»The Honest Truth by Ajit Dayal

MJ's doctor in jail-if in finance would be free and rich

The Wall Street Journal, in its November 30, 2011 issue wrote: "A judge sentenced Michael Jackson's doctor to four years in a county jail for his role in the pop singer's 2009 death, calling Conrad Murray 'a disgrace to the medical profession' in blistering remarks... Judge Michael Pastor of Los Angeles Superior Court said Dr. Murray's $150,000-a-month post with the pop star constituted 'money for madness medicine'.

Dr. Murray was found guilty of "involuntary manslaughter after treating Mr. Jackson's insomnia with a powerful sedative".

Apparently days after his conviction, an interview with the good doctor aired on MSNBC. Doctor Murray said he felt no guilt and he did nothing wrong. He blamed Michael Jackson for his own death. To which Judge Pastor, while handing down the sentence, reportedly said, "Yipes! Talk about blaming the victim."

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No body, no die

Dr Murray should never have studied medicine and then decided to practice it. He should have been in the financial services field. He was in the right country: USA. And he had the right kind of clients - judging by the fact that he was close to pop music legend, Michael Jackson.

His $150,000 a post with the pop star is impressive. That works out to $ 1.8 million a year. Not easy to beat even in the greed-ridden financial services sector. But, given that Dr Murray is 58 years old, he would have had a 30-year track record in the field of finance. With 30 years of networking, chances are he could have been generating more than $1.8 million per annum in salaries and bonuses. Yes, Dr Murray could have made it to the coveted post of a "Big Swinging D" or "Rainmaker".

In addition to the salary and the bonus, which would make 99% of the 99% so ecstatic that they would die of a heart attack, there are the perks.

With MJ the Doctor got to visit PlayLand and hang around with some weird people doing some weird things. But, with a Wall Street firm, he could potentially have been set up with free alcohol, free drugs, and fun-loving women. Of course, he would have to get the clients in on it. And, as shown in the documentary "The Inside Job", no investigator would ever worry about whether such practices could be "bribes".

More importantly, if Dr. Murray had really made it big in the field of finance, he may have gotten the crucial ingredient of mega-success: inside information.

The good doctor could have been part of the old boy networks that seem to keep the money in the rarefied club of a select few.

Maybe Dr Murray would have been invited to the special lunch with Hank Paulson in July 21, 2008 to discuss the various options facing the US government to solve the financial crisis. Including the shutting down of government-owned entities: Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae.

While people are still debating on whether the Hank lunch (with his mostly ex-Goldman colleagues) was a violation of "insider trading" or "ethical" rules and practices -or whether anyone present profited from the lunch or not - that is an academic question. I mean if you get invited to any sort of high-powered lunch with a dozen other people, think of what you can learn on a one-to-one cigar-chomping meeting.

With access to the right people, not only are you "the 1%" but you are the "1% of the 1% of the 1%". Based on the US population of some 350 million and a global population of some 7 billion, that kind of equals the number of Goldman partners "doing God's work" and a bunch of other less religiously blessed (but equally wealthy) lesser mortals. Yes, Dr. Murray, with his commitment to his clients' well-being could easily have been "the Man".

And the best part is Dr. Murray would not have been sent to jail.

Michael Jackson died in 2009 and - within 2 years - Murray is tried, found guilty, and sentenced.

Lehman went bust in 2008; there have been over a dozen books and hundreds of articles about the role of the crooked. There have been government hearings. And there have been millions of minutes of media coverage. But, eh, has anyone gone to jail?

To be tried for murder, there needs to be a body.

No body, no blood, no allegation.

That is the beauty of the field of finance. Your bad advice or your selfish greed - or both - can disrupt lives and can disrupt families. But you get to keep the bonus and all the stuff that money can buy. And bought.

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We did it, we did it!

As has been noted by many, the guilty have given their confessions in public. Chuck Prince, the then CEO of Citibank, confessed that he could not stop dancing. They all knew the music would stop, said the Prince. They all knew the stuff they were doing was reckless, but they had to keep dancing.

Why "had to" you may ask? Because, dear victim, their bonus pools would swell the more they danced. Just as the tax payers bail-out of the failed also would swell. But that was not their problem.

Though, admittedly, not everyone was in it merely for the money. Lloyd Blankfein, the CEO of Goldman - again a very different breed even amongst the 1% - said he was doing "God's work".

Funny, but that is what bin Laden said, too. But, like Dr. Murray, bin Laden left behind a lot of blood and bodies. They finally got bin Laden - and he got what he deserved.

Judge Pastor, who delivered the sentencing on Dr. Murray, was shocked that this doctor gave his patients whatever medicines they wanted. As a doctor, he should have known that the patient's body was in danger.

But poor Dr. Murray just acted like the regular people in the financial services industry. The financial geniuses knew that there was too much risk in the action of many clients. But, did they warn them? Did they protest and quit and say, "No loans from me, baby!"? Not that we know of. In fact, they were probably happy peddling the stuff a-la Dr Murray style. They kept on dancing.

And, yes, they still blame the borrowers: they should have known better many tell me. Out of 100 home loans, maybe 1 was mis-sold. The other 99% wanted to gamble on the real estate market. It was not the fault of the bankers. But, did they try to stop them? Were they sophisticated enough to understand the risks and the consequences of what would happen when the music stopped. Did the financial geniuses not understand? And if the financial folks did not understand, what were they getting paid all this money for? Like Judge Pastor remarked: "Yipes, talk about blaming the victim."

But there is no body, so there is no murder.

And the thugs are still around waiting to knock you out any which way they can.

After all there is still a lot of "God's work" left to be done.

Dr. Murray, you could have been part of that evangelist mission - being a doctor was a bad career choice.

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Disclaimer: The Honest Truth is authored by Ajit Dayal. Ajit is a Director at Quantum Advisors Pvt. Ltd and Quantum Asset Management Company Pvt. Ltd. The views mentioned above are of the author only. Data and charts, if used, in the article have been sourced from available information and has not been authenticated by any statutory authority. The author, Equitymaster, Quantum AMC and Quantum Advisors do not claim it to be accurate nor accept any responsibility for the same. Please read the detailed Terms of Use of the web site. To write to Ajit, please click here.