Thursday, July 02, 2009
Beware Of Madoff Coverage
Fig.1 Leonine Wintriness: Who is this, exactly? A distinguished and strategically-melancholy writer? Of Mailerian standing, perhaps? A distinguished neurologist or historian, maybe? NO! Merely a temporarily-distinguished small-time swindler (Mario Tama/Getty Images)
Within this, the Post-Michael Jackson Era, begins another new epoch: the Madoff Service Era. It's not quite 20,000 years in Sing Sing, but Bernie's perch in his cage is likely to get pretty guano-encrusted.
I've read the three Madoff Saga entries in 'Vanity Fair' and found them to be clearly stated and non-sensational. That's the extent of my foray into Madoffology, and I think it might be sufficient to make the following comments.
The thing is, I have a hunch that Madoff, even though he's billed as the biggest-time swindler ever in the history of the universe, is actually pretty small potatoes. Plus, he turned himself in. It's not that he got caught, though it was only a matter of time. Nevertheless, Madoff ain't the only game in town. Not by a long shot.
To those who haven't been caught in their fraudulent enterprises (and never will be, as Madoff has been a very handy warning to regroup, hunker down and obfuscate further) Madoff is the latest poster child, whipping boy, and chosen one to take the fall, while the media drools over the very audacity of this - this - outrageous Ponzification brought upon the privileged masses who trusted him unto doom. But Madoff the man is essentially a bore. A control freak who did some dainty hanky-panky with masseuses a few times.
This is not to minimize the Madoff deeds, but his career choice shows how easily fraud fits in with raw, untreated capitalism. Much of the time, the two are synonymous. Madoff was merely a rather dutiful and successful practitioner of the arts that make up the concepts of private profit in our honor-system-based modern world. A cheapie auto mechanic can pull off the same shit on a single customer and get away with it time after time. Bernie, on his Olympian pinnacle, was nothing but a common opportunist. The media has made him a superstar, but star quality is not in this man's ken.
The Allen Stanford SwindLingThing is also swooping about the media. Another diversion from the Lurkers - a candy-colored clown swaying from a hangin' tree in a sombre landscape is more noticeable than the camouflaged snake that inhabits the same tree, but the snake flourishes in its deadly invisibility. Stanford is a noisy buffoon - quite a different critter than the ultra-low-key Bernie. Both are perfect for the larger purpose: to steer attention away from the grander, more sinister - and smarter fraudsters, opportunists, and corrupt masterminds. Those who are too canny to 'do a Madoff' will continue to ply their trade, to benevolently suffocate the grannies out of their savings, and do it with new and improved techniques, while Bernie awaits his possible Jeffrey Dahmer moment in a toilet stall in need of cleaning.
RecessionDepression or not, there're still giga-tons of money out there that need to be managed. Those who Lurk behind the media-made scenery of Madoff/Stanford showtimes stand ready to maintain their quality of work - and their quality of life.