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The Art Issue

Black-market Artists

Where'd all the money go? We know it's still there somewhere, but where'd it go?

Where’d all the money go? We know it’s still there somewhere, but where’d it go? Economists disagree as to exactly how much of our economy has gone underground, but they do agree on two major points: it is a fuck of a lot, and it’s never been more. Back in the 70s only 3–5 percent of the economy was underground. Today it’s at least twice that ($650 billion). That’s more than three times what America spends on Medicare. The IRS estimates that Americans neglected to report $1.5 trillion last year, and that doesn’t even include motherfucking crime! The problem keeps snowballing because once one person pulls it off, his neighbor says, “Why shouldn’t I try too?” Why wait in line for a green card when the government is granting random amnesties? Why grow soybeans when you can grow pot for (literally) 70 times the price? Why get harassed as a waitress and have your tips taxed when you can dance in a glass booth for $200 an hour? Everybody’s doing it, and if you don’t want to do it someone will be happy to force you to. And so it goes, until one day, all the money becomes invisible. The economies of Kentucky and West Virginia have been so replenished by the weed trade that local sheriffs prevent federal agents from busting growers. • The Houston Chronicle reported this March on a Galveston, Texas, medical-school supervisor who had made almost $18,000 selling finger- and toenails he purloined from donated cadavers. • According to a 2001 University of Pennsylvania study, an estimated 325,000 American kids age 17 or younger are either prostitutes or performers in porn. • Estimates of the total value of America’s marijuana crops fall between $11 billion and $30 billion yearly. Pot has been the biggest cash crop in the US for almost two decades running. • The American $100 bill is the most popular piece of currency used on the global black market. Today, three-quarters of all Benjamins circulate outside the US. • 759 million hardcore porn films were rented in the year 2001. • Migrant workers have a life expectancy of 49 years. The average American male life expectancy is around 73. • Black-market labor (usually performed by illegal aliens) has lowered the average American wage by 12 percent during the past five years. • According to a 2000 U.S. government study, more than 100,000 women in 20 states were sold into sexual slavery over the previous two years and authorities prosecuted fewer than 250 cases. • The art world generated $33 billion globally last year, but an estimated 28 percent more changes hands under the table. GAVIN MCINNES
For more on the future of anarchy check out two upcoming monsters on the topic: Prof. Edward Nell’s Hard Drugs & Easy Money from Norton, and Eric Schlosser’s Reefer Madness from Houghton Mifflin (yes, that is the Fast Food Nation guy).