Our growing greed
hit theater screens in the late 1980s, the film "Wall Street"
and the insider trading shenanigans it dramatized were so incredibly
venal and corrupt as to be anything other than a scriptwriter’s
did we know that yesterday’s fiction would become today’s bleak
criminal charges and investigations unfold almost daily about
unspeakable dishonesty on the real Wall Street, actor Michael Douglas’
film character, "Gordon Gekko," has come to life in more vivid
and sleazy dimensions.
unparalleled in U.S. business history is eating its way through major
corporations as well as other institutions.
subordinates in a host of blue ribbon companies who once passed
themselves off as astute executives and generous community do-gooders
have been unmasked as vile thieves so consumed with greed and personal
enrichment that they lied to families, employees, shareholders and their
vice runs deep: directors in many cases conspired willingly in swindles
so staggering as to be incomprehensible. Compliant auditors who freely
concealed expenses in turn aided directors and debt to create
non-existent profits that led to enormous bonuses for corrupt
paid its chief financial officer a $44 million bonus the day before he
resigned in disgrace and was indicted by a grand jury.
news of corporate corruption is reported in spurts, and because talk of
war has overshadowed corporate scandals, the astonishing scope of
corruption in high business places is difficult for Americans to
comprehend in their daily reading.
in a prodigious a wide-angled view of corporate criminal behavior, The
New Yorker magazine’s Sept. 23 issue provides a 14-page compendium
that’ll leave readers sickened, angered and baffled by wrongdoing in
the upper reaches of America’s free enterprise system.
compelling question lingering for most Americans is, who can be trusted
with their pensions and investments, and have the nation’s lawmakers
given too little attention to scandals that affect the livelihoods and
savings of tens of millions?
changes in the law are welcome, but insufficient.
fitting step toward remedies to criminal fraud would be newspaper photos
and TV tape of more corporate bigwigs being hauled off in handcuffs.
Cassidy, author of The New Yorker article wrote: "Maybe they
(photos of handcuffed executives) were (unsavory), but they sent a
salutary message to other senior executives: public companies are social
organizations with social responsibilities. Unless this message is
heeded, the furor over Kenneth Lay and his fellow corporate scoundrels
will gradually fade. And once the economy and the stock market revive,
the greed cycle will start up again."