There's an article in today's "New York Times" about a restauranteur, Vincenzo Conticello, in Italy who's refusing to pay what's known as a "pizzo" to the Mafia.
The pizzo is a protection fee. In Conticello's case, the pizzo runs to tens of thousands of euros. When he refused to pay, some of his customers' cars were damaged. One of his house cats was killed. Arson is another popular tactic. As is murder.
According to the "Daily Telegraph," around 80% of businesses in Italy pay a pizzo. This translates into untold millions of euros in graft.
Contincello is joining a small but growing movement to resist the pizzo. He says, "I know that many prefer to pay the pizzo. But in the long term we become slaves of criminality..."
Naturally, I think some form of pizzo is in effect in our business. Four major holding companies hold 70% of the ad business in New York. Which likely "limits trade, movement, salaries and benefits."
The advertising pizzo also places restraints on your freedom. There are no longer scores of shops to choose from. Instead there are essentially four.
It ain't criminal what the unofficial gang of four are doing. There's no anti-trust legislation in the ad business. And of course, you're "at will." You can quit any time.
But it still feels, at least some days, that we have become slaves to a system.