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Robber Barons

ALTHOUGH WHITE-COLLAR crime and unethical business practices are certainly not unique to American companies, there is a prolifically fertile landscape for the roots of such behavior in the country's indefatigable pursuit of capitalism, its unapologetic emphasis on success and the accumulation of material wealth, and the precedence set by America's early capitalist tycoons.

Howard Abadinsky, one of America's foremost scholars on organized crime, goes so far as to characterize the capitalist pioneers of the United States—men like John Jacob Astor, James Fisk, Leland Stanford, John D. Rockefeller, Cornelius Vanderbilt, and J. Pierpont Morgan, among others—as the “antecedents” to organized crime in the country. “While contemporary organized crime has its roots in Prohibition (1920 to 1933), unscrupulous American business entrepreneurs provided role models and created a climate ...

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