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Losses Try Investors' Faith in Market

July 21, 2002

This stock market is like your worst hangover: You're kicking yourself for being so stupid and your savings are gone.

After the "irrational exuberance" of the '90s, we are paying dearly for our fun. WorldCom Inc. is just the last straw. Not only have I lost money personally, I now find my pension company also had a lot of that stock.

People like me are never going to have faith in the market again unless these CEOs, CFOs and boards of directors are forced to give back the money they have stolen. It's fine to tighten regulations on accounting firms, but those executives will feel no pain unless they have to return the money. They had exorbitant salaries and stock options that made them millions before the truth was found out about their companies.

Congress is a lot to blame for what has happened. They took millions from accounting lobbyists while keeping the Securities and Exchange Commission from enforcing regulations. Now they say they are shocked.

The only way for the market to regain people's trust is for the money to be given back to employees, pensioners and shareholders. Otherwise, employees won't agree to have their 401(k)s invested in it. At least when you buy a CD from an FDIC bank, you end up with what you put in, and that sounds like a pretty good deal. Jeanne H. Manning

Laguna Woods


Massive stock market losses amounting to more than $6.5 trillion in recent years were not primarily the result of corporate fraud and accounting dirty tricks.

Sadly, they were the inevitable byproduct of unprecedented investor greed and stupidity, magnified by unrestrained optimism on the part of an excessively promotional Wall Street establishment shamelessly hyping overvalued stocks at their peak and a largely passive Federal Reserve that piously professed concern but did nothing to stem the speculative madness.

If history runs true to form, investors will have two decades or more to contemplate the damage done by their reckless disregard of risk. We're in a weak recovery with puny profits and stock price indexes closer to valuation levels normally associated with bull market tops, not bear market bottoms.

Anthony Dent

Los Angeles


Executive Malfeasance Causes More Damage

When is the trashing of many peoples' savings, the loss of thousands of jobs and the imposition of billions of dollars of debt upon taxpayers merely an indiscretion ["More Time for Executive Crime," July 13]?

When it's criminal behavior in the executive suite, of course. When will the establishment concede that the damage caused by these criminals is far worse than that caused by many, if not most, of the three-strikes lifers?

Lewis H. Cohen



Jackson's Woes Have Nothing to Do With Race

Pity poor Michael Jackson ["Power, Money Behind Jackson's Attack on Sony, Insiders Say," July 9]. It is sad to see how far the mighty pop star has fallen, but even worse to witness his reaction to his own demise. Jackson's depiction of Sony Music Chairman Thomas D. Mottola as an evil, devilish racist is a desperate attempt to stay relevant, but at the expense of his own dignity.

It's time for Jackson to stop playing the race card and just admit the truth: His time has passed. It's time to move on.

Darrin Mariott

Santa Monica


As a black person, my first reaction to hearing Michael Jackson singing the racism refrain of "the white man trying to keep the black man down" was, which one is Jackson? Tommy Mottola is at least five shades darker than Jackson and Jackson probably is five times wealthier. I mean come on, Michael Jackson playing the race card?

Now that's a switch that even Jackson's plastic surgeon will have a hard time performing.

Rene Hicks

Los Angeles


These Aren't the Good Old Pre-Union Days

During the management tour of the unnamed shipping facility, industry consultant Frank Hanley "chuckled and shook his head" when at 11:30 a.m., the "noisy, outsized and frenetic" work scene ceased for lunch. According to "Making Waves on the Waterfront" [June 30], he "couldn't have asked for a better demonstration of the union's power."

What's with the chuckle and the shaking of the head? What is he implying here? Is he opposed to these union members taking a lunch hour? Are they supposed to wait until "work slows down" before they have a meal? Why would it be a problem if they all took lunch at the same time? Lunch breaks are not a job perk.

This is not the pre-labor union days of the Industrial Revolution, where outhouse (a luxury) breaks and meals were nonexistent.

Wendy J. Salaya

Long Beach


Homeowners Could Rely on Props. 60, 90

"Sellers Market Tightens as Homeowners Won't Let Go" [July 7] pointed out that many homeowners are wary of selling properties with a pre-Proposition 13 assessment and then finding themselves paying higher taxes on a replacement property. That's something to consider.

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