The owners of Long Term Capital Management may have been the earliest winners in the most recent era of what Larry Ribstein has coined the criminalization-of-business lottery.
On the other hand, Jamie Olis may have been the biggest loser.
Martha Stewart lost, but at least never lost her business enterprise. Frank Quattrone also lost, but then he won, although I suspect that he believes that he lost overall.
Subsequently, Theodore Sihpol won while Bill Fuhs and his family lost a year of his life before he won, too. But he and his family will never get that year back.
Then, Ken Lay lost big even though he had a reasonable basis for believing that he should have won. Same with Jeff Skilling.
Meanwhile, mainstream media darlings Steve Jobs and Warren Buffett won, although several of Buffett’s associates did not fare as well. Neither did relative media unknown Greg Reyes.
But General Motors CEO Rick Wagoner appears to be a winner, even though those two Bear Stearns executives probably aren’t.
And who knows about those Lehman Brothers executives — they may be winners, after all? I mean, everyone was doing it, right?
Finally, for awhile, it looked as if David Stockman was going to be a big loser. But in a startling turnaround, Stockman is now a winner.
Just as with a gambling lottery, there is no rhyme or reason as to who wins or loses in the criminalization-of-business lottery.
But in this lottery — which does little or nothing to deter the true business criminals of the world — the losers and their families give up much more than merely money.
A truly civil society would find a better way.