Global Ponzi Scheme

“The Madoff saga cries out for a modern-day Shakespeare to plumb its infinite depths of depravity, pathos, and comedy (yes comedy). It is maddening, perplexing, enraging, and hilarious. It is alas unlikely to ever receive the treatment it deserves. Madoff’s cold-heartedness is truly epic; but his mastery of the deeply human desire for the soothing reassurance which comes from finding and entrusting one’s fate to a guru and a sage, is what elevates this story to empyrean loftiness. He will be (and deservedly) forever reviled; but the vastness, and long duration, of his “success”, and the untroubled credulity of his victims, requires that we shine a pitiless light upon ourselves”.

— David Geller, Brookline Massachusetts

madoffs-lavish-lifestyle

TRAPPINGS OF SCANDAL Bernard L. Madoff’s Ponzi scheme helped to finance his lavish lifestyle until his arrest. From left, Mr. Madoff’s beachfront mansion in the Hamptons, his apartment on 64th St. and his villa in France.

I have to admit a certain fascination with the details of this sad story. It makes me think of Aristotle, surprisingly enough, and his ideas about virtue and friendship. For Aristotle, “magnanimity” was a virtue; needless to say, it could only have been a virtue for the very wealthy, those who have the financial wherewithal to be magnanimous. For many, it seems, this magnanimity was funded by Madoff’s ponzi scheme. Madoff’s scheme was made possible through the vast network of friendships he cultivated with those who thought they were buying into an exclusive club – no hoi polloi allowed. As Aristotle said, however, such friendships are relationships of pleasure and use, not the real friendships of virtuous people, and dissolve when the circumstances that allowed them to flourish dissolve.

Read the New York Times article on Madoff’s worldwide reach here.

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