Writing Contest: Semifinalist

Law and Order

Geoff Basel, Columbia High School, Columbia Station, OH (Teacher: John Sheridan)

The show I chose for the Federal Reserve essay contest is Law and Order on NBC. Law and Order is the longest-running crime series and the second-longest-running drama series in the history of television. It is now in its sixteenth season, and has won awards such as the Emmy. It ties shows such as Cheers and Mash for nominations (with eleven). It has spawned a number of related shows, such as Law and Order SVU, Law and Order Criminal Intent, Law and Order Crime and Punishment, and Law and Order Trial by Jury. The show gives an equal amount of time to investigation and to the prosecution, thus dividing the show into thirty-minute segments. This fictional yet realistic drama looks at crime in two lights, those of detectives who investigate the crimes and of the prosecutors who prosecute the criminals. In the first half hour, detectives Joe Fontana (Dennis Farina) and Edward Green (Jesse L. Martin) investigate crimes and apprehend suspects under the supervision of their lieutenant, Anita Van Buren (S. Epatha Merkerson). Then the focus shifts to the criminal courts, as Executive Assistant District Attorney Jack McCoy (Sam Waterston) and Assistant District Attorney Alexandra Borgia (Annie Parisse) work under the guidance of District Attorney Arthur Branch (Fred Dalton Thompson). The investigations are challenging and the prosecutions are complicated. The complex process of determining guilt and innocence often leaves lives hanging in the balance. The show is filmed entirely in and around New York City. For the second part of my essay, I’m going to talk about things such as drugs and other criminal activities. I will discuss how these affect the economy. First, I am going to talk about how drugs affect the economy. Drugs affect the economy by creating drug addicts who, in most cases, perform criminal acts like stealing, which in turn raise the cost of goods. Stealing raises the costs because retailers have to pass their losses onto the consumer. That is the only way for them to make up for the money they lose on the stolen merchandise. Drugs cause other problems too. The government has to spend a lot of money enforcing drug laws, arresting drug dealers, and prosecuting them. Drug dealers and drug addicts commit crimes, are captured, and end up in prison. As an example, an addict steals a car, thus raising the price of cars, then gets caught, and then is incarcerated. This action and reaction makes the government and consumer spend more money. The consumer has to spend more money because the car dealer needs to make up for the price of the stolen car, and the government needs to pay to support the prisoner for however long he is in prison. One man stealing a car is not going to raise the prices of all cars, but 10,000 men stealing cars will indeed raise costs. Drug addicts often times end up homeless, putting another strain on the economy. This causes cities to step in and fund things like homeless shelters, where they house and feed addicts. If you have a functioning addict, one who works in a corporation, their decision-making skills are impaired, and the drug reduces their ability to do their jobs properly in situations like this. You may find white-collar crime such as embezzlement, loss of clients because of bad judgment, and/or fraudulent use of trade secrets. In general, medical costs are a drain on the economy, too, because it has to absorb the cost of medical care for drug addicts in free clinics. Poverty can result from many different situations. Some families live from paycheck to paycheck, and when they are laid off or fired, they have no income and sometimes are forced to live on the streets. Some families have lived on welfare for many years and were already poor. When the welfare laws changed to limiting the length of time that a person can collect welfare, the people who lost their welfare dollars fell into abject poverty with no means of support. Sometimes people without means turn to crime because they see no other way to get any money. For the final portion of my paper, I will discuss how the show, Law and Order, relates to the economy. The show illustrates crime and punishment and how crime can destroy the economy where the crime is committed. When a neighborhood becomes riddled with crime, many people move out of the area, leaving local retailers to fend for themselves. Then, the same neighborhood can become poverty-stricken because the retailers don’t have customers. And then, the state can become poor by paying the cost of arresting and incarcerating the prisoners. The economy relies on goods and services. If people are nonproductive, and only consume and do not produce, the economy suffers. A good economy relies on each member pulling their weight and doing their share. As demonstrated in the show, people who only take from the economy, drain the economy. The people who contribute to the economy and are good, lawabiding citizens are forced to pick up the slack and pay the price. Sometimes they are not able to take on the extra weight of the non-contributors. They can be forced down to the poverty level themselves by having to contribute more and more of their own money to helping those who choose to destroy, rather than create, a good economy. In the end, drugs, poverty, crime, and a good or a bad economy affect each and every one of us in different ways. Law and Order and similar shows clearly illustrate the good and the bad and how life is impacted by the behavior of people and their choices. Sources Economics: Today and Tomorrow. Glencoe/McGraw Hill http://www.tv.com