Sunday, December 28, 2008

Why Bernie Made Off With 2008

There are few words to accurately describe the vibrant hum of Manhattan during the holiday season and this year was no exception, global economic collapse and all.

Standing on the corner of 53rd at 3rd in front of the Lipstick Building in Midtown, we caught sight of an announcement posted on the large lobby doors that read “Bernie Made Off like a Pirate. Premium Office Space For Plunder“. As the 17th floor sadly sat in darkness, we realized that there wasn’t enough in Bernie’s bank account to even pay the electric bill.

We stood there as it snowed and pondered the riches to rags story Bernie (see definition) had been weaving over the last several decades. Known as a man of international distinction with direct access to the highest of affluent societies, Bernie managed to build a no-questions-asked house of cards out of the world’s Kings and Queens of Diamonds.

The crème de la crème must find it incomprehensible that this old man of solid reputation – and one of their own - could simultaneously outwit all regulating authorities for more years than anyone can count, and single-handedly shatter their illusion of being insulated and protected from society’s fiscal underbelly with the prospect of imminent financial collapse and having to do without.

It’s hard not to admire how Bernie cleverly cultivated an illusion of elitism by straining any prospective investor through a narrow and somewhat arbitrary snob filter. Naturally he made it a point to reject a few every now and then. Aristocracy, nobility, gentry, bourgeoisie, nouveau riche – it really didn’t matter. They all wanted in, and big bucks from a cherry-picked elite was just as good as big bucks from his own family. In spite of the occasional investor rejects, however, he was pretty much an equal opportunity shyster.

A glance in the rear view mirror gave us a panoramic view of the Berlin Wall as it was being dismantled in 1989; when what had once been divided and segregated, subsequently became transparent and integrated. Bernie comparably dissembled the Madoff Wall upon making confession, and the Madoff Wall had long served to separate the money secrets of the upper class from everyone else. The irony in forbidding ordinary folk membership in his private investment club was that he'd inadvertently done them a favor.

While Bernie may claim to never have heard the idiom “Robbing Peter to pay Paul”, we’re certain he knows what it feels like to be caught with his hand in Peter’s now empty piggy bank. Suffice it to say, he robbed some of the old Robber Barons as well.

Now that the house of cards has been blown away in a Category 5 hurricane named Bernie, no one can be sure if any grand plan or exit strategy ever truly existed. Self preservation might’ve been a marginably understandable motivation for his actions, a personal quest to save face (his own of course), until the worldwide financial realm imploded that is. Ultimately though what Bernie did was simply travel down Bill Clinton’s highway – he did it because he could.

The rich trails of Bernie’s purloined funds go far and run deep. He’s unquestionably left a smoldering trail of scorched earth across the world’s affluent upper crust. As the charred remains of the 17th floor are sifted through, will we ever really know who Bernie burned?

For more on Buccaneer Capitalism, see our ‘Dream Sequence’ December 7, 2008 posting "Who’s Talking Like a Pirate Now?"


  1. Having just read that Kevin Bacon was one of Bernie's victims, it would be interesting to see just how many of his other victims fall within "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon"

  2. The reason he had no exit strategy is he thought he would never get caught. The problem with self-aggrandizement is you lose touch with reality. What people don't realize is the Federal Reserve Bank is another example of "a house of cards," and we will fall hard when the debt comes due and we can't pay it. The government is inflating away our money and robbing us like Bernie did -- and it's all legal!


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