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You know Bernie Madoff, of course. The guy with the onomatopoeia for a name? The Madoff sentencing is now complete. Bernard Madoff is going to jail for an 150 year sentence for his $50 billion Ponzi Scheme. The list of Madoff victims is as vast as the sky, and mostly Jewish (why screw others when you can screw your own people?).
Firstly, why don’t they just convert it to a life sentence? Do they really think Madoff’s going to make it to his early 220’s?
More seriously, I am a little worried about this. So many of us are clearly fed up with the overwhelming greed in our culture. But our media has this beautiful and devious tendency to focus all attention on the worst and most obvious offender in any given instance, leaving the much more widespread practice of greed untouched in mainstream discourse. As Paul Krugman and others have pointed out, the entire financial sector might be one big Ponzi apparatus.
On a deeper level, we need to create a system that privileges generosity over greed, and privileges those whose careers create great benefit to others over careers where individual profit and get-rich-no-matter-what mentalities dominate. If our system doesn’t stop incentivizing greed, there will be no way to stop an army of mini-Madoff’s in the future. And at the same time, we have to find compassion for Bernie by paying attention to the get-rich-quick schemes constantly arising in our own minds.
One man being sentenced does pretty much nothing to change these dark forces of the mind that have consumed our economics. In fact, the way our media scapegoating works, Madoff’s sentence might just act as a cloak for a much much deeper problem.