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Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
208.726.8060 Voice
208.726.2329 Fax

Copyright © 2002 Express Publishing Inc.
All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited. 

For the week of October 2 - 8, 2002


Our growing greed culture

When it 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 hallucinogenic fantasy.

Little did we know that yesterday’s fiction would become today’s bleak reality.

As 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.

A rot unparalleled in U.S. business history is eating its way through major corporations as well as other institutions.

CEOs and 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 communities.

Corporate 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 executives.

One board paid its chief financial officer a $44 million bonus the day before he resigned in disgrace and was indicted by a grand jury.

Because 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.

However, 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.

The most 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?

A few changes in the law are welcome, but insufficient.

A more fitting step toward remedies to criminal fraud would be newspaper photos and TV tape of more corporate bigwigs being hauled off in handcuffs.

As John 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."



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The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.