Friday, June 25, 2010

Ivins: The Looting of America ('05)

Link: The Looting of America
by Molly Ivins

December, 2005

[Excerpted; full text at the above link. (The pictured book is just for illustration; it does not include this Ivins column.)]

I do not think it premature to conclude that the entire financial industry of this country is riddled with fraud....

Jack A. Blum, a Washington lawyer and expert in money-laundering and other forms of tax evasion, wrote the following for an academic conference held earlier this year at the University of Texas: "Corporate managers have spent the last century developing tools for avoiding regulation and taxation. They brag that acts of tax avoidance are part of corporate productivity. For them, each dollar of tax not paid because of their machinations is the added value they bring to a company. Tax avoidance is a profit center. Avoidance of regulation and supervision is an equally high priority. Corporate contributions and the personal contributions of senior corporate managers have funded anti-regulatory think tanks and anti-regulatory scholarship. Political contributions have turned theory into reality."...

The social control of corporate behavior also stops with this administration. George W. Bush's first choice for chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, Harvey Pitt, famously planned "a kinder, gentle SEC."...

At the Treasury Department, John Snow, master of paying no corporate taxes and the golden parachute, is now in charge. Bush's Federal Power Commission, with one member banished by Ken Lay of Enron and another selected by him, couldn't be bothered to notice the enormous fraudulent "energy crisis" in California until $30 billion had been sucked out of that state.

Talk about the lunatics running the asylum. Former lobbyists for special interests now dominate the top of the bureaucracies -- not to regulate, but to facilitate corporate rip-offs. Michael Powell at the Federal Communications Commission thinks more media mergers will be good for the nation. At the Interior Department, it is rip and run, all-out exploitation of natural resources, leaving nothing but a trash heap behind -- a trash heap, incidentally, that the taxpayers will have to pay to clean up, since the Superfund for toxic waste cleanups has been allowed to lapse entirely.

Richard Todd, writing about the mutual-fund scandal in the Times Sunday Magazine, asked: "Were these laws and rules taken seriously by anyone -- or was it common knowledge in the industry that they were routinely flouted? Who was in on the deal? Was all this done more or less in the open with a genial nod and wink among hundreds of guys who understood the game? Or was the money inhaled like cocaine in a surreptitious instant in the back room? Did non-players know? Did 'my' broker know?"...

And the corrupt corporate culture has in turn bought the political system. Medicare "reform" is a huge boondoggle for the drug companies. The energy bill is nothing but corporate subsidies. We have seen people like Dennis Kozlowski and Ken Lay loot their corporations. We are now watching the looting of an entire country.

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