20 December, 2008

Madoff Treated Kindly By His Friends

A poor kid in New York who robs a liquor store and gets away with $50 would almost certainly be locked up pending trial. So how come self-confessed, $50 billion thief Bernard Madoff is under 'house arrest' in his $7 million New York apartment and not in remand? Does he have 'friends' at the Justice Department as well as at the Securities Exchange Commission?

Or is this because scum like Madoff ought to be treated better than poor kids who rob shops? Is that the reasoning? White collar crime seems to be considered OK while blue collar crime is not. It probably all boils down to the fact that establishment figures like Madoff are looked after by their own kind when their crimes are discovered. After all, it could happen to anybody in the corporate world these days. Who among them isn't doing a bit of insider trading, or cheating on their taxes, or running a little scam or two? And the big names in the corporate world are members of the same families who are running for 'high' office, sitting on the judicial benches, running the churches, and promoting each other in the armed services.

Corruption among the 'power elite' mostly goes unnoticed and uncommented. We don't see the handshakes, the nods and winks, and the seedy little conspiracies. When we do, we accept the mechanisms of privilege and preferment, even while the Gucci loafer is grinding down on our necks. Mostly, the people involved don't even realise just how corrupt they have become. But sometimes, when a case like Madoff's comes to light, we can see the elite in action.

It doesn't matter how many thousands of people have lost their pensions (and in America, that is no joke at all!) It doesn't matter how many thousands more have had the pittances they could scrape together after years of hard work, the plans and dreams that might have depended on those pittances, grabbed from them and trashed. It doesn't matter that charitable trusts and philanthropic funds had their investments in Madoff's companies, and that all the good they could have done will never now be achieved. No. Madoff is one of the boys and his mates will make sure he isn't treated in an undignified manner. After all, there but for the grace of God...

Disgusting creatures like Madoff are thick as flies these days. From the CEOs who award themselves fat 'bonuses' while their workers are being laid off to pay for it, to the out-and-out theives who find even the laissez-faire economic regulation of corporate America doesn't give them enough opportunity to satisfy their greed, the pigs are stuffing themselves at the trough.

Our global economy has a serious problem with corruption. Unfortunately, the people who have the power to do something about it - ordinary voters - are too stupid and ignorant to take the appropriate action.

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