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Down and Out, Enron Can't Count on Friends

January 22, 2002

Re "Donations Could Taint Probe on Capitol Hill," Jan. 18: Perhaps the politicians, instead of puffing up like indignant bullfrogs over the "outrage" of victimized employees and retirees, should place all of their Enron political contributions in a fund to assist those victims.

This would clear the way for a reasonable public review of the problem without accusations of conflict of interest. Also, they might be more inclined to freeze the assets of the perpetrators, "pending investigation," if they didn't feel so spotlighted by their own ethically questionable, even if perfectly legal, gains.

Tim Arehart

Villa Park

*

Re "Enron: A Scandal So Good That It Hurts," by John Balzar, Commentary, Jan. 18: The culpability for the Enron-related crimes also rests with a majority of average U.S. citizens, who admire (or did) people like Ken Lay as American heroes of commerce. Maybe after the U.S. press wakes up and exhibits more courage (a column like this is a start), so too will enough U.S. citizens.

Before we can begin to demand more accountability from politicians, we have to take a hard look at the rot that has taken hold in our culture. Then, after we begin electing accountable politicians, they will in turn enforce more accountability and transparency in U.S. business culture. At least for a while, until the pendulum swings back (again) to our current free-for-all business ethics.

Stan Burnitt

Sao Paulo, Brazil

*

Balzar seems to imply that greed and avarice are phenomena of the 21st century (and of the Bush administration in particular). He appears to be suffering from an extreme form of historical myopia. He apparently has forgotten the market crash of 1929, the robber barons of the Progressive era and any number of financial and moral scandals that have been a part of this country's history from its inception.

But this is not to imply that American history alone is typified by these events. It is a characteristic of the history of human events in general. I am by no means endorsing this behavior or excusing it. I agree with Balzar that the current moral and ethical climate in our country is a sad state of affairs. I only take issue with his implication that we have somehow fallen from some mythical state of grace and that this fall is somehow tied to the current Republican Bush administration.

Melody Bacon

San Juan Capistrano

*

Of the three congressional investigating committees, 51 of 56 members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, 49 of 70 members of the House Financial Services Committee and two-thirds of the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee all received campaign contributions from Enron.

If ever there were a justification for campaign finance reform, this is it. To quote Balzar, "Maybe, finally, at long bloody last, things will get bad enough to make them right."

Trent D. Sanders

La Canada

*

Re "Enron Could Have Used 'Can't Do' Advisors," Commentary, Jan. 17: George Will has produced a list of excuses for Enron that rivals the tobacco industry's effort at debunking science. His article represents a compendium of talking points to be used by Republican spin central. By the time this is over the Republicans may well need special help defending their central doctrine of getting the government off of the back of business and deregulation.

David L. Eastman

Costa Mesa

*

Re Will's column: Perhaps it is foolish to think that the executive branch of our government can have forthright, quality deliberations on matters of national interest without having them in secret.

Eric Hilger

Venice

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