March 11, 2009

"He doesn't have 150 years to live..."

"... but I hope his time in jail will be hell on Earth."

***

Extremely lengthy sentences are showy but in fact wildly disparate. And there's not a damned thing you can do about the shamefully light punishment of the old.

29 comments:

Kirby Olson said...

It's possible to make minutes drag on and on, until they seem like hours. Children's birthday parties where the guests go haywire, and start wrestling and throwing grapes and getting sticky hands on the furniture and curtains... There's lots of ways to STRETCH time.

aberman said...

Sure you can, Ann. You just have to revert back to a more traditional method of punishment--- punish his family. We have trouble with explicitly punishing families in our current individual-oriented society, but for someone like Madoff, it certainly would work.

In some ways we do it anyway-- loss of income or estate, public shame. At minimum we could strengthen our ability to take back money that thieves pass on to their relatives.

Now I'm not advocating throwing his grandchildren into prison. I'm just saying it would work-- especially in Madoff's case where much of his family seems to have been involved.

AllenS said...

Most of you will find it hard to believe that I'm such a compassionate man, but I don't think he should be sentenced to any more than 70 years.

Peter V. Bella said...

Madoff will not be sent to the dungeons of Marion where he belongs. After a short stay in a medium security prison he will be sent to one of those country clubs to live out his life on the tennis courts.

His fortune is probably safe in some off-shore haven and who knows, with enough grease over the next few years that Chicago Politician in the White House may just pardon him.

Harsh Pencil said...

This is a common error: mistaking what we don't want to do with what we can't do.

Certainly we CAN do worse things to a 74 year old than lock him up for the rest of his life in a relatively clean safe prison with free medical care. We just don't want to.

There's a reason that for a bunch of crimes in the Middle Ages, you weren't just put to death, but were tortured to death. Most likely, you were going to die soon anyway, so a quick clean death was probably not much of a deterrent.

But that is the price of civilization. I'm certainly not pining for the reinstitution of torture as punishment.

TitusLaughedToo said...

He is a disgusting man. A complete and total pig.

rhhardin said...

He ought to get some credit for the investors he paid off.

A ponzi scheme just moves money from investors making deposits to investors making withdrawals.

They have the money, not him.

William said...

Technically it wasn't jail, but I worked extravagantly hard for about fifteen years to reach a level of affluence that was somewhat less than that achieved by Madoff. It was my choice but those fifteen years were a vacuum at the center of my most vital years, and they are gone forever. Madoff spent his best years as a billionaire and will spend his butt end years as a prisoner. The years as a prisoner will probably be less than 15 years. Madoff made a better bargain with life than most of us, definitely me. That's what rubs.

William said...

Well, I'd like to take this unlikely occasion to preach a little homily on the merits of capitalism. Guys like Madoff and Lay were liars and frauds, but more than that they were sociopaths. At some primitive level the payoff for them was not the money but the thrill of putting it over. They were housing siding salemen writ large. But when the fraud was found out, the pathology ended with them. Their investors don't make excuses or search for exculpatory evidence. They flat our hate the bastards. Bankruptcy produces closure......Compare men like Lay and Madoff with frauds like Sacco, Hiss, and Rosenberg. These men were also knowing frauds and liars. But unlike Lay and Madoff, they were able to keep the con going even after their deaths. Sacco, in particular, has inspired more ink than Joan of Arc and Dreyfus put together. None of the literature about these con men has ever approached them as con men. The grandiosity of their lies resulted not in millions of dollars, but in millions of believers. They were selling aluminum siding ideology, not phantom profits, but the motivation and reward were the same. They put it over. They were the smartest guys....There will be no candlelit vigils outside of Bernie Madoff's cell. In the gulags, when news of Stalin's death reached them, the prisoners wept openly. An ideology cannot go banrupt.....In capitalism, it is possible, in fact necessary, to quantify losses and blame those responsible for the losses. In ideology, it is impossible and, in any case, undesirable to measure personal loss and those responsible for the loss.

Hoosier Daddy said...

The irony of the whole Bernie Madoff scheme is that he's being prosecuted by the same government that brought you the other ponzi scheme called Social Security.

jeff said...

"Peskin said she also wishes punishment on those officials at the Securities Exchange Commission who ignored warnings and turned a blind eye to Madoff's shenanigans.

"I think Madoff was allowed to do this and our government failed us," Peskin said"

Yes, people who had all their money invested in one fund, and who didn't think it was odd that the returns were so much more than everything else you could invest in were failed by the government.

Personally, I wouldn't send him to prison. I would sentence him to work and clean a Chucky Cheese. Everyday. But I am a cold-hearted bastard.

Hoosier Daddy said...

Personally, I wouldn't send him to prison. I would sentence him to work and clean a Chucky Cheese. Everyday. But I am a cold-hearted bastard.

I also think Chris Cox should join him or at least be beaten with a cane for allowing it to happen.

The SEC come down like a ton of bricks on Martha Stewart for a bullshit couple hundred grand but a multi-billion dollar ponzi scheme eludes them.

Jeremy said...

Jeff said, "Yes, people who had all their money invested in one fund, and who didn't think it was odd that the returns were so much more than everything else you could invest in were failed by the government."

Agreed. Poor schlubs like me that invest in IRAs and my 401k know that we're not getting as much return as folks involved with hedge funds, etc, but I also that there's a level of oversight that gives me confidence that my funds will grow safely in a growing economy. I have no guarantees of return, but I think I have some level of safeguard that even when Wachovia fails, my money doesn't disappear.

Eric said...

Sure you can, Ann. You just have to revert back to a more traditional method of punishment--- punish his family.

Oh yes, let's bring back Corruption of the Blood. We'd need a constitutional amendment, though.

Beth said...

I'm guessing members of his family will in fact be punished, but not out of tradition. It's very possible they were involved, either in the scheme or in a cover-up and shifting of money after the fact.

class-factotum said...

The SEC come down like a ton of bricks on Martha Stewart for a bullshit couple hundred grand but a multi-billion dollar ponzi scheme eludes them.

I thought they got Martha for perjury because they couldn't really pin anything else on her.

Simon said...

Eric said...
"[Aberman said 'You just have to revert back to a more traditional method of punishment--- punish his family.' Oh yes, let's bring back Corruption of the Blood. We'd need a constitutional amendment, though."

Only to impose it as a punishment for treason. You have in mind the treason clause of Article III, which limits Congress' power to define and punish treason: "[t]he Congress shall have power to declare the punishment of treason, but no attainder of treason shall work corruption of blood, or forfeiture except during the life of the person attainted." Absent an 8th Amendment problem, the Constitution wouldn't bar such a punishment, although one would hope a little common sense would (what conceivable deterrent effect on sociopaths would such punishments have?).

Simon said...

class-factotum said...
"I thought they got Martha for perjury because they couldn't really pin anything else on her."

Remember, Capone was brought down for tax evasion. Sometimes the what is less important than the why: maybe we can't get good evidence on you for the why, or maybe we just don't have a law against the why (and America long ago rejected the English practice of impeachment as a mechanism for filling that gap), and when that happens, good law enforcement means creativity.

Revenant said...

If we're going to have a death penalty, we should apply it to sufficiently large thefts and frauds as well. They cause as much pain and loss of life as murder; it is just that the loss is spread out across multiple lives instead of just one.

Revenant said...

the attainted person lost all rights to inherit land or other hereditaments from an ancestor, to retain possession of such property and to transfer any property rights to anyone, including heirs

These days we do this to everybody and call it an inheritance tax. :)

Freeman Hunt said...

I'm guessing members of his family will in fact be punished, but not out of tradition. It's very possible they were involved, either in the scheme or in a cover-up and shifting of money after the fact.

Not the sons at least. They're the ones who noticed something seemed amiss, looked at his books, confronted him, and turned him in.

MrBuddwing said...

Not the sons at least. They're the ones who noticed something seemed amiss, looked at his books, confronted him, and turned him in.

Unless, of course, that's what they want you to think.

But I think all this talk of punishing Madoff's relatives because they're probably involved is totally silly.

traditionalguy said...

I read that Madoff only had 20 Billion invested, but that his marks thought their accounts had grown to 50 Billion. That was his con: That he could get you 30% returns by some super secret insider method. The George Soros story was everyone secret dream, to screw the little guys out of everthing and own the wealth of King Midas.It was a Mega-Lottery for already rich investors. The lottery was fixed but no one wanted to believe it... The literalists in the investor world told everybody over and over that it was impossible, but no one wanted to lose their faith in the Magic of Madoff.

Eric said...

I thought they got Martha for perjury because they couldn't really pin anything else on her.

Not even that. Martha spent six months in jail for misleading a Federal agent, which most people don't even realize is illegal.

swampleg said...

Testing

Beth said...

Freeman, I'm not sure about the sons. I think it's just as likely a move on Madoff's part to protect them. The thing was collapsing. Having them turn him in helps make the case that they weren't involved.

William said...

If Madoff was agile enough to keep the balls in the air for all those years, he is agile enough to hide some of his assets and to shield his family from criminal involvement. I don't know to what extent, if any, his wife and children were involved. I don't mind if they walk, but if they walk away with millions it is very, very wrong. His wife and children should face the rest of their lives with the same assets that his investors now have, i.e. none.

Robert Cook said...

"I'm guessing members of his family will in fact be punished, but not out of tradition. It's very possible they were involved, either in the scheme or in a cover-up and shifting of money after the fact."

"Not the sons at least. They're the ones who noticed something seemed amiss, looked at his books, confronted him, and turned him in."

Baloney. This is they way they tailored the tale to try to protect all but the one man who could not in the least deny his guilt. This company had not made any trades for years, if ever. There's no way that many other people weren't in on the scam, as fake books and paperwork had to be fabricated to make everything look hunky dory. His sons were almost certainly knowing participants.

(As an aside, a friend of mine briefly worked in the Cigarette Building, as it's called--where Madoff was located--as assistant property manager; she said Bernie himself was very nice, but the sons were assholes.)

Robert Cook said...

I beg your pardon, the building where my friend worked and where Madoff's business was is known as "the LIPSTICK building."