Sunday, December 21, 2008

Swindler's List

Counterpunch | In terms of financial and psychological impact, Bernard Madoff's $50 billion heist certainly ranks as a major ethnic cleansing here in America, a hugely traumatic event for American Jewry. Of course Madoff had clients of every creed and nation, but he made a specialty of trolling for Jewish money. I asked a Jewish woman I know here in California if any in her circle had taken a hit. She looked at me tremulously, shaking her head, on the edge of tears. Though no one was in immediate earshot, she whispered, “They kept telling me to put my money with Madoff. At that time the entry level was $250,000. I dodged the bullet. Some of my friends didn’t. They’ve lost everything. This is Kristallnacht Two.” Her fear and horror would scarcely have been diminished if she’d heard what a perfectly nice young person had remarked to me earlier, apropos the Madoff affair: “Now the rich people will know what it’s like.”

"‘It’s an atomic bomb in the world of Jewish philanthropy,’ Mark Charendoff, president of the Jewish Funders Network, told Anthony Weiss and Gabrielle Birkner of The Forward newspaper. ‘There’s going to be fallout from this for years to come.’ The collapse of the investment firm of Bernard Madoff has opened a black hole at the center of the tight knit circles of wealthy Jews who socialize and do business together, and who, year after year, support Jewish causes… ”
Watching how this saga unfolds in the media will prove most edifying. Madoff has been handled VERY gingerly here-to-date. Think about what that means. He has absolutely devastated a lot of people and organizations. One would imagine that such an act would get him violently tarred, feathered, and strung up ASAP. The fact of the matter, however, is that given the magnitude of what his organization did, it's inevitably true that what we read now as the extent of the devastation - is really only the tip of the iceberg. Madoff will continue to receive kid glove treatment because if subjected to aggressive interrogation and rough handling, there's no telling how far reaching and extensive the rot he epitomizes could prove to be. Shake Madoff hard and watch the Swindler's List further metastasize through an even larger expanse of the financial system.