The Tao of financial prudence |

The Tao of financial prudence

It is January 2009; do you know where your money is?

The question is not as easy to answer as it used to be, but it does make me wonder how many crooks we have here in Happy Valley.

Not the dimwitted types who smash car windows to steal CDs or drink bottles of courage to climb over their neighbor’s balcony to see if they left the door unlocked, but the truly sneaky kind, the type who smile as they shake your right hand while robbing you blind with their left.

We know them as white-collar criminals, which is inappropriate considering most real criminals are color blind, and they have been revealing themselves in record numbers over the past few years.

Although they have been around ever since the word “accounting” was conceived when the world’s first caveman nerd insisted on counting rocks, Enron, Worldcom and Tyco really pushed the three-piece-suited scum to the media forefront.

And now that the curtain of credit has been pulled back to reveal the ugly view of reality outside our present financial window, crooked investment bankers and corrupt hedge-fund managers are exposing themselves faster than drunk tourists on Bridge Street. (Note: It was too easy to reference a skier in Blue Sky, so I won’t even mention it.)

As we all know, the King of Scams is Bernie Madoff, but he has quickly been followed by the French hedge-fund manager in New York City slitting his wrist at his work desk, the investment “adviser” who jumped out of an airplane before slitting his wrist, the 76-year-old Florida adviser who disappeared with millions while threatening to slit his wrist and Madoff’s assistant, Robert Jaffe, who refused to show up for his subpoena claiming he is a victim, not an accomplice, but in actuality is probably off slitting his wrist in preparation for his arrest.

Yet on a local level, I personally know a few families that took a direct hit from Madoff, and we all know our very own Madoff mini-me (the performing arts center namesake), but what concerns me at the moment is those who have yet to be caught.

Come on, admit it, we all know they exist. Walking (or, perhaps, skiing) among us right now is some hotshot who thinks he will never be caught because he’s convinced he is smarter than all those idiots who let their greed get the best of them.

There’s billions of dollars in wealth around here, and although I’m certainly not irresponsible enough to point fingers (I do have my limitations), surely we’re not naive enough to believe Happy Valley is a crook-free zone.

I’m merely suggesting that if you’re lucky enough to have any cash investments at the moment, please go out of your way to make sure the funds are where they’re supposed to be and not being used as interest to pay those who invested before you.

It’s your money. It is your responsibility.

Richard Carnes, of Edwards, writes a column for the Daily. He can be reached at

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