Welcome, Jersey Guy, hope to see many thoughtful posts from you! smile I'm not disagreeing with you, but I think your assessment of pros and cons is a product of an earlier era in the Mafia:

Italians probably were the most discriminated-against white immigrants to America. Coupled with the insularity and distrust of government institutions (including schools) that they brought with them from Southern Italy and Sicily, Italian Americans resisted assimilation for a couple of generations. For some, the Mafia became the "employer of last resort," like the phone company was for WASPS in middle sized cities. In those days, Mafia life was more straightforward and predictable. A Mafia soldier had a reasonably good understanding of the risks and rewards of Mafia life. If he was loyal and honored omerta, he'd be taken care of. Typical was Joe Valachi--a small-time common soldier. He made more than $100k/year during WWII selling stolen and counterfeit rationing stamps. But when he dabbled in drugs and was caught, he went away. He broke omerta because he thought his boss, Vito Genovese, a fellow prisoner in the Atlanta Penitentiary, betrayed him.

Another factor: Nearly all Mafiosi were common street thugs. All the finger-pricking and vows were embellishments on straighforward criminality. But a few--Tony Accardo, Charlie Luciano, Carlo Gambino, Frank Costello and a handful of others--were superior, and could have been successful in business, the professions and the arts if they'd had the chance. Today Italian Americans have completely assimilated: college, not the streets, is where you'll find the young, ambitions men. Corporate boardrooms, not the Mob, is where you find the successful people. The Mafia gets the John and Junior Gotti's, and the Gaspipe Casso's of the world. tongue

Mob life used to be "cosa nostra." Today, there's no shred of loyalty or (excuse the expression) "honor." It's cosa mia. tongue

Ntra la porta tua lu sangu sparsu,
E nun me mporta si ce muoru accisu...
E s'iddu muoru e vaju mparadisu
Si nun ce truovo a ttia, mancu ce trasu.