Law and Order versus Coddling Criminals
If you took a survey asking the public to name today’s most burning issues, the harsh treatment of corporate thieves probably wouldn’t be high on the list.
Eliot Spitzer, New York State Attorney General, has become practically a folk hero to investors for his prosecution of corporate sleaze. Among other achievements, he helped craft a $1.4 billion settlement with Wall Street banks over fraudulent stock research, and he filed suit over the multi-million dollar golden parachute given to Richard Grasso, outgoing head of the New York Stock Exchange.
Now, the president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is complaining about Spitzer’s ruthless prosecution, calling it “the most egregious and unacceptable form of intimidation that we have seen in this country in modern times."
In a similar vein, the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to review the obstruction of justice conviction of Arthur Andersen, the accounting firm which shredded numerous incriminating Enron documents.
Now, this is the same country that has sentenced thousands of victimless “criminals” to huge prison terms for possession of microscopic amounts of marijuana. Thousands of other people have had their property – homes, businesses, life savings– confiscated by the government if their property was somehow remotely connected with that big bugaboo – Drugs!!
And yet CEOs and senior executives who gouge billions of dollars out of their employees and shareholders and customers, are being treated too harshly when they finally have to show some accountability.
Is there any logic here?