Off The Hook

OPEN ROUNDAnother spring time day is heading our way, that is good, soon, the dog days of summer.  Believe me I am ready, this is the time of the year when you feel like whistling even though’ your shoes are full of slush.

I see where officials in Denver have arrested a Mormon Cardinal on charges of running a Ponzi scheme for the past twenty years.  He is alleged to have bilked 20 people out of $40 million and has admitted to “never actually investing one penny of it” in any fund anywhere, ever.

More than likely he will say that Satan had a lot to do with it, we are so quick in this country, to shift the blame elsewhere.

On the legitimate side of all this, Bernie Madoff the King of Losers, has found a buyer for his investment business (which he claims is “profitable”), proving that even in hard times like this, you are still able to ring up a sale.  Now as I weigh in on this issue this morning, I am quite aware that I am going to come off as cynical and I suppose uncaring about all this, so be it.

The truth is, “If these victims had put their money where the rest of America put their money, the majority of them would still have it.  They lost it because they wanted MORE because they were GREEDY and put it out to a crook.”  As the old axiom states, “If it is too good to be true, then it probably is.”  Now here is the part that really sticks in my craw.

Now the I.R.S. is going to give them a write off on their losses, hard to believe, especially to those of us who pay thru the nose.  Wage earners who invest in mortgage payments and college tuition for our kids.  But it should not come as a big surprise to anyone; this is after all a country that routinely rewards the malfeasance of big-biz, the rich, the bogus, the corrupt, the inept with bonus payments and special incentives.

The next time you turn on the TV and hear some expose’ on this crap or pick up a paper and read about another scheme and its victims.  Stop and consider this.  Of the 400 richest taxpayers in the U.S., 31 of them paid taxes at an effective rate of less than 10% last year.  Thanks to tax deductions, tax-free earning credits and other maneuvers, according to the IRS.  No telling what the other 369 pulled down.

Is this a Great Country or what?

It has apparently got so lucrative that the baseball card people are getting in on the action too.  Baseball card company Topps this year will release a set of cards devoted to the worlds biggest hoaxes, hoodwinks, and bamboozlers.  Among the people and companies featured are Bernard Madoff, Charles Ponzi, and Enron to name a few.  We not only celebrate the evil in our midst, we seem to adore and worship them.

If all this wasn’t so tragic and pathetic, it would make a good skit for Monty Python.

So before you reach down for the crying’ towel, and decidedly do your part to fill it with tears, for all these so-called victims, the elite of Palm Beach, the A List of Hollywood.  Think about it.  They had plentiful evidence that Madoff was running a scam.  Anyone who actually took the time to “kick the tires of this thing” could surely see it for what it was.  In a way it is sad, they were seduced by the mystique or so flattered to join in the group of followers that they gladly forked over the cash.

The SEC should have been on the ball, everyone will scream, and to a point, that is correct.

But that doesn’t mean the investors themselves are off the hook.  Blaming your woes on the government (SEC) is like asking a child why he blames his mother for letting him start a fight while she was not looking.  Now everyone is here in place, ready to sign up for the last dance of the evening, but no one it seems wants to pay for the band.  There are two kinds of failures presented here for our perusal.

“Those who thought and never did and those who did and never thought.”

And now the I.R.S. is going to reward them for their stupidity.  It is almost laughable, if it were not so sad.  As much as things change in the twenty-first century, remarkably they often stay the same.  When you lie down with a dog, you end up smelling like a dog after awhile, so it is with these so-called victims.  The heroes of finance are like beads on a string … when one slips off, the rest soon are to follow.

Surely there is a place reserved in hell for people like Madoff and the Mormon in Denver.

My definition of hell would be a place where the Muslims are the police, the Iranians are the comedians, Mexicans are the defense force, the common language is English and the American’s handle …  ALL THE MONEY …. Yeah, that could get pretty lame awfully fast.