….Answer: Bernie's victims surrendered their life savings voluntarily – in California, the victim's money was taken under threat of force by the IRS.
As pundits, politicians and the media focus America's wrath on Bernie Madoff for conning willing dupes out of over $50 million bucks, the same scam carried out by elected government officials in both Kansas and California goes virtually unnoticed.
California, home to 37 million people and a $1.8 trillion economy, recently informed taxpayers that the state will be unable to issue taxpayers their tax refunds. An IOU will take its place. Translation: Anyone who overpaid their 2008 taxes will not receive their money back from the state until, well, until the state figures out how to find more of other people's money to redistribute. Hey, isn't that what Madoff is accused of?
Likewise, the taxpayers of Kansas are plumb out of luck, as political battles are forcing the state to withhold the refunding of taxpayer's money."We are out of cash, in essence," state budget director Duane Goossen said last week.
If an individual fails to return investor's cash, its called fraud. If a private business defaults on its obligations, it is forced into bankruptcy. If a government entity runs out of cash, its called business as usual.
Business as usual also requires quick action to find and/or manufacture a scapegoat to deflect blame and focus attention away from the problem.
Third world countries, decadent dictators and savvy politicians have long known that a common enemy is a powerful and unifying tool, especially when it comes to providing a scapegoat for their own failed policies. As long as Iran, Korea, Cuba, etc. are able to focus the blame for their failure on a common enemy, say the rich, decadent United States, they themselves remain immune from both the blame and the consequences of their failed policies.
So it is with the the United States. In our case, the common enemy chosen to deflect blame and attention from failed policies and economic collapse is capitalism. 'It's capitalism that's to blame', politicians claim. 'It's unfettered free markets', the media echo. 'And, by the way, we'll fix it for you,' the Obama administration promises, as they rush to make an example of Bernie Madoff.
In the supreme irony, capitalism is the very engine of wealth that allowed state and federal government to spend virtually unlimited amounts of our money on whatever pet projects they deemed necessary or politically profitable. Now that the money has been spent and the coffers are bare, capitalism has been chosen as the 'common enemy' and assigned the blame that rightfully belongs to profligate politicians and reality-challenged bureaucrats. (And to be fair, the Americans who trusted them.)
As millions of Americans, myself included, are being forced to economize, cut back and re-adjust priorities and expectations, our elected officials remain immune. In California, despite a $42 billion deficit, the legislature continues to impose costly regulations and mandates.
The federal government continues to approve trillions of our dollars to 'invest' and 'stimulate' (code words for welfare and taxes) , while continuing to pass legislation that enables key democratic allies to gain power and legislation that actually imposes higher costs of doing business on all Americans. But hey, the unions are ecstatic, the trial lawyers are happy and the environmentalists are placated.
Its 'we the people' that pay the tab for government. Its capitalism and the free market system that enables us to do so. Yet, so far, Americans seem willing to let government kill the goose that lays the golden egg.
By demonizing and undermining capitalism in favor of the totally discredited, tried and failed system of socialism, Americans are being forced to buy into yet another unrealistic version of utopia that common sense and history tells us will fail, big time. And, once again, we will be left to pay the very real costs of the decisions being made daily by our elected officials.
Just as Ronald Reagan looked at the Soviet Union and plainly saw that their system could not support itself and was bound to collapse, so too, do I look at the new path America is on. I wonder how so many Americans have been fooled into not challenging, and actually made complicit, in the assisted suicide of capitalism. And of our great country.
Nancy Morgan is a columnist and news editor for RightBias.com
She lives in South Carolina