Jane Haddam’s WordPress weblog

Responses, For A Moment

with 5 comments

A couple of things here.

First, Cheryl is quite right.  The world is full of serial killer books, and several writers pretty much specialize in them–like Karin Slaughter.

The thing that struck me about the comments, however, was that thing about how Bernie Maddoff and the Madoff scandal is just about a lot of rich and hypergreedy idiots.

It’s anything but.  Yes, those idiots existed, but the nastiest thing about this entire story is the fact that when Madoff’s scam blew up, it took down literally dozens of not-for-profit foundations, mostly small family ones that did things like help cancer patients with equipment and drug costs, run literacy programs in the inner cities, and even (in the case of Elie Wiesel’s foundation, which was put absolutely out of business) worked on issues related to genocide and the Holocaust.

That happened because Madoff marketed his scam largely through what are called “affinity groups”–country clubs, synagogues, and other organizations run largely by American Jews.  He passed himself off as observant and therefore trustworthy, playing on the assumptions of many older people that no Jewish American would ever rob another, and especially would never rob a Jewish charity.

Considering what the rest of Wall Street was doing at the time, I doubt if most of these people would have been much better off with the goyim, but that hardly matters.

Written by janeh

January 15th, 2010 at 11:54 am

Posted in Uncategorized

5 Responses to 'Responses, For A Moment'

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  1. A lot of people blame the victims of con men and quote the old saying that you can’t cheat an honest man. I think that’s grossly unfair. A great many victims are merely naive, and some are targeted with scams tailored to the generous and kind-hearted. Worst of all are those who target the lonely and sometimes slightly confused elderly. My mother (elderly, but not confused) received an unsolicited phone call from a ‘charity’ with a name implying it was associated with a cure for a disease that’s killed one relative and is killing another. Fortunately, she became suspicious when they refused to mail her information so she could send them a cheque, and offered to transfer her to a ‘secure’ line so she could give them her credit card number instead.

    Madoff’s victims didn’t deserve to lose a cent. And it must be particularly galling to be cheated by one of your own.


    15 Jan 10 at 1:09 pm

  2. I wasn’t aware of the finer detail of Madoff’s victims, ie that bona fide charities were involved and, of course, there were “innocent” victims involved. I wasn’t trying to suggest that his crime was trivial, just that it was trivial in comparison with Gore’s. It won’t be rich people or good causes, or simply even people with moderate wealth whose livelihoods, and even lives, will be destroyed by Gore’s scam. It will be the poorest of the poor around the world. Not thousands, or tens of thousands, but potentially billions.

    That’s the point I was trying to make – although this is probably not the appropriate forum. Sorry, Jane.


    15 Jan 10 at 6:06 pm

  3. Even if you believe that Gore is completely, irretrievably wrong, Mique, why would you assume it’s a scam rather than a sincerely held belief?



    15 Jan 10 at 8:35 pm

  4. It’s very tempting to give him the good intentions alibi, but I think he negated that when, as he claims, he decided to put his money where his mouth is, or, as more cynical skeptics such my own good self believe, he put his mouth where his money is. Cui bono is, as ever, a very valid question here.

    Either way, his motives have to be questioned when he has persisted in refusing to modify his presentations despite strong evidence that he’s wrong on the fundamental issue, ie that the world is warming at a catastrophic rate due to human activity.

    An unchallenged British Court decision found that many of his claims were not based on fact or even reasonable hypothesis, and ordered that his film could only be shown in British schools subject to a clear statement to that effect. The Mann “Hockeystick” which formed the basis of the AGW claims in his film presentation, has been thoroughly discredited, and that long before “An Inconvenient Truth” hit the streets. “Climategate” has done the same for most of the “leading scientists” and the much-touted “scientific consensus” which underpin the whole AGW industry, especially the IPCC and its colourful chairman, Rajendra Pechauri.

    Gore was here in Australia recently speaking to hundreds of young people being recruited into his campaign. He refused to answer questions from journalists deemed by his minders as “hostile”, as he has done consistently when he is confronted by people questioning his assertions.

    These are not the actions of a person acting in good faith, whether or not they have sincerely held beliefs.

    I see his behaviour as entirely analogous to the other American TV evangelists. Only the deity and religious dogma differ.

    But I don’t want to hijack Jane’s blog. Anyone who wants to take this further should probably assail me at my well-known email address. :-)


    16 Jan 10 at 12:15 am

  5. Ahem. Getting back to crime and detection–and specifically Madoff–I confess to wondering where the money went. I understand the downward economic spiral of street crime: the car thief who steals a $20,000 car and sells it to a chop shop for $5,000 has destroyed $15,000 of wealth as surely as though he’d burned a small new car on the dealer’s lot. Burglars do the same thing on a smaller scale.
    But Madoff took the money he collected by fraud and put it in a bank to draw interest. Admittedly he lived well, but travel and luxurious living go through millions at worst, not billions, and the rest ought to have been recoverable.
    I’m open to correction here, but I suspect much of the loss was money the victims only ever thought they had–the ficticious proceeds of Madoff’s bogus investments. Not much consolation if you’ve geared your retirement on a lie, but not quite the same thing as earning a million dollars, giving it to Madoff to invest and being awarded 10 grand in the court settlement. (And my sympathies to the judge stuck with unwinding this one.)


    16 Jan 10 at 6:22 am

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