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The International Writers Magazine: New York Archives

Any Given Friday in New York
• Dean Borok
There are standards for determining world corruption on a nation-by-nation basis, with Nigeria leading the pack. I can’t complain. I have come into contact with many educated people in the legal services industry, and on an anecdotal basis I can testify that I have never met one who was committed to performing a full day’s work.

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They disappear from their desks for hours at a time, and can frequently be found in the lavatory chatting on their cell phones. It’s almost as though they consider the workplace to be an ignoble environment that is ill-befitting of their natural nobility in life.

The workplace may not be an equitable standard for evaluating people’s character. I always killed myself to do the job, but it availed me little. Nevertheless, I found it preferable to a career of subservience, scheming and cronyism. I always felt that one day the chickens would come home to roost for those who cut corners, and that day has dawned, with the Obama’s administration’s new emphasis on honesty and transparency in financial services. The ongoing economic nightmare has exposed an equal opportunity of stinking corruption that transcends racial distinctions. On any given day in New York City a glance at the tabloid press is enough to bring revulsion to the discriminating observer who, fortunately or unfortunately, are few and far between, depending on your point of view.

The great American novelist of far-west cowboy stories, Louis L’Amour, once opined that this great nation was built as much on the larceny and thieving of its criminal class as upon the honest labor of its aspiring citizens. I think he meant the great capitalists and engineers who stole on a mass scale, rather than the garden variety chiselers, loafers and scumbags who infect daily life on a casual basis, but it’s hard to discern where one ends and the other begins.

In the Daily News of Friday, June 15, there was a jolly little item about how the City of New York is ceding, free of charge, 23 acres of land in Willets Point, Queens, for which it paid $500 million in taxpayer money, to Mets chairman and CEO Fred Wilpon, who owns the adjacent baseball stadium, for development of a retail, entertainment and hotel complex. According to the agreement, Wilpon does not even have to begin work on the property for another 13 years.

This Wilpon almost lost his shirt last year (2011) when the bankruptcy trustee responsible for recouping illicit gains resulting from the Madoff pyramid racket tried to claw back a billion dollars in illicit profits that Madoff, a Mets fan, paid to Wilpon so that Madoff could use Wilpon’s name as bait to lure other suckers to invest. Wilpon’s lawyers managed to squeak out a court ruling allowing him to keep the money, and now he is onto bigger and better scams (my interpretation).

All of this largess is compliments of New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has not been shy about spreading his own money around to buy himself three terms as mayor, although not with my vote. Unfortunately, Bloomberg’s money was not stretched far enough to buy my vote, or I would not be writing this now.

Unlike Rudolph Giuliani, a monstrous little creep whom I had the misfortune to run into on several occasions, (I only live a couple of blocks from the Mayor’s Official Residence), I only met Bloomberg one time, but that was the black letter date of 9/11, when we came face-to-face at the polling station for the New York mayoral primary. For me, Bloomberg was just another rich guy who was using his money to buy the Republican nomination, and I am a Democrat. I just got out of the way of him and his entourage without shaking his hand. Sept. 11 was a black letter day for me in more than one sense, since that is the day I ended up getting back with my ex-girlfriend, but that is another story, which deserves its own book.

Bloomberg is very tough on crime at the street level, but at the boardroom level he is rather more indulgent, having been allegedly thick as thieves with various malefactors since biblical times. It’s easy to go after the small fry, and New York is infested with nothing but low-end chiselers of every denomination, like the fat transit authority executive who got her girlfriend an $85,000 job so that she could sit around her desk and play video games.

In the meantime, hotshot MBA Rajat Gupta, a former director of Goldman Sachs and Proctor & Gamble, and also the former chairman of the stratospherically influential consulting group McKinsey and Co., was convicted of conniving with convicted Galleon Group chairman Raj Rajaratnam to commit insider trading based on evidence that he shared confidential information from Goldman board meetings with Rajaratnam, who traded on it ahead of the market. Rajaratnam got an 11 year term, and Gupta will not be far behind. All I can say is that in the face of this kind of success, I do not feel so badly considering the low level of my own achievements.

This is why the Republicans are so hot to get rid of Obama. Under a Romney administration none of these investigations would have taken place and none of these cases would have gone to court. Stealing was the natural order of the universe unfolding as it should, and what is left trickles down to you.

© Dean Borok July 2012

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