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Joe Nocera Would Appreciate It If Madoff Victims Quit Their Bitching

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What he actually wrote was that they should "get over it," though obviously the columnist went through a few drafts of the message that included "lick my balls" until his editor deemed the last "fit to print." Anyway, yes, JoeNo has heard there are a bunch of people running around the city demanding the SEC give them the money they lost to Bernie Madoff in order to pay for things like food, shelter, a mentally disabled brother, and children with Leukemia. And what he has to say to them is the same thing Joe told Ackman after his TGT tragedy-- get over it, Nancy Boys. I've argued before, the S.E.C.'s negligence notwithstanding, shouldn't the Madoff victims have to bear at least some responsibility for their own gullibility? Mr. Madoff's supposed results -- those steady, positive returns quarter after blessed quarter -- is a classic example of the old saw, "when something looks too good to be true, it probably is." What's more, most of the people investing with Mr. Madoff thought they had gotten in on something really special; there was a certain smugness that came with thinking they had a special, secret deal not available to everyone else. Of course, it turned they were right -- they did have a special deal. It just wasn't what they expected.

Outside the courthouse today, television reporters interviewed victims, all eager to tell their tales of woe. And their stories, in many cases, truly are heart-wrenching. Hopes and dreams have evaporated. Homes have been lost. Retirees are having to take minimum-wage jobs. Their anger at Mr. Madoff is understandable, to say the least. But to see them lash out at Irving Picard, the bankruptcy trustee, made me realize that too many of them still seem to think that someone should have to make them whole. The whole point about Ponzi schemes is that there is not enough money to make anybody whole -- they were robbed, pure and simple, and the government is not in the business of reimbursing for robberies. Not even when the cops stumble across the robbers and then mistakenly let them go.

Madoff Victims: Get Over It [NYT]