Friday, July 24, 2009

New Jersey Corruption

The latest news about the New Jersey corruption case is pretty startling.

The list of names of those arrested range in age from 28 to 87. They include people from every decade between those ages. They include men and women. They include white and black Americans. They include many people of Jewish faith (especially among the Syrian and Hassidic Jews), but also others with other faiths (including Christians). They include Democrats (mostly) and also Republicans.

AP photo

What is it that ties these diverse people together?

Apparently, greed, a lack of real moral ethics and opportunity.

The comments in response to the articles look very much like those we see here in Saipan--with a large group applauding the arrests, condemning those arrested, hoping the feds will clean up the state mess; and others pointing fingers at other alleged crooks, trying to use this as a reason to criticize President Obama, castigating Jews, Democrats, New Jersey, etc.

It's all interesting.

edit: For a great summary, read this. For some history on Solomon Dwek (the cooperating witness), his rabbi father Isaac Dwek and uncle (also a rabbi?) Joseph Dwek, wife Pearl, and former business associates, the Adjmi's (one of whom is married to Joseph Dwek), and the twisted way in which they used "faith" to further their greed, check out this article.


cactus said...

It is interesting and true that, as you note, the responses to this incident "look like those we see on Saipan."

This is reflective of a larger truth, which is that all kinds of bizarre things happen all the time in the states that, if the same things had happened on Saipan, would immediately be seized upon as evidence of some uniquely local CNMI propensity for dysfunction.

For example, in New York, the state legislature was recently paralyzed for months from doing anything because of an equal split of Democrats and Republicans in the Senate, two renegade Democrats having joined the Republicans to create a new Republican majority, one of whom then quickly switched back to the Democrats. (There was no Lieutenant Governor to break the tie because the Governor had formerly been the Lieutenant Governor, but had ascended in office when the former Governor resigned in a prostitution scandal!) On one occasion, the Democrats met in the Senate chamber and blocked the hallway outside (whether purposely or not is unclear), leading a single unwitting Republican Senator to make a shortcut through the chamber, whereupon the Democrats immediately declared that a quorum existed and passed a bunch of bills, the legitimacy of which was immediately disputed. The Governor attemped to resolve the situation by appointing a new Lieutentant Governor, but the state constitution does not provide for this, and the legitimacy of the appointment was also immediately disputed. The matter was finally resolved only when the remaining renegade Senator switched back to the Democrats, which he did only when they agreed to make him majority leader!

So anyway, we may be a little wacky here sometimes, but we are not as uniquely wacky as we sometimes like to think we are.

Saipan Writer said...

Great story, Cactus.

It's important to keep things in perspective.

I love this: "...we are not as uniquely wacky as we sometimes like to think we are."


cactus said...

Back to New Jersey, I particularly like the fact that a lot of the shady dealing was going on in the town of "Deal," N.J.

Don't you wish, as a novelist, that you could make up stuff like that?

Saipan Writer said...

You are so right, Cactus. Truth is so inventive, it's a wonder novelists stand a chance at all.

But then there's this mind-boggling aspect: how clueless some of those arrested were. The rabbis had to know Solomon Dwek personally. They must have known of his arrest a few years ago.

They were engaged in a sophisticated money-laundering scheme. They're educated, multi-lingual, sholars. And yet they didn't suspect that Sol might be working with the feds? Did they just assume his other legal problems evaporated?

I'm also keen on how the public corruption scandal unraveled. One guy introduced them to one crooked official, who put them in touch with two others, who introduced them to some more...

So while aspects of the story are totally original (like Deal!), others are almost trite. A theme of "the domino effect" or "it takes one to know one?"

or this trite maxim--it takes a thief to catch a thief.


cactus said...

I think it's likely that a lot of these people trusted Solomon more than they should have because he was a fellow member of their ethnic and/or religious community. There is always a tendency to give "one of our own" the benefit of the doubt.

I recall an incident where a Mormon con man swindled a lot of his fellow Mormons into investing in a bogus hunt for a lost gold mine in the hills of Utah that was spoken of in some old Mormon legend. One of the victims later remarked that he would have been skeptical of the scheme coming from anyone else, but implicitly trusted his own co-religionist not to lead him astray. The con man, meanwhile, recognized, encouraged, and exploited this very thought process.

You see a lot of this kind of thing on Saipan, where each national group tends to place greater faith in their fellow countrymen than in outsiders, and sometimes get burned for it. The debacle of the Chinese workers who deposited (and lost) their savings at the Long City store in Garapan and the Mary Mini Mart in CK is one example that comes immediately to mind.

Captain said...

Along these same lines as Cactus last post, Years ago in Hawaii when we had the "Japanese Buying Boom" The Japanese were buying up and developing on every island. They literally bought up most of Hawaii and built golf courses, hotels, subdivisions etc.
The biggest con men to come along were the Japanese themselves. Manyy the "Nisei" (second generation) and the rest of the island born Japanese,although this also brought out people from Japan and the "Yakusa"
It was Japanese screwing Japanese on "Big deals" This was because they would trust their own race before they would trust an outside race.
This is one of the reasons to the big bust, among other circumstances in Japan.
Point being it seems to follow within each nationality now matter in what part of the world.In Saipan because of it's size it is more noticeable.