Archive for the ‘Economy’ Category

Is Sympathy for Bernie Madoff’s Millionaire Victims Misplaced?

March 24, 2009

By now, most of us have heard the sad, sob stories of millionaires (and multimillionaires) who have lost there life savings to Bernard Madoff’s Ponzi Scheme; life savings in the millions, and in some cases tens of millions. But I can’t help wondering if maybe we’re being a bit to sympathetic to them.

Ponzi investment schemes, like most other “get rich quick” cons, work because they exploit their victims’ careless and overzealous greed. Their victims naively assume that they can shortcut the hard work that honest, successful people undertake to get the equivalent rewards. Such schemes bring out the worst in people; not only as evidenced by the crooks, but by their victims as well.

Take, for example, the case of Nobel Prize Lauriette and Holocaust Survivor Elie Wiesel.

Now, granted, I deeply respect Mr. Wiesel for his accomplishments and I am in no way diminishing his legacy of hardships. However, Mr. Wiesel blew over 15 million dollars that was supposed to be set aside for his charity, The Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity, on this get rich(er) quick scheme.

Due to Mr. Wiesel’s apparent shortsightedness and desire to, in his own words “make so much more profit”, a fortune which would have otherwise provided aid for thousands of Jewish refugees, has now evaporated into nothing, thus negating his charitable foundation’s plans to open a center in Jerusalem.

It is a sad irony that Jewish refugees, who in the last century have survived Nazi monstrosities, are now forced to suffer because of a green-eyed monstrosity.

If such fortunes had been lost to equally foolish enrichment gambles such as horse races or Nigerian inheritance schemes, popular opinion would be against these victims. But because Bernard Madoff is such a hateable crook (and marketable poster-child), we all seem to excuse the victims and absolve them of their responsibility.

If we should cry for victims of financial ruin, why not cry for countless people who have lost their life savings due to health care costs, natural disasters, atrocity, or the economy? Why not cry for the people who, due to live long impoverishment, have never had finances worthy of ruination in the first place?

The true cost of Bernard Madoff’s Ponzi scheme is not among those who sought profit, but for those to whom these millions of seemingly expendable dollars could have been given in charity. I sympathize with the people who need more money, not with the people who want more money.


Is it time to consider re-naming the Chrysler Building?

February 11, 2009

In 1991, the building which was for 28 years was commonly referred to as The Pan Am Building was renamed The MetLife Building.  Why? Because Pan American World Airlines went out of business and the company which, ironically enough, had owned the building for the last 10 years, decided to give it the appropriate namesake.

Now that Chrysler is getting help from the Government for the second time in 30 years, Americans should be asking themselves this question:
Should Chrysler, with its continuously embarrassing financial issues, be nominally honored by one New York City’s most beautiful skyscrapers?

Yes, fans of the musical Annie may be dismayed that the relevance of Ms. Hannigan’s edicts to her orphans may be lost along with other historical references, but such is life.

Yes, Chrysler has been a backbone of the American economy and has employed many, many Americans. However, over the years Chrysler has also been part-owned by (and has outsourced jobs to) The Germans, The French, The Italians, The British, The Spanish, The Australians, The Japanese,  and The Indians (through its various ownership/partnership deals).

Other companies that can’t manage themselves have to give up naming rights to their baseball stadiums and concert venues.

Why can’t we hold Chrysler, to whom we have grudgingly contributed billions of our hard-earned tax dollars, to the same standard?

Instead of Chrysler, why can’t we honor a company that is both well-managed and fundamentally loyal to hard-working Americans by whose hands it was built?

Maybe it’s because the Chrysler Building is now owned by The Abu Dhabi Investment Council, and in this world of Post 9-11 Xenophobia, having a skyscraper named The Abud Dhabi building in the middle of New York City is just inappropriate.