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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Dec. 19, 2008 / 22 Kislev 5769

Restoring trust

By Linda Chavez


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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | The shocking story of Bernard Madoff and his alleged $50 billion Ponzi scheme have implications that go well beyond the wealthy individuals and charities who were bilked of their money. As in all such scandals, this one involves a betrayal of trust. And trust ultimately is what allows economies, large and small, to function. Without it, our entire system of money would collapse.


What Madoff is alleged to have done is to create an upside-down pyramid in which he paid his investors phony "profits" from new investors' capital, while skimming off most of the money for himself. The scheme works only so long as new investors can be found to continue making payments to earlier investors, or until someone discovers the chicanery. In Madoff's case, his own children blew the whistle when they realized what he was doing.


Still, you wonder: How could so many savvy people be duped by the oldest trick in the book? Madoff's investors weren't naifs. They were some of the most astute investors around, including other billionaires who had made their own money largely by being meticulously careful in how they chose to invest. But they trusted Madoff because many of them knew him personally.


Madoff was no fly-by-night snake oil salesman. He lived and worked in the community. He was involved in the same charities as his investors. He was a co-religionist who, his investors believed, shared the same values and commitment to a strong code of ethics that would insure against deception and thievery. And so, investors handed over millions of dollars to a man they thought they knew and could trust, without doing due diligence.


"What fools," you say? "I'd never hand over my money without checking the guy out." But in fact, we do hand over our money, figuratively and literally, every day without hesitating. And we do so because we trust individuals, institutions, and our government. Trust is what makes the economic world go round.


In an important new book, "The Ascent of Money: A Financial History of the World," Niall Ferguson explains it this way: "When an American exchanges his goods or his labor for a fistful of dollars, he is essentially trusting (Treasury secretary) Hank Paulson (and by implication the Chairman of the Federal Reserve System, Ben Bernanke) not to manufacture so many of these things that they end up being worth no more than the paper they are printed on. (M)oney is a matter of belief, even faith: belief in the person paying us; belief in the person issuing the money he uses or the institution that honors his checks or transfers. Money is ... trust inscribed."


And once trust breaks down, the system itself collapses. What is worrisome in today's troubled economy is that trust seems to be dissolving before our eyes. Why have banks stopped lending? Why are people pulling their money out of the stock market, driving down the Dow and NASDAQ? Why are people afraid to buy houses?


It all boils down to trust. Banks don't trust that debtors — companies, individuals, even other banks — will pay back the money they lend, so they stop lending. Investors don't trust that companies will be able to earn profits in the near future, so they stop investing. Ordinary people don't trust that the home they buy will be worth what they paid for it in a year or even a few months, so they hesitate buying.


This breakdown in trust feeds on itself. Distrust becomes self-perpetuating and contagious.


The challenge will be how best to restore trust — and to do so in ways that do not jeopardize freedom or the efficiencies of the market. As Ferguson's book illustrates, larcenies like the Madoff scheme or stock and real estate bubbles like the ones we've experienced over the last decade are nothing new and will, no doubt, occur again. But if we are to live and prosper in communities that extend beyond our immediate family members we must fall back on mutual trust, even when it sometimes fails us.

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JWR contributor Linda Chavez is President of the Center for Equal Opportunity. Her latest book is "Betrayal: How Union Bosses Shake Down Their Members and Corrupt American Politics". (Click HERE to purchase. Sales help fund JWR.)

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© 2006, Creators Syndicate

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