A Grifter is someone who swindles people through deception or fraud. The term is a contraction of "Graft" and "drift" and refers to the need of classic con artists to leave town before they got caught. Graft meaning "to secure illicit gains in business or government through fraud and/or deception; by corruption."
It's all Perfectly Legit Mam!
Of course, "illicit gains" can be perfectly legal theft when grifters dominate government because they can parse, or write laws, to legalize their behavior. Such grifters don't need to blow town unless people are so oppressed and dispossessed by their behavior that they catch on.
Modern Grifters are Privateers
Modern Grifters operate by "privatizing" public goods and services, and then charging a premium, or even using them to extort premiums from marks. This is nothing new. It is said that Crassus, one of Julius Caesar's rivals, ran a fire department that extorted from business people and home owners the purchase of a medallion. If the home owners didn't purchase the medallion, it is said that the fire department would burn their house down! Such is the operation of Grifters who engage in privateering past and present. They will tell people that operating a fire department, a health care system, or some other "necessary social function", can only be done well if that system is in private hands. Then they threaten to burn your house down if you don't pay them enough so that you can be filthy rich, like Crassus was. These are old cons. But we fall for them every time. Crassus became an Oligarch, then was pushed aside by Julius Caesar for a pure tyranny.
Grifting versus Public Interest
- Related Posts:
- Pirates and Privateers of America
- Grifters Oligarchs and Pirates
- Origins of East India Company Pirates
- Further Reading
- A Sustainable Economic Policy
- Definitions of Labor and Capital
- Tricky politicians
- Economic Rents are Private taxes
- Henry George on Income tax
- ***note, the story on HG & income tax is nuanced as George objected to wages being taxed, not the concept