Flutterby™! : China executes rogue trader, millions still missing

Next unread comment / Catchup all unread comments User Account Info | Logout | XML/Pilot/etc versions | Long version (with comments) | Weblog archives | Site Map | | Browse Topics

China executes rogue trader, millions still missing

2009-12-09 00:03:40.472649+00 by Chris 16 comments

We should have started doing this after Enron, and the more recent Wall Street Meltdown


[ related topics: Economics ]

comments in descending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: made: 2009-12-13 15:21:57.41731+00 by: JT

Living requires shelter, food, clothing and basic utilities such as water and electricity, the rest is gravy

Health care, Dental care, Psych care, television, libraries, cards, dominoes, laundry, workout rooms, taxes, paying guards, paying administration, and a lot of things that we provide prisoners that the average person doesn't consider a necessity.

#Comment Re: made: 2009-12-13 00:17:22.560255+00 by: Chris

Living requires shelter, food, clothing and basic utilities such as water and electricity, the rest is gravy. You can get a lot more basic but most don't go that route voluntarily. Toys, entertainment and frills can bump the total up, but there are many ways a resourceful person can maintain a very high quality of life without spending major bucks. It would appear that the squeeky wheels get the grease, government/society has not arrived at any other solutions to dealing with the "problems" other than to go the long slow ultimately wasteful and mostly futile route of programs, incarceration and other approaches that are designed to deal with and/or correct the symptoms without ever having the intent or awareness of the real root causes. Oh well, us humans are flawed and it ain't a perfect world, but most of us try to create a little peace, comfort and security in our little corners.

#Comment Re: made: 2009-12-12 19:45:54.031816+00 by: ebradway

Unfortunately, we can't just send 'em to Australia like the Brits used to...

As for the cost of life in prison, from what I recall the cost of executing a prisoner is even higher. Economics suck. I think the real shame (or maybe beauty) of the American economy is that the cost of providing for a prisoner is higher than a larger portion of the population's income. It's a shame because you would think the average Joe could afford a better life (in terms of dollars) than a prisoner. It's beautiful because we have an economy where you can live decently with that low of an income. The cost of just living is surprisingly low...

This aberration is also apparent in the Enron/Madoff affairs. The amount of money Madoff made off with is so freaking staggering to the common person that it's surreal. When I see budgets for government projects, I'm struck with the same surreal sense: why the hell does it cost so much?

Since I've worked in tech long enough to know that if you don't actually pay what something really costs (i.e., hire a brain-dead programmer for $15/hr), you end up with a result that costs more than the original high budget. This is especially true of public works projects and the inherent problem with going with the low bidder.

Maybe the real question is: "Why does just living cost so little?"

#Comment Re: made: 2009-12-12 19:22:40.022475+00 by: Chris

Would it be preferable to execute 10 convicted individuals, knowing that one or more was innocent merely to accept the fact that mistakes occur and the majority were guilty and deserved death.... Or, knowing that one or more of the 10 were innocent and the rest guilty, spare them all? After serious reflection, I would spare them all, but make them live in New Jersey.

#Comment Re: made: 2009-12-11 12:19:45.260626+00 by: Chris

It actually WAS murder, the guy had killed 2 other people during that week and he viewed my grandfather as a loose end. But, as far as the absolute infallibility of the jury system, and the legal machinery in general,is probably better to err in the side of caution, time and process have proved that the system has deep seated flaws and undoubtedly many innocents have been executed. Sometimes when events occur close to home it is difficult if not impossible to maintain one's objectivity.

#Comment Re: made: 2009-12-10 16:48:52.558372+00 by: Dan Lyke

Chris, the fact of a homicide and the identity of the killer, and even the notion of whether or not that homicide was murder or manslaughter or justifiable, are separate things.

#Comment Re: made: 2009-12-10 16:13:04.843587+00 by: Dan Lyke [edit history]

I think one of the problems with the death penalty is that we've got no way of actually measuring the validity of the "Justice" system. The only thing we can do is look at the outliers and say "it failed there". Todd Willingham is one case, here's a list of a whole bunch who made it to death row and were later (9.8 years average) exonerated (there is some suggestion that that list is flawed).

I've heard several cases where people have been convicted for rape with those convictions later overturned based on DNA evidence. The first three Google hits for "rape 20 years exonerated" say that could have been Anthony Capozzi, Scott Fappiano, Alan Newton, Kenneth Ireland or Jerry Miller. And that first part of that list could be longer, I just used 20 years as the cut-off and I only clicked through the first three links. 6 names out of 3 links...

I've only had the one experience serving on a jury all the way through, but everyone on that fairly minor (driving with a suspended license) case was very engaged and involved in the outcome (not guilty). Maybe it was that it was a very short trial, but we spent a lot more time deliberating over very minor points than I thought we were going to, and I felt they were all valid considerations.

What I did come away from that experience with is a further reduced view of trial lawyers, both on the prosecution side and the defense side. My impression of jurors in general soared.

So I guess my fear in abolishing the death penalty would be that people wouldn't then work as hard to exonerate the wrongfully convicted. If I could be convinced that our system was even relatively accurate in determining whether or not "guilty" correlated with "actually did it", I'd be much more sure on the matter, but at this point I'm sure the correlation is not above 90%, and may even be lower.

And that's ignoring the whole "is the law right or wrong" question.

#Comment Re: made: 2009-12-10 10:28:55.595265+00 by: Chris

yeah prisons are full of innocent people :) just as probable is the fact that my grandfather was not murdered, the original conclusion that he had his head blown off by a shotgun was erroneous, in all probability his head was due to come off anyway, was just too loosely connected

#Comment Re: made: 2009-12-10 00:59:42.10308+00 by: JT

There's always the case of Todd Willingham who insisted on his innocence, then after his execution, had his case reviewed and the evidence didn't stand up to the test. Of course, innocent or not, most people I've ever talked to in prison claimed they were innocent or framed. I'd say less than 1% of them were, but... what's the acceptable amount of error in killing innocent people as compared to the number of guilty rightfully put to death?

Todd's case is a bit different though, his attorney was a moronic douchebag who barely defended his client at all, thinking he was guilty the whole time. Todd also didn't have the ability to hire his own council, so he had to deal with what was offered to him by the state. I have heard a story on A&E though about a guy who was accused of rape, went to prison for 20+ years, then was proven innocent through DNA evidence and released. Not that he was facing a capital crime anyway, but it goes to show that eyewitness testimony, although the most unreliable method, is most trusted by juries. Even moreso than physical evidence.

I think if someone is guilty, they should be taken out of the court immediately and hanged/shot/drawn and quartered with no chance of appeal. Making sure someone is guilty is beyond the ability of most juries though. Keep in mind, my experience with juries in the past have been 10% of the jurors feel they're doing their civic duty and 90% of jurors just weren't smart enough to figure out how to get out of jury duty.

#Comment Re: made: 2009-12-10 00:51:30.690486+00 by: Chris

The Best Revenge, according to Edward Abbey, is revenge :)

#Comment Re: made: 2009-12-10 00:50:24.219114+00 by: Chris

life in prison is Exactly that.......life. Last time I saw any figure, it was 40-50 thousand dollars a year per inmate for medium security facility. There must be a better use for the money than prolonging the existence of a totally nonproductive previously predatory creature. My firm belief is that by their actions, an individual can put himself outside the realm of deserving any consideration or accomodation. You buy the ticket, you take the ride

#Comment Re: made: 2009-12-09 21:21:00.362786+00 by: m

Perhaps my love of freedom colors my view of the matter, but I see a sentence of life in prison as a far greater punishment than death.

#Comment Re: made: 2009-12-09 20:15:35.479892+00 by: JT

I like Ron White's quote about the death penalty in Texas.. "If you kill someone in Texas, we will kill you back." Joking aside though, I tend to agree with Dan's point of view. I agree with it in theory, but the human equation makes the justice system far too unreliable to effectively administer the death penalty. I read in LA Times last week that there's an increase in people asking for the death penalty in California for a handful of reasons. Primary reason being that you are twice as likely to die of natural causes on California's death row than to actually be executed. Also they (the people on death row) receive preferential treatment, between more yard time, better access to telephones, conjugal visits, etc... If the death penalty is that big of a joke where people are asking for it for the better treatment, it's time to either walk through the hallway of death row with a leaking sarin gas container, or abolish the death penalty altogether.

#Comment Re: made: 2009-12-09 19:26:27.961742+00 by: Dan Lyke

Yeah, the death penalty is one of those things that I could support in theory, but am against in practice. Since I'm becoming more and more of a pragmatist as I get older, that puts me further and further in the "against" camp.

However, we have economic numbers for the values of human life and life extension, we use such things all the time in risk-reward assessment, trading off safety versus casualty rates and such. That our criminal justice system doesn't use that information consistently seems to me a problem. Of course we have the same problem with security systems and all sorts of other government situations, so I suppose that criminal law ignores it shouldn't come as a surprise.

#Comment Re: made: 2009-12-09 12:11:44.67933+00 by: Chris

In all seriousness, the death penalty is designed to be Final, and perhaps send a message. To have it imposed and administered by a system that is Not perfect and infallible is the flaw. You mention Madoff and the amount of suffering his actions caused, but how could a punishment be devised that is proportional in scale to the crime(s) ? The Constitution prohibits cruel and unusual punishment, but plenty of victims have had cruel and unusual things inflicted upon them... Perhaps my response to such things is a bit tinged by the fact that my grandfather was murdered. Should Bernard Madoff be fed only dog food? I myself would feed him to the dogs.....

#Comment Re: made: 2009-12-09 02:03:51.556623+00 by: m

I have serious problems with the death penalty. While it is difficult to equate suffering, I suspect the damage and pain caused by an Enron or a Madoff far exceeds anything that resulted from say the Fort Hood shootings or Ted Bundy. Fifty billion dollars is equivalent to decent retirement for 50,000 couples. As opposed to living on dogfood if all someone has is SS.