Feds should not audit
Terrorists are not to blame for the current
state of the American economy ... nor is the Bush Tax Cut of 2001, or even
the relative weakness of the dollar on foreign exchange markets. It's reasonably
safe to say that the economy has taken a downturn in recent months thanks
to the greed of a few wealthy
What all started with Enron has trickled
down to Arthur Andersen, WorldCom, Adelphia, Qwest and other huge corporations.
The greed of a select few had the
capacity to bring down an entire company.
The current level of mistrust between the
public and corporate America has caused the stock market to sink to levels
not seen since 1998. The resulting blow
to most people's 401K plans and retirement
funds has caused both spending and consumer confidence to plummet. Just
as our economy was showing
signs of recovery from the mild recession
of '01, corporate scandal slowed everything down.
Oh, sure, the economy will recover. But
economists like Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan are now saving
their optimism for next year, not this one.
Even low interest rates, low inflation
and recent increases in personal income have failed to stimulate spending,
primarily because people no longer trust the
stock market, or the people who manipulate
the numbers for these huge companies.
Last week — under enormous pressure from
an increasingly frustrated American public — President Bush signed a bill
into law to increase enforcement of
accounting laws. The new law would also
give the Securities and Exchange Commission additional powers to investigate
corporations and permit the
prosecution of corporate big-wigs who
use their companies to get rich quick, then ram them into the ground, leaving
In response, most Americans cheered, "It's
Am I the only one who has a problem with
this? Doesn't anyone else find it ironic that the federal government is
now trying to step in as a role model for
corporate board members? And just who,
pray tell, takes a look at the government's books?
Ever had a fat person recommend you order
a salad? How about a smoker telling you that you shouldn't have a cold
beer because it's bad for your liver? And
what about the proverbial pot that called
the kettle black? Do Americans want the U.S. government to crack down on
The U.S. government has been in debt since
the early 1800s. Even after about 600 tries, Congress hasn't passed a Balanced
Budget Amendment that would
require the government not to spend more
than it earns. These people spend $2,000 on toilet seats and monitor fish
populations in dry lakebeds. As if our
government didn't have fun telling us
what we can and cannot do, now they're going to teach corporate America
Here's a fact: You can't legislate decency.
You can't suddenly make a law that says all CEO's must be nice, kind-hearted
human beings, nor can you make a
law that allows the government to take
care of the bookkeeping for all these companies.
Want to know how crooked the government's
books are? A government watchdog group called Citizens Against Government
Waste found during over the last
five years, the government has spent $142
billion more than it has taken in. Last year alone, more than $17 billion
in "investor capital" — your tax dollars —
was lost by inept government accountants.
Where private companies might go out of
business with such practices, government agencies get a larger staff and
a bigger budget.
Look at the government's two most noticeable
offenders: the U.S. Postal Service and Amtrak. The Post Office hasn't made
a profit since '97, and Amtrak, even
after 30 years, is still waiting for its
first year in the black.
Frankly, my friends, we should be frightened.
Our government has neither the capacity nor the ethical standards to regulate
what CEOs can and cannot do.
Yes, the fat cats at the top of the corporate
food chain need some sort of ethical standards. Yes, they must be held
accountable if something goes wrong. But
do we, as Americans, really want to look
towards our government for an example of ethics and budgetary sensibility?
Caster, a senior petroleum