May 30, 2023
Audio Features
Bernstein With a Twist
This is a weekly program with commentary on current issues.
A woman walks into a bar. (Stop me if you’ve heard this.)

She thinks it’s a gold bar. It’s really brass. How much did it cost her to discover the difference?

Five thousand clams!

That’s the punch line of our story about the 26-year-old Murrieta mark, I mean, young woman, who was scammed outside a Wal-Mart:

A fifty-ish woman asked the mark for directions to a jewelry store. Said she wanted to sell three gold bars. A male “stranger” joined in and volunteered to dash to Wal-Mart’s jewelry counter to have the gold appraised. (If I wanted to get a hunka-hunka gold appraised, that’s the first place I’d go, too.)

Upon his return, the gent told the women the gold bars were worth $12K each. But our Murrieta mark was offered the chance to buy one (just one!) for $5,000.

The needle on her greed-o-meter must have veered to the red zone. She bellied up to the bar and parted with her money, cash! only to learn she had become the proud owner of polished brass. (Might make a right fine trombone.)

I bet most readers (moi included) shook their heads and clucked, “How could she fall for something like that?”

Then I thought about all the smart people who fell for those too-good-to-be-true mortgages, zero down, interest only, something for nothing, pop goes the balloon.

Then I thought about all the smart people who ponied up billions for Madoff Madness, licking their chops at the prospect of reaping non-stop double-digit returns on their investments.

Then I thought about those AIG rogues and their $165 million in “performance” bonuses. (Yeah, I know. Those folks don’t quite fit the pattern because right now it looks like their greed is paying dividends!)

It doesn’t take an SAT question to figure out that there’s a common thread that runs from the sidewalks of Wal-Mart to the skyscrapers of Wall Street.

Some might dispute the premise that, “Greed is Good”. But no one can deny it’s alive and well and (except for AIG execs and their ilk) worth its weight in brass.
Episode Date: March 20, 2009
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