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Straight Up

Bob Richardson

In the “I wish I had said it” department comes a quote from columnist Alan Reynolds on July 25, 2002: “The best way for Congress to `restore investor confidence’ might be to extend its August recess through November.”

This couldn’t be more true. The Congressional corporate witch hunt in recent weeks orchestrated by Democrats and trumpeted by the liberal media could not be more destructive – or more dishonest.

Capitalism, with all its trappings, including corporations, has produced the freest, most productive and most generous to the masses quality of life in the history of the world, to say nothing of supporting quite nicely the likes of Daschle, Gephardt, Brokaw, Rather and etc. Compare our quality of life to any other area on the planet and the discussion is over.

Is it perfect? Not hardly. Are there crooks in business in America? Absolutely. Always have been, always will be, although not nearly as many per capita as in politics, the federal bureaucracy or on the federal bench.

So I can only guffaw at the Congressional dog and pony show grilling corporate executives when Congress has the most fraudulent accounting system known to man and itself laid the groundwork for these corporate scandals.

These pompous, incompetent, ambitious hypocrites in Congress are truly the root of all evil in this country, as I continue to say, and these fraudulent accounting revelations are no exception. Congress set the stage with bought-and-paid-for political favors for high-rolling political contributors called, generically, “corporate executives.” This proposition is offensive enough, but what it gets us is incompetent “solutions” to problems that either don’t exist or Congress doesn’t understand and then doesn’t even read (legislation) before voting to “fix.” And “fix” is certainly an appropriate word here.

I am talking now about accounting/CEO compensation scandals, but the last paragraph applies to all legislation of Congress passed at all times. No exceptions. These folks are simply incompetent at everything except deception and re-election. If you consider the minimal requirements for Congressional office (age and citizenship) under the Constitution, and that these folks have always avoided the real world in favor of a cushy life of power and prestige during which they never have to “produce” anything – except press releases – the evidence is compelling.

The stage was easy to set:

1. SEC rules permit the kind of accounting that was utilized.

2. Previous legislation linked executive compensation to performance as indicated by stock price! Voila, stock options were created and the rest is history (along with your 401(K)/IRA).

3. Then, the amount of executive compensation that could be deducted from taxable income was capped at $1,000,000, so higher compensation had to be paid out of after-tax profits, i.e., options.

4. The icing on the cake was changing SEC Rule 16(b) to provide that executives no longer had to hold the shares for six months, but could sell immediately – before accounting scams were discovered. If you can’t follow this, just think of QWest’s own Joe Nacchio.

Whether we assign these greased tracks to Congressional incompetence or outright dishonesty might not matter except in principle and there are none of those in Washington anyway, so don’t lose any (more) sleep.

So we see the hyprocrisy of the dog and pony shows is staggering and a cover-up as usual. Sort of like a referee seeing and penalizing the second foul, only that is usually innocent.

And does anybody doubt for a minute that the politicians themselves engaged in “insider trading” during the sell-offs? Political contributions are OK, but why not a tidy stock market profit as well?

And then we have to watch as Senator Joe Lieberman, the Democrats’ poster boy, just can’t seem to get around to calling Former Clinton Secretary of the Treasury Robert Rubin, who is known to be involved up to his eyeballs in the Enron scam, to testify. Perhaps we should put the POPE on that investigation. I have an idea it would happen faster!!

None of this would have to be this way if we didn’t have such a compromised and kept, liberal press. Our founders observed and contemplated a suspicious, independent and aggressive press, and we now know it is absolutely essential – and that we don’t have one. Unless and until we insist upon and re-establish a watch-dog media, our political system and concomitant freedoms will continue to deteriorate at an increasing rate. Hey, I’m going down with you, but at least I’m kicking and screaming. What are you doing??

Thanks for listening.

Glenwood Springs resident Bob Richardson’s column runs every other Friday in the Post Independent.


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