Many people say, “you shouldn’t punish children for sins of the parent.” That’s something we firmly believe as Americans. The US Constitution even prohibits “corruption of blood.” Corruption of blood refers to laws that pass guilt genetically from generation to generation.
I think we can all agree that punishing children for their parents’ crimes is un-American. But what about children who profit from their parents’ crimes? Should they be allowed to keep the booty?
Andrew and Mark Madoff were the sons of Bernie Madoff. Bernie Madoff was convicted of the largest Ponzi scheme since Social Security. You probably remember the Madoff scandal.
Andrew Madoff and his older brother Mark turned their father in after he confessed his crime to them. They ratted out their old man.
Both sons denied any knowledge of the Ponzi scheme. Neither son was prosecuted. Mark hanged himself amid continuous accusations, one year after his dad’s conviction. He couldn’t take the shame. Andrew died of lymphoma at age 48. His cancer had been in remission, but it returned after his father went to prison. You can imagine the stress he was under.
On the other hand, Andrew and Mark died rich. Their children, Andrews’s ex-wife, and Andrew’s fiancee divided the $16 million of Andrew’s assets. Mark, the older brother, left an even larger estate. So, while they may not have known that their dad was ripping people off, they got rich, to some degree, as a result of his crimes.
A lot of Bernie Madoff’s victims wanted the courts to seize Andrew’s and Mark’s assets. To divide among the victims. Some of Madoff’s victims lost their life savings. According to USA Today:
At the time of his death, according to the Post, Madoff had been contesting an effort by the victims’ court-appointed trustee, Irving Picard, to recover $153.3 million from Andrew and from the estate and widow of his brother, Mark, who hanged himself in 2010. Picard, according to the News, said the brothers “knew, saw, and were simply too intelligent to plausibly feign ignorance about the fraud that was occurring.”
The brothers worked in a supposedly legitimate arm of the Madoff business. But Madoff’s victims figure all the Madoff money is tainted. And they want some of their lost treasure returned, even after the deaths of Andrew and Mark.
Two questions to ponder:
1. Did society punish Andrew Madoff for the sins of his father? 2. Did Andrew and Mark Madoff profit from the sins of their father?
If you said “yes” to number two, do you think victims should get to recover from their estates?
I’ll tell you how the Madoff story ends in a moment. But, first, let’s think about DACA and the Dreamers.
A lot of Democrats, like Senator Dick Durbin and Speaker Paul Ryan (it’s a joke), say “Trump must not end DACA because you can’t punish children for the sins of their parents.” But are Durbin and Ryan making a valid argument? Or is this a red herring? Let’s take it apart.
Part One: “Trump must not end DACA.” That’s an opinion. Durbin and Ryan both support DACA even though Ryan admits it’s blatantly un-Constitutional. But at least he’s honest. He prefers convenience over the Constitution, like most politicians. So I’m okay with the first have. Now, let’s look at the next word: “because.”
Because is a subordinating conjunction. That means the two parts of the sentence are not equal. The part before the because relies on the truth of the part that follows because. And the part after the because must support the first part. It’s like a belt. For a belt to hold up your pants, it must be buckled (true) AND it must fit snuggly enough (logical fit). Which brings us to the second part:
Part Two: “you can’t punish children for the sins of their parents.” Logically, this is true. We already admitted up at the top that punishing children for their parents’ sins is a sin. And un-Constitutional. But the clause doesn’t fit logically. No logical fit.
But what about the Madoff case? If courts seized the assets from Bernie Madoff’s grandchildren, would that be punishing his descendants? After all, they were accustomed to being millionaires. They’d be plunged into poverty. It would sure feel like punishment to them, wouldn’t it?
Now, these “Dreamers” profited from their parents’ crimes, did they not? No one is claiming the Dreamers helped their parents break American immigration law. Just as no one accused Madoff’s grandchildren of helping gramps run a Ponzi scheme.
But the Dreamers certainly profited from the crime of their parents. The Dreamers got great American educations, great American health services, and many of them have great jobs with Google and Apple making more than double the average American wage, according to … Google and Apple.
In other words, Dreamers profited from their parents’ crimes. No one can deny that Dreamers profited from their parents’ crimes.
So what happened to Bernie Madoff’s kids’ money that was inherited by their children who had nothing to do with Bernie’s famous Ponzi scheme?
The Madoff grandchildren had to give a lot of it back to the victims. Via New York Post:
The estates of Bernie Madoff’s sons have agreed to fork over $23 million in ill-gotten gains from years of benefiting their dad’s Ponzi scheme, according to a joint announcement Tuesday by the court-appointed Madoff trustee and the Justice Department.
Mark Madoff, his widow Stephanie Mack, and Andrew Madoff have agreed to cough up the money as part of a deal hashed out with Irving Picard, the trustee responsible for recouping money for investors. Half the money will also go to the Madoff Victim Fund, which is run by the DOJ and has recovered $9 billion for victims.
I agree that it’s wrong to punish children for their parents’ sins. But I’d also agree that it’s wrong for children to profit from their parents’ crimes.
Those who support DACA, like Paul Ryan, think it’s okay, apparently, for criminals to pass their ill-gotten gains on to their children. In Paul Ryan’s world, if a bank robber gives the money to his kid, the kid gets to keep the money.
Look, I don’t have anything against the Dreamers or against Madoff’s grandchildren. I think they all got a raw deal because of their parents (or grandparent, in the case of the Madoffs). But there were victims of these immigration crimes, too. American citizens who didn’t get the Dreamer’s scholarship or job. People in many countries who wanted to immigrate to the USA but couldn’t because of so many illegals.
Those victims of illegal immigration, like the victims of Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme, deserve restitution.
If you like DACA, you must also demand Madoff’s victims give their money back to Madoff’s grandchildren.