Tuesday, February 10, 2009

About Bernie, and the Rush to Judgement

About Bernie, and the Rush to Judgement

I am always amazed when people I consider intelligent accept a prosecution side of a story without even considering that the defense has yet to be heard from. The only words you have heard from Bernie Madoff come from a prosecutor's office, which is imbued, as all prosecutors offices are, with an overpowering urge to win. Any lawyer's argument will be convincing. That is why we must presume some amount of innocence is possible in every case, at least until we hear the other side.

No doubt Bernie is guilty of something here, but exactly what happened and why, we do not know. He clearly did not steal the money, since he does not have it. We think we know that he lost it, and failed to notify his investors of that. Beyond that, you do not really know anything much at all. All we can do is surmise.

Before you make pronouncements of guilt you need to at least hear the other side. Otherwise, you are only passing along accusations. If that is the purpose of our debate, you should label it as such.

Beyond that, there has been little examination of the culpability of those who invest millions of dollars in a single fund, with the promise of very high and regular returns. My grandmother told me that we should never invest all our hopes in a single basket. Those who do have failed in their fiduciary responsibilities.