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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/10213/free-bernie-madoff/

Free Bernie Madoff

July 2, 2009 by

What is the point of jailing him? He is no direct threat to anyone. Society would not safer with him in the slammer. He is not going to rob people or beat people up. He might write a book and donate the funds to charity or make some restitution to his victims. I, for one, would like to read that book. Instead, taxpayers will be forced to pick up the tab for his living expenses until his death. FULL ARTICLE

{ 119 comments }

I Hate Psychiatry July 2, 2009 at 1:21 pm

You should see how society treats Psychiatric “patients”. At least prisonners still have some human rights and can make a phone call are are granted due process before deprived of liberty.

On the other hand, if a few relatives hate you, they can call the police to have you committed in a psychiatric ward even though you did nothing wrong.

Psychiatry is slavery and it is worse than jails. The fact that the police officers are “working” hand-to-hand with pyschiatry by forcing people into psychiatric hospitals against their will is forever tainting the job of officers.

Now, I have absolutely no respect for police officers anymore.

The cops are not your friends, therefore they are your enemies.

I Hate Psychiatry July 2, 2009 at 1:26 pm

“Perhaps we should allow it for the most violent members of society, pending some other solution.”

Society was more civilized in the times of duels.

Violent offenders should face their victims or the relatives of their victims in mortal combat.

Violent offenders should be faced with brutal and rapid violence, even that would be billions of times less cruel than a lifetime in prison.

And psychiatry should be abolished. The psychiatric system is worse than the jail system.

If inmates are treated like objects, psychiatric “patients” or people who are accused of having a mental illness even though they are not ill are treated like feces.

Magnus July 2, 2009 at 1:52 pm

He made a fool of the government; of course he’s getting every book on the shelf thrown at him.

So true.

Take a look at the list of people they put in the worst prisons. Right now, the worst prison in America is ADX Florence, aka “the Alcatraz of the Rockies.”

That’s where they put Charles Harrelson (father of Woody Harrelson), who killed exactly one person. (That’s the same number of people who have been killed in Ted Kennedy’s car.) But Harrelson got sent to a supermax prison since the decedent was a federal judge.

Similarly, that’s where they sent first-time offender Matthew Hale, who was convicted of attempting to solicit the murder of one person, but was assigned to America’s top supermax facility, not because he’s a problem as a prisoner, but because his intended victim was also a federal judge. Also, he’s a racist, which apparently gets you extra punishment.

Or Ted Kaczynski, who killed three people. He was sent to this prison, which has poured concrete for furniture and where they spend 23 hours per day in solitary confinement, not because he’s a threat to anyone were he held in a regular prison, but because he embarrassed the FBI.

Lloyd Danforth July 2, 2009 at 1:53 pm

I kept looking for the punchline.

I Hate Psychiatrists July 2, 2009 at 1:54 pm

How about social security.

Isn’t that the biggest ponzi scheme of all times ?

Who’s going to go to jail for that one ?

Chris Donabedian July 2, 2009 at 2:05 pm

I do not how to say this and have it remain “civil” as the blog requires, but this article is absurd and myopic. Are you actually suggesting that a criminal, a man who stole large sums of wealth and destroyed it, should be left free? It is precisely this type of article that will prevent the Mises Institute from ever having any real impact on this country, because it destroys credibility. The idea of freeing thieves so we can read their book is not going to sit well with many.

I suspect the victims of his looting can explain to you why he should indeed be imprisoned.

Mark July 2, 2009 at 2:12 pm

Interesting take. While I agree that Madoff is no threat anymore, any work he did would be monitored to the tiniest detail, I disagree that his life is over. I have no doubt that some firm somewhere would still find value by hiring Madoff and hiring somebody else to shadow his every movement.

I think a better punishment would be just to take all his income for the rest of his life over a subsistence level for restitution. That way he could be a benefit to society instead of a burden as Tucker suggests.

Barry Linetsky July 2, 2009 at 2:13 pm

This is the most bizarre article I’ve ever read at Mises.org!

It’s a shame that it is so anti-Misean is spirit.

The purpose of the law is to defend individual rights and punish those who infringe upon them. Of course there are costs to running a justice system, of which prisons are one aspect. Madoff destroyed lives, willingly and consciously, and benefited himself as a parasite. To assert that he may have done so with good intentions is wacky. To advocate that imprisonment is an act of injustice when committed against the most extreme con men leaves one to conclude that Tucker would likely advocate the decriminalization of fraud for lesser offenses.

But if Tucker is an anarchist, then I give him credit for being consistent. Logic would hold that an anarchist must be opposed to any state enforcement of criminal activity, hence the bizarre moral admonition to “free Bernie Madoff” and all prisoners because to punish through imprisonment, according to Tucker, “is contrary to all principles of civilization.” How the principles of justice are contrary to “all principles of civilization” calls for further elucidation from Mr. Tucker. We are in a sorry state is his is a majority opinion amongst admirers of Mises.

Tu Ne Cede Malis.

Kick-A-Crook July 2, 2009 at 2:19 pm

If Madoff does not have enough money to pay back his victims, we could start a new reality show, the show would be called Kick-A-Crook.

Bernie would then have to do the “Mississipi” and all his victims would be aligned.

It would be a paying event where people would pay to get a chance to kick Bernie’s ass. The proceeds could go on to pay the victims.

It would be like “the running man” except crooks would not die at the end, it would continue over and over again and would raise money to pay back the victims etc.

Walt D. July 2, 2009 at 2:23 pm

Trivia point. Charles Ponzi only received 4 years in jail for fraud.

matskralc July 2, 2009 at 2:49 pm

I suspect the victims of his looting can explain to you why he should indeed be imprisoned.

What, so his victims get to reach into my wallet and steal from me in order to make themselves feel better?

JonBostwick July 2, 2009 at 3:41 pm

These comments seem of a rather low caliber. Not one mention of proportionality?

If some victim demanded drawing and quartering Madoff, would anyone objecting to that be accused of wanting to legalize fraud, too?

Anyone who thinks the State offers a valid solution to those problems arising solely from the State is a buffoon.

Pete July 2, 2009 at 3:47 pm

As far as I am concerned, he ought be owned proportionately by those who lost money investing with him. Let them vote on what to do with him. At a certain point, theft is so great that one forfeits their self ownership.

Chip Krakoff July 2, 2009 at 3:57 pm

Surely, Mr. Tucker, you jest.

Bernie Madoff is not like some other executives jailed for what might, arguably, be considered at most technical violations of the law. Mike Milken comes to mind, as do some of the Enron people, who entered into some spectacularly complicated transactions but not necessarily with intent to commit fraud.

Madoff, by contrast, deliberately and systematically stole huge sums of money from investors over more than 20 years. This is a real crime, much more serious than the low-level drug raps that account for two-thirds of of all Federal prison sentences.

Incarceration serves several purposes. The first is to get dangerous people off the streets. We can agree that Mr. Madoff, if freed, probably would not turn to armed robbery or kidnapping. The second is as a deterrent. A 150-year sentence does grab people’s attention. For the next banker tempted to “borrow” money from his clients to cover up previous trades gone bad, the possibility of spending the rest of his life in prison might make him think twice before hitting the “enter” key. Finally, putting someone in prison is a means of retribution. In all likelihood we will never recover more than a small fraction of the money Bernie stole. Madoff himself has stonewalled all questions about his accomplices and where the money is stashed, so deserves no break for being cooperative. All we can do is throw the book at him, and that is what the judge did.

Mr. Tucker argues that Bernie Madoff’s life is already ruined, his friends have abandoned him, and that his 20+ years as a high roller must have been miserable due to the constant stress of trying to prevent the whole edifice from collapsing, so how could imprisonment make his life any worse? I submit that living in a 20-room apartment on Park Avenue is bound to be somewhat less unpleasant than living in a Federal maximum security prison, for which Madoff’s long sentence makes him eligible. By Mr. Tucker’s logic, most gang-bangers should be returned to the streets, since life in a drug-infested ghetto is no picnic.

In truth, here’s no evidence Madoff has suffered at all. Many criminals sleep very well at night, untroubled by their misdeeds, and Bernie may have been one of them. Madoff acted with nothing but contempt for his friends, and disdain for the institutions that showered him with honors, so how badly can it hurt to lose them now? Mansions and yachts in the South of France, too, can do wonders to take the edge off any troubling pangs of conscience that may surface from time to time.

Bernie Madoff is not being punished because he is a capitalist, he is being punished because he is a crook. What’s more, he has expressed no remorse. He has admitted to what he calls a tragic flaw: his ego’s refusal to admit that he had failed, which in turn caused him to dig himself deeper into the hole he had created. Put that way, it sounds almost noble. He has expressed sorrow for for the people whose lives he ruined, but without ever taking responsibility. I’m sure he is sorry too for the people who died in last year’s cyclone in Myanmar.

Bernie Madoff is every bit as deserving of his sentence as John Gotti of his. They may even get to meet one of these days.

matskralc July 2, 2009 at 4:12 pm

Finally, putting someone in prison is a means of retribution.

So maybe you can answer my earlier question, then?

Chip Krakoff July 2, 2009 at 4:31 pm

Dear Matsk Ralc (is that an anagram? a character in an Ayn Rand novel?),

It’s pretty simple. If you want the protection of the law you have to pay for it, and that means paying to maintain the whole system, not just to punish criminals who have vitimized you personally. If you don’t care for any protection, go live in Somalia, that libertarian paradise that has no government at all.

Chip Krakoff July 2, 2009 at 4:33 pm

Dear Matsk Ralc (is that an anagram? a character in an Ayn Rand novel?),

It’s pretty simple. If you want the protection of the law you have to pay for it, and that means paying to maintain the whole system, not just to arrest, try, and punish criminals who have harmed you personally. If you don’t care for anysuch protection, go live in Somalia, that libertarian paradise that has no government at all.

Chip Krakoff July 2, 2009 at 4:33 pm

Dear Matsk Ralc (is that an anagram? a character in an Ayn Rand novel?),

It’s pretty simple. If you want the protection of the law you have to pay for it, and that means paying to maintain the whole system, not just to arrest, try, and punish criminals who have harmed you personally. If you don’t care for any such protection, go live in Somalia, that libertarian paradise that has no government at all.

JAlanKatz July 2, 2009 at 4:36 pm

It seems to me that the real objection is to his being jailed by the government. After all, how can the same officials who approve such imprisonment also appear on television daily telling us that Madoff-like actions are what will save our economy?

SEan July 2, 2009 at 5:34 pm

Mr. Madoff employed no coercion in the commencement of his crimes of fraud and theft. He is a non-violent offender. His reputation is ruined. Imagine the hardship he would face on the outside. There is effectively no need to jail him.

What’s more, were his victims not so confident in the various regulatory agencies governing Mr. Madoff’s former phony business operations, Mr. Madoff would have had a MUCH harder time pulling it off.

The government needs to get out of BOTH sides of this equation.

Eric July 2, 2009 at 7:16 pm

Too bad the same government ponzie scheme perps aren’t doing time.

No, in fact, the DC messiah is giving them awards.

The only message here is that if you want to break the law, become a government employee first.

Walt D. July 2, 2009 at 7:55 pm

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124650399438184235.html
When this happened in England there was a huge scandal – cabinet ministers resigned and there has even been talk of criminal prosecution for some of the more egregious offenders.
Here, this will be swept under the rug.

Bill July 2, 2009 at 8:13 pm

WTF…I want what your smoking. There may be good arguments for not jailing Madoff, but this isn’t one of them.

Charles Hanes July 2, 2009 at 8:52 pm

I suggest that everyone remember that the customers defrauded by Madoff should have known better.

They believed that somehow, they deserved to get a deal that was better than anything else available, just because they “knew someone”. They believed that they had a right to 15% returns year after year, while others suffered the ups and downs of the markets. They believed that government regulation would protect them from losses. All in all, they believed too much.

Madoff exploited his standing and reputation to get away with a massive swindle. But, it is far from clear that jailing him for the rest of his life in a maximum security prison is the best answer to his crime. There is no way anyone would trust him with their money again. He could yet contribute to society, and pay his own way to boot, plus something for restitution. Why shouldn’t we wish for that?

matskralc July 2, 2009 at 9:00 pm

Dear Matsk Ralc (is that an anagram? a character in an Ayn Rand novel?),

No and no.

Al Sledge July 2, 2009 at 9:19 pm

Jeff wrote an interesting article concept if one looks at it in depth, rather than the more shallow view. I too had a lot riding on Bernie’s sentence. I bet a coworker lunch that he would not spend a day in jail for his conviction. Pre-sentence jail time of course would not qualify. I obviously lost! So did Bernie, however his losses were somewhat greater than mine. However a few things did strike me as strange.

One hundred fifty years? Would anyone be upset if they reduced it in half to seventy five years? At his age of seventy one years, a thirty year sentence would end in death while incarcerated. The length of his sentence given his age and time periods makes the judge look like the kind of fool that Bernie likely had for his “clients”. If after his sentencing had he raised hell with the judge, would he received an additional thirty days for contempt?

The day of his sentencing, Yahoo News stated; “He stole from the wealthy, he stole from the poor, and he stole from those in between”. Yet another article stated he had “high net worth clients” that were “receiving double digit returns”, and the “minimum account allowed was half a million dollars”. I would think “double digit returns” would mean something above 9.99%. Here in “fly over” country I don’t recall many of our poor, or even middle class who can spot an account balance of that size. Things must be different in Manhattan!

But not all people involved were “victims”. Some actually received some of this stolen property and had so for years. According to Wikipedia both the Democrats and the Republicans cashed in, but magnanimously returned A PORTION of the loot, I mean contributions. Why didn’t they return all of it? The exact records of the dollar amounts still exist. Then there is the “return on investment” paid out to the wealthy (and poor) investors over the years. Should not the government reclaim that money from those folks? As they did not know the source of the dividends/interest they cannot be arrested, but people are not allowed to keep stolen property just because they are unaware of the source. I am not seriously recommending the government do so as everyone is aware that the cost to unsnarl this mess would far exceed the $65 billion after paying accounts and lawyers their wages and bribing the right politicians etc, the victims would end up splitting roughly $12.36 between them out of the original billions.

In summary of my lunatic diatribe, putting people in jail is primarily to safeguard the rights and lives of humans in society. People that kill other humans need to be in protective cages and away from others. People that commit crimes against others property, including rape, robbery, theft, fraud, and the like should also be isolated from society. I do not see jail as punishment, but I also understand why others will disagree with me. However the magnitude of the crime is also important. A first offense of passing a bad check cannot be equated to a first offense of rape! If rapists or child molesters are rehabilitated that is wonderful, but they still need to be kept locked up for life! And yes, the burden of proof issue opens another can of worms too, that is too involved for this topic.

Bernie was in essence convicted of the equivalent of passing a bad check. A really, really, really Big Check, but a bad one nonetheless! Due to inflation, the biggest in US history. But, after all, it was his First Offense. I feel pity toward him and sorrow for his entire family. My heart goes out to them as they lost far more than just money. Money only fixes money problems, it does not fix life problems. Money as a solution to all problems is an American myth. Little wonder they print so much of it!

Jim Fedako July 2, 2009 at 10:04 pm

Keep in mind that Madoff owes society nothing. He owes specific individual (directly and indirectly) billions.

Government prisons are based on the collective view of offenses against society – a false view, indeed.

Having Madoff waste away in a government prison provides nothing to the victims, save retribution. But can anyone claim the right to retribution?

kev July 2, 2009 at 11:47 pm

As a critical criminologist I loved this article. It makes every bit of sense – the four justifications of punishment don’t really apply here, except, perhaps, for ‘generic deterrence’… but we all know the limitations of this justification. Unfortunately, the justification most people understand is that of retribution. Vengance seems to satisfy the majority. But vengance has absolutely no utilitarian value – even the utilitarian Jeremy Bentham would agree here. Indeed, free Madoff – there are better men at the Fed to jail, anyway.

Gil July 3, 2009 at 12:03 am

What Tom Henderon wrote!

So J. Tucker feels his victims will get a ‘double-whammy’? So? In Libertopia, a victim’s insurance payments are going to up after they make claim? Or, if Libertopia has no insurance companies and victims have to do a DIY form of retribution then they still have to take time out from their regular lives to do that too.

Then again are the ‘victims’ really victims? As Charles Hanes pointed out, they didn’t take time out to check if the scheme was crooked when the money was rolling in, they only looked when it wasn’t. A lot of people are saying “it was obvious in retrospect that something was amiss” but once again no one looked when it was lucrative.

DixieFlatline July 3, 2009 at 1:59 am

Another heroic and insightful argument from Jeffrey Tucker!

DixieFlatline July 3, 2009 at 2:01 am

Tom Henderson,

What is the primary function of government in a free society?

There is none. You can’t have a free society where people are constrained by government.

Tom Papworth July 3, 2009 at 7:44 am

Whenever people tell me that (classical) liberalism is just an excuse to serve the interests of business and the rich, I try to point out the error of their ways.

Whenever people opine that libertarian think-tanks are in the pockets of big businessmen I assure them that this is not so.

And then Jeffrey Tucker argues that Bernie Madoff should be released from prison just days after being sentenced.

NOT the most sensible post ever!

Paul Marks July 3, 2009 at 8:09 am

The trouble with being ironic is that people (and not just a few people) may not see that one is being ironic.

For example, they might just think (and spread) “the Ludwig Von Mises Institute people say free Berni Madoff – they support massive fraud”. Which, of course, is quite false.

The life long leftist (directly relevant as it goes to the heart of the idea that one can make money regardless of the level of statism undermining civil society) contributer Bernard Madoff should not be freed, he should be punished for his crimes by going to prison for a very long time.

It is just that (as the author really thinks) a lot of goverment people should be joining him in prison.

SweetLiberty July 3, 2009 at 8:36 am

Articles and opinions like Mr. Tucker’s are the reason why Libertarians are considered to be on the “lunatic fringe”. Thank goodness many on this blog realize the need to punish fraud and I can only hope those are the voices that prevail if the libertarian movement is to have any chance of growing in the future. Otherwise, we will always be hailed as a group of crazy Anarchists who believe in an anything goes mentality. Political organizations are often defined by their most extreme members. The public needs to see a clear distinction between limited government Libertarians and no-holds barred Anarchists. I make the assertion that Austrian Economics per Rothbard, Hayek, Mises, et al, is based on LIMITED government interference, and therefore further assert that Mr. Tucker’s article belongs on a different blog which advocates NO government interference.

Patrick July 3, 2009 at 10:19 am

Great article. Statist jails (and the State itself) are incompatible with a free-society.
Most of the whining on here are probably statists (albeit of the “limited” variety).

Tom Henderson July 3, 2009 at 10:59 am

SweetLiberty makes a valid observation. Sadly, it appears the Libertarian Party image is seen not in the promotion of free markets, but rather embracing anarchy. The illusion and fantasy that free markets can exist without protection from fraud and plunder is just as much an illusion as the socialists’ fantasy that government can solve all economic and social problems.

One of the major obstacles I have in promoting free markets is to dispel the myths that Republicans are free market advocates, and that free markets and anarchy are equivilent. Libertarians promoting anarchy only adds to this obstacle.

Just as too much government eventually leads to the destruction of property rights, so, too, does anarchy lead to the destruction of property rights. It makes no difference if a government claims ownership of your property, or as in the case of Somalia, which has no laws, gangs claim owership of your property. Are the results not the same?

When I asked the question “What is the function of government in a free society”, one comment was “There is none. You can’t have a free society where people are constrained by government.”

Like Tucker’s article, this author misses the point. The function of government in a free society is to protect individuals from fraud and plunder. The protection of the individual and his/her constrains plunder, not liberty. There is a difference.

There is no utopia, whether it be the illusion that government can provide a perfect society, or that no government can produce a perfect society. This is part of the essence of Bastiat’s “The Law”. Only when the pain of plunder is more dangerous than the pain of labor, will plunder be stopped. Batiat points out the proper use of law in a free society. To protect those who labor from those who plunder.

Tucker’s article, along with the anarchist view distracts from those of us who believe in free markets. Like SweetLiberty, I wish there were a separtation of free markets concepts from anarchists’ views.

SweetLiberty
Articles and opinions like Mr. Tucker’s are the reason why Libertarians are considered to be on the “lunatic fringe”. Thank goodness many on this blog realize the need to punish fraud and I can only hope those are the voices that prevail if the libertarian movement is to have any chance of growing in the future. Otherwise, we will always be hailed as a group of crazy Anarchists who believe in an anything goes mentality. Political organizations are often defined by their most extreme members. The public needs to see a clear distinction between limited government Libertarians and no-holds barred Anarchists. I make the assertion that Austrian Economics per Rothbard, Hayek, Mises, et al, is based on LIMITED government interference, and therefore further assert that Mr. Tucker’s article belongs on a different blog which advocates NO government interference.

robert in dc July 3, 2009 at 11:01 am

Great article,

So many miss your point.Everybody is parroting media “outrage”.

Madoff sold to poeple who were greedy and wanted more. To be conned you have to want to be conned. As for the alleged libertarians posting here–how about “caveat emptor”?

If Madoff goes to jail for selling securities–risky investments, that had no real value to multimillionaires–the mega rich were his “victims” Then by the same logic the realestate agents and brokers an lenders who have Joe Sixpak in a mortgage of 300k for a house worth no 60k should all go to Jail? Well?

No need for non-violent prisoners to go to jail. I am also dperessed by the tendency of many posters to want to humilate and degrade people–talk about monstrous creatures of the state…..Yeesh.,

No hope–even in libertarian websites….

Alexander S. Peak July 3, 2009 at 12:28 pm

Mr. Tucker writes, “I, for one, would like to read that book.”

Viva la bibliophilia! :)

Paul Aubert July 3, 2009 at 12:33 pm

Jeffrey,

Awesome. I could not agree more. As Nielsio said above, “Amen!”

MHnTX July 3, 2009 at 12:55 pm

Tom Henderon writes: “The answer to why Madoff should be sent to prison can best be found in the writings of Bastiat’s “The Law”, where he states: When, then, does plunder stop? It stops when it becomes more painful and more dangerous than labor. It is evident, then, that the proper purpose of law is to use the power of its collective force to stop this fatal tendency to plunder instead of to work. All the measures of the law should protect property and punish plunder.”

The function of a civil government is creating laws that protect the rights of all individuals and the punishment of those breaking these laws should always strive to fit the crime committed. However, this does not automatically equate to a prison cell — at the taxpayer’s expense — as seems to be the easy answer to almost everything these days.

As a non-violent offender, there are many forms of punishment that could have been imposed on Madoff that would have been just as harsh, would have served the same purpose, and would have cost the taxpayer’s far less. The courts have the power to strip him of any wealth, impose travel limits, wage limits, and even technology and career access limits if they so chose, and throwing him in a prison cell is simply another wasted resource by an already bloated, lethargic and bureaucratic federal legal system.

Madoff is a marked man and a washed up pauper and if left semi-free under severe restrictions would have trouble convincing an 8 yo to invest their lemonade stand profits with him. Leaving him semi-free to mop floors or flip burgers and perhaps even a life sentence to part time forced servitude to the community would have been far more appropriate punishment IMO.

Sticking him in a prison cell is simply government’s politically expedient way of pacifying the lynch mob mentality of the masses and has nothing to do with sane justice. And when and if the masses ever catch up with the real frauds in government running the same scheme — on a much vaster scale — then one might almost hope that they receive the same exact lack of due consideration and thought that they themselves are showing.

DixieFlatline July 3, 2009 at 2:57 pm

Tom,

Tucker’s article, along with the anarchist view distracts from those of us who believe in free markets. Like SweetLiberty, I wish there were a separtation of free markets concepts from anarchists’ views.

Why would there be a separation? Anarchists are for free markets. In fact, moreso than minarchists who believe that some monopoly power, and some aggression is necessary to maintain order which are clearly not free market stances on law or justice.

Minarchism is the compromise of liberty. As a libertarian or classic liberal, it is also rationally incoherent.

trembo slice July 3, 2009 at 3:03 pm

Tucker, too bad nobody would recognize Madoff. he could easily enjoy life in a small town – just being free. he committed fraud – he deserves to go to jail.

although, i agree if he wrote a book on the failures of government regulation it would be quite interesting – in an effort to clear his name.

Kick-A-Crook July 3, 2009 at 3:22 pm

Tom Henderson,

The problem is that the law, in orde to protect those who labors, needs to plunder those who labor in order to fund the cost of the said “protection”.

And the laborers cannot refuse this forced protection service and cannot chose to protect themselves.

In this sense, the law is really nothing more than a protection racket.

As a libertarian, I think that those who labor are best fit to protect themselves against plunder.

We don’t need the law to protect, we only need the law to get out of the way and stop punishing those who protect themselves.

Right now, if you resist paying your taxes, you will go to federal jail or be shot dead.

Right now, if you resist armed robbery using any weapon, especially a firearm, you are subjected to murder prosecution by the law.

The law is a protection racket and a monopoly of force and therefore it cannot tolerate competition. The law claims the sole legitimacy of “protection” and the law will assault those who decide to protect themselves.

Individual laborers with guns can easily protect themselves against plunderers, even if the plunderers are armed, they cannot face an entire armed population ready to defend themselves against plunder.

What prevents laborers to defend themselves against plunder is the law which punishes self-defense in so many ways.

We are brainwashed into thinking the only way to protect ourselves is through dialing 911.

Yet there isn’t enough police force to protect anyone and the police is not mandated to provide security. The police exist to protect the politicians not the people.

And if there were enough police officers to protect the laborers, then this would be very scary because then nothing could protect the laborers from the police.

No, right now, the law protects the plunderers from the laborers by outlawing armed self-defense.

What the law must do is to stop protecting the plunderers and let them know that laborers have full self-defense rights. This should scare the hell out of the plunderers into making them laborers.

Mr Fnortner July 3, 2009 at 5:22 pm

Judge Roy Bean may have been the one to say, “We don’t hang horse thieves for stealing horses. We hang horse thieves so others won’t steal horses.”

Justice, in this case prison, must be coldly meted out so that the next likely Ponzi scheme artist will see his fate, not as financial ruin and time off for suffering, but as a lifetime in a jail cell married to a guy named Walt. This is not vengeance, nor some sort of signal; neither is it rehabilitation. It it pragmatism, pure and simple. Mrs. M, by the way, who probably will die within a year on just $2.5 million, should just slink away and be “regular folks.” Who couldn’t live on $2.5 million, for chrisake?

maru July 3, 2009 at 7:51 pm

Mr. Tucker’s “irony”, if any, seems awkward enough. Regrettably, I, too, see his article as clearly non-Austrian. His claim to free Bernie looks disproportionate within the Austrian system of views, especially so when put into the actual state of affairs. Besides, you cannot draw a dividing line between fraud and (physical) violence as strong as he does. Or does the simple old truth, that lies and fraud lead to theft to robbery to murder, not hold any more in modern times?

Gil July 3, 2009 at 10:05 pm

What Tom Hender2on wrote x 2! X)

Kick-A-Crook – puhhhh-leassssse! You might as well be arguing about a serial killer complaining “it’s not fair, I know others have killed more so why should I go to jail?” Madoff committed the crime so he does the crime. He shouldn’t be as thick-as-two-bricks to do what he did so he knew what he was doing was a crime so he can’t complain when he got caught. C’mon.

Jim Fedako July 3, 2009 at 11:17 pm

I keep wondering if retribution would have been better served had Madoff been sentenced to 500 years. Or a million years. Or a trillion.

As far as his sentence being a deterrent: Does anyone believe that Madoff did not know he would end up in prison once exposed?

I have no sympathy for the man. None whatsoever. However, the Austrian issue here is property. Madoff defrauded folks — those folks are currently out of luck. Instead of having him repay whatever amount he is able to repay — including the use of forced labor if necessary, Madoff is sentenced to a tax-funded prison that is supported by … get this … theft. Hmmm.

So where is the justice here?

Gil July 4, 2009 at 1:14 am

It could be argued the victim would have to pay for the criminal’s punishment in Libertopia anyway, J. Fedako.

Mark D Hughes July 4, 2009 at 1:15 am

I must say Jeff, you do know how to hit a nerve.

It is terribly unfortunate that so many of your readers have so terribly missed your point.

I agree with your analysis completely. And, contrary to some of these shrill posts I don’t interpret you to have any sympathy for Madoff whatsoever. Nor do I.

Indeed, as far as jail as a form of retribution or deterrent goes… 5 years or 150 years who gives a crap.

My point (and I think Jeff’s) is simple: what possible good does jail do? Not one of Madoff’s victims is helped. In fact, as tax payers, salt is mixed into their wounds. Now, they must help keep this criminal in free board and room for the rest of his life.

A much better solution for Madoff (and other non-violent criminals) is to force them to live a life of servitude… as if they were under house arrest (electronic ankle bracelets, etc). In Madoff’s case in a very modest one bedroom apartment, from which he would have to work (writing a book, teaching, stock analysis, investment counseling, etc) under close scrutiny by way of audits and reviews. Any income he generates would first have to pay for his upkeep (including audits and reviews) and the rest would goes to help compensate his most deserving victims. The courts would have to decide who. (indeed, some of his so-called victims–most of the big European investors– knew full well that Madoff was “up-to-something” but were enjoying the miraculous returns too much to care).

In fact, someone like Madoff would be highly sought after as a public speaker and could generate substantial revenue from that alone. And, many, many wall street firms would pay dearly to tap into Madoff’s knowledge base.

This would be a win all around. Better for Madoff and better for “society.”

Why, you ask, would Madoff agree to work as a kind of slave? Well, consider the alternative. Life in prison or death by mob.

As far as “society” not being ready for this “anarchist” solution… Not so. Already so called “black hat” computer hackers out on parole are earning nice livings working for, of all organizations, government and private security outfits. The only difference is that they get to keep all the money they make. Madoff would be a great asset to any stock market’s fraud investigation section.

Mark Hughes

Jim Fedako July 4, 2009 at 10:35 am

Gil,

Do you mean “would, under certain conditions, pay” instead of “would have to pay?” (my emphasis)

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