Perspective

Cheating "Honest" Men

Sometimes I like to remind myself of what a nobody I am.  It does not take much to trigger these fits of humility.  A glance in the mirror or at the ever-expanding bulge in my vest is usually enough to call to mind at least two deadly sins that have tempted me all too often.  If my self-administered physical examination fails to produce results, I can always check my telephone messages: “Tom, this is your high-school friend, Bob.  There’s a fat IPO I can get you in on.  Call me back at Barnum and Associates.”  Needless to say, “Bob,” who is young enough to be my grandson, does not even know what high school I attended.  Now, a call from Bernie Madoff—that might have meant something, but I do not have enough money to interest a prince of Ponzi schemes or even a count of crapshoots.  I must make do with the varlets and knaves who, if they were not selling stocks, would be dealing three-card monte on the street.

Madoff was promising his “victims” 18-20 percent per annum, and many of his victims still think his estate can be forced to make good on his promises.  Some of them (about half) actually got out more money than they put into his Ponzi scheme, but that does not stop them from suing for the paper value of their portfolio.  It is hard to imagine the impudent greed of people who did not lose anything but now want to rob investors who lost everything. ...

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