Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Caveat Madoff

Typical of the collectivist/statist reactions to the mortgage disaster, bank failures, automaker calamity, stock plunge and other recent government-caused debacles is an email I received today from a “wealth management” type at a prominent brokerage firm.

He opined that “[t]he fraud perpetuated by Mr. Madoff is truly astonishing in its size (larger than both Enron and WorldCom) and scope and I hope this will be a wake up call to regulators that the hedge fund industry is in need of some increased oversight, which would be an improvement over the little oversight it currently has. The current regulatory bodies had received reports of possible issues with this fund for years and did nothing about it.” (Emphasis mine.)

More regulation?

More bureaucratic incompetence?

More government control over our lives?

More poison that caused the disease?

It is the plethora of government regulation of virtually every aspect of our lives, from agriculture to zoning, that has caused depressions, recessions, inflation, deflation, and stagflation, stifled competition, reduced productivity, hindered growth, and turned what could have been a millennium-long military/financial/economic megapower into a hapless debtor nation reduced to having our President beg former nomads to increase pumping oil they stole from their civilized betters.

Pervasive government regulation has leached out of most Americans their duty, indeed their will, to look out for themselves, to do their own homework, to act responsibly in buying everything from antipasto to Zantac.

In other words, to take responsibility for their own lives.

The well-know expression caveat emptor means “let the buyer beware.”

Unfortunately, it appears too many investors did not caveat Madoff because they accept the principle of government regulation of our lives. Either they don’t realize that government has a voracious appetite for power, or they don’t care. They abdicate responsibility for their own lives, vesting them in the hands of oft-incompetent and indifferent bureaucrats. Most individuals, organizations and institutions that have been taken to the cleaners by Madoff have no one to blame but themselves—for believing in government regulation, for thinking the SEC was interested in protecting them, and, worst of all, for leaving responsibility for their lives in the hands of others.

While Madoff should spend the rest of his life in prison, all he did was steal money.

That’s nothing compared to investors committing suicide