Madoff Deserves Lots of Punishment

by
First, I must clear the air of some direct lies. USA Today, the Associated Press(AP), and the New York Post all reported that Bernard Madoff, a $50 billion dollar thief, graduated from Hofstra Law School. From the AP:

“Madoff’s resume was the stuff of Wall Street legend: He founded his company in 1960 with $5,000 he earned in part working as a lifeguard on Long Island beaches while putting himself through Hofstra University Law School.”

The USA today and the New York wrote basically the same thing. This is not true. He did graduate from Hofstra’s undergraduate program, in 1960. And this was before the Law School even existed!(founded in 1970) This kind of glaring error may be acceptable from the likes of the Post, but the other two publications cannot be forgiven. A quick phone call to Hofstra University to ascertain if Madoff graduated from the Law School would not be too onerous, right? Apparently, it was . Instead, these news publications relied upon rumor and hearsay. If something this easy was messed up, how many other “facts”, perhaps more difficult to confirm, are simply not true? Probably enough to never trust what you see in print.

Second, Mr. Madoff, and other white-collar criminals past, present and future, present a great, if not the greatest, risks to our society. Whole segments of an economy can be laid to waste. Thousands, if not millions, of lives can be destroyed. Therefore, Madoff should be treated in a commensurate manner as to the wrong he committed. If one filches billions, one should pay retribution for the consequences one sowed. Madoff should not be separated from the general prison population; he should not get a soft plea bargain that allows him to see the light of day again; he should not be able to chill out in his luxurious Manhattan apartment while he awaits trial. Instead, sell the apartment, spread out the proceeds amongst those affected, and let Madoff wait at a Days Inn. It’s quite straightforward: you consciously commit a staggeringly great crime, you pay for it.

There are other compelling reasons to aggressively punish Madoff, and other types like him. In our society, education and the resultant knowledge gained is something we hold dear. He held a mighty powerful position amongst his fellow citizens. It is especially important for the country’s top leaders, both in the private and public sectors, to be held to a high standard of professional behaviour. And Madoff fell way way below any any acceptable standard. To ask less is to expose the society at large. Society, through the hand of the prosecutor, should punish Madoff to the full extent allowed by law and thus show future high rolling wrongdoers that you will be punished severely. Try to peak inside the mind of an executive on the brink of stealing billions: “Well, let’s see, if I do this, there is a good chance I will eventually get caught. But that, according to my calculations, will not happen for another 25 years. And even then, I will get a cushy cell and be in my seventies. In the meantime, I can live a life only Gods can dream of. I’ll do it!” There is much more to gain and than lose for a person(albeit a person devoid of a regular conscious) in the latter scenario. It is important to impose significant, harsh punishment that will make potential Madoffs think twice before plunging into a 24/7, 25 year theft fest.

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