Thursday Night Open Thread

I started the day at 4:30 am, waking up concerned about Bernie Madoff (regardless of what he did, he's 70 years old, non-violent and doesn't belong at an MCC for months pending sentencing. Bail is not meant as punishment, only to secure one's appearance at the next court proceeding.)

I'm blogged out for now, the TL kid and I are going shopping, after which there's a new Gray's Anatomy to watch.

Your turn, all topics welcome.

< Qwest's Joe Nacchio Still Trying for Appeal Bond | Presidential Signing Statements And Health Insurance For Gay Partners >
  • The Online Magazine with Liberal coverage of crime-related political and injustice news

  • Contribute To TalkLeft

  • Display: Sort:
    Unfortunately for the Madoff's of the world (5.00 / 3) (#1)
    by shoephone on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 07:18:38 PM EST
    I can only see this through the eyes of the 1,000 or so innocent people whose entire life savings were stolen from them. For a whopping total take of $50 billion.

    I am not concerned for Bernie Madoff.

    It's not just about Madoff and his victims... (none / 0) (#52)
    by kdog on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 08:20:42 AM EST
    it's about us too, all of us...how we behave as a society.

    Obviously nobody has any love for Madoff.


    that's not it (none / 0) (#87)
    by wystler on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 10:24:05 AM EST
    JM's on point here. The purpose of bail is two-fold:

    1. to protect safety of members of society (Madoff does not pose a risk of violence to others);

    2. to guarantee his future participation in the process.

    It's the latter that's keeping him inside. Nobody wants to see him pull a Marc Rich. For that reason, frankly, I'm not feeling as bad as JM about the denial.

    yes (none / 0) (#93)
    by Bemused on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 10:39:07 AM EST
      the law is that prior to conviction a person should be granted bail unless a court finds that no combination of conditions can ensure the safety of the community and the defendant's appearance.

      That changes following conviction to a standard where the person has to prove to the court that he does not pose a flight risk. A rich man who likely has considerable wealth secreted beyond knowledge of the court and is facing spending the remainder of his life in prison if he does not flee obviously has an extremely heavy burden in convincing a judge he poses no flight risk. the judge is no longer operating under the requirement that he consider the person might have a defense to some or all of the charges, or might cut a deal substantially reducing his exposure.

      I notice no one has suggested what evidence that Madoff is not a flight risk the court failed to consider. The only evidence I see is that he hasn't fled yet. That's worth some weight but that weight is limited because it's not unreasonable to think that a person becomes more likely to flee after judgment day than he was before.


    Electronic montoring (none / 0) (#148)
    by ding7777 on Sat Mar 14, 2009 at 01:41:11 AM EST
    and if necessary,  24 hour off duty police (paid for by Madoff) should insure a court appearance  

    Again (none / 0) (#149)
    by Bemused on Sat Mar 14, 2009 at 08:16:46 AM EST
      The standard is no longer whether any combination of conditions exist to reasonably ensure his appearance. That standard applies only prior to conviction. After conviction, a defendant must prove by clear and convincing evidence he is not a flight risk. It's NOT merely a shift in the burden of proof to the defendant.

      To illustrate, prior to conviction a court could find that defendant is a flight risk due the seriousness of the charges and connections to an organized criminal enterprise, but still release the defendant if he found that certain conditions such as home confinement with electronic monitoring and daily reporting to the probation office, etc., would reasonably ensure his appearance. After conviction, those same findings not only do not suffice to allow release.

      Also, assessment of flight risk is not a static or permanent one. A court can, for what would appear obvious reasons, find a person is a flight risk after he knows imprisonment is a moral certainty even if the court did not make such a finding when imprisonment was merely highly probable.


    madoff (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by martha on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 07:23:02 PM EST
    Are you kidding me?  You are worried about him?  

    It Is Called Compassion (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by squeaky on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 08:10:33 PM EST
    A virtue, to say the least.

    Not in post-Reagan America, it appears (none / 0) (#14)
    by MrConservative on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 10:16:37 PM EST
    No, I don't think she's kidding (none / 0) (#63)
    by Mikeb302000 on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 09:10:43 AM EST
    My idea is that no white collar criminal belongs in jail. I know that's not very popular, especially with the victims and even more so with the individual responsibility guys, but it's my opinion.

    I think they should be impoverished by fines and restitution and placed under severe supervision. That way everybody wins.


    uh ... (none / 0) (#89)
    by wystler on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 10:27:08 AM EST
    I think they should be impoverished by fines and restitution and placed under severe supervision.

    Severe supervision?

    What, like limiting freedom of movement and such?

    So are you really arguing against incarceration? Or would you rather protest the conditions for those inside the system.


    Madoff could have (5.00 / 2) (#4)
    by Miss Led on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 07:51:51 PM EST
    stopped his Ponzi scheme before he was 70. When he was 50 or 45. But he found that "impossible."

    70 is the new 50... (5.00 / 0) (#23)
    by oldpro on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 10:53:16 PM EST
    ...or so they say.

    At nearly 73, my knees and hip don't agree with that observation and I'm not sure my memory for names was this bad at 50.  

    Still...at 70 he doesn't need compassion.  He needs drugs.


    It Is Not What He Needs (none / 0) (#24)
    by squeaky on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 10:57:46 PM EST
    It is what we need. Compassion is a good starter, imo.

    Ahhh....philosophy. (5.00 / 0) (#36)
    by oldpro on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 01:18:43 AM EST
    Wait'll you're 70.  You'll need drugs, too.

    I think we have plenty of compassion.  I'm using mine on people who deserve it.  Madoff can buy his.


    Too Bad (none / 0) (#131)
    by squeaky on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 01:07:51 PM EST
    You can't buy a drug for wisdom, because evidentially it doesn't always come with age.

    According to Bob and Peter... (5.00 / 1) (#134)
    by kdog on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 01:35:34 PM EST
    you can, but they wouldn't call it a drug, they'd call it a sacrament.

    Bob & Peter? (none / 0) (#136)
    by squeaky on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 03:31:01 PM EST
    Who are they?

    That would be... (none / 0) (#139)
    by kdog on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 03:59:08 PM EST
    Bob Marley and Peter Tosh.

    Heh. Not with age, nor (5.00 / 1) (#135)
    by oldpro on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 02:33:52 PM EST
    with youth...evidentially.

    Keep in mind that wisdom and values are not interchangeable concepts.


    Youth? (none / 0) (#137)
    by squeaky on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 03:40:51 PM EST
    Mine is long gone. And you are right, values are often at odds with wisdom. Some would say that gaining wisdom allows for a softening on all rigidly held beliefs.

    As an set of ideas values have no virtue.  Some values are virtuous but many are wicked.


    Yeah (none / 0) (#9)
    by lentinel on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 09:14:19 PM EST
    and he kind of implied that it was his clients that forced him to show above market performance that forced him to be a crook to satisfy them.

    Slippery fellow, this Madoff.


    His family is still very wealthy (5.00 / 1) (#6)
    by imhotep on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 08:13:16 PM EST
    unlike thousands of people he bilked out of their savings and homes.

    An interview on NPR with a retired FL woman who lost $1.6 million ended with her saying all she and her husband have left is a mortgaged motor home.

    It appears that before he admitted his scheme, he arranged for his family to be taken care of.

    If you've got 1.6 million dollars.... (none / 0) (#55)
    by kdog on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 08:30:29 AM EST
    why in hell would you gamble it all?

    A sucker really is born every minute...


    If your employer doesn't (none / 0) (#58)
    by Inspector Gadget on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 08:48:33 AM EST
    bring in the "experts" to explain the 401K plan and what you can expect to achieve at retirement if you do A. vs. B. vs. C. you are unaware of how the big game is played. They don't make this sound like a risk, they make it sound like a guarantee.

    I learned just a couple of years ago that the cap on personal contributions to 401K plans no longer exists. The once 17% of your gross maximum contribution is now gone and people could have contributed every dime if they felt they needed to in order to catch up and be set for retirement.

    You can be sure Madoff didn't find it at all difficult to encourage people to put their entire savings under his control.


    I've noticed (5.00 / 2) (#8)
    by lentinel on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 09:11:42 PM EST
    that a number of people are a little sorry or concerned about Madoff. Poor old guy - 70 years old etc.

    I can understand it - almost feel it.

    But I don't see anywhere near the compassion or concern for the people in their 80s who have lost everything because of this scoundrel. They are treated like chumps by the media.
    We shouldn't forget that Madoff had some major credentials - Nasdaq for Christ's sake! It's not like his victims were taking a flyer on a non-entity.

    I just can't help feel the despair and emptiness his victims must feel.

    you watched different channels (5.00 / 1) (#11)
    by Jeralyn on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 09:40:12 PM EST
    than me today....I saw more about the victims than about the court case. They were on every channel and are also very prominent in news articles.

    Remember, freedom is a commodity far more precious than money.


    Yes (5.00 / 4) (#47)
    by jbindc on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 07:04:37 AM EST
    Freedom is a precious commodity.  That's why when you break the law, especially as Madoff has done so egregiously, and has hurt as many people in the process, he deserves to lose his freedom.

    I have no compassion for someone who knowingly swindled thousands of people out of billions of dollars.  This is not some guy who stole a loaf a bread to feed his kids - that man would deserve compassion.  Madoff deserves nothing but contempt and disgust.


    re (3.00 / 2) (#48)
    by Bemused on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 07:05:50 AM EST
      One can be a criminal defense attorney, and in reality would probably be a far better one, without allowing his or her perspective to become so skewed as to think:

    "You must have watched different TV channels  than me today....I saw more about the victims than about the court case. They were on every channel and are also very prominent in news articles."

      The idea that the victims are not and should not be  part of any  court case is the kind of thinking that can lead lawyers to completely misread their case and poorly serve clients. Trials are not about abstractions and one-sided, dogmatic philosophies.

      Trials are about people-- what they did and what were the consequences to other people. You will become a much better lawyer if learn to put your personal emotions aside and understand that simple truth.


    Trials are about determining (none / 0) (#68)
    by ytterby on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 09:21:49 AM EST
    guilt or innocence. Those determinations should be made by cold, unemotional logic. They should NOT be swayed by tearful victims.

    Or would you rather have guilt or innocence determined by which side can bring in the largest number of crying, destitute widows and orphans?


    My advice (none / 0) (#72)
    by Bemused on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 09:28:01 AM EST

     would be to choose a line of work other than trying cases.  You'll harm a great many people if you approach cases with the conviction that you are there to uphold your convictions about what trials should be rather than understanding what they are and working within that reality.


    heh (none / 0) (#90)
    by wystler on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 10:33:52 AM EST

    A merging of the old Queen For A Day with Jerry Springer would fit some folks' needs just fine.

    My goodness. Television can really suck.


    Don't forget the charities (5.00 / 1) (#38)
    by nycstray on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 02:22:37 AM EST
    the faces of people we won't see on the news, etc.

    Gee, I always thought if you broke the law, you should be aware of the penalty. I can see people having compassion if he had been caught when he first started and that whole story, but 15yrs and over 50 billion later?! Sorry, can't go there. I heard one person on the news saying the victims shouldn't whine because they all had lots of money that he (the commenter) didn't have, so they should be happy with anything they got back! Not all of those people were multi millionaires, and even if they were . . .

    And I really doubt he acted alone . . .  so how compassionate should we be? Excuse his whole family, including the wife that made a couple of big withdraws just in time . . . ? He plead guilty for a reason.


    Well (none / 0) (#15)
    by MrConservative on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 10:18:15 PM EST
    Can't I feel compassion for everyone if I'd like too?

    Of course. (none / 0) (#49)
    by lentinel on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 07:11:13 AM EST
    I was commenting on the media elite and their condescension toward the victims of Madoff.

    Victims as Rubes (none / 0) (#97)
    by wystler on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 10:42:38 AM EST
    Must recall that these victims who dove head first into the Madoff scam did so because they were seeking far better than average ROI. There's an undercurrent of greed that hooked them, making them eschew more regulated investment vehicles and the wisdom of diversification.

    Yes, part of me feels bad for them, but a small slice is pretty sure they deserved to be conned. (Bill Fields: "You can't cheat an honest man. He has to have larceny in his heart in the first place.")


    There it is (none / 0) (#144)
    by lentinel on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 07:43:08 PM EST
    You're doing the same thing - blaming the victims.
    They are the greedy ones according to you.

    But look.
    Look at the credentials of the guy they trusted. Head of Nasdaq for God's sake. Buddies with the government. Why wouldn't you trust the guy? Look at the people they saw who invested with him. Big big names. You can't blame someone during those horrible years for trying to make a buck and try to secure their futures.

    I have zero compassion for Madoff.
    I love W.C. Fields.
    But the cons he was talking about made it obvious to the mark that they were going to do something extra-legal to make big bucks. That's the point. The marks were willing to do something they knew to be slightly dishonest to make a buck.

    Madoff's victims had every right to expect that they were doing something smart, safe and honest. Celebrated by the whole financial industry as smart, ethical and ahead of the curve.

    To hell with Madoff.
    May he rot in the can.


    There Is A Grain of Truth (none / 0) (#145)
    by squeaky on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 08:42:00 PM EST
    Madoff did not take in just anyone. Many of his investors believed that he could not only make them richer but that he had keys that would open the door to the upper class. I feel sorry for them too because it was an empty illusion. Even if Madoff hadn't been a con on the financial level, he was conning willing victims dreaming to have the same access as upper class WASPS. They were chasing a dream of the ultimate greed, in a way.  

    Here is an interesting article about some of his clients and how he did not even come close to the high standards of historic Jewish mobsters like Meyer Lansky.


    Like Spielberg? (none / 0) (#147)
    by lentinel on Sat Mar 14, 2009 at 12:48:01 AM EST
    Dreaming to be an upper-class WASP?

    Don't Know About Spielberg (none / 0) (#150)
    by squeaky on Sat Mar 14, 2009 at 04:35:52 PM EST
    But I do know many who believe that they can achieve the same levels in society as Jews did in late 19th century early 20th century Germany.

    That is not possible today in the US.


    doing the same WHAT? (none / 0) (#151)
    by wystler on Mon Mar 16, 2009 at 10:25:17 AM EST
    What part of ...
    ... eschew(ing) more regulated investment vehicles and the wisdom of diversification ...

    ... suggests that the victims were not sucked into their own trap, at least to some extent?

    Prudent investors would have spread their funds among several institutions. But it was hard to find the sparkling (too-good-to-be-true) returns that Madoff purported to offer.

    The conned thought they were getting over on the suckers who sought safety from diversification.


    Really? (none / 0) (#102)
    by sj on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 11:08:26 AM EST
    I haven't seen any condescension toward his victims.  Not saying it's not out there, just that I haven't seen it.  And I have a lot of compassion for the victims.  I have a couple of IRAs and I admit that I just trust that the statements that I get are valid.  So I'm horrified as well as compassionate.

    But I also have compassion for Madoff.  I kind of believe him when he says he is ashamed (I know, I know.  He lived like a king on what he took from his investors  But still).  And if so, he has lived with that shame and guilt for a long time.  And now he's going to jail.  

    I've lived with a guilty secret.  Which can only ever be a small time guilty secret by comparison.  But I know what it did to me.  And I "paid" for that.  So yes.  I have compassion for all parties.


    I can sympathize... (none / 0) (#53)
    by kdog on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 08:27:55 AM EST
    with the victims up to a point...but I can't shake the thought they bear some responsibility for investing with a crook.  

    You guys know me by now, investing and gambling are synonyms in my book...every penny invested is a penny you should expect to lose.  Never gamble the milk money.


    C'mon kdog, when people and (5.00 / 1) (#60)
    by Anne on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 09:03:48 AM EST
    organizations invested with Madoff, they did not know he was a crook; as far as they knew, he was a well-respected member of the investment community, who seemed to be investing their funds wisely and with great returns.

    They weren't victims up to a point, kdog - they were just victims.  Period.  


    Sure... (5.00 / 1) (#66)
    by MileHi Hawkeye on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 09:18:06 AM EST
    ...to heck with personal responsibility!  No need to do any due dilligence, that's for suckers.  

    If it sounds too good to be true, just hand over the money without doing any investigation. ROR over all else!

    They may have been "victims", but they let themselves fall into the trap.  Exactly what happens when the cloud of easy money (i.e., greed) comes over one's eyes.  


    Very True (5.00 / 3) (#74)
    by CoralGables on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 09:37:16 AM EST
    Leaving the Madoff factor out completely, there were two failed rules of investing and one absolute in life that converged within the victims to create this disaster.

    Never put all your eggs in one basket.
    If it sounds too good to be true it is.
    There's a sucker born every minute.

    Madoff isn't the only con artist to meld these three factors into personal profit.


    And those investors (none / 0) (#83)
    by Natal on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 10:09:46 AM EST
    who got out early with ill-gotten gains are in no way giving it back for redistribution. And we won't ever hear from them. It would be interesting to know how many there are and how much was distributed this way.

    Are you seriously suggesting that (5.00 / 2) (#76)
    by Anne on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 09:55:50 AM EST
    no one who invested with Madoff ever did any due diligence?  Really?  

    If the SEC signed off on Madoff twice, it would seem like the victims got screwed more than once.

    I would love to know how you would feel about this if it were your elderly parents who invested in the hope of having a decent retirement.


    Are you seriously suggesting... (none / 0) (#80)
    by MileHi Hawkeye on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 10:06:47 AM EST
    ...that the SEC is infallable?  That its some sort of "Good Investing" seal of approval?

    My parents got caught up in the Metropolitan Mortgage scam a couple of years ago--along with the rest of us since they opened accounts in our names.  Not a one of us is crying about how we were "victiminzed"--it was a high risk investment that didn't pan out.  An expensive lesson in many ways, but it sure didn't make us victims.  


    I think the SEC is part and parcel (5.00 / 2) (#91)
    by Anne on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 10:34:51 AM EST
    of why we are in some of the trouble we're in; there is increasing evidence that they have dropped the ball over and over again - but we never learn these things until after the fact.

    If the Madoff investments were considered high-risk, that's something I honestly had not heard; I just am not getting the impression that it was marketed that way, or that that was the character of the investments.

    Here's the thing, though: these people didn't lose their investment because of the risk level of the portfolio, they lost it because Madoff just took it and used it to pay "returns" to those people who had invested earlier.

    How is what happened to them, in the end, any different than being held up at gunpoint?  Is the person who gets robbed a victim?  Or do we blame them for being in the wrong place at the wrong time?  Or tell them to suck it up because being robbed is something they should have anticipated?


    Very different... (5.00 / 1) (#99)
    by MileHi Hawkeye on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 10:51:45 AM EST
    ...apples and oranges different.  Nobody held a gun to these people's head.  They fell for the idea of making returns that were waaaay above what anything else was making--the lure of easy money.  They let their greed win out over common sense.  Nobody made them, under threat or duress, hand over the cash.

    When I go to an area that I know is a high-crime one, I try to keep my wits about me so I can do everything possible to not become a victim.  I don't run around places like the Inner Harbor flashing big wads of cash or carrying my valuable where someone can grab them.  



    Again, you are missing the point that (4.00 / 3) (#107)
    by Anne on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 11:36:30 AM EST
    these people did not invest in high risk assets that went belly-up: their money was stolen from them.  Stolen, as in taken without their permission, and not in their accounts even though they had monthly statements that showed things were going swimmingly.  Madoff was robbing Peter to pay Paul, and the investors did not know it was happening.

    Where I come from, if something of value is taken from me without my permission, I have been a victim of a crime.  Madoff has admitted to committing the crimes with which he was charged, which makes the people against whom he committed them victims; I think it's pretty standard terminology.

    I don't understand why you do not get this, and why you seem to be bent on minimizing the extent of what Madoff did, and rationalizing what he did, by making those he stole from complicit in the theft.


    Seriously... (none / 0) (#113)
    by MileHi Hawkeye on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 11:55:38 AM EST
    ...save your projections.  You don't know anything at all about what I'm "bent" on.  

    As you said upthread "If you're going to dance, you have to pay the piper."  To which, I'd add, "It takes two to tango."

    Madoff is getting off too easy in my book, but the Mike Rosens' of the World are not innocent victims either.  



    but they believed they WERE investing (none / 0) (#152)
    by wystler on Mon Mar 16, 2009 at 10:31:25 AM EST
    and many thought, diversification being for suckers and all that, the deal was just sooo damned good that they should invest their entire nest egg

    Madoff didn't strong-arm anybody. Folks who lost everything had every opportunity to spread their investments. They didn't.



    Since Madoff redistributed (none / 0) (#111)
    by Natal on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 11:46:15 AM EST
    funds it must also mean that some of the victims of the scam made money from it.  If the scam was 50 billion and Madoff took, say, 5 billion for personal use and 5 billion for expenses then 40 billion must have been redistributed or is still available. Hypothetical figures but is my logic wrong? What am I missing?

    A ponzi scheme (none / 0) (#125)
    by Bemused on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 12:45:19 PM EST
     Uses the new money invested to provide the bogus returns on previous investments. People are led to believe their money is being held in a form of trust and they are receiving the investment earnings when in fact the money they invested was also used to pay people sham returns.

      When the scheme unravels, and it will eventually even in the absence of a sharp downturn in the economy (here Madoff  hit the wall when new investment dried because of the economy but sooner or later you can't continue to provide returns.

      If I have a 100 people each expecting a 20% return on a total million dollars I need only receive $400,000 to pay them and pocket $200K myself, but each year I need exponentially more. When I reach  1000 people each expecting a 20% return on a total investment of twenty million dollar investment, I now need $4,200,000 in new investment, even if I'm still satisfied with only pocketing 200K. It's impossible for that to go forever even if the economy continues upward.

      Loss is very difficult to quantify, and it's subjective. It's an academic exercise to some extent when there is no means of providing restitution. Yet, let's take a mythical investor who invested a million dollars one time and over ten years he received $2,000,000 in what he believed to be return on investment and thought he had a $1,000,000 principal.

      Did he "lose" a million dollars? What if the "average" return  over that period would have been $1,000,000--- did he break even? What if the alternative investment he was considering would have returned 1,500,000, did he lose $500K? What if he can identify an honest investment opportunity that would have also returned 2 million did he lose a million again?

      How do you factor in the detriment of a sudden precipitous loss as opposed to having earned the same amount less over a ten year period?

      There are countless more variables at play and arguments going in all sorts of directions.



    The midset doesn't change overnight (none / 0) (#122)
    by Inspector Gadget on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 12:29:42 PM EST
    The SEC, FDA, and all those gov't agencies that are supposed to protect the citizens of this country are still trusted by many.

    You're still stuck... (none / 0) (#62)
    by kdog on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 09:07:30 AM EST
    in the thinking that investing is different than gambling...it isn't Anne and has never been any different.

    Yeah..."as far as they knew", as we can see they knew d*ck.  The great returns they were getting should have been the first clue...if it's too good to be true it usually is.


    kdog, your gambling point is understood (none / 0) (#104)
    by Inspector Gadget on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 11:16:43 AM EST
    Madoff and Buffett were in the same business. What Madoff did was criminal, what Buffett did was a brilliant manipulation of the financial market.

    Notice, too, that buying a house over the past decade also turned out to be a losing gamble for millions. That we ever allowed the banks to turn housing into a risky investment is beyond my comprehension.


    Indeed... (none / 0) (#115)
    by kdog on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 12:09:05 PM EST
    and I'd love to know when we the people started looking at homes as gambles instead of...ya know, a home...4 walls and a roof.

    My best guess is that happened (none / 0) (#120)
    by Inspector Gadget on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 12:28:20 PM EST
    when the investors started running up the prices and people who wanted to experience that part of the American dream had to rush into buying before all hope was lost. The builders saw a big opening for them to cash-in, too. Though, the builders are actually get their due in this.

    There were so many involved in this. Larger private and publicly held builders opened their own mortgage brokerages, enticed the buyers with $5-10,000 incentives if they used the in-house broker for their loan, then made the buyer sign a bogus piece of paper that swore they were buying their primary residence and then didn't yank the loan when the buyer put out a For Rent sign at closing and never moved in.


    How could they KNOW he was a crook? (5.00 / 1) (#65)
    by lilybart on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 09:17:29 AM EST
    The SEC investigated him twice and signed off. That is like the FDA approving a drug, you have to trust it.

    AND he had foundations, charities and Elie Weisle for god's sake. AND he said he diversified so it wasn't like he put everyone into one bank stock or something.

    Investing with Madoff made sense at the time with what people could know.

    The ONLY thing negative about the victims is that it was considered a badge of honor (ego stuff here) that Madoff would allow you to invest with him, so there was a cache in knowing him.


    How could they know? (none / 0) (#70)
    by kdog on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 09:26:15 AM EST
    I don't know....how 'bout the great returns they were getting for years for a clue?

    Only fool would trust the SEC to be a proper gaming commision...seriously.


    Great returns (none / 0) (#103)
    by sj on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 11:08:53 AM EST
    I heard one of his victims on NPR last night.  She said that (as an example) the returns during the .com boom were nowhere near what a lot of other investment firms were producing, so investing with Madoff appeared to be more stable and less speculative.  

    When I set up my IRAs I was given a spectrum of where I wanted to invest -- higher risk/potentially higher returns or lower risk/likely lower returns.  It appeared they thought they were investing in the lower risk category.

    No way am I blaming these victims.


    Not blaming them.... (none / 0) (#109)
    by kdog on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 11:42:05 AM EST
    no doubt they got robbed...I just have more sympathy for the bag lady I just saw panhandling outside of Taco Bell on my lunch break...every line on her face contained more woe than those swindled by Madoff could ever imagine.

    Perspective, perspective, perspective...these people were lucky to ever be in a position to lose hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not millions.


    Okay (none / 0) (#110)
    by sj on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 11:44:46 AM EST
    I just don't see compassion as a limited resource.

    Isn't (none / 0) (#56)
    by Bemused on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 08:35:09 AM EST
      the loss of their money the "penalty" they pay for negligently exercising that responsibility?

       Now, if the issue was whether public funds should be used to "bailout" the losers who chose to make uninsured investments carrying risk, your responsibility  point would be well taken, but what does it have to do with the crimes which Madoff admits he committed?


    You're right... (5.00 / 0) (#57)
    by kdog on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 08:40:50 AM EST
    they've certainly paid for their poor investing decisions...no doubt.

    I just can't get too worked up about the rich eating the rich...beats the usual rich eating the poor.


    I doubt (5.00 / 1) (#59)
    by Bemused on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 08:49:11 AM EST
     Any "poor" people had direct investments with Madoff but that doesn't mean none of them have been or will be hurt by the losses.

     As just one of countless examples, let's say I own a business with low-paid employees. It's not doing that well but I think that because have a half million invested that is earning me good returns I can continue to operate and eventually the business might become profitable. Then I learn that not only will I no longer be making any returns on my investment but that the principal is entirely gone. It's not beyond reason that i might decide to close up shop and get a salaried job working for someone else. My employees lose their jobs as a result. The person who doesn't get the job I take loses too.

      Then we have the beneficiaries of numerous charities....

      Even with the "rich" people (and does having a million dollars invested really make you "rich?) some of them might now be "formerly rich" people who are now considerably worse off than you.


    It always trickles down... (none / 0) (#61)
    by kdog on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 09:04:04 AM EST
    hadn't really thought of that...good point.

    And yeah...having 1 million dollars to invest still makes you rich...have we become so skewed that a million dollars has become chump change?  

    Give me a million cash right now and I'll retire, and without gambling a dime I'll have 3 hot meals a day and a place to sleep for the rest of my life...guaranteed.


    "rich" (5.00 / 1) (#69)
    by Bemused on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 09:24:10 AM EST
      is a relative term that different people define differently. it's been my experience that only the "super-rich" view themselves as "rich" but people with less money view others as rich at a much lower threshhold.

      I'm no different, I suppose. My definition of rich is a person who owns enough assets that he could stop working, still live out his life in considerable luxury and then pass on substantial assets to his heirs. That takes way more than million dollars these days.

      A million dollars, even exclusive of primary residence, is not really enough to do much more than to make one feel fairly secure he will live comfortably in retirement even if he has a long life.


    I disagree.... (none / 0) (#73)
    by kdog on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 09:32:37 AM EST
    a million dollars is more than a security blanket, it's a fortune.

    But you're right, it all depends on where you're coming from....though I must say those who think of a million dollars as nothing more than a security blanket are hopelessly out of touch, imo.  


    Wow, Stewart is tearing Cramer apart (5.00 / 3) (#17)
    by andgarden on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 10:20:55 PM EST

    yea (5.00 / 0) (#71)
    by CST on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 09:27:00 AM EST
    I almost felt bad for him.  Almost.

    I think so did Jon by the end.

    The end where he said something about if it was as uncomfortable to watch as it was to do - absolutely.  My sister and I had to pause it a number of times just to prepare ourselves for the next segment.  Kinda reminded me of the stint he did on Crossfire where he ruined Tucker Carlson's career.


    that's because (none / 0) (#35)
    by cpinva on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 12:37:12 AM EST
    Wow, Stewart is tearing Cramer apart

    cramer's a self-adulating fool. low-hanging fruit.


    Misplaced Compassion (5.00 / 3) (#18)
    by Sweet Sue on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 10:30:31 PM EST
    Are you aware that at least two of his victims have commited suicide?
    Actually, I thought your premise was a joke.

    Why not start serving now? (none / 0) (#44)
    by Fabian on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 06:22:41 AM EST
    After all, he might actually finish serving his sentence if he starts early enough.

    (That was black humor.  The man is unlikely to actually serve out his entire sentence, even if he gets every break legally allowable.  He'd probably have to get the minimum for everything, served concurrently, to pay his debt to society.)


    Wait, what? (5.00 / 1) (#22)
    by NJDem on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 10:46:18 PM EST
    "Obama: Economic crisis 'not as bad as we think'"

    My reaction is more about this passage:

    "And I am obviously an object of this constantly varying assessment. I am the object in chief of this varying assessment."   --I really don't understand this--help me out.

    More about the WH Council on Women:

    I wonder if Cream City could enlighten us on the "similar initiative from the Clinton era."  Sadly, I don't remember it...

    Yeah, I just read that and cringed (5.00 / 1) (#25)
    by Dadler on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 11:05:56 PM EST
    Sounds very Dubya.  I'm sorry, but that is not the language of a strong, confident, courageous leader.  It's the language of deflection and aversion -- deflecting blame and scope, averting reality.

    Not that hard (5.00 / 1) (#28)
    by Upstart Crow on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 12:00:52 AM EST
    It's self-pity talk. He's saying that everybody is using the economic circumstances to evaluate him, with the implication that this is unfair.

    It does sound a bit ... rambling. As if he had been spending too much time with Biden.


    he gets blame or acclaim (5.00 / 1) (#39)
    by blogname on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 03:04:40 AM EST
    he's saying - when things go up, he gets credit; when things go down, he gets the blame too. also, people react to every bit of information (every item of good news brings a good assessment and every item of bad news brings a bad assessment). I guess he is telling people to look at the big picture, rather than taking in every little detail as indicative of a trend.

    I am looking at the big picture. (5.00 / 1) (#45)
    by Fabian on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 06:29:03 AM EST
    And I try very hard not to because the big picture - economy, energy, financial, globally, nationally and locally - is not rosy.

    At the very time (rather eight years late) that we need a healthy economy to invest in the transition away from fossil fuels, we are mired in a global economic crisis.  Plus the whole debacle in Iraq and Afghanistan doesn't help at all.

    Obama needs to buck up and say "I don't matter, it's the nation that matters.".


    You go girl (5.00 / 2) (#27)
    by gyrfalcon on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 11:23:52 PM EST
    Smacked him with a toy guitar!  I'd love to have been a fly on that wall.

    No Dice (5.00 / 2) (#43)
    by candideinnc on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 06:17:15 AM EST
    I can feel compassion for criminals who act out of desperation or foolish impulse.  I can feel compassion for criminals who don't have the mental capacity to understand the consequences of their actions.  I don't feel the need to be compassionate for a greedy, self centered, plotting, evil miscreant.  He enjoyed the fruits of his lies for many years.  He is well past due punishment.  Nothing you said suggests to me that his punishment is too severe for his crime.  Find better objects for your compassion.  There are plenty of them out there.

    further... (5.00 / 2) (#50)
    by candideinnc on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 07:42:46 AM EST
    A couple more things: this man claims the scheme got out of control and he couldn't stop it.  He is still spouting BS.  Madoff didn't stop because he didn't get caught.  I am of retirement age.    

    There are people who deserve contempt rather than sympathy when they face the bar...people like Cheney and Bush.  These are people who have abused others for wealth and power.  If there is to be any justice in this world, theirs are the crimes that deserve steely eyed punishment.  For me, Madoff is in their ranks.


    Another treasury candidate bites the dust (none / 0) (#7)
    by Saul on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 08:58:19 PM EST
    A candidate for deputy treasurer drops out of consideration.  Link

    I am not sure why (none / 0) (#10)
    by Steve M on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 09:38:26 PM EST
    it is unfair for a defendant to be jailed pending sentencing, if it is undisputed that he will ultimately be sentenced to jail time.  If there were a chance that he might not get jail, that would be different.

    it's the law (5.00 / 1) (#12)
    by Jeralyn on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 09:43:53 PM EST
    not the morality. The statute provides for bail pending sentencing unless the defendant is a flight risk or a danger to the community. Given the incredibly stringent conditions of Bernie's bond and two prior judges ruling in his case he was neither, I think he fit the statutory test.

    Just as the rich shouldn't be above the law, neither should they be beneath it. Not to mention Skilling, Lay, Ebbers and Rigas all got bond pending sentencing. And none of them stepped up to the plate and admitted guilt, they went to trial and put the Government through the paces.


    I can see your point, Jeralyn, but (5.00 / 4) (#19)
    by Anne on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 10:31:06 PM EST
    like I always told my kids: when you make the decision to do something you know is wrong, you are no longer in control of what the consequences might be; as long as being held without bond until sentencing is within the law, I don't think Bernie Madoff has any basis for complaint.

    I am having a hard time working up even a minimal amout of compassion for him, considering the lives he has damaged and the dreams he has shattered.  And not just on an individual basis - there are a number of charitable organizations and foundations which will not be able to do the same level of outreach or help as many people as they might otherwise be able to.  And in these difficult times, that is even more of a loss.

    Just removing him from society is not enough; I would really rather see him on work-release, sentenced to working for those who have nothing.  That his wife still has substantial assets is pretty much of a slap-in-the-face to those who provided her husband with the means to accumulate those assets, and who will be lucky to ever get anything back - it wouldn't upset me at all if she loses those assets.

    If you're going to dance, you have to pay the piper.


    what? (5.00 / 1) (#54)
    by Bemused on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 08:28:30 AM EST
    i know you practice law, but I'm not sure you are familiar with federal law regarding release.

    18 U.S.C. § 3143
    a) Release or Detention Pending Sentence.--

    (1) Except as provided in paragraph (2, the judicial officer shall order that a person who has been found guilty of an offense and who is awaiting imposition or execution of sentence, other than a person for whom the applicable guideline promulgated pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 994 does not recommend a term of imprisonment, be detained, unless the judicial officer finds by clear and convincing evidence that the person is not likely to flee or pose a danger to the safety of any other person or the community if released under section 3142 (b) or (c). If the judicial officer makes such a finding, such judicial officer shall order the release of the person in accordance with section 3142 (b) or (c).


      The "law" in fact REQUIRES a judge to order detention following conviction unless he finds by clear and convincing evidence the person is not a flight risk. Prior to conviction, but not after, a court is required to release a defendant if he finds that any combination of conditions imposed in connection with release will suffice to assure appearance. That does not apply after conviction. After conviction the existence of possible conditions is no longer the deciding issue; the deciding issue is whether the person has proven by clear and convincing evidence he is not a flight risk.

      What exactly did Madoff do to prove he is not a flight risk?


    that's been answered many times (1.00 / 0) (#92)
    by Jeralyn on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 10:36:29 AM EST
    --go read the prior court rulings. And my prior posts. I've written about the statute, the burden of proof, etc. many times. I even laid out your position.

    I think Madoff carried the burden. You don't. Either did the judge yesterday. I would have ruled differently. And yes, I do these hearings and appeals of them under this statute all the time.


    this is related to jeralyn and (none / 0) (#96)
    by Bemused on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 10:42:08 AM EST
     the poster to whom I  just responded.

      You say you think he carried his burden of proving by clear and convincing evidence he is not a flight risk.

      Please list the evidence he introduced and explain  why you think it provides clear and convincing proof he is not a flight risk.


    Pssst. This is J's blog. (none / 0) (#141)
    by oculus on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 04:12:06 PM EST
    I'm aware of that (none / 0) (#143)
    by Bemused on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 04:25:52 PM EST
     I just don't see why that makes assertions which are unsupported by any facts or analysis worth any more than when such assertions are made by people without blogs.



    I asked before (none / 0) (#140)
    by Bemused on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 04:08:04 PM EST
    You say you think he carried his burden of proving by clear and convincing evidence he is not a flight risk.

      Please list the evidence he introduced and explain  why you think it provides clear and convincing proof he is not a flight risk.


      Any answers? Just saying you think something without providing any clue as to why you think it helps very little in understanding where you get these thoughts.


    Sorry, but you make little sense here (1.00 / 0) (#16)
    by kenosharick on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 10:18:37 PM EST
    "undisputed that he will ultimately be sentenced to jail" ???? You mean no presumtion of innocence? Who decides? The judge? pundits? polls? Sorry, but this is stll America.

    Holy crap (5.00 / 7) (#26)
    by Steve M on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 11:17:12 PM EST
    No, you do not get a presumption of innocence AFTER YOU PLEAD GUILTY!!!

    Don't try to make me feel like a moron (none / 0) (#138)
    by kenosharick on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 03:43:48 PM EST
    the comment I replied to was talking about bail way before he plead guilty.

    no (none / 0) (#142)
    by CST on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 04:25:30 PM EST
    "pending sentancing" is not the same as "pending guilty plea"

    unless you replied to the wrong comment.


    the presumption of innocence (none / 0) (#51)
    by Bemused on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 08:09:24 AM EST
     is prior to conviction. He's been convicted based on his entry of  intelligent and voluntary guilty pleas and adjudged guilty.

      He was entitled to go to trial and put the government to its burden of proof and rest his case solely upon that presumption and the government failing to meet its burden of proving each essential element of the offenses. He chose not to do that.


    Obama Justice Department Urges Dismissal (none / 0) (#21)
    by fly on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 10:41:40 PM EST
    Obama Justice Department Urges Dismissal of Another Torture Case (Rasul v. Rumsfeld)  
     Source: The Washington Independent

    Obama Justice Department Urges Dismissal of Another Torture Case
    By Daphne Eviatar 3/12/09 6:46 PM

    In another move that suggests the Obama Department of Justice is not making many big policy breaks with its predecessor when it comes to the legal rights of Guantanamo Bay detainees, the department filed a brief renewing the government's motion to dismiss the case of Rasul v. Rumsfeld.

    The case is very similar to the lawsuit filed by U.S. citizen and former enemy combatant Jose Padilla against former Deputy Assistant Attorney General John Yoo, which I've been following. The plaintiffs in Rasul v. Rumsfeld allege that former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and other senior Bush officials are responsible for their torture; prolonged arbitrary detention; cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment; cruel and unusual punishment; denial of liberties without due process, and preventing the exercise and expression of their religious beliefs.

    According to their legal complaint, Shafiq Rasul, Asif Iqbal and Rhuhel Ahmed claim they traveled to Afghanistan in October 2001 to offer humanitarian relief to civilians. In late November, they were kidnapped by Rashid Dostum, the Uzbeki warlord and leader of the U.S.-supported Northern Alliance. He turned them over to U.S. custody - apparently for bounty money that American officials were paying for suspected terrorists. In December, without any independent evidence that the men had engaged in hostilities against the United States, U.S. officials sent them to Guantanamo Bay. Over the next two years, they claim -- as does a fourth British man -- that they were imprisoned in cages, tortured and humiliated, forced to shave their beards and watch their Korans desecrated, until they were returned to Britain in 2004. None were ever charged with a crime.

    Dismissed at the urging of the Bush administration, the case was appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. In December, the case was sent back to the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Washington for reconsideration, because the Supreme Court had ruled in Boumediene v. Bush that Guantanamo detainees have the right to

    Read more: http://washingtonindependent.com/33679/obama-justice-de...

    Anyone awake??? UConn & Syracuse (none / 0) (#29)
    by Teresa on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 12:06:13 AM EST
    are headed to overtime #6 on ESPN.

    ESPN? What's that??? ;-) (5.00 / 1) (#30)
    by andgarden on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 12:16:17 AM EST
    This is a politics and sports blog (5.00 / 1) (#33)
    by Teresa on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 12:27:03 AM EST
    andgarden. You are not holding up your end. :)

    And law (5.00 / 1) (#34)
    by andgarden on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 12:31:57 AM EST
    I figure I can comprehend 2/3. . .

    Unbelievable (5.00 / 1) (#31)
    by Steve M on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 12:21:28 AM EST
    I'm lying in bed, writing my closing argument for tomorrow on the laptop.  What an unbelievable game.

    Unreal wasn't it? (none / 0) (#32)
    by Teresa on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 12:26:12 AM EST
    I don't know how Syracuse can play tomorrow night. I'm exhausted from watching.

    Jeralyn - I have great respect for how (none / 0) (#41)
    by Think Before You Type on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 05:59:53 AM EST
    you apply your inner convictions consistently, even in cases where everyone else has decided we're dealing with a cartoon villain.

    This (along with similar comments about BTD - look at his AIPAC reaction) is one of the reasons I take the time to read this site and consider it several cuts above other progressive web sites.

    Keep up the good work!

    Madoff is no cartoon villain. (5.00 / 1) (#46)
    by Fabian on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 06:35:42 AM EST
    He may be a useful scapegoat, but he's no cartoon.

    He's a real man who made real decisions that resulted in real crimes.  


    The expression "cartoon villain" (none / 0) (#132)
    by Think Before You Type on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 01:10:58 PM EST
    is an idiom.  It doesn't mean he's not a villain, or even a very bad villain - he surely is.  It means that people have started thinking about him in a cartoonish way, and it affects their thinking and their logic.  Jeralyn, blessedly, is stronger than that, and I have no doubt that you are as well.

    Apparently not an open marriage (none / 0) (#42)
    by Fabian on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 06:17:15 AM EST
    Prostitutes or not, she was within her rights to be angry.  I'd suggest she'd have been better off to use a video camera to record.  Why bother with he-said-she-said when you can simply let the public decide?

    Compassion (none / 0) (#67)
    by OldCity on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 09:20:27 AM EST
    I feel compassion when (or, especially when) I can recognize the humanity in an offender.  

    I fail to see an iota of that in Madoff.  His was a systematic impverishment of many people and institutions.  He knew, unconditionally, what the results of his efforts would be.  

    Comapassion doesn't negate punishment.  It shouldn't.  We can feel bad for ourselves, that we must mete it out and we can feel sorrow for the failings of a smart (but amoral) person.  However, we can't let those feelings get in the way of our responsibility to exact the punitive when required.

    Reflection (none / 0) (#129)
    by squeaky on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 01:04:59 PM EST
    Compassion is an indicator of the spiritual, psychic or evolutionary development of the person feeling the compassion. It has nothing to do with whether or not the person in question has any compassion themselves.

    Compassion is not a quid pro quo sort of thing, imo. If it were, it would be a superficial trait and not worthy of notice.


    For an iota (or more) (none / 0) (#133)
    by Think Before You Type on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 01:15:23 PM EST
    of humanity, note recent news stories that state that he apparently refused to cut a deal that would have incriminated other people (very likely including family members), even though such a deal would have resulted in some leniency for him.

    Just because someone did a very bad thing, it shouldn't make us lose sight of his humanity.  As I see it, that's a basic axiom for progressives.  (I'm not talking about mass murder or genocide - you have to draw the line some place!)

    Also, I don't think in any way that Jeralyn was saying Madoff shouldn't be severely punished.


    really (none / 0) (#75)
    by Bemused on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 09:47:58 AM EST
      Let's say I'm 60 years old. I have three children.  My wife and I have  paid off the mortgage on our $250,000 home and after a nearly 40 years of working we now make a combined $150,000 a year.

       If I give you only that, I doubt you would consider us rich. If I add that between the two of us we  have a million dollars in savings and investment do we have a "fortune?"

       What if I become ill and rather than being able to continue to make $100,000 a year, I only will receive a third of that in disability payments until I reach 65. Our income has been cut nearly in half and we will no longer be able to invest anything.

      Despite that we become more  frugal and don't withdraw any money from our investments until we reach retirement age, and when she  retires we have over a  million available (I'm an optimist).

      So we have social security and a  million dollars to live the rest of our lives. You would consider that "rich."

    Yes I would.... (5.00 / 1) (#78)
    by kdog on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 10:02:41 AM EST
    you own a home, have (I assume) around a thousand a month coming in from SS, and a million dollars.  Congratulations, you're a winner at the game of life, better off than the vast majority living on earth.

    Sh*t, you could abandon the house, abandon the social security, and live like a king on a beach in Mexico sipping tropical drinks till the day you die just on the million.  


    Ok (none / 0) (#86)
    by Bemused on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 10:21:49 AM EST
     I'm better off than the vast majority of people on Earth by a long shot.

      So, is the person getting nothing but SS, but that doesn't make them rich either.

       I do believe though that my fictional couple would be receiving closer to 3000 a month from SS if we assume a typical salary progression over the working careers, and I by no means would consider them poor --- just a long way from rich.

      Even if we assume they  decided,  we've provided adequately already for the kids, our goal is to die slightly in debt (not a bad strategy) rather than leave children we put through school money, $36,000 plus the million is a long way from luxury.

      No one can predict market returns or inflation (as we so painfully know) but prudently if plan for the eventuality tat we might both live to exceed ninety, we might have a plan to exhaust our wealth in thirty years figuring we can survive on SS after that because we won't be living it up  much.

      That would mean even if we chose the rosiest scenario  forecast (blind guess) of the future value of our million, we would spend less than $100K per year. That plus the SS would make us less well off than our previous middle class existence even if we assume no inflation.

      Living on $100-135K a year is a long way from poverty but it's not my idea of being rich and it's premised on dying broke.


    I guess it all depends.... (5.00 / 1) (#94)
    by kdog on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 10:40:08 AM EST
    on your personal definition of rich and luxury.

    I define luxury as anything beyond lifes staples...and by that definition I live a life of luxury making 40k a year.  Americans who consider themselves poor live a life of luxury....not champagne and caviar luxury, but Budweiser and Raisinette luxury.

    I define rich as not having to work and not having to worry about lifes staples...a million dollars still qualifies.

    That's what I was on about when I mentioned how schewed our view of money and wealth is...only in America could a million dollar pile be a cause for concern that is is not enough.  Too much is not enough for us.  We expect entirely too much out of life in America...especially at the top but even at the bottom to some extent.  If you're eating you're doing ok...we must keep some perspective.


    I'll agree (none / 0) (#98)
    by Bemused on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 10:46:51 AM EST
     That if you define rich as being able to acquire without continuing to work slightly more than  the bare necessities of life such as adequate nutrition to survive and a  warm, sheltered place to sleep, my fictional couple is "rich."

      On the other hand, by that definition, with the availability of public assistance  pretty much everyone is rich only less so.


    Exactly... (5.00 / 0) (#101)
    by kdog on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 10:57:56 AM EST
    we need to quit whining...myself included.  I've got a job that appears semi-secure, a car that runs, a comfortable rented home w/ electric and heat and clean water, a fridge and cupboards full of food, cable tv w/ a deluxe package, a Playstation, I'm taking a Caribbean cruise next month...and I consider myself working class!  

    May we never take for granted all that we have.


    Amen, kdog (5.00 / 0) (#116)
    by daring grace on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 12:11:51 PM EST
    I am not as well heeled as I would like to be (need to be), and at the moment my life has lots of uncomfortable variables and potentially (financially) terrifying stuff to stare down in the near future. But I am blessed to live in a neighborhood, now gentrifying, where my neighbors live in considerably worse straits than I.

    Over the years, whenever I am feeling sorry for myself, or even scared about money etc. I look around me at those with so much less in terms of education, family stability, networking support in the middle and upper classes, etc. and really NOTHING in their pockets day to day.

    It's humbling. It really is. And it makes me grateful for the advantages and luxuries I do have, insufficient though they sometimes seem to my (whining) mind.


    It's hard to keep your head on straight... (none / 0) (#123)
    by kdog on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 12:33:45 PM EST
    in our society....don't beat yourself up to bad:)

    We're obsessed with money.


    agreed (none / 0) (#117)
    by Bemused on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 12:15:40 PM EST
      I don't consider myself rich, but I am well aware of how easy and secure my life is compared to my own grandparents let alone the vast majority of people who have existed on Earth. I've even managed to attain a life of considerable comfort and security being my own boss doing something I love. There are many "rich" people with whom I would not consider trading places (although maybe some who could talk me into it).

      I'm not complaining about not being rich, just stating what I consider to be reality. I love my job but quitting isn't really an option, so I don't consider myself rich.


    No worries... (none / 0) (#124)
    by kdog on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 12:35:00 PM EST
    nothing wrong with everybody having their opinion as to what constitutes "rich"...it is arbitrary.

    Well, (none / 0) (#105)
    by Inspector Gadget on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 11:25:51 AM EST
    around a thousand a month coming in from SS

    That will barely cover the medical insurance for him and his wife and the property taxes and insurance on the house.

    Investigate how many lottery winners still have the money they won. It's pretty easy to go through millions of dollars in a short period of time.


    SS is taxable (none / 0) (#106)
    by oculus on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 11:32:14 AM EST
    Not sure I'm reading your comment right.... (none / 0) (#114)
    by Inspector Gadget on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 12:04:57 PM EST
    I was thinking the $1000 a month figure kdog put out there was the net figure after taxes, but if not, you're correct that taxes come out of it, too.

    I got the grand... (none / 0) (#118)
    by kdog on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 12:15:51 PM EST
    from the last letter I got from the SS admin as what I should expect as my monthly benefit.

    my $3000 (none / 0) (#119)
    by Bemused on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 12:21:26 PM EST
      Was a rough estimate for  a late middle-aged couple currently in that income bracket (150K) where each had a "typical" income progression during their careers.

    make him earn $ (none / 0) (#77)
    by Howard Zinn on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 10:00:21 AM EST
    My wife and I were talking about this last night.  Sending him to prison is a further drain on our resources and does nothing, financially, for the victims.  Why not give him a corporate/government job of some sort and send his wages straight to the victims?

    He'd fit right in... (none / 0) (#79)
    by kdog on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 10:03:28 AM EST
    working for the government:)

    Hey now, Mister! (5.00 / 1) (#82)
    by MileHi Hawkeye on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 10:09:21 AM EST
    Some of us are productive, dedicated, right-minded, up-standing people!

    My bad.... (none / 0) (#84)
    by kdog on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 10:13:23 AM EST
    yeah, lots of low-level federal employees are fine ethical people.

    The big dogs?  I call 'em as I see 'em:)


    Who you calling... (5.00 / 1) (#88)
    by MileHi Hawkeye on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 10:26:03 AM EST
    ...low (level)?  :)

    Apologies Mr. Hawkeye sir:)... (none / 0) (#108)
    by kdog on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 11:37:51 AM EST
    Do you by chance have any connections in the NY State Dept. of Taxation and Finance Mr. Big Shot?  I know a lot of people in my 'hood who need their tax returns before August:)

    Around here... (none / 0) (#121)
    by MileHi Hawkeye on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 12:29:26 PM EST
    ...Mr. Big Shot refers to one Chauncy Billups.  May he lead us to a 1st round play-off series win!

    Unfortunately, my powers are limited to protecting the citizens of the Centennial State.  That does bite the big one having to wait until August to get back money that rightfully belongs to NY'ers.  

    Oh, and thanks for reminding me that I have to get going on my taxes...


    Playoffs? (none / 0) (#126)
    by kdog on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 12:47:30 PM EST
    What are those...I'm a Knicks fan:)

    But we're moving in the right direction I think...finally.  I'll be rootin' for your Nugs.


    Be patient... (none / 0) (#127)
    by MileHi Hawkeye on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 12:55:53 PM EST
    ...LeBron will probably be using the home locker room at MSG before too very long.  I've always liked Mike D'Antoni too.

    I have to wonder if your Jets are going to make a run at Jay Cutler?


    Caught some John Clayton... (none / 0) (#128)
    by kdog on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 01:00:59 PM EST
    the other night, he said the new coach and Cutler will sort it out.

    I don't know who's under center for us...as long as it ain't Brett I'm cool with it:)...our defense is shaping up to be a monster...on paper at least.


    Not too impressed... (none / 0) (#130)
    by MileHi Hawkeye on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 01:06:44 PM EST
    ...with the new kid calling the shots as yet.  I think he might be a little over his head.  Sometimes I think Bellicheat sets his assistants up to fail when they make the big time.  

    I would hope the J-E-T-S D would be pretty stout what with your getting the mastermind of the Ravens awesome D.  


    That's because (none / 0) (#85)
    by jbindc on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 10:18:47 AM EST
    The big dogs are politicians - most of whom wouldn't know an honest day's work if it bit them in the behind.

    ok since my reply was deleted (none / 0) (#100)
    by Bemused on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 10:55:34 AM EST
     I'll try again , with just the obvious.

      (1) Slavery is illegal even as punishment. you can't force someone to work.

     (2) Even if you could force someone to work or he agreed to do it and waive the 13th amendment rights. That idea helps no one.

       even if we gave him a million dollar a year job (at the expense of other who might want it) and made him live in a cardboard box, he would earn only 1/50,000th of the estimated losses ayear.

       That means with pro rata distribution a person who lost a million would get a whopping 20 bucks a year.

      I doubt many would find that a good solution.


    of course ... (none / 0) (#146)
    by Howard Zinn on Sat Mar 14, 2009 at 12:09:37 AM EST
    my OP was made in jest.

    The point is that prison takes talented people out of productivity.  And that productivity is just what we need right now.


    Commenter Bemused (none / 0) (#95)
    by Jeralyn on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 10:41:35 AM EST
    watch the insults please. I just deleted a comment of your's insulting another commenter. It's not the first one. Give your opinion and omit the snide insults please if you want to continue commenting here.

    It's hard for me to feel too sorry for him (none / 0) (#112)
    by Militarytracy on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 11:48:56 AM EST
    AND HE HAD HELP TOO so who really helped him.  My take from watching sparingly yesterday.....he has decided to take the whole fall himself at 70.  Who were his helpers?  Were they the rest of his family? This is his choice to make among many other choices he has made and so be it.