It’s thanksgiving this week and naturally our thoughts turn to what we are grateful for – and yet on this site – thanks isn’t exactly at the forefront of our minds.
It would be easy at this point to look at Mr. Madoff’s behavior and reflect that he handed society a much needed lesson in greed and personal ethics. The scores of people who handed over their money weren’t exactly uneducated – the “don’t ask don’t tell policy” relieved the investors of any potential knowledge of ethics violations while at the same time allowing Mr Madoff to relieve them of their money.
But that doesn’t make it any easier for the victims: the foundations, their employees, the intended recipients – all of whom now have nothing. Unfortunately the money is gone – long ago transferred to another broker’s account or shoved up Mr. Madoff’s nose and no amount of vilification will make it reappear.
Much as we would like to think otherwise, Mr. Madoff was able to get away with his fraud because we allowed it – we didn’t ask questions, we took risks with our money and our livelihoods without understanding what we were doing. We gambled because we thought we had an inside edge – make no mistake – if we were going to be winners – there had to be losers somewhere out there. It is our desire for quick, undeserved and unearned wealth, that enable figures like Bernard Madoff to succeed.
None of this is new, frauds come and go every decade, every century and we always seem to forget the lessons – who now remembers Nick Leeson?
So thank you Bernie, our hope is that through sites like this, we can keep your name and actions in the public consciousness. By writing about you and reminding people of your wickedness, maybe we’ll be a little slower to jump on the bandwagon when the next trickster comes along. Somehow though, I doubt it…
Photo Credit: AtomicShark on Flickr