One of the problems of using the Book of Mormon as a lens for viewing modern events — it really is amazing book with prophetically selected ancient parallels to our time — is that it’s easy to become cynical when it looks like someone is a crook or “Gadianton robber” of some kind. Maybe some of the “bad guys” I don’t like really are decent people just trying to help others the best they can. Maybe we need to try a little harder to look for the good in things like Wall Street bailouts, malaria, and war. That’s why I’m actually relieved to read the breaking good news about Bernie Madoff, a man whom I misunderstood until today.
In case your news service isn’t connected to the same alternate dimensions of reality I use, here’s the story:
Bernie Madoff Receives Congressional Medal of Honor and Award of Merit from the Fed
Washington, 1/05/09: In its first act for 2009, Congress awarded Bernard L. Madoff the Congressional Medal of Honor for “unusual valor in bringing hope to thousands.” The Congressional honor, normally given to war heroes, cites Madoff’s “courage as a soldier of fortune in the war for hope and economic growth.” It also cites his “exemplary behavior in emulating Congress by helping others, no matter how great the cost.”
Madoff, in his emotional acceptance speech at a lavish awards banquet earlier today, praised Congress for recognizing his efforts, and thanked both Republicans and Democrats in Congress, the Fed, and the Treasury Dept. for being his “role models in how to create wealth and hope for others. Inspired by their example, I, as a private citizen, have only tried to do to a few others what they have they have been doing to this great country all along.”
In presenting the Medal of Honor and a check for an undisclosed sum from the Dept. of Treasury, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid praised Madoff and denounced the hatred and greed of those behind “unfounded allegations” against Madoff, who faces charges of defrauding investors of billions of dollars in a Ponzi scheme. Reid said, “Bernie Madoff is a great American who exemplifies the highest ethics and financial integrity of Congress. He has gained our awe, our respect, and frequently our votes. As a private citizen, he was able to give hope to thousands in much the same way we have been working to bring hope to all Americans. He independently implemented world class financial systems similar to our Social Security system and other programs created and guided by Congress to bring hope to America.”
Nancy Pelosi said that “Bernie understood that spending more than you have is the best way to stimulate the economy. Bernie exemplifies Congressional compassion and generosity, being extremely generous with other people’s money and doing his best to spread other people’s wealth around to create jobs and economic stimulus.”
In a surprise appearance, Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich said that Madoff’s stellar track record was so much like that of Congress that he deserved to be in Congress, and would have already been given a seat in the Senate if it weren’t for complications caused by other forces of pettiness and hate interfering with his ability to assign the vacant Illinois seat in the Senate “to one of the few heroes of the new economy who have truly paid the price for such an honor.”
“The charges against Madoff are the result of greed and speculation,” Secretary of Treasury Henry Paulson explained in a statement. “His business model succeeded for years, and would still be bringing hope to thousands were it not for the greed of a few speculators who selfishly wanted their money back.” Paulson explained that it was because of greed that they weren’t satisfied with the impressive returns that Madoff was bringing them on paper. “Instead, their selfish demands brought unnecessary weakness to the system, dried up the wealth that Bernie was spreading around, and sowed fear and distrust among his investors.” Key senators are now calling for investigation into “the forces of greed.” The former investors who helped shake confidence in Madoff’s business are now being investigated for tax fraud and anti-competitive behavior. Unconfirmed reports indicate they may also be declared “enemy combatants” in need of foreign interrogation to clarify their motives in bringing down Madoff’s business. Meanwhile, a Presidential pardon for Madoff to cover alleged wrong-doing may be forthcoming, putting him in the company of other misunderstood businessmen, according to an anonymous Bush Administration spokesman.
Senator Chris Dodd defended Madoff’s business model. “Not a penny of the $50 billion Bernie received from investors was lost. It was all part of a continuous stimulus package that was strengthening the economy. It was buying houses, cars, jewelry, real estate, fine wines, boats — you name it. Every penny went back into the economy, creating jobs. Meanwhile, investors were being given hope of unusually high returns — and it could have kept on going as long as Social Security, were it not for the greed of a few.”
Retired Fed Chair Alan Greenspan also toasted Bernie. “When I look at all the charities Bernie was helping, when I look in the eyes of the orphans and widows who depended on Bernie for hope, I am touched to see how much good can be done with loose monetary and fiscal policies. If it were not for the irrational pessimism of investors pulling their investment out of the system, the hope would still be strong today.”
Federal Reserve Bank Chair Ben Bernanke also joined the bipartisan event to salute Madoff: “Madoff as a citizen managed to do what we do as the world’s most powerful bank — and he did it on his own, without the benefit of political power and collusion with the Treasury Dept. Yet he created massive returns out of nothing and stimulated the economy with advanced accounting methods. He deserves the highest we have to offer him.”
Well, I figure we can all use a little good news in times like this.
The Ponzi family is unhappy with the use of the term “Ponzi scheme” to describe the likes of Madoff’s operations. Out of respect, I think we should call such things “Congress schemes” instead.