Friday, March 13, 2009

Power and Greed, #3

Madoff comes clean...what a guy! After 20 or so years of running a major criminal enterprise, he's remorseful. And, he did it all himself. Not a single one of his family members, including a son who was his firm's "compliance officer", had a clue he wasn't on the up and up. Right. Madoff was a creep, is a creep, and always will be a creep. And it's likely the entire clan is complicit in the largest financial fraud in modern history. I want to see a large wing of a starkly-decorated federal prison prepared for their near-term occupancy, and I bet a whole bunch of investigators are working on putting them there as I write.

The Madoff episode is not an anomaly. It's simply the most visible aspect of the gluttonous financial culture in the Big Apple and environs. It's an insider's game. Insiders run the financial show, they make the rules, they pay the white shoe attorneys, and they can often intimidate or bribe employees of the federal government. Their ridiculous pay and bonuses are "earned" by their ability to keep all the firms and their customers feeding at the same trough. It's a culture that rewards failures with "golden parachutes". How can you lose?

I like capitalism. I think that people who work hard and create value should reap greater rewards than those who don't. What I don't like are "capitalists" who rig the game. And what I hate are the crooks. It's time for tougher regulations, greater scrutiny, harsher penalties for white collar crime, and higher tax rates on the "earned income" of millionaire managers. If these actions could be retroactive for ten years, I'd be a really happy camper.


Anonymous said...

Madoff's "investors" were getting returns of between 17% and 42%. That should have raised a few eyebrows long ago.

It's amazing to me how quickly capitalism imploded once a few regulations were relaxed. It's kind of like the space shuttle: it's an amazing bit of machinery when it works, but if one tiny o-ring springs a leak…

Anonymous said...

Remorseful. Yeah, he is super remorseful that he got caught.
His "clients" (many, perhaps not all) knew the deal. I am feeling decidedly less sorry for them than some others are. ~ Mary

leslie said...

Try writing off the United States as one big Ponzi Scheme and you'll have more time for golf and less need for quotation marks.