key questions. First, do we need to argue for the inclusion within criminology of some forms of currently noncriminal harm to conduct a criminological analysis of the global economy? That is, must we move beyond state definitions of crime to conduct a satisfactory critique of this type? Second, what is to be gained by arguing that harms consequent upon the workings of the global economy are or are not "crimes"?

Friedrichs and Friedrichs (2002) have addressed these questions in a criminological case study of the World Bank's building of a dam in Thailand. This study serves as the point of departure for the present inquiry, being as far as I am aware the first systematic attempt to analyze the actions of one of the International Financial Institutions (IFIs) as "a form of crime and a criminological phenomenon" (Ibid.: 13). In many ways, this approach is the natural extension of a respectable tradition acknowledging the artifice of the category of crime and its susceptibility to influence (including Sellin, 1938; Sutherland, 1940, 1945, 1949; Aubert, 1952; Becker, 1963; Geis, 1968; Schwendinger and Schwendinger, 1970; Cohen, 1972, 1993; Taylor, Walton, and Young, 1973; Reiman, 1979; Messner and Rosenfeld, 1994; Slapper and Tombs, 1999; Taylor, 1999; Christie, 2004-one could go on). …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Systematic Crimes of the Powerful: Criminal Aspects of the Global Economy
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.