Crime in the Suites

| January 28, 2002

Crime in the Suites

Though Enron earned the limelight for its financial impropriety, William Greider shows how many other corporations deserve the same attention. In The Nation magazine, Greider argues that Enron and its banking, accounting, and political counterparts uncover a deeper scandal - 'the failure of market orthodoxy itself.'

Corporations such as IT and Telecom giant Global Crossings, and the baby Bell Lucent Technologies should certainly be counted alongside Enron. Right before Global Crossings' stock tanked CEO Gary Wincing cashed out for $600 million without a word to the shareholders -- many of whom were employees who accepted stock as part of their retirement packages. At Lucent, employees suffered a similar fate with executives who sold $12 million of their shares back to the company before their stocks crashed.

So are all major corporations doomed to be corrupt? Maybe, but even if that were the case, Greider argues that employees (unionized or not) should have the ability to supervise their own pension funds and 401 (k) plans. At least they could help protect their own investments.

But more than just swindling their employees, many of these companies with close ties to politicians in D.C. and bankers in New York have contributed to 'the insidious corruption of democracy by political money.' How do we right this wrong? American voters will have to demand campaign finance reform, because, as Greider puts it, so long as democracy is for sale, the looting is unlikely to stop.
--Sara V. Buckwitz
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