Here’s an idea: Let’s all hate Bernie Madoff even though he never did anything to us! Feel better now? The guy didn’t kill anybody, didn’t start a war, isn’t a child molester and didn’t sell meth-amphetamine. What he did is do this country a favor and expose a corrupted system and a lot of corrupt people, himself included. He’s a con man, possibly the best one who ever lived. What he did was offer rich people unrealistically high returns on their investments, returns even a moron knows could have only been gotten illegally. Like all pyramid schemes, the early investors collected their 30% returns on their money like clockwork and never dreamed of alerting the authorities about what was obviously a scam. They were getting theirs and that’s all that mattered, figuring this heroin dealer-type of profit margin was their due as patricians. And like all pyramid schemes the thing eventually blew up in everyone’s face and their money went poof.
Well, these formerly rich people sure have a lot to say now, don’t they? And they would like you and I to hate Bernie Madoff like he was the second coming of Hitler or something. Bullshit! The guy simply followed the con man’s credo as laid down by W.C. Fields: “It’s a sin to let a sucker keep any of his money.” And this consummate con man also knew what every con man knows, that you cannot cheat an honest man. And if you had millions or billions in the first place, why would an honest man play it anything but safe with all that dough? Even the best of the best of Madoff’s competitors couldn’t promise half that amount of profit.
So what did that tell the greedy? That Madoff was “The Wizard of Wall Street.” Yeah, right, and John Dillinger was the Baron of Banking. So this country got a 50 billion dollar lesson on what can happen when Wall Street regulation is nonexistent. Not that we needed it on top of the $10 trillion plus that the nation’s banks, investment houses and insurance firms also made disappear, but it is an opportunity to examine the real motivations of America’s super wealthy people. Turns out that it’s greed, pure and simple. People that were already very wealthy and set for life thought it would be great if they could have more and more and more and more and fuck everybody else!
None of these fools thought of the sustainability of the great engines of our economy, their continuance for future generations. They even sabotaged the futures of their own children, for a century educated and groomed to join them in the lucrative financial service industries. Such is their greed that they screwed even their own children! And they join the chorus of boos directed at Bernie Madoff, who was at least an honest thief who did not claim otherwise when he got caught. These other guys want to hide behind a lot of misdirected phony anger and try to distance themselves from Madoff. Nice try, boneheads, but nobody’s buying what you’re selling anymore. Bernie only stole a mere 50 billion, a drop in the bucket compared to the sums these guys looted.
The Bush The Younger Administration took trillions out of the pockets of the middle classes and gave it directly to the super wealthy in the form of massive tax cuts for the rich, the largest peaceful transfer of wealth in human history. The lie is that this was done to generate investments and jobs. The truth is that they wanted it and took it because they could, period. There was no political philosophy other than greed, and the jobs and investments never materialized. The money went into jets, art collections, wine cellars, fabulous mansions and phony scams on a far greater scale that Madoff’s. Think of Nero building himself a colossal palace on an island in a huge man-made lake in the middle of Rome with the proceeds from looting Solomon’s temple. How’d that work out for the average Roman? Not so good, and not good for Nero either, who committed suicide at age 30, one step ahead of his approaching executioners.
Wages and jobs were cut and no provisions made for ensuring that even their own industries had a future. And just like Madoff’s Ponzi scheme, the whole economy blew up in all our faces. Trillions were siphoned out of the marketplace without the production of any goods or services. Money was being bundled in toxic packages and tossed around in a game of hot potato. The thinking was that they could get away with this indefinitely, like they were jugglers who never needed sleep. Who the fuck did they think they were kidding? And who do they think they are kidding now with their lame ass excuses and open extortion of government billions which they continue to mismanage and steal? Bernie needs some company in jail, and lots of it.
Not only that, but the guys who inherit the jobs of these pirates need to have their asses as closely regulated as the Marines. Nobody rises to the top ranks in the financial world without becoming rich, that’s always been the case. But there were were limits; legal, ethical and practical. You don’t slaughter the golden goose, you feed the damned thing and take good care of it to make sure it stays alive to keep laying those golden eggs. The founding fathers of big time American capitalism, people like J.P. Morgan, Andrew Carnegie, Henry Ford and John D. Rockefeller may not have been the most appealing of human beings, but when they died they left behind thriving industries providing jobs and wealth to millions. These guys knew what capitalism was all about, that it is not a today thing, but an ongoing enterprise, a system designed to continue, to grow and to provide.
Ford paid significantly higher wages to his workers than his competitors, with his reasoning being that he wanted a good product made by diligent, satisfied workers. He also wanted those workers to join the middle class and be able to buy the cars they were producing. Carnegie gave away the great steel fortune he accumulated, possibly worth more than Bill Gates’ fortune when you factor in inflation, and sold his steel business to others who kept it going and thriving. These guys were not MBA’s schooled in naked greed, but smart businessmen that realized they are mortal but their businesses did not have to die with them, providing jobs, goods and services to succeeding generations, and continued wealth to their own families.
This sense of responsibility is considered quaint by today’s corporate princes, who would rather steal then earn, would rather tear down than build, who see no tomorrow or next year or even next week. The bitch is, that they knew better but did what they did anyway and didn’t give a rat’s ass who they hurt so long as they accumulated obscene wealth. Madoff was no isolated case. In the world of high finance, he was even a small timer in comparison to the hijacking of America’s wealth by the few, the unproud, the greedy. Line them all up, cuff them and put them in orange jumpsuits. Release the inmates whose main crime was being poor and make room for the wealthy ones. And put a big snarling watchdog on Wall Street to remind everybody that we’re all in this together, rich, poor and middle class. Don’t fuck with us again. And if it’s okay with everybody, we’ll decide who to be angry at today, and if it’s not who we are instructed to vilify, well, so be it. Our eyes are open and the emperor’s new clothes are not a pretty sight.