I dare you to read this Times report of the S.E.C.’s “investigations” of Bernie Madoff over the years and not gasp in amazement at the agency’s ineptitude. If the S.E.C. were a ship, it would be lying on the ocean floor; if it were a restaurant, it would have poisoned all its customers; if it were a government agency, it would have — oh, wait. Yes.
The Madoff crime will continue to provide work for many lawyers for many years to come. After the S.E.C.’s report, it is hard to believe that the S.E.C. itself won’t be a target of further legal action.
But what I’m wondering is this:
Let’s say you are currently running your own shady investment scheme. Perhaps you, like Madoff, have anticipated many times over the day that you would be exposed. And yet you haven’t yet been. Do the current revelations about the S.E.C.’s ineptitude give you comfort, believing the agency is congenitally incapable of rooting out fraudsters unless they confess to their own sons, or are you more frightened today than you were yesterday, believing the agency cannot possibly perform any worse than it has in the past and that your days are numbered?