Last week I met with former New York City Mayor Ed Koch to discuss corruption and oversight for a thesis I am writing. The topic moved towards why people commit such crimes and the name Bernie Maddoff came up. Koch, always outspoken and opinionated, certainly had a few things to say about Maddoff and how he should be punished.
Koch: If I had my way I would put 5 horses, one at each limb and one at the head, and yell "giddy-up!" Let them tear him apart. I know that is ridiculous but I am so angry. Thank god I never met Bernie Maddoff, I never knew his name, and I never gave him any money. But, think of all the smart people who gave him money, let alone the people who had no knowledge of the stock market. Unbelievable! He was able to convince people he was doing you a favor. I mean, a guy like that who destroyed thousands of people, I have no sympathy for him. None. No sympathy at all. I am glad he is in jail. I hope they don't kill him, because I want him to suffer as long as possible. Another 25 years just sitting in a jail cell would be wonderful so far as I am concerned for Bernie Maddoff.
Kuhn: Can I quote you on that?
Koch: You can! But it is fantasy...anger. It is not real. But what can be real is stiff punishment and long jail sentences. That should happen.
Kuhn: What then do you think is the root cause for theft?
Koch: I am Jewish, but believe in original sin. I believe people are basically born taught to violate the law and I believe the way you prevent that is through tough, tough punishment. I believe that. If people thought they could get away with things they would try...There is no substitute for vigilance...Because, for the most part, people don't steal because they don't get paid enough. People don't steal because they need bread. This is not Les Misérables!