The Bust Out

A “bust out”, for those weak on their popular culture, is where a Mafia group takes over some business, usually a restaurant or store. The owner may be in debt or just intimidated. They help themselves to free food, booze, or merchandise, perhaps harassing or abusing the staff in the process. Eventually the business ceases to function. They then buy as much easily sold stuff as they can on the store’s credit and sell it elsewhere for cash. When the corpse is completely picked clean they burn it for the insurance money.

This has been portrayed fictionally on “The Sopranos”, where it involved a sporting goods store owned by a hapless gambler, and in “Goodfellas”, involving a restaurant. “Goodfellas” was based on the true story of a low-level mobster, who reported doing it many times in “Wiseguys”.

Gonzalo Lira reports the looting of a retail chain in Chile by corrupt management. As he says, the fate of a modest retailer in Latin America is easily looked over, but it reflects the environment of the world at large.

The business in question is a truly public company, that is not largely owned by one family. Latin America is, in general, a low-trust society. Numerous public companies operate in the Anglosphere with nothing like the same kind of corruption as this one; but the problem is still wide-spread.

Lira mentions the investment banks and mortgage lenders as examples of out-and-out looting in the US. This was largely pushed by the government; the worst examples were subprime mortgages and municipal bonds in Birmingham. Corporate corruption in the US generally isn’t as blatant, but self-dealing is the norm.

Businesses are thought of as conservative enterprises, but it makes sense for businesses over a certain size to cooperate with the government. It keeps regulators off their back, and regulation discourages competition. The managers- the ones making the decisions- want a steady flow of cash for salaries and bonuses, and hopefully rising profits for good stock prices.

No one “owns” a public business. The shareholders can complain, but short of owning a huge portion of the stock, they have no influence. Neither does anyone “own” the government. The voters can complain, and vote, but in general it does what it does regardless.

The closest thing to “owners” for a public corporation are the managers, and for the government are its employees. They have an interest in keeping the money rolling in, but also have a finite involvement with it- government employees longer than corporate managers, theoretically until retirement, but people rarely have more of a future orientation than a few years anyway.

Who cares what happens later? If the entity collapses, salaries have been drawn, benefits used, and pensions are safe in a separate fund, never to be touched. Keep the money coming, by stealth, by lies, in the end by threats and intimidation. Put the loot in your trunk and watch it burn. It’s a bust out.

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About thrasymachus33308

I like fast cars, fast women and southern-fried rock. I have an ongoing beef with George Orwell. I take my name from a character in Plato's "Republic" who was exasperated with the kind of turgid BS that passed for deep thought and political discourse in that time and place, just as I am today. The character, whose name means "fierce fighter" was based on a real person but nobody knows for sure what his actual political beliefs were. I take my pseudonym from a character in an Adam Sandler song who was a obnoxious jerk who pissed off everybody.
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One Response to The Bust Out

  1. Pingback: Linkage is Good for You: In Absentia Edition

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