From a reader:
Curious how you’d compare the 150 year sentence handed down to Madoff with the fact (see here ) that the sick pervert you brought to our attention several days ago faces a maximum whopping 20 year sentence.
The bottom line is that money is just money, and although some of his victims claim to have “lost everything,” I think the victims of Frank Lombard have a better clue, despite their extreme youth, as to what losing “everything” really means.
What Madoff did was evil, and I’m glad to see that he’ll die in jail. But when you figure that 150 years is more than most murderers, child molesters, or rapists get, I’ll have to agree with Eli that it was “grandstanding” on the part of the judge.
Me: Well, as I said to the reader, I’m pretty sure I’m on record that I think people justly convicted of raping small children and things of that nature should get the death penalty. So, even if my values are all out of whack, I think they’re at least consistent. Since that’s not going to happen, I certainly think that life sentences are perfectly justifiable in certain truly heinous circumstances.
Also, re Ramesh’s post below, a reader also made a similar point:
I generally agree with your position, except for this little statement: “It is one thing to be mugged or robbed. It is quite another to feel as if you’ve done everything right and socked away your money responsibly only to see it stolen by a man who has gotten to enjoy quite a plush life.”
I don’t think any of Madoff’s clients did behave responsibly. No rational person can believe they are going to get 18-25% returns year after year. They remain victims, but they were, at best, willfully gullible. Nobody bothered to check out his system, they were blinded by their own greed (admittedly a much lesser form of greed than Madoff’s, but greed nonetheless). They were arrogant enough to believe that they belonged in this secret club, while the rest of us pissants deserved to be struggling by on our meager 5%. They are no different from the greedy among us who respond to the Nigerian Prince email. Their own avarice caused them to toss their skepticism away. Madoff could not have succeeded so long without so many willing participants.
I guess this is a fair point.