Thursday, July 16, 2009

Bernie goes to jail

I was reading 'Noddy goes to Toyland' to the baby on Tuesday when I heard the news story that 'Bernie goes to jail'. The 150 year sentence that the federal court subjected Bernard Madoff to, for charges related to his Ponzi scheme started on Tuesday.

Both 'men' have interesting life stories to tell.

Noddy was carved by a woodsman but ran away after the man began to make a wooden lion, which Noddy was scared of. Noddy was kind and honest, but he often got in trouble, either through his own misunderstandings, or because someone played a trick on him.

Bernie had a brain carved with immense intelligence and ran away from law school to become a stock broker, giving up his job as a plumber. Bernie was a prominent philanthropist, served on boards of several nonprofit institutions and took to charity.

As Noddy wandered through the woods, with no clothes, money or home, he met Big Ears, a friendly brownie. Big Ears decided that Noddy was a toy and took him to live in Toyland. He generously provided Noddy with a set of clothing and bought a build-it-yourself house for him.

As Bernie tried his luck through Wall Street, establishing his firm BLM investment securities, he found a business partner in his father-in-law, who referred a circle of friends and families making his business grow by leaps and bounds.

While Noddy was quite happy to be a toy, the citizens of Toyland were not sure that he was actually one. They put Noddy on trial and examined whether he was a toy or an ornament. Eventually, Noddy was declared a toy, but still had to convince the court that he was a good toy. The judge accepted that Noddy was good after a doll told the court that he saved her little girl from a lion; and he was allowed to stay in Toyland.

While the people who trusted Bernie with their life savings were quite happy with him, Bernie was not too sure that what he had was enough. Bernie got into several wrong doings including federal crimes, securities fraud, wire fraud, mail fraud, money laundering, perjury and making false filings with the SEC either through his own smartness or because other people were too gullible. Eventually, Bernie was declared a criminal, after the judge called him "extraordinary evil" and referred to his crime as "not a bloodless crime". He declared that Bernie deserved the maximum allowable penalty after reading letters of many victims and hearing from some of them in court; and he was sentenced for 150 years.

Rarely do I come across two completely opposite stories, even if one of them is fictional. It intrigued me as I noted that our fate is a function of our motives and behavior. The message here is crystal clear so I won't even bother writing it.

Noddy - you're the cutest.
Bernie - enjoy your new orange jumpsuit and 6x6 space in North Carolina.

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