Washington’s dead donkeys

By Joseph Farah

There’s a joke going around …

It seems a city boy, Kenny, moved to the country and bought a donkey from a farmer for $100. The farmer agreed to deliver the donkey the next day, but when he arrived, he said: “Sorry, the donkey died.”

Kenny said, “Well, OK, just give me my money back.”

“I can’t,” said the farmer. “I already spent it.”

“OK,” said Kenny. “At least give me the donkey.”

“What are you going to with it?” asked the farmer.

“I’m going to raffle it off,” said Kenny.

“Raffle off a dead donkey?” asked the farmer.

“Sure, I just won’t tell anybody he’s dead.”

A month later the farmer met up with Kenny: “What happened with the dead donkey?”

“I raffled him off. I sold 500 tickets at $2 apiece and made a profit of $898.”

“Didn’t anyone complain?” asked the farmer.

“Just the guy who won. So I gave him his two dollars back.”

Kenny grew up to be the chairman of Enron.

I gotta admit: It’s a funny joke.

As an Internet entrepreneur these last few years, I’ve heard of some business deals that are as strange and fraudulent as the dead-donkey raffle. So, it shouldn’t come as any surprise there’s a movement afoot in Washington to crack down on “corporate criminals.” “CEO,” my own title at WorldNetDaily.com, has nearly become a four-letter word. Congressmen who couldn’t balance their own checkbooks are trying to impose the most sweeping accounting and securities regulations in 70 years.

In fact, it is over-regulation by the know-nothings in Washington that has created the climate for Enron-style fraud and deceit. A new federal power grab is not the solution – it is a sure recipe for exacerbating the problem.

The demise of Arthur Anderson as one of the Big Five accounting firms, brought on by the self-righteous politicians, leaves us with only four companies that will have a cartel over the auditing industry.

The truth is, as Rep. Ron Paul says, “No corporation on earth comes close to the accounting fraud practiced year after year by the federal government. In fact, there is no real accountability at all for the trillions in tax dollars raised and spent annually by Congress and our entrenched federal agencies. … Every year Congress creates a meaningless budget, the Fed prints phony money, the budget office issues false revenue forecasts, and the administrative agencies waste billions in the most unproductive ways imaginable.”

Why any taxpayer would want Washington to have more power over the marketplace in light of such massive fraud and deceit is beyond me.

Keep in mind, this charade by Washington takes place at the very moment government spending is skyrocketing. The excuse of increasing federal spending this year by 13.9 percent is the war on terror. But, in fact, only a third of additional spending is even tangentially related to military costs or homeland defense.

And this trend is not really new. It’s a continuation of one begun in 1996 – the very year Bill Clinton declared, “The era of Big Government is over.” Ever since then, spending has been going up dramatically.

This year alone, Washington will spend $91 billion more for non-military, non-defense and programs unrelated in any way, shape or form to the attack on Sept. 11, 2001. In addition, $30 billion has been spent on homeland security. About $10 billion was spent on the war in Afghanistan. And some $20 billion went to rebuilding New York City, preventing bio-terrorism, improving transportation security.

“In other words,” as Jeffrey Birnbaum of Fortune magazine says, “the war on terror is being used as a ruse to justify all sorts of spending.” He points out that 2000-2003 spending – even without considering any defense-related programs – would represent “the largest four-year spending spree in a generation.”

President Bush has given lip service to the idea of “fiscal discipline,” but, in fact, he has yet to veto a single bill since taking office.

This is accountability? This is the bunch of rascals we’re going to entrust to root out corruption in the private sector?

If there ever was a real dead-donkey raffle, the scammer behind it is not in the corporate world. He’s in Washington.