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Taking Stock of CEOs' Options

July 21, 2002

Re "House, Senate Leaders Move on an Accounting Bill," July 18: If Congress really wants to reform corporate America it must eliminate stock options for corporate executives. These options for executives are equivalent to giving them the keys to the greenback vault. These same executives who are privy to insider information are committing a crime if they exercise the options, under the insider laws.

If members of a company's board of directors feel that some executives should have a compensation increase, let them give it in the form of a bonus, the same as to the blue-collar guy. If they retain the stock-option plan for employees in the blue-collar ranks, all well and good. Above all, the company must claim this as an expense. Should we head into a double-digit recession and probable depression--along with confusion and terror in the market--abuse of the stock-option plan and just plain greed will be the main reasons.

J.L. Dunlavey

San Jose

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It took much gall and very little dignity to publish "For CEOs It's a Lot Lonelier at the Top" (July 18). In the past 30 years we have watched the gap between CEOs and their workers increase over a thousandfold. We have seen the decline of the middle class and the rapid separation between rich and poor. We have had unprecedented tax cuts for the wealthiest people in America, while the minimum wage continues to decline in value. Now we are supposed to find sympathy for these super-rich members of the elite because they feel embarrassed to identify themselves as CEOs when vacationing in Hawaii in the wake of recent business scandals?

Carlyle A. Johnston

Santa Barbara

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CEOs are not satisfied with just power, perks and lavish (even obscene) salaries and bonuses? They want our love and respect too? If we give them that, it won't be long before attorneys and politicians start demanding the same thing. I'm sorry, we have to draw the line somewhere!

Dennis Kerr

La Crescenta

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So, President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney want to increase criminal penalties whenever corporate executives are found to have committed fraud, insider trading, obstruction of justice and all of the other criminal acts out of what Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan calls "infectious greed" ("Scandals Called a Threat to Recovery," July 17).

In the meantime, I have watched my 401(k) savings plummet by $15,000 over the last six months while executives from Enron, Global Crossing, WorldCom and Halliburton are being allowed to keep hundreds of millions of loot they cashed in. And some took jobs in the Bush administration. Special prosecutor, anyone?

Dana Greer

Norwalk

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Re "Cheney's Grimy Trail in Business," Commentary, July 16:

Robert Scheer's commentaries usually try to hustle sound thinkers. During this week's game of editorial three-card monte, he indicts the Bush administration (again) because of the vice president's business history. But follow the con game closer: Scheer can't actually blame Bush for the lies, corruption and greed that Wall Street began to instigate in the '90s.

Liberals back then excused lying and fraudulent financial statements--as exemplified by the Democrats and their illegal campaign cash. "Everybody does it" was the justification, and Clinton's White House led the orgy of irrational exuberance. Bush arrived after the wild party had trashed Wall Street, and liberals want to fine him for littering.

Ramon Guerrero

Claremont

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The amount Bush sold his Harken stock for: $850,000. Cheney's final-year payoff at Halliburton: a package valued at $34 million. The befuddled look on George W.'s face while trying to defend these events: priceless.

James Clem

Pasadena

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I can't be the only one who remembers that the press insisted that Cheney couldn't represent the people if he had all those stock options. So he sells what he can and forfeits the ones that are not available yet. So in that way there was a loss. Now the media are all over him for selling the stuff they wanted him to sell. Get a grip and get over it. Why don't the media check into any Democrats? Oh, I forgot; only Republicans do bad things.

Barbe Roberts

Ventura

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If Bush doesn't cut the rhetoric and get this corporate thievery mess settled immediately, his well is going to run dry mighty fast. Words won't pay the bills, protect retirement or keep the economic stability of this country on a solid footing--action will. The American people want action now.

June O. Hendrix

Pacific Palisades

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