Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Schmucks on the Left go "Quack, Quack, Quack."

In an attempt to be slightly less biased, good readers, I present something that nearly made me punch out my computer monitor. Here's Michael Moore, shame-shame-shaming people for being unfairly (or dishonestly?) upset about Bernie Madoff's fleecing thousands of clients.
We're clearly in one of those historic, game changing years: up is down, red is blue and black is president. Aside from Obama himself, no person will provide a more iconic face of this end-of-capitalism-as-we-know-it year than Bernard Lawrence Madoff.
Which is too bad. Yes, he stole $65 billion from some already quite wealthy people. I know that's upsetting to them because rich guys like Bernie are not supposed to be stealing from their own kind. Crime, thievery, looting -- that's what happens on the other side of town. The rules of the money game on Park Avenue and Wall Street are comprised of things like charging the public 29% credit card interest, tricking people into taking out a second mortgage they can't afford, and concocting a student loan system that has graduates in hock for the next 20 years. Now that's smart business! And it's legal. That's where Bernie went wrong -- his scheming, his trickery was an outrage both because it was illegal and because he preyed on his side of the tracks.
What Moore is conveniently omitting here is that while Madoff had plenty of high-profile celebrity clients, many of Madoff's victims also entrusted him with the finances of charitable organizations-- meaning, that, actually, Mike, thanks to trickle-down financial rape-onomics, once again the people that wound up getting screwed actually were the little guys who benefited from services provided by those organizations. Way to stick it to the man.

Had Mr. Madoff just followed the example of his fellow top one-percenters, there were many ways he could have legally multiplied his wealth many times over. Here's how it's done. First, threaten your workers that you'll move their jobs offshore if they don't agree to reduce their pay and benefits. Then move those jobs offshore. Then place that income on the shores of the Cayman Islands and pay no taxes. Don't put the money back into your company. Put it into your pocket and the pockets of your shareholders. There! Done! Legal!
What does any of this actually have to do with the Madoff scandal? He wasn't an employer. He didn't have "jobs" that he could move offshore. He didn't even have a company! I think Mike's mind is retrograding back to his first film and replaying 20-year-old rants about GM shutting down its factory in Flint. News flash, Mike: not everything is about you and your ever-so-precious pet causes.

Next Mike turns, as all good bullies do, to blaming the victims.
And what of Madoff's clients themselves? What did they think was going on to guarantee them incredible returns on their investments every single year -- when no one else on planet Earth was getting anything like that? Some have admitted they did have an inkling "something was up," but no one really wanted to ask what it was that was making their money grow on trees. They were afraid they might find out it had nothing to do with gardening. Many of Madoff's victims have told investigators that, over the years, they have made much more than the original investment they gave Bernie. If I buy a stolen car from the guy down the street, the police will take that car from me regardless of whether I knew it was stolen. If I knew it was stolen, then I go to jail for receiving stolen property.
Perhaps a fair point, but it seems really easy to kick these people now that they're down and bankrupt. (Incidentally, given that all involved lost money, I'm not sure how you would even start figuring out who owes who "reparations".) Also, while they should have perhaps been slightly suspicious of just how much they were making, by all accounts, Madoff's reputation for years had been that of a financial wizard. There did not seem to be any apparent reason to doubt him.
This rant is particularly odious because Moore is totally discounting that many of Madoff's targets were part of the Jewish philanthropic community for decades, people trying to do the right thing and help others, who went with Madoff because he exploited that communal trust placed in him. For Moore, there are no real victims here. He would rather chatter on about how everone had it coming in an attempt to make some unclear, angry point about how rotten capitalism-- and, by association, anyone that has anything to do with it-- is.

You're a shmuck, Mike. Madoff was a vulture who screwed over thousands of well-meaning clients. If you want to chuckle at the misfortune of the rich, I guess that's your perrogative. But don't act like the only ones to suffer are banking executives or rich celebrities who can afford it. The Elise Wiesel Foundation is obliterated. Spielberg's Wunderkinder Foundation is probably dead in the water. These are just two examples of private charities whose primary goal was to help people, and now because of a mistake in judgment and a greedy, predatory, immoral scumbag, they can't. If you want to laugh at that, then I feel sorry for you.

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