Friday, March 13, 2009

Don’t pull your punches there, Jeff!

Brown and Madoff separated by a single detail

What's the difference between Bernard Madoff and Gordon Brown? Answer: one has drained fortunes from gullible victims, plundering their income and savings to create an illusion of prosperity. The other is going to jail. Mr Madoff has thrown in the towel. His Ponzi scheme, whereby he needed to suck in ever greater quantities of other people's money in order to maintain a semblance of competence, collapsed under the weight of undeliverable expectations. Nobody knows for sure how much has gone missing, but Wall Street scribes are calling it a $65 billion fraud.

Posted by charlie brooker @ 06:47 AM (1643 views)
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24 thoughts on “Don’t pull your punches there, Jeff!

  • Oh please. This sort of political positioning from the tory press – as if they’d have done something different or that they were always critical all along – is troubling to say the least. We need to get the bottom of this. A democratically elected and popular government runs britain for ten plus years and everyone in the media is happy until it goes wrong. The media’s role in all this is the the thing that isn’t getting looked at here.

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  • mountain goat says:

    Nouriel Roubini has a rant on the Madoff case

    A reporter contacted me today with the following question:

    “I am a reporter and I am doing a story on Bernard Madoff’s life after pleading guilty. As part of this I was wondering if you could comment on what significance he will have in the history of this period.

    Americans lived in a Made-off and Ponzi bubble economy for a decade or even longer. Madoff is the mirror of the American economy and of its overleveraged agents: a house of cards of leverage over leverage by households, financial firms and corporations that has now gone bust.

    When you put zero down on your home and you thus have no equity in your home your leverage is literally infinite and you are playing a Ponzi game.

    And the bank that lent you with zero down, a NINJA (no income, no jobs and assets) liar loan that was interest only for a while with negative amortization and an initial teaser rate was also playing a Ponzi game…..
    source

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  • ketha: Why do you blame the media? The current obsession with blaming the elite (media, bankers, government) is a nothing more than a smokescreen that facilitates the avoidance of blame. It is the people of this country that are entirely to blame for their current woes. People get the government they deserve. The same could be said about the media and bankers.
    I came back to this country in 2006 having spent 11 years abroad. I was immediately confronted by sea of social climbing, poorly educated, smug and aggressive people. I was amazed by the extent of deterioration. The lower middle classes are undoubtedly the worst offenders but a generally thieving, lazy and violent working class has to shoulder a good proportion of the blame.

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  • happy mondays says:

    ketha said A democratically elected and popular government runs britain for ten plus years and everyone in the media is happy until it goes wrong.
    1) Has it ever been right?
    2) We only have 2 front runners to vote on ( which both spill the same spin)
    3) The people are factory educated so most cannot see an alternative.
    4) If you promise prosperity rather than stability, most will go for gold, as greed and fear are powerful human traits.
    5) People are gullible and be it a tory press or labour, the mass will witch hunt who they think or informed is to blame.
    Both Brown and Madoff are crooks, the difference is one is legitimised in his actions because he is elected in & what he does falls in line with the law, at least Madoff has the balls to admit it and say sorry for his actions!

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  • @flashy

    I have to agree with you there.
    A significant number of people in UK have pimped out their homes, neglected their (and their children’s) futures and have generally sp**ked the likelihood of a common future prosperity against the wall….all for a new audi and an apartment in Spain

    Its all linked (imho)…social and moral decay, the big brother / celebrity culture, litter, stab chic…i could keep going… to the last 12 or so years of money for nothing frenzy.

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  • You can blame all of the people mentioned in the various posts here, regardless of what their day job is. The politicians are only interested in being re-elected and protecting their positions, the media are only interested in selling more papers or air time or advertising, whatever makes them more money, and the public have become obsessed with ever increasing house prices because it is perceived as being an easy way to make a lot of money. So whichever category you choose to blame, it is basically all driven by greed.

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  • shipbuilder says:

    I think everyone has to share the blame, although I don’t really think that this is the issue – the fundamental divide is on how we got here. In my opinion individualism, consumerism, obsession with money, the re-definition and debasement of ‘work’ and ‘career’ and the breakdown of community. Others will heartily disagree with me.

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  • @flashman

    great comment as usual.

    “social climbing, poorly educated, smug and aggressive people.”
    ” thieving, lazy and violent working class ”

    Sums up my views as well.
    There is a part of me that is actually cheering along the Finanial Crisis (tsunami) because it will hopefully be a wake up call to the masses.
    What rises up once the storm has passed over the next couple of decades is anyones guess but it has got to be better than this.

    @Ketha
    “A democratically elected and popular government runs britain for ten plus years”

    Oh please, give us a break.The popularity seriously waned after 6 years when Bliar went to war and became a religeous Zealot.
    Would the Tories have done much better?
    Probably not, but compared to unelected brown and the student union cabinet they will probably be able to manage this crisis much better than this shambles.

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  • Shipbuilder: We are all victims of our times and to that extent nobody can be blamed. What I am rebelling against is the obsessive and often gleeful blaming of the “elite” (there is an earlier post that invites us to snigger at BMW for making less profit for fuc* sake!).

    We were told that the politics of envy and the “key a posh car” mentality had died out but it is back with a vengeance. The elite must shoulder their share of the blame but it is counterproductive to attack them disproportionately. It reminds me of the Pol Pot regime who arrested anyone for wearing spectacles because they were obviously elitist.

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  • @ Flashman,
    Matra for the age: ” I want it all, and I want it now”.

    With the entire UK population wanting more for sitting in their armchairs, what else was Brown to do? He kept them happy. It was short lived because of the underlying problems of the banking system, economy, debt etc.

    The rest is history.

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  • Can anyone explain to me why the authorities in the US are not persuing Madoff’s wife?

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  • @8. “Student Union Cabinet” that’s it exactly. Have you ever seen a group of people more out of their depth.

    How to get quality people to the right jobs is a real problem. Who would you prefer to be running government departments? Yvette Cooper or Richard Branson? Alistair Darling or Philip Green? GB or Sir Alex? Jacqui Smith or Sir Alan Sugar? Ed Balls or Paris Hilton?

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  • will:

    Have a look at these links. I don’t think most people are aware that the American people are even more enraged than we are.

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/29632016/ (Title: Feds Zero in on Madoff’s Wife, Kids).

    http://www.newser.com/story/45633/madoffs-wife-under-scrutiny-in-ponzi-scheme.htm (Title:Madoff’s Wife Under Scrutiny in Ponzi Scheme)

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  • Will: It is common knoledge in the States that Madoff’s wife withdrew $15 million from their account, days before his arrest. She is a bookkeeper by trade and it is now believeded that she might have helped cook his books for decades

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  • This is the beauty of socialism, just blame everybody then nobody has to take responsibility..

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  • Flashman – maybe if the elite gave the “generally thieving, lazy and violent working class” a decent education, they would grow up with ambition and look to play a useful role in society. After a few generations of neglect, we have an education system which leaves teachers unable to instill moral standards and in many cases, parents who don’t know how to. If kids aren’t taught what’s right by teachers or parents, they will doubtless sit in front of the telly all day and suck up the [email protected] that it spews out at them. Very few kids will escape this trap on their own.

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  • shipbuilder and timmy t sum up our problems I think. A social decline is taking place and selfishness is far more dominant now. Jeff Randall’s article is just hyperbole, though not so funny as some of his others.

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  • timmy t:

    “maybe if the elite gave the “generally thieving, lazy and violent working class a decent education”

    It is very patronising to think that the elite is responsible for providing an education for the working classes. The working classes are not children dependant on the benevelance of the elite. That is why we have a democracty and a tax system.

    The state is responsible for allocating tax revenues and organising our education system but how about working class parents accepting more responsibility. How many sit down and read together or visit some of the many free museums and exhibitions provided by the government. How about teaching their kids to respect their teachers. How about not swearing in the home and demonstrating road rage? Why is everything in this country someone else’s responsibility or fault?

    I didn’t want to get involved in an pro elite defense (that is not my point at all) but it was inevitable that someone would back me into that corner so here goes: To the best of my knowledge this is the only country where if you pay for your children to be privately educated you don’t get a tax deduction. The elite therefore pay double bubble for education because they alleviate the State’s education expenditure. It is also true that the elite generally pay more tax per head so it would be just as easy to argue that the elite contribute more than their fair share to the education system. This is actually not my view but it is as valid as the notion expressed in your post. In a way you have perfectly illustrated my original post. We must stop blaming a small section of society and take collective responsibility

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  • Flashman “It is very patronising to think that the elite is responsible for providing an education for the working classes. The working classes are not children dependant on the benevelance of the elite. That is why we have a democracty and a tax system.” You defined the government (amongst others) as the “elite” and on that basis the elite IS responsible for providing education for the working classes.

    I totally agree with you about parents accepting more responsibility (although I disagree that it’s limited to working class parents). My point is that this didn’t happen overnight. Most kids of teenage parents probably have grandparents in their 30’s. And the teenagers’ parents probably did the best job they could in bringing up their kids – because they too weren’t educated properly. letthemfall is right – this is social decline.

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  • Yes, all. I wasn’t suggestion that Brown wasn’t to blame.. just that it doesn’t stop with him and blame runs deep through our society, history, national identity and that he’s not a criminal.

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  • I saw the front page of the metro today – a picture of Brown and the headline ‘£36bn Crook Jailed At Last’ – I thought they had missed off two zeros.

    My opinion on blame & cause…

    I firmly believe it is really down to one thing, and one thing only, CONSUMERISM.

    It is consumerism that has encouraged the slow but sure interconnectedness of the political and capital systems and has therefore skewed both of these systems away from their ideals — The power of profits to influence governments and the want of reward by the politicians to ensure future comfort in a consumer society feeds on itself. The democratic system requires periodic votes, yet the interests of any who come to power are almost identical (if not prior to election, certainly after) which also means that we end up with no real choice (As Alex Jones says “Two sides of the same coin; two management teams bidding for control of Slavery Incorporated”). The pursuit of economic growth is a skewed goal in itself as it is not a cause of an improved society, only a lowly correlated variable. It seems to me that the best course of action would be to have the state do far less than it currently does, to free up as many markets as possible and to allow this information to be known (i.e. remove implied state backing). Note that I do not wish to imply abolition of the state – I believe there are still many areas where a state has function.

    Regarding the ‘elite’ – this is really just a label given to those with some kind of power. It is inevitable that some people will end up with more power than others in any system and an efficient system will be a small-world (or similar) network, which implies that this power will lie in the hands of a minority. However these few have the same motivations as anyone else so to suggest a conspiracy therein, I think, is fantasy as it would require all of those with some such power to be involved from the first day they gain such power – otherwise there would be a leak and the whole thing becomes exposed. (If you know anyone who works in television production you should be able to verify that there really can be no conspiracy – there just is not the communication. Programmes like Location Location Location are aired because they attract audiences, not because they spread some message about how one can have a comfortable life by taking on 10 mortgages.)

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  • timmy t:

    “Most kids of teenage parents probably have grandparents in their 30’s. And the teenagers’ parents probably did the best job they could in bringing up their kids – because they too weren’t educated properly. letthemfall is right – this is social decline”

    Almost every post here has agreed that there is a social decline. I just don’t accept the ‘victim’ notion. A good education has for decades, been there for the taking. An all-pervading yobbish attitude to the classroom and a distrust of the ‘intellectual’ is largely responsible for stymieing education standards. Try telling an African or Afghanistan child that our folk are given such a poor chance in life. I actually think that the ‘liberal’ notion that these people are victims actually reinforces the problem. I stick by my earlier posts that people should make more effort and take responsibility for themselves

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  • shipbuilder says:

    There’s definitely a balance between blaming ‘the elite’ and taking responsibility ourselves. In any society, the ‘system’ will naturally evolve to suit the interests of those who wield the power – this is not a conspiracy, just what inevitably happens. If greedy and sociopathic people end up in power, as seems to happen, all the worse for the rest of us. This is, I believe, where we are today and why are society has the values that we currently do. However, who put those people there? To suggest a conspiracy is to suggest that the masses have no say in the matter. Who en masse gladly accepts the situation when things go well for themselve, but others suffer?
    Our problem is individualism without personal responsibility and a willingness to push our collective responsibility for others onto the state.
    Humans work best with individual freedom and responsibility within a community. Again we are infected by extremes – the sociopathic Randian ‘me only’ acolytes and on the other side the statists who want everything done for them. With decades of government in the former and the last decade in the latter, we now have a toxic combination of both.

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  • Johnmcgeechan says:

    Why to people list anything from that particular paper ? I am yet to see an article from them that is worth the paper it is written on. Usual torygraph nonsense, run some reactionary stuff up the flagpole and stand back. If people want to froth at the mouth over straw men like Brown and Goodwin , fill your boots. It won’t give you any answers. The picture is a wee bit more complicated I feel, and some of the blame may be with all of us.

    Oh and just to show you how balanced the torygraph are, I tried to put across an onoffensive, alternative view point and the moderators wouldn’t even publish it. Draw your own conclusions.

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