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President Missed His Chance in Speech on Responsibility

July 11, 2002

After listening to President Bush's prescriptions for corporate reform in his speech Tuesday, I was reminded of "Porgy and Bess," with its memorable song whose lyrics begin, "I've got plenty of nothin', and nothin's plenty for me." Too bad. The president had a chance to demand some harsh remedies from Congress with specific recommendations for real reform but instead simply reiterated platitudes, which even Wall Street found inadequate, as the Dow Jones continued on its downward path after the speech. The Securities and Exchange Commission budget needs doubling, and Bush should have backed the strong Senate bill instead of the tepid reforms in the bill passed by the House.

Roderick Briggs

Seal Beach

*

George W. Bush was a miserably failed businessman, adrift in midlife, post-prep self-indulgence, when he was able to buy into and--for a tiny minority stake--become president of a Major League baseball team, the Texas Rangers. Through the club he acquired exposure; through its sale, wealth outrageously disproportionate to his investment; and through both, a minor governorship in a major state. Out of that state are now coming criminal fraud investigations involving old friends, donors, the vice president and possibly even the president himself, as a stock sale needed to repay the loan used to buy the Rangers was reported eight months late and may have been tainted by insider trading.

Bush is now publicly appealing for laws to rein in the excess of corporate vandals, when his very existence as a public figure is the consequence of the assistance and generosity of just such men--wealthy friends of his father and others who gave early and often with the dream of raising up the most mediocre of their own so that they could one day run free to excess. The big Fox is not across the border in Mexico, folks. He's right here in the henhouse.

Mitch Paradise

Los Angeles

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All Bush's tough speech on chief executives cleaning up their act says: "Don't get caught. Look at me. Ten years ago I unloaded more than $800,000 worth of Harken stock while I was on the board of directors a few days before the news got to the public that we were in trouble, and lookie--they can't touch me. Nevertheless, I urge you dear contributing CEOs to be more careful. GWB, yer ol' buddy boy."

William Blanchard

Running Springs

*

President Bush's announcement of an impending crackdown on corporate crime is long overdue. But it should come as no surprise that financial improprieties and legal evasions are rife in white-collar America. Legally, we treat corporations as persons, and yet the corporate structure, with its bureaucratic divisions of labor, makes personal responsibility difficult to assign and easy to avoid.

Jonathan Cook

Idyllwild

*

Robert Scheer is at it again (Commentary, July 9). A completely one-sided liberal attack on our president. Perhaps Scheer could write a column on Terry McAuliffe's clairvoyance in selling Global Crossing stock before it collapsed. I'm sure that he could come up with a plausible explanation for McAuliffe's turning, what, $100,000 into nearly $18 million. Naturally, the chairman of the Democratic National Committee was just lucky or possibly he "went to school" on Hillary Rodham Clinton's investing expertise. Scheer's columns reek of political mudslinging at its worst.

R.A. Berry

Palm Springs

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In taking the 5th Amendment, the [former chief] executive of WorldCom reinforced a situation where it may be inferred that he has something to hide (July 9). If the president is serious about restoring faith in the economic system, he should immediately order a full-scale investigation of these individuals, with no expense spared in discovering by legitimate means whether or not they are hiding criminal behavior. If proven guilty, nothing less than a lengthy jail sentence and significant fine would be appropriate.

Any other response from the president would indicate he is once again playing games and hoping that rhetoric will be an accepted replacement for action.

Mark Cantor

Agoura Hills

*

Bush seeks to double jail time for corporate fraud. What is two times zero? Nothing.

Warren F. Bacon Jr.

La Mesa

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