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U.S. 'Dependent as Baby' on Confessed Defrauder

May 25, 1985

"As dependent as a newborn baby on its mother" is how the Pentagon is quoted as being (Times, May 14) on the likes of General Electric, confessed defrauder of the American government and the American people, and the ideals on which the nation was founded.

Incidents like this leave me bewildered, angry, and without hope. Am I to believe that in the interest of limiting "Soviet expansionism" we have come to this, a point at which we are forced to admit that we are helpless to address the problem of fraudulent government contractors because we need them too badly? I replay it through my mind: We need to deal with frauds, with crooks who lie and cheat us out of our hard-earned tax dollars? No wonder people avoid paying taxes.

Where is the wonder of the free market that our jovial and oh so sincere President so proudly espouses? Where is the rule of law he so vociferously hails? Where is the resilience and independence of the nation of which I'm constantly hearing from mealy-mouthed political pundits? Helpless against a fraudulent arms dealer, that's where. Held hostage to a defense supplier whose products are ostensibly designed to protect the nation from being overrun by lawless dictatorships intent on stifling our freedom, our markets, our way of life.

We are often told that the battle for our jealously guarded freedoms is taking place even in countries of 3 million or so inhabitants, such as Nicaragua and El Salvador. I would call the attention of those who insist on painting everything in terms of geopolitical strategy, to the destruction of freedom and the rule of law occurring within our own borders when a $1-million wrist slap is levied against a billion-dollar company whose future seems to be ineradicably filled with lucrative government contracts that will continue to swallow tax dollars in order to sustain the indulgent, exorbitant life styles of top executives.

This is a sickening situation. Falsified time cards and misleading job assignments. If Joe's Janitorial Service engaged in such practices Joe would certainly find himself behind bars. But nobody will go to prison for General Electric unless it is some symbolic scapegoat, who in carrying out the orders from the brass, actually told the employees to leave their time cards blank because the taxpayers would pick up the tab.

Like Watergate, the most egregious offenders, those who dream up the schemes of greed, will remain free. And since we need them and have nowhere else to turn in this "free" market to get what they supply, those same schemers will be allowed to remain in charge of future swindles designed to save us from the ruin of state control and totalitarian lawlessness.

In keeping them at the helm we will cling to our cherished values, not the least of which seems to be the right to remain dependent on confessed criminals for important components of our national security. No wonder the Mafia continues to thrive.

JAMES BADHAM

Los Angeles

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