This editorial appeared in The Charlotte Observer.
Unless you invested with him, Bernard Madoff is not the reason your savings vanished, or maybe your job. And John Thain didn't cause Charlotte-based Bank of America to lay off thousands and see its stock share sink to a price that can barely buy a six-pack of beer.
But Madoff and Thain are too iconic to ignore, even when we know, intellectually, that the people who caused the global financial misery number in the millions.
The real villains include the gullible and the greedy – people who bought homes they couldn't afford, crooks who sold mortgages they knew couldn't be repaid, slippery financiers who spread bad loans around the globe and enfeebled (or complicit) regulators who failed to police the whole mess. And that's not even a complete list.
So when just one extremely crooked man is finally led away in handcuffs and thrown in the slammer, even though we know his crimes alone didn't cause the vast financial collapse, we can still feel a surge of relief.
Today Bernard Madoff – who bilked an estimated 13,000 investors out of as much as $65 billion in a vast Ponzi scheme and lived in a $7 million Upper East Side penthouse – is now in a 71/2-by-8-foot jail cell with cinderblock walls, a toilet, a bunk and possibly a cellmate. Let us hope he is assigned a cellmate who snores loudly, sings off-key and eats beans.
To read the complete editorial, visit The Charlotte Observer.