How many more years in prison did Bernie Madoff get for being Jewish?
We might as well get the question out there. It's surfaced since the Madoff arrest in March and then disappeared: How much is this a Jewish affair? Or, how much does it being an almost entirely Jewish affair change its nature?
Certainly the 150 years represent a message beyond retribution and punishment. Madoff's lawyer, Ira Sorkin, who knows a thing or two about the fate of white-collar criminals, rightly characterizes it as "absurd."
The notion is that Bernie has come to represent the financial meltdown; he's symbolically paying for the whole thing. He's going to jail not just for the $15 billion he stole (which was once, without adequate explanation for its restating, $50 billion more--what happened there?), but for the other $6 or $7 trillion (if I'm keeping up with my sums) lost in the collapse.
Yet, surely Enron was as great a symbol of generalized financial malfeasance (not to mention bearing some responsibility for George Bush's elections) during the last significant crash (which might not have been as big as this one--but at the time we thought it was). I'd argue that Enron might even have been more of an anathema in that moment than Madoff, and yet Jeffrey Skilling is in for less the 25 years. He'll likely see the light of day.
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