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'Genius of Capitalism' Let Out of the Bottle

January 16, 2002

Re "Officials Defend Not Sounding Alarm on Enron," Jan. 14: Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill and Commerce Secretary Don Evans should be allowed to state under oath that they did not tell the president of Enron's pending bankruptcy. This was Dubya's moneybag--past, present and future--and they didn't think it important enough to inform him?

That is not credible. The last presidential election was ugly. The next one should be worse.

Glenn Yokum

Barstow

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If O'Neill and Evans had come out and warned the public about the trouble of Enron, who would still buy Enron stock? Wouldn't O'Neill and Evans be accused of driving down Enron's stock?

Ringo Li

South Pasadena

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O'Neill's contention that "I don't go across the street and tell the president every time somebody calls me" is about the weakest defense I've heard in my life. One of the largest corporations in the world is saying it is in trouble and needs help from the U.S. government and O'Neill doesn't even call President Bush?

[Enron Corp. Chairman] Kenneth Lay is a close friend of the Bush family and O'Neill doesn't call Bush? Is it possible Bush might have been watching "Fox News Sunday" on Sunday and not a football game when he choked on that pretzel?

Dave Gunall

Ventura

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O'Neill describes the theft of thousands of hard-working, loyal workers' jobs and retirement funds by a small handful of far-wealthier men as "part of the genius of capitalism." If despicable corporate behavior such as Enron-gate continues to be ignored and condoned (only after being exposed, of course) by our highest government officials, aren't we being told that crime does indeed pay? If you're running a corporation, that is.

Why do we have thousands upon thousands of petty, two-bit criminals behind bars, many for doing drugs that only harmed themselves, while people like Lay and his higher rungs get awarded "genius" status when they've just ruined thousands of lives and made off with their loot? O'Neill's callous remark, further evidence of the true pro-business/anti-worker nature of our suddenly beloved president who appointed him, offers us another shining, some would say genius, example of "compassionate conservatism."

Victor H. Knowles

Los Angeles

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The Bush administration attempted to distance itself from the Enron disaster by turning a deaf ear to requests for help from high Enron officials. The fear was that any government involvement would appear to be integral to the cozy relationship between Enron and Bush administration officials. Had this relationship not existed, prompt government action (as was done in the cases of Chrysler, Lockheed and Long-Term Capital Management) might have staved off an Enron bankruptcy and thereby mitigated the consequences to Enron employees and investors.

Michael Horstein

Los Angeles

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Try though they may, the Democrat alchemists will have a tough time turning energy into political hay.

Gerald Wright

Los Angeles

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Re "Enron Way: Anything but 'Simple, Straightforward,' " Commentary, Jan. 13: I think there's a perfectly straightforward and simple answer to this mess. Freeze every bank account belonging to the Enron executives who sold all their stock at tremendous profit. Then pay back the employees who weren't allowed to cash their stocks and who lost their pensions and 401(k)s from this money.

Then, give the Enron executives and the Andersen auditors ("Auditor Says It Destroyed Enron Records," Jan. 11) what they deserve--nice long prison sentences. Simple.

Ann Johnston

Thousand Oaks

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