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Thank you, Goth, for your thoughtful response to my question about the Supreme Court decision regarding the 'coat-tail' liability issue in corporate fraud cases.

(Editor's Note See:

Your thoughts helped me to begin to get real in terms of trying to understand the issue better than I had before, and to see why newspapers I respect had dropped the story after running it for only one day. I am thinking the problem isn't as simple as I may have wished it were. And I have to admit, if liability can ride the coat-tails from one alleged evil-doer to the next, the inevitable question is 'where does it stop?' This gets into a fairness and civil liberties issue with heavy repercussions. It is those far-reaching repercussions and dangerous precedents which these seemingly strange and moldy black-cloaked justices are supposed to consider in their deep and highly intellectual minds. They forgot about this principal and seemed to lose their great intellectual clarity the moment they decided to get involved in presidential electoral issues in the 2000 race when Florida was deadlocked. That episode shook my faith in this particular gaggle of cloaked servants to justice (The Federal Supreme Court that is). But as much as it shook my faith, I still figure the Supreme Court is pretty righteous, as these sorts of things go. No one is going to be happy with the Supreme Court. That's part of their job. But they do a decent job of being level headed, other than Scalia, who appears to be hitting the Ibogaine too much, or something. He is, it seems to me, a total fucking radical right wing whack-dog who is an embarrassment to all who are proud of being right wing radicals. The Ibogaine bit is another rip-off from HST, the great American Journalist. Bad habit I have of ripping of some of his riffs. But back to the digression at hand. The Supreme Court is one hell of a great behavior-creature and a bedrock footing for our way of life. If it weren't for the judicial independence (that independence is why these fools should never have had anything to do with an election by the way, in my opinion) as part of our balance of powers it's hard to say what kind of power-mad squirrel-faced lozenges might wassail with abandon in the U.S. House of Reps cafeteria…

But back to the point. First of all, it's important to keep in mind that I'm pretty damn ignorant when it comes to corporate fraud, among many other things. I listened to parts of some book about Enron on a books-on-tape loaner, but all I recall is what a bunch of losers with no depth, no soul at all, the top dogs at Enron were. At least that's the impression I got from the book, the title of which I don't even recall. Another thing I remember is that the name of one of their special secret super-deluxe double-Zorro side funds was raptor-something. So we have to recognize that this entire small bit of expository supposition is the mere jabbering of a fool trying to understand.

The key word being 'trying'. I read about Milken a dozen or so years ago, but I forget most of that, except that he was a complete asshole. So this memory thing seems to be a key issue, here. Without memory the human creature is feeble and less empowered. A very huge part of intellect is memory. Memory, knowledge, lots and lots of knowledge, and the ability to grab the appropriate info from the brain for best utility considering the moment at hand. But even without being able to remember much about Milken, I can say this: What a waste of millions of dollars for it to have been concentrated in the hands of a snot-lipped pissant like that chump. Sure, he was a winner when it came to wealth and opulence and no doubt 'babes' and cocaine or whatever kicks he felt were appropriate or even just possibly fun, but he was all alone, really. Not alone in the sense of one who is noble and alone. Alone like a dry scrap of canvas far out in the desert. Him and the devil out on the back porch, laughing at all the poor suckers who would stoop to pick up a ground-scored five-spot and find it rewarding. “Put about nine zeroes in front of that, sucker, and you've got what I cleared in the last bilking I pulled off, har har har.” Does anyone argue that the man was a fiend?

Basically, we can all agree that cheating the shareholder out of dough is wrong. Or maybe not. I guess if one is disgusted by capitalism one might feel that the shareholder deserves whatever grief befalls him. But as Goth points out, even though capitalism has some pretty hefty flaws, it appears to be the most functional system of economics, at least to my provincial and Smith-influenced sensibilities. But for the sake of my foolishness let's assume that we can all agree that cheating the shareholder is more nasty than nice. After reading Goth's reply to my original impetuous howlings after I read about the Supreme Court ruling in question, I realized something: I had always assumed that since the accounting firm is in charge of the books they must be implicated in corporate wrong-doing, but I suppose it is not always so, especially as greedy criminal shit heads learn to refine their schemes, taking lessons from the huge pile of written info about Enron et al. Raptor 3 and so forth. Primitive tactics. To assume that Enron getting busted scared all the shysters under a rock would be wishful thinking, I guess.

{Cheating shareholders out of dough seems especially heinous when the sacred shareholders' right to make-all-the-dough-possible-from-their-investment is used as the excuse to pay lower wages and cut back on health care benefits and fire workers simply because their pension is about to kick in, saying to those who cry foul, "we got to do it, we owe it to our shareholders to withhold toothpicks from customers after 5 p.m. and to count paper napkins AS WELL as to fire everyone whose pension is about to kick in. Why, it's simple economics. Can't you see, that this is the obligation of the kinder gentler invisible hand?"}

I hold that the engine of a free market economy is not greed, because greed is unreasoning in it's never-ending gluttony elbow, gilding the lily and then gilding the gilding and insuring that even if the Cayman Islands are swallowed by sea monsters on the same day that one's shady schemes of greed are uncovered and one must flee, that one will have enough rare and incredibly valuable stamps in his wallet to flee the hemisphere and live in utter opulence as an ex-pat. Greed is a brute with no regard for the greater good. Greed is not a positive force in a well-organized society, because greed is not a balancing influence, it has no regard for excellent fire brigades in all places, only in excellent fire brigades in those places where the greed-head dwells.

The engine of a free market economy is ENLIGHTENED SELF INTEREST (editor's note- strong opinion indicated by capital letters), the desire to BETTER ONE'S SITUATION, or as some would say to BETTER ONE'S CONDITION.

As long as there is craven, shameless, and overweening greed, it will be very difficult to legislate moral conduct or even prevent scheming and stealing among the slick willies of the high corporate world. This may mean many more millennia of white collar criminals giving a bad name to all those in 87th floor offices with vertigo windows, the criminals, with a bevy of lawyers and like-minded greed-heads, will always find a way to fleece anyone it serves them to fleece, and they will only get caught sometimes, and then when they are caught, they will only get punished sometimes. I like the fair sentencing idea; if a corporate criminal with seventy nine tailored shirts and five ear hair trimmers in each of his Lear Jets steals, then he goes to the fucking slammer just like low-wage Henry who jacks up a liquor store. Go on in there Mr. White Collar thief, you get three squares and a cot. Thoroughly. You'll love the accommodations, Mr. white collar criminal. A deterrent effect and so forth.


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