Tag Archives : Rick Wagoner

Business Bloodlust: Madoff, Wagoner, and Public Lynchings

Business Bloodlust: Madoff, Wagoner, and Public Lynchings

Rick Wagoner is out as CEO of General Motors, Bernie Madoff is staring at the equivalent of consecutive life terms, and the American tax code may be in the process of a major remodel. And somehow, as a result, millions of Americans can sit in their own homes and point fingers from the glow of a widescreen plasma television. Just as we learn on that television, give the networks 30 minutes (or, in the case of a primetime drama, 60) and the crisis will be solved with clear delineation between good and evil.

Good and evil, however, are much harder to ascertain in this financial crisis than would ordinarily suit the mass media or the attention deficits of its consumers. Sure, Bernie Madoff is a fairly clear villain in this case, but even his prosecution seems to be a grandstand to appease the American public’s bloodlust for one, true culprit; the man faces an unprecedented 150 years for a financial crime, while at the same time the public’s attention is distracted from the fact that some of the most-respected financial institutions in world history — Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch, Bear Stearns — lost billions of dollars of investor money, as well. Greed in the form of Ponzi schemes makes for a delicious script, but the fact remains that the worldwide financial collapse has nothing to do with Madoff, but rather with the inability of top firms to do what they do best — assess risk and value and invest accordingly.

Filed in: Business School