Madoff Is a Convenient Distraction for a Bunch of Crooks Who Aren’t in Jail
Had Madoff just followed the example of his fellow tycoons, he could have legally multiplied his wealth many times over, legally.
Friday, May 1st, 2009
“Bernie Madoff, Scapegoat” by Michael Moore (for Time magazine)
The following piece written by Michael Moore appears in this week’s Time magazine (and in full at Time.com) as part of their annual “Time 100″ issue highlighting their choices for “The World’s Most Influential People.”
Elie Wiesel called him a “God.” His investors called him a “genius.” But, proving correct that old adage from the country and western song, you never really know what goes on behind closed doors.
Bernie Madoff, for at least 20 years, ran a Ponzi scheme on thousands of clients, among them the people you and I would consider the best and brightest. Business leaders, celebrities, charities, even some of his own relatives and his defense attorney were taken for a ride (this has to be the first time a lawyer was hosed by the client).
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.
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!
But Bernie wanted to play X-games Capitalism, run by the mantra that’s at the core of all capitalistic endeavors: Enough Is Never Enough. You have the right to make as much as you can, and if people are too stupid to read the fine print of their health insurance policy or their GM “100,000-mile warranty,” well, tough luck, losers. Buyers beware!
It would be too easy — and the wrong lesson learned — to put Bernie on TIME’s list all by himself. If Ponzi schemes are such a bad thing, then why have we allowed all of our top banks to deal in credit default swaps and other make-believe rackets? Why did we allow those same banks to create the scam of a sub-prime mortgage? And instead of putting the people responsible in the cell block in Lower Manhattan, where Bernie now resides, why did we give them huge sums of our hard-earned tax dollars to bail them out of their self-inflicted troubles? Bernard Madoff is nothing more than the scab on the wound. He’s also a most-needed and convenient distraction. Where’s the photo on this list of the ex-chairmen of AIG, Merrill Lynch and Citigroup? Where’s the mug shot of Phil Gramm, the senator who wrote the bill to strip the system of its regulations, or of the President who signed that bill? And how ’bout those who ran the fake numbers at the ratings agencies, the lobbyists who succeeded in making sleazy accounting a lawful practice, or the stock market itself — an institution that’s treated like the Holy Sepulchre instead of the casino that it is (and, like all other casinos, the house eventually wins).
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. Will these “victims” give back their gains that were fraudulently obtained? Will the head of Goldman Sachs reveal what he was doing at the meetings with the Fed chairman and the Treasury secretary before the bailout? Will Bank of America please tell us what they’ve spent $45 billion of our TARP money on?
That’s probably going too far. Better that we just put Bernie on this list.
Moore’s new documentary on the wonders of capitalism will be in movie theaters this fall.
In an hour long interview with Steve Scher, Russell Means speaks to the current economic situation and the fall of the dollar. He speaks as well of the deceitfulness of the Federal Reserve and how the U.S. Government, in collusion with the Federal Reserve, is printing money out of nothing.
Russell Means points the way out of the current debacle by calling for a return to matriarchy, rule of consensus and how, once again, small is beautiful.
(click triangle below to play)
Weekend Update 09 – Economics 101: Small is Beautiful! Russell explains to us, yet again, why the math of the global bankers simply can’t work. Infinite expansionism violates natural law. Yet, there is an answer, a silver lining which we can all celebrate.
On Reclaiming Our Central Bank And Monetary Policy
“Whoever controls the volume of money in any country is the master of all its legislation and commerce.”
President James A. Garfield
The “Federal Reserve” is not a government institution but a private central bank owned by a handful of major banks and bond dealers. As such, it is a cartel owned, controlled, and essentially for-profit driven, not by the people of the United States but, instead, by the banking industry’s ruling elite. This oligarchic setup generates the most costly, debt-based, money system and greatest conflicts of interest in the history of the world. It is a system clearly at odds with the intent of the founders of the United States of America.
Zero Per Cent Home Loans
“Capital must protect itself in every possible way, both by combination and legislation. Debts must be collected, mortgages foreclosed as rapidly as possible. When, through the process of law, the common people lose their homes, they will become more docile and more easily governed through the strong arm of government applied by a central power of wealth under leading financiers. These truths are well known among our principal men who are now engaged in forming an imperialism to govern the world. By dividing the voter through the political party system, we can get them to expend their energies in fighting for questions of no importance. It is thus by discreet action we can secure for ourselves that which has been so well planned and so successfully accomplished.”
American’s Banker Association, 1924
Ask yourself why the people of the United States would agree to charge interest on one another’s home loans – the very building blocks of society? The answer is we did not, have not, and likely would not. Most importantly, we cannot implement any such salutary “barnraising” monetary policy because we no longer have ownership or control over our money creation process and this most vital of state institutions. In short, we have lost control over money creation and purse powers as bequeathed to us by the founding fathers in the Constitution of the United States.
Instead, with a private central bank, we are required to pay for our homes, as well as all our infrastructure and defense, three or four times over due to the interest costs imposed by private central bankers and their affiliated bond dealers. Interest costs alone represent the greatest of taxes paid, and the greatest of burdens passed to future generations.
Imagine, in an economy nearly seventy per-cent driven by consumers, what this tax cut, in home interest savings alone, could do to stimulate the “ownership” economy – not to mention freeing the vast majority from nearly endless house debt? In addition, to avoid early foreclosures, family breakups, and financial devastation due to job loss and “free trade” job export new, more democratically-oriented, policies might allow for longer emergency mortgage relief periods to avoid exactly such no-fault crisis and debilitating chaos.
At the same time, penalties for loan and appraisal fraud could be greatly strengthened. Otherwise home loan programs could very well continue thru existing mortgage, banking, and escrow institutions with the only difference being direct treasury funding as opposed to debt-based bonds serving the interests of the few.
For the great majority of people there is no greater tax cut possible than eliminating interest on our home loans. If we truly controlled our own government and economy such a change, and related offsetting tax code changes regarding interest deductions, would be simple and easy. First, however, to accomplish this salutary objective, and other necessary monetary system reforms, we have to end, or radically re-control, an oligarchic and undemocratic banking institution misleadingly known as the “Fed.”
Hurricanes, Disasters & Infrastructure
Aside from the loss of life, the sickest thing about the recent Katrina-Rita-Wilma hurricane events – as well as virtually every other natural disaster, war or infrastructure need – is that we are forced to borrow from a private central bank to pay for all the destruction, reconstruction and related interest costs. A private central bank profiting from Mother Nature