The devil and Bernard Madoff
By Spengler Now that the whole horrible truth has come to light, I have no more reason to conceal my true identity. I am Bernard Madoff. Well, not really. But I wish I were. Few Americans have done more to punish stupidity, pretension and complacency than Madoff, whose apparent US$50 billion swindle calls to mind the caper by Mephistopheles in the second part of Goethe's Faust. The fictional devil persuaded the emperor to issue paper money against buried treasured yet to be discovered.... Most gratifying is the fleecing of the rich and famous - director Steven Spielberg, producer Jeffrey Katzenberg, and even actress Uma Thurman's financier boyfriend Arpad Busson got stung, along with a list of supposedly savvy investment firms. The man deserves a medal. Deplorable, to be sure, is the ruin of hundreds of families who entrusted Madoff with their life savings, not to mention charities and school endowments. Call them collateral damage.... The very rich believe what F Scott Fitzgerald said about them, that "the very rich are different from you and me". Serried ranks of lawyers, accountants and financial advisors surround them and keep them from harm. Madoff proved otherwise, making a few of them into paupers and humiliating a very large number of them. Not because of what they do, but because of who they are, the very wealthy consider themselves above the fate of ordinary people. They know the right people, they join the right clubs, and they have access to the right advice.... Madoff has given Americans a lesson in humility that is cheap and painless by comparison. America's elite - the people characterized as "one-trick wizards" who lived off leverage (see Obama's one-trick wizards, Asia Times Online, November 25, 2008) - turn up as a self-satisfied, feckless gang of incompetents who could not spot the wolf within their own sheepfold.... If that sounds deluded, what shall we say about hedge-fund investing for the masses, who believed that American home prices would double every 10 years, as the National Association of Realtors continues to claim in television advertisements? Perhaps they should call themselves Sur-realtors. Madoff offered small change compared to Mom and Pop America, who put 10% down on a home that appreciated 10% each year, for an annualized return on capital of 100%. I copied the above from SingaporeKopitiam and have deleted parts that were irrelevants. The leftovers are pertinent points that we cannot afford not to know before another MadeOff happens here.