Saturday, March 14, 2009

On my way to bed

Quick thoughts for a Saturday night.

"I am deeply sorry and ashamed"--Bernie Madoff (has anybody in the entire history of humanity ever been more aptly named?)

No, you aren't. Don't even say it. You can't even say you're sorry you were caught--which is what most criminals mean when they say they're sorry. You can't say you're sorry because, in hindsight, your getting caught was inevitable. You didn't actually expect to get away with swindling $648000000000.00 or so, did you? You couldn't have. Nobody's that stupid. 
In my universe, "sorry" is reserved for people confronted with the harm they sincerely weren't aware their actions caused. It's accompanied by concrete action showing understanding and remorse. I truly believe that if most of the people who say they're sorry actually are, they wouldn't commit their criminal acts in the first place.

Now, what sort of punishment best fits Madoff's crime? It's unrealistic to expect him to pay all that money back, after all. I like the idea of putting him in jail for the rest of what would promise to be an extremely short life. Right in general population. Wonder how long he'd last.


There's a lot of talk about "going Galt" in this economy. If you haven't read Atlas Shrugged, you should. It's a hard slog--Rand really could have used an editor, or a team of them--but it remains one of those books that really ought to be read, if only so you can disagree with it. My mother-in-law cites it as her favourite book (and she's read about a million of 'em) an effort to impress her I buckled down one month and sandblasted my way thorough it. Actually, the second half of it's almost entertaining. 
"Going Galt" is a response by many captains of industry (or perhaps many people who only think they are) to the Obama government's proposed increased in taxation against the "rich". They threaten to become less productive in order to rob the government of "their" wealth. 

Y'know, there are some interesting parallels between the supposed "meritocracy" of industry and the government it so despises. I've long believed you could remove a good half of the government without anybody noticing. Anybody care to speculate on what would happen if all the people at the top of the totem poles suddenly abdicated?
Well, the stocks would tank. And there'd be a period of chaos. But after that, I suspect most companies would be run more intelligently--without shareholder gain as the sole criterion for success. Of course, that's just my opinion, and I've been told (by people who outearn me five or ten to one) that it's hogwash. To people whose only idea of wealth is money, I'm sure it is. Regardless, if everyone decides to "go Galt" en masse, I'll take my chances. 

"This is what real revolutions are like. The old stuff gets broken faster than the new stuff is put in its place."--Clay Shirkey

Very interesting, nay, great piece here, at least to those of us who enjoy our daily reads through dead-tree newspapers--which will soon (within my lifetime, for sure) be, uh, dead. I've come to regard newspapers as essential, but I've conflated newspapers with journalism. Contrary to the view of anyone in a newsroom, newspapers are not important. Journalism is. And journalism is in massive flux right now as new models are sought before the old ones have been...quite...discarded. 
We are living through interesting, revolutionary times.


Anonymous said...

Maybe Madoff can help his fellow convicts make money by investing their $2/wk income into one of his "sure thing" deals...would be poetic!

Rocketstar said...

Madaff almost got away with it. He is 70 years old I think, almost made it to death (avergae age 78 for a US male).

The bed update... well, with two weeks left to turn it back in within the 30 days, we are leaning towards turninng it back in because for $2600 we expected to be "wowed" and we were not. Am I sleeping ok now, yeah but for $2600, the threat of Select Comfort going into Bankrupcty and all customer service going away, what if the motor konks out... Plus finding out that the MRI the wife had (everything is OK) is going to cost us (after insurance) $900 bucks doesn't help although that is a periphery miser factor in my mind, not a real factor for the bed.

We'll see, we have a few more days, so we'll see.