What I will set out to document (again)

Bernie Madoff’s $50 billion dollar Ponzi scheme came to mind as I begin to recreate Moonrider. According to the news all sorts of people were shocked and stunned—how could this have happened? Well, not everyone was surprised. Back in 2001, Barron’s had published an article by Erin Arvedlund raising serious questions. So did Harry Markopolos who had begun his crusade two years earlier. And so did the former MAR/Hedge newsletter back in 2001. All of them had done their due diligence; they had researched and interviewed and examined and put a lot of thought into what results Madoff Securities said it was getting and realized it just couldn’t add up. Something was very, very wrong.

But somehow the Securities and Exchange Commission ignored those warnings, and so did investors and analysts and even those running other hedge funds. But despite their best and painstakingly sourced efforts (see Markopolos’ 2005 filing with the SEC here) nothing was done. Arvelund, writing in 2008 about that 2001 article, put it painfully simply, “Then there was nothing, silence.”

Instead, Wall Street lionized Madoff. He had, “rabid, religious fans” who “revered him.” He was brilliant and a legend—even if they believed, as this one article says, he was cheating to get those returns—it just made them admire him more. And because it was the legendary Madoff, apparently people didn’t do their due diligence—or must have written off those who did raise the alarm as Chicken Littles running about saying the sky is falling.

What if people had heeded those questions raised back then? What if the Ponzi scheme had been revealed when it was only a $3ish billion dollar hedge fund a bull market? Instead Madoff only came clean when it was a $50 billion dollar fund in a bear market.

That’s why I’m thinking of Madoff as Moonrider rises once again from the ashes. While Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF), the erstwhile authority on motorcycle training and safety, is no Madoff with other people’s billions, the motorcycle industry still is a multi-billion dollar field and the the motorcycle manufacturers’ front group, MSF, certainly has its rabid, religious fans who revere it as investors revered Madoff. Unlike Madoff who defrauded people of money, inadequate and dangerous training has cost people their lives or well-being.

I have in the past and will again document:

è How MSF was designed to be and continues as a front group for the motorcycle manufacturers to evade government regulation.

è That the MSF, Motorcycle Industry Council (MIC) and Specialty Vehicle Institute of America are legally sister organizations sharing far more than office quarters.

è How and in what ways the current curriculum was “dumbed-down” from earlier iterations.

è How and why the current curriculum was designed to increase motorcycle sales.

è How MSF persuaded states to allow the driver’s license-waiver upon course graduation because it was too difficult for riders to pass the test at their DMV.

è How MSF is currently revising the motorcycle licensing tests in ways that will make it even easier for riders to pass.

è The long history of studies stretching from the 1980s until now that reveal MSF curriculum is, at best, not effective in reducing crashes and, at worst, make graduates more at-risk of a crash.

è How MSF knew that the curriculum was ineffective and changed their legal language to protect themselves yet continued to promote its curricular products and national and international reputation as if the curriculum was both effective and safe.

è How MSF curriculum and licensing tests fall far short of training in many other countries which have a far lower motorcyclist fatality rates.

è How the MSF used motorcycle rights groups to further its control of rider education.

è A pattern of abuse, intimidation and threat to exert and extend control of rider education in various states.

è The decision to use education and training to protect the corporations from product liability suits from defective products.

è The efforts to coerce states and independent providers into giving the manufacturers a blanket liability waiver even against their own negligence.

è The secret Franchise Plan developed in the early 80s that mapped out the demise of all rider education that was not under MSF’s direct control.

è And last, but not least, a systematic public relations effort to firmly establish in the public mindset that motorcyclists are responsible for outcomes no matter what the cause of the crash.

è A concerted public relations effort to attribute the rising motorcyclist death toll on older riders who have returned to riding despite no evidence (and some studies showing otherwise) that it is true.

In short, I documented a systematic decades-long efforts of multi-billion dollar corporations to use education in the most hard-headed and callous way to both sell motorcycles even as they stripped consumers of their ability to sue and win in product liability suits.

And like Arvelund, Markopolos and MAR/Hedge, I’ve been saying for years that MSF’s actions just don’t add up. Unlike Arvelund, I couldn’t say, “Then there was nothing, silence.” That was true when it came to any action on the part of anyone who had power to question, challenge and call MSF to accountability. And a great many in the motorcycling community wrote me off like the SEC wrote off Markopolos, I was seen as a crank, a fanatic. I was dismissed as “anti-MSF” as if that was a bad thing. As if it didn’t matter what the manufacturers were doing to motorcycling as a whole and motorcyclists as individuals.

But I take comfort from Arvelund, Markopolos and MAR/Hedge. Just like them I haven’t had an effect. So far. But one day, I believe, it will be different. And then, if the parallels to Madoff hold true, it won’t be as a result of my efforts and that’s all right.

I can only hope that it won’t be because there’s more deaths during rider training.

At that time, I hope, what I put up here will be a source for those who want and need to know more when that day comes.

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Explore posts in the same categories: Motorcycle Safety, Motorcycle Training, Uncategorized

One Comment on “What I will set out to document (again)”

  1. BusaBoy Says:

    Moonrider wrote: “At that time, I hope, what I put up here will be a source for those who want and need to know more when that day comes. ” – Moonrider, it already is!

    It seems that not only has MoonRider returned refreshed and recharged, she has a game plan – watch out boys, this gals on fire.

    I for one am eager to here more; especially in these three topics:
    1 – “The efforts to coerce states and independent providers into giving the manufacturers a blanket liability waiver even against their own negligence.”

    2 – “And last, but not least, a systematic public relations effort to firmly establish in the public mindset that motorcyclists are responsible for outcomes no matter what the cause of the crash.”

    3 – “A concerted public relations effort to attribute the rising motorcyclist death toll on older riders who have returned to riding despite no evidence (and some studies showing otherwise) that it is true.”

    btw – I know of states that have (and others that are in the process of doing so) “modified” their skills test into something that better evaluates a riders ability to control their machine.

    Be Safe – Ride Happy,
    ~BusaBoy


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