Reading the astonishing tale of Bernard Madoff and his giant Wall Street ponzi scheme just unearthed in the last couple of days, it suddenly occurred to me that people like Madoff reacted to money the way others did to heroin. They could never get enough of it. They were totally dependent on it. And it clouded all other judgement — practical and moral.
I’m assuming that Madoff was and is a tortured man, but it is difficult to imagine how anyone could live with himself for the amount of time he did, knowing he had betrayed so many friends and colleagues, even, evidently, his own children. Drug addicts behave that way, of course. We all know that. Perhaps we need a new category of mental illness for the money addict. This is not to excuse Madoff. He deserves to go away for life and I imagine he will. But a diagnosis of this nature can help spot the money addicts of the future. They are dangerous, perhaps fatal, to our health.