March 12, 2009

Horse 966 - Sleep Sweet Madoff

Another reason to be proud, this being a citizen! For the poor it consists in sustaining and preserving the wealthy in their power and their laziness. The poor must work for this, in presence of the majestic quality of the law which prohibits the wealthy as well as the poor from sleeping under the bridges, from begging in the streets, and from stealing bread.
- Jacques Anatole Francois Thibault, The Red Lily (Le Lys Rouge), 1894, chapter 7.

I find this to be a most interesting thing. For as I wander around the streets of Mosman, being ever increasingly aware that there are things that the people around here have that I often go without (like lunch for instance), that the people who live in these houses have in many cases done precisely jack squat to acquire their wealth.

The way to make a small fortune is either to start out with a big fortune, or reap the rewards of work that you did not do. When I walk down the street and see BMW X5s, Mercedes S-Classes and the odd Ferrari, it is greatly apparant that there is no possible way that the people behind the wheel could have ever worked for them.

Yet I ask a question of Thibault which perhaps in his emotive haste perhaps forgot to answer. What need do the wealthy have for sleeping under the bridges, from begging in the streets, and from stealing bread? Clearly they have the money so that they do not need to. Or perhaps that is Thibault's very point itself, that the law which would be created by the wealthy, exists to keep them in that state.

I wonder then what drove Bernie Madoff to steal two and a half billion score dollars from investors. If he had robbed a shop of just one score of dollars with a handgun and a ski mask, he'd be being held without bail, getting to know his new roommates. Maybe in this case the majestic quality of the law swept forth and prohibited him, but I still wonder about the thousands of other people in offices, who in their power and their laziness have been stealing the bread from the very poor who will be now forced to sleep under bridges.

The real irony of this is that instead of a prison for criminals who have committed crimes of moral turpitude, Mr Madoff will probably be sleeping in relatively good conditions, quite removed from those who might find a bridge and adequate place to sleep.

Sleep is the one luxury afforded to rich and poor alike. For somewhere in the dark abyss whence consciousness has drawn closed the veil, to sleep perchance to dream affords one relief from the need to beg in the streets, and from stealing bread.

I'm hungry. I wish I had some bread. Me thinks I shall take a nap.

No comments: