Let’s dispense first with the idea that the S.E.C. should be reimbursing Madoff victims. Why? Government agencies make mistakes, treat people unfairly and do all sorts of things we all wish they wouldn’t. But by law, the federal government cannot be sued when it carries out an unjust prosecution or, for that matter, when it fails to uncover a giant fraud. Government negligence led pretty directly to the recent financial crisis. Does that mean the feds should be reimbursing us for our stock market losses? Of course not. Because it’s not really the S.E.C. that would be paying out the money — it would be the taxpayers. Why should my tax dollars go to helping Madoff victims? This is not 9/11.