Opinion

Money, Power & Greed: A look ahead at 2011

Bill Regardie Founder, Regardie's Magazine

On behalf of the American Communication Forum, I am proud to announce the 2010 Madoff Awards. Thanks to grants from WikiLeaks and Goldman Sachs, here are the winners.

As usual, there are no cash prizes. Nor are there plaques. Nor trophies. The best we can do is to try to persuade our partners in government not to indict. But we don’t have much sway — our committee is registered in the Cayman Islands.

While there is no precise order, here are the companies and organizations that deserve special merit and exceeded Jack Abramoff’s standards and values.

Distinguished Achievement in the Environment: To the Massey Coal Company — now for sale — and its chairman, Don Blankenship. In 2010, this company’s mine was responsible for America’s worst mine disaster in 50 years, where 27 miners lost their lives. However, the company’s greatest achievement will be in increasing the number of violations needed to close down a mine: Formerly it took 40 slips, but after intense lobbying from Massey and oodles of donations by Blankenship, it should now take 500 “Oops!” moments annually to force action. Last year, Massey only had 127. The company also set new lows in water pollution, destroying food/natural resources and wildlife, and shearing off mountaintops. We especially honor former VP Dave D. Stroyer for the Nobel-worthy line: “You can’t have hillside homes if trees are on the hillsides, and if you’re getting rid of the trees, you might as well get inside the mountain.”

Chutzpah in Financial Incentives: To the Edison Institute of Jersey City for accepting a $5 million grant from its sister city, Shanghai, China, to move its headquarters and research lab there. In announcing the move, Edison President L.C. Dee said simply, “They bought us,” which, after all, is the Jersey way. The patents will belong to the Chinese, though Dee will receiver a generous 401(k) retirement package, a new Mercedes 550 and a bust of his likeness erected in Tiananmen Square.

Innovation is our Number One Product: The Remington Rifle Company last year dropped the, ahem, oversensitive trigger of the Remington 500 rifle and replaced it with a knockoff of a Russian Kalashnikov automatic rifle. Though the Kalashnikov is only good for killing people, a Remington spokesman said: “This SOB will slaughter a deer at 30 yards. Only problem is that you’ll just have hamburger left.”

Bankers/Realtors Discover Mother Lode: Following a little-noticed Virginia legislative ruling in late 2010 that home foreclosures can be carried out in as little as two weeks, bankers and real estate firms rammed through similar legislation across the country. Real estate profits soared as homes turned over as many as three times in one year. One house sold and settled five times. GNP jumped 2% nationally on this scam alone.

Chestnuts Roasting on Open Fire: In a rush to bring its new electric Chestnut compact car to market, China’s Ding Ding Motors took a few shortcuts with alternators and batteries. Though it sold 90,000 cars in its first three months, electrical shorts resulted in 15% of the cars catching on fire and passengers suffering second-degree burns or worse. On the positive side, the cars smelled toasty, and the company launched an effective PR campaign with the slogan “85% of our vehicles are awesome!” Ding Ding says the goal for the second year is to get the burn rate down to 10%.

William Regardie is the founder of Regardie Magazine.