Bernie Madoff, scapegoat


June 29, ’09–


On Bernie Madoff, Class War, the Economy, and Waiting for Revenge


Sitting around with my husband watching morning news, just saw that Bernie Madoff got 150 years.


I’m kinda shocked, really. 150 years? It seems excessive to me. The guy is a scapegoat for relieving tensions in the current cold class war.


Sure, he ripped off a lot of people. That’s bad. He should be severely punished. But he’s not the only one who ripped off people in the last few years (or, hell, the last few decades), he’s just the guy that’s currently in the spotlight during a time when rich people are becoming villains in the financial news playing out on tv.


People are mad that a handful of arrogant self-important money traders on Wall Street have been living large, draining the rest of us in a big financial casino that seems to be rigged in favor of the house. 


Especially since the ’80s, rich people have been lionized in the media. Everyone wants to be them (of course…me too!) If you see some story on tv about “success stories” they show people with lots of money. The dollar is America’s de facto unit of measurement for one’s worth as a human being. Rich people are thought of as successes, and poor people are losers. 


Think back with me a ways. When welfare reform was introduced in the ’90s, there was a orgy of mom-bashing in the media, blaming single mothers for every ill in society, and implying that those lazy whores should go out and do some real work instead of laying around on their fat old welfare checks. Poor, doe-eyed children are only cute around Christmas. Give ’em another stuffed animal. Why doesn’t their mother take better care of them?


(I don’t know about the rest of y’all gals, but I found that whole thing really insulting as a mom and a woman. When some journalist (*cough*moralist*cough*) talks smack about single mothers, and implies that their kids are all a bunch of criminal retards, they’re basically saying that there’s not a woman in the world capable of being left alone with her own kids without some man there to supervise her. Welfare reform was all about the subjugation of women played up to look like it was only about money.) 


And when minimum wages didn’t go up for years, and unions became scarcer and scarcer, and jobs split for China and Mexico, we’d hear that American workers were just too damn uppity and demanding, and American businesses could only survive by using desperate underpaid labor. 


Kids go into debt to go to a college that ought to be free and come out looking for a job that just got flown to India. 


House prices went up and up and up and same for car prices, and you can’t survive in most areas of America without a car, so people have become a  21st century version of serfs, tied to their job and their car and their house by a debt which will never be paid for, maybe just traded for another debt on a different car or house.


People go into more debt over unpayable medical bills and then when scores of them lose homes over it, the tv commentators pretend that it’s all about ordinary consumers overspending on doodads. 


So. Yeah. When you see some guy on tv that has plenty of money, and he’s “earned” it by trading a bunch of pieces of paper around with a bunch of his buddies somewhere in an office in New York, you just want to see him get his. 


It’s like watching a Clint Eastwood movie, where the bad guys keep messing with the protagonist and killing his friends and his girl and his dog and stuff, and you’re just waiting for the part where Clint finally gets revenge, ‘cuz that’s what the whole movie is building up to.


So all us poor people have been watching this “movie” on the news play out and we’ve been waiting for the revenge part that it’s been all leading up to.


I would’ve been ok with the whole Republican “free-market” economics crap if it would have been taken to its logical end. If the people who had played fast and loose with the money in the last 10 or 20 years weren’t bailed out by the government, they’d have crashed. And crashed big. And maybe, just maybe, there would have finally been some affordable houses on the market.  Maybe some of those fatcats would have finally had to become poor. Finally. And those of us who have been doing real work would finally have some kind of advantage.


I don’t know about the rest of y’all, but that’s the whole reason the bailout pisses me off. We’ve been robbed of our revenge scene. We’ve been robbed of our chance to come in and make opportunities for ourselves. 


So now that the economic shit has hit the fan, and the viewers are crying for blood, Madoff walks into the spotlight. Poor guy. He’s just the one out of the crowd that got pointed out. I don’t get much satisfaction from seeing one guy getting his life ruined.


(Sorry, y’all…most people who want to throw people in jail for years and years and years have never spent a day in one and don’t realize what they’re doing to the people they put in there.)


What I would like to see is Bernie and all those guys like him getting a few years each. I’d like to see the lot of them out on the highway in orange jumpsuits picking up trash. And if we can’t actually convict them of some crime, couldn’t we at least quit giving them money? Please?


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