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I woke up this morning and knew I had to write. It was either going to be on the fact that a brutally liberal bench in Northern California just bought an argument from brutally liberal ACLU attorneys based on a brief prepared by the brutally liberal school of Berzerkely that blacks and hispanics are incapable of using a punch-card voting machine, or I would write on the NYSE chief Richard Grasso. Not wanting to fuel the fire of the situation regarding the racists and bigots in the ACLU and the 9th appellate court, I will instead address one of the strangest things I recall seeing in the news for quite some time. I will be brief.
I remember eighteen months or so back when the men at Enron and Worldcom were the new antichrists, had defrauded billions of dollars from completely innocent and naive investors, and the country was calling for them to be burned at the stake. Fair enough. I guess a lot of it never made sense to me, but I'll concede. I suppose even speculative investors who throw the dice at companies that they have no idea about (in terms of things like, say, how they make money), deserve transparency and honesty from the guys who run the company.
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Then, guys who sold out of all their personal company stock holdings that had gone south were the latest round of villains. They weren't necessarily Enrons or Worldcoms, but they had made hundreds of millions as their shareholders lost. They must be damned. OK. I guess, fair enough again. I probably don't really think that, but I can accept some kind of argument that says it smells like a rat when people sell stocks at $70, and advise shareholders to hold at $10 (I am actually stretching pretty far here) ...
But now, I am engulfed all day long, each and every day, with the weirdest story I have heard since the beginning of this entire period of corporate hatred. Richard Grasso is being burned at the stake, villainized repeatedly by the [fill in the blanks] at CNBC, slandered, butchered, and verbally brutalized. He is the new Ken Lay. He is a new Bernie Ebbers. He is corporate fraud. He must resign. He must give up money. He is not worthy to be in a position of leadership. Why? He accepted a large pay package. Is it a really, really, really large pay package? Yes. Is he accused of fraud by anyone in this? No. Are there even insinuations of dirty, backroom business dealings, or an attempt to hide, conceal, defraud, or damage anyone? No. I want to be as clear as I can. Richard Grasso is a criminal because - he was offered, and accepted, a really, really big paycheck. Is he accused of under-performance? No. Do his detractors say he "failed to perform"? Not one of them! We are literally talking about a man being a villain because his employer gave him a really, really big pay package, and he had the disgusting nerve to accept it.
I want that job - not Richard Grasso's - the one where you get to decide who is a criminal based on how much they are voluntarily paid. I will make sure that about 3/4 of society is unemployed tomorrow (mostly pro athletes, a good portion of pastors, and nearly every person in the city of Hollywood). I feel abundantly qualified to decide when a highly paid person should be looked as a corporate criminal. Who's hiring?
The problem is: I'd be afraid to accept my pay package, and I really couldn't do it. You see, I absolutely despise these politics of envy.
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