My life is small town America, with a view of the Mohawk River. It is folksy people, loads of history, close proximity to Cooperstown, Saratoga Springs and the Southern Adirondacks. Or, we can drive to Manhattan in a little over 3.5 hours.
But, there are no jobs here. People don't lock their doors at night and they don't eat arugula. They shovel their own sidewalks, clean their own houses and their kids play high school sports. There are vegetable gardens and homemade wines. Christmas cookie baking parties and a library group for people who love to knit, but there is not a grocery store within 10 miles. Taxes are high and homes aren't selling. It's small town Norman Rockwell America at its best and at its worst.
I was born here, my parents still live here and two of my three sisters are within 9 miles of my house. It's a small community of less than 2000 residents with a large elderly population. Our kids graduate from college and only return home to visit.
So, it was with mind boggling soberness to learn that Bernard Madoff has affected our lives. On Christmas Eve, my retired construction worker husband had a visit from his former boss, who presently sits on the Board of Trustees for the Pension Fund of his Union. He was told that 85% of the Pension Fund and 20% of his annuity had been invested with Madoff. The money is gone, the fund has fallen into Critical Status, a meeting is being planned for sometime in the future to discuss what has happened, how it impacts members and what efforts will be undertaken to address all of the above. The Board has requested that State Police be present at the meeting, as it is expected that the Union workers will not take kindly to the fact that such a high percentage of their hard earned money was invested in something so speculative as a hedge fund. Benefits will be cut, workers who have not yet retired will have to work much longer to accrue retirement credits, monies deducted from paychecks for the Fund will have to be increased sharply, disability, supplemental death benefits and early retirement subsidies will be reduced or eliminated in an effort to restore the Pension Plan.
It is hard to grasp that the man responsible for security fraud that has affected so many people throughout the world is on "house arrest" in his luxurious apartment, enjoying the same freedom as you and I. He has reached into to hundreds of thousands of lives and ripped out their best laid plans. It is too late to do anything about the 50 billion dollars of investor assets he has stolen, but it is not too late to remind us how greed can ruin lives.