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There's a Difference Between Legal and Right

July 15, 2002

It appears that President Bush enriched himself to the tune of $850,000 as a result of possible insider trading of energy stocks in a firm that he served as a member of the board and that Vice President Dick Cheney is being investigated and sued for financial irregularities of the energy firm he headed (July 11). This is not exactly a confidence-building state of affairs for ordinary people who invest in the businesses of the U.S.

Many years ago, when I considered entering the securities business, I was taught that the very essence of our stock market was the trust that the public placed in the sanctity of financial reporting and fair auditing and the faith one could expect from the professionals who ran the businesses of our country. What I see today is corruption from our highest elected officials and their cronies, who contribute heavily to ensure their ability to cheat. As I near retirement I have also seen the deterioration of investments paid for with my hard-earned money.

It is essential that the securities and financial-market laws on the books be strenuously enforced and that additional, tough legislation be enacted to fill the gaps--not the soft-pedal job that the president suggested. That will be the only way we can restore confidence to the bruised securities market.

Robert S. Sage

Woodland Hills

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What relief to read the latest alarm bell being rung by Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft about the possibility of Al Qaeda sleeper cells being active in the U.S. (July 12). Just when I start to think about the foundering economy, the rampant misdeeds of our corporations and their leadership, the explosion in deficit spending and the ineffectiveness of our political leadership in dealing with these issues, Ashcroft moved swiftly to refocus my attention where it belongs, anywhere but on the president and his domestic policies.

Bill Malvey

Ladera Ranch

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People seem to think the government should assure that those who run big companies are honest. I don't understand. Why should gamblers who buy stocks be protected and guaranteed a profit? Caveat emptor.

Charlie Sparks

Lancaster

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Putting loss of life aside, I would suggest that the corporate malfeasance from Enron, WorldCom and other companies is as destructive to the well-being of our national democracy and national ethos as anything that occurred Sept. 11.

These CEOs and CFOs, all of whose neighbors and friends would likely describe them as good and even "Christian" human beings, have displayed an appalling lack of integrity and ethics in pursuit of the almighty dollar.

It speaks volumes of our national values that the primary question that will be asked of them is whether illegal acts were committed. That question should, indeed, be asked, but simply because something may be "legally done" does not make it the right thing to do.

As a nation, we no longer seem to think about what is right or just; we think only about what is legal. To the degree that we continue to do only that (and to the degree that we continue to link democracy and extreme capitalism, i.e., "the maximization of profit at any cost"), the country is in serious trouble.

Lewis Redding

Arcadia

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