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Read My Lips: No More Corporate Crime

July 14, 2002

In his July 10 news analysis of President Bush's speech before Wall Street, Ronald Brownstein describes Bush's "skepticism about the ability of Washington regulation to solve social problems." The recent corporate crime wave could be considered a "social problem" only if one also puts bank robbery in that category. Even if we are to accept Brownstein's interpretation (I tend to think that the president is reluctant to bite the hand that feeds him), Bush has proven himself to be more than willing to use the federal government's might to address the "social problem" of drug abuse.

Doria Biddle

West Hollywood

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"New Woes May Need New Fixes" (July 9) promotes as a remedy the very theory that caused the current financial crisis: that the "new" economy requires new rules. To the contrary, the new economy requires the rigorous application of the old rules, such as don't lie about your finances. Although Enron's method was convoluted, its fraud of inflating revenue and earnings and hiding debt was not.

The same is true of the various Internet darlings that reported phantom earnings derived from swapping worthless advertising space. Similarly, there's hardly anything "new economy" about WorldCom boosting its earnings by claiming that current expenses were actually capital expenditures. If CEOs, CFOs, auditors and directors had simply followed the old rules of doing their jobs honestly and with integrity, none of this would have happened. In fact, following the old rules of judging a company by its actual revenue and earnings, rather than wildly optimistic dreams of technological growth, probably would have prevented the tech bubble and its burst in the first place.

Scott Landsbaum

Beverly Hills

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"Do the Math: It Adds Up to Investor Greed" (Commentary, July 9), James Pinkerton's blanket chiding of Enron investors as greedy, is foolishly simplistic. While the label may apply to some or even many, there are many more who were unwitting victims through mutual fund purchases or individual purchases made on the recommendation of advisors they trusted and respected.

Pinkerton also fails to address the many whose 401(k) plans were wiped out after they were reassured there was no reason to worry. To call all of these people bubbleheads and fools is demeaning, at best. Efforts to place the onus on people other than the managers and auditors are almost as criminal as the actions of the corporate managers themselves.

Ted Hampton

Long Beach

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I don't know if I understand this current business with Enron and some of these other companies. I was audited by the IRS for a couple of hundred dollars, and yet these people are talking about hiding and moving around billions of dollars. I guess it's better to go after Joe Citizen. Maybe someone ought to call the IRS and advise it that there might be some type of fraud going on.

Gene Solis

Anaheim

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For once I agree with President Bush regarding his statements on corporate shenanigans. To put some action behind his speech I suggest that Kenneth Lay be arrested, all his assets frozen and small investors made whole. Let's see if the president really means what he says.

Sanford Duroff

Tarzana

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