Daze of My Life/Truth or - There Better Be - Consequences

by Kenneth B. Lourie

Itís no game. Between listening to the candidates running for public office - Bush, Kerry, etc. - and reading about the alleged accounting malfeasance running through some private offices - Enron, Worldcom, Tyco International, etc. - I canít help feeling as if the parties involved could be a bit more forthcoming. Granted, without a score card, I certainly couldnít name the white-collared criminals as easily as I could name the Republican and Democrat (and Libertarian and Independent) candidates vying for the presidency, but there seems to be as many restatements from one as there are from the other. And even though the corporationsí restatements have to do with money and the candidatesí restatements have to do with matters, their respective content has the same manipulative, opportunistic feel.

With respect to the politicians who are so often profiled and pilloried in the press, itís like theyíre two sides of the same coin. Basically theyíre the same only different. As to the effect on the electorate/consumer/investor, these similarities take their toll. We begin to feel like weíre being sucker-punched by people who should (a) know better and (b) care more.

The power and resources entrusted to the president of the United States and/or to the president/CEO of a major corporation are staggering and far beyond the comprehension - maybe even imagination - of us mortal men and women. And when we hear the spinning to maintain control - politics, and the corporations spinning out of control, restating earnings from years ago - we get sick and canít stomach the abuse of their privileges and the squandering of our trust.

This haphazard, flip-flopping, supposedly fiduciary-type decision-making is plain and simple - philosophical and financial misappropriation.

Itís really quite disheartening when the biggest and brightest are the ones doing the deceiving and denying. Isnít anybody ever guilty other than Martha Stewart? There doesnít seem to be nearly as much truth and justice in the American way as us common, ordinary, household, taxpaying citizens have come to expect. Every day it seems, the American republic for which it stands is reminded of a former opinion that one of our politicians is having difficulty explaining now or of a major corporation that recently uncovered (yeah, like they found it in the attic) evidence of miscalculations of millions, and on some bottom lines, billions of dollars. Itís just like politicians who stump their audiences with feel-good speeches that say everything, yet, in point of likely outcome, deliver nothing.

This continual dual track of exploitation of the voter/stockholder/buyer beware, by the powers that still be, and by many the powers that no longer be, strikes us worker bees right in the solar plexus of our confidence. No wonder election days, both primary and general, come and go with many of the eligible voters suffering in silence at home rather than expressing their anger at the polls.

When citizens withdraw from the normal means of effecting change, itís because they feel their voices are not being heard. Moreover, when politicians and businessman speak over, rather than to, this already silent majority and act if nobody has the power other than themselves, then thereís trouble ahead, and as we have witnessed since the implosion at Enron, thereís been plenty of trouble behind, too.

Nobody likes to feel as if heís been taken advantage of. Somebody has to pay - either in the court of public opinion or in the court of law.

Lourie is a regionally syndicated columnist who resides in Burtonsville, MD.