If you haven't been paying attention to the whole Bernie Madoff saga, then you should at least devote a few minutes to learning the basics. I know, the whole thing smell of "complicated financial stuff", and to a certain that it true; however you still should still pay attention. Why? Because I my opinion, Madoff exemplifies everything that's wrong with American society today.
Here's what I mean:
The Cult of Greed - When it comes down to it, Gordon Gecko was wrong...greed is not always good. Madoff did what he did in part out of greed, plain simple greed. Madoff is a poster child for the notion of "getting ahead no matter what". Now we see that there is a $50 billion dollar cost. Greed wasn't so good this time, not at the Madoff/Gecko level and not at our levels either.
The Big Lie - If you are not familiar with the concept of the "Big Lie", here's a short description: as practiced by the NAZI's, the "Big Lie" is when you have something that is an obvious lie...such as the Jews being responsible for all society's ills...but simply repeat it over and over again until people just believe that it's true. How ironic is it that someone who is Jewish...Madoff...was the practitioner of the Big Lie himself? Madoff's big lie was to his customers over and over again..."I'll invest your money in stocks and there will be virtually no risk". Of course what Madoff was doing was simply taking money coming in and shipping it out to other investors requesting distributions, while skimming off the top for himself. Now how often do we, in America today, believe the "Big Lie" ourselves?
The Entitlement Mentality - Madoff is facing about 150 years in prison after pleading guilty to investment fraud and other charges, with sentencing coming in June. Until then, he has been sent to a prison in downtown Manhattan. So far so good, right? Well his lawyers are, at this very moment, fighting to get him out of jail and asking that he be restricted to his midtown Manhattan residence until sentencing. Think about that: he said that he is guilty...his crimes will yield dozens (if not a hundred +) years in jail...and yet he believes that he is entitled to live in a luxury apartment until sentencing? That should blow your mind. The guy said "I am guilty", so it's not as if there will be an appeal. Some elements in this country have historically slammed the "welfare society" or the "entitlement mentality" when it comes to people at the lower end of the economic scale, but yet here we have someone at the upper-most economic scale guilty of the same thing.
In the end, the Madoff case says more about us than it says about him. As a society we created this environment...one where accumulation of wealth comes before anything else, one where you are entitled to live in luxury (even when you steal billions). We created this monster.