June 24, 2002
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Self Examination and Corporate Sleeze
Why we are Hatred?
Former Inclone executive testifying before Congress Dr. Samuel Waksal, former chief executive of ImClone Systems testifies on Capitol Hill Thursday, June 13, 2002. Associated Press.

AAPOST ONLINE

One of my disappointments after Sept 11 is that as a country we have not made more of an attempt to discuss a lot of the "whys" of that traumatizing day.

Politics aside, our culture and our way of life often lends itself to major criticism. However, I feel that we've needed some sort of national cleansing/ self-examination--it surely wouldn't hurt us. I realize this is ideal and not going to happen on a wholesale scale. Two hundred and seven five million people: no way--too diverse in terms of opinions, backgrounds, agendas.

We're not talking about the left-wing Berkeley type self-evaluation or necessarily government criticism. Like TV preachers, the "Berzerkeley" types love the sound of their own voices and think that most anything the government does is intrusive. For this crowd, patriotism is synonymous with politics.

September 11 changed us forever. Life will never be the same again. This is a given and has to be said over and over. Flying will never be the same and unimpeded assess to total abandonment of fear is a thing of the past. Terrorism is a forever.

One thing we know for sure about September 11 and one segment of our society: the corporate world hasn't done any self-examination. They are one big example of cheat. I have long felt that the exorbitant salaries of high executives were scandalous and now all of that is reinforced. The Wall Street Journal discussed the many cases of corporate sleaze and had some implied insight, "Take a bunch of greedy people and tempt them and they simply get greedier."

The most egregious example of corporate greed is ImClone. They developed a drug, erbitux, which held out great hope for cancer and had given hope to thousands. For many reasons, hype overcame hope and so the stocks were plunging earthward. The CEO gives insider information to his family and friends and they dump their stock before it dives. And, of all things, one of my favorite people, Martha Stewart, is implicated. Money must be some sort of hypnotic elixir that can't be resisted, even to Martha.

The dismal corporate conduct continues like Tyco where the exec made 62 million last year and is now indicted for tax evasion. Outfits like Adelphia who used company money to buy a golf course; it goes on and on. We've had no housecleaning, everybody is investigating but few are held accountable. No wonder we've lost confidence and no wonder that other countries look at our excesses and lump us all in the same greed equation. I assure you, I could figure out a way to clean up the system

Companies avoid taxes by incorporating in the Cayman Islands and Bermuda. Come on!!!

All Americans should be concerned-what corporate America has done is immoral and scandalous. When I watch these long refugee lines spread throughout the world, I am saddened beyond belief. Time Magazine had a big spread on ImClone's CEO with pictures of himself and Mick Jagger, Martha Stewart, Fran Drescher and someone from the TV show, Sopranos. Talk about a greedy wannabe in our celebrity worshipping culture, he is one of them.

The world's refugees are seeing these people. Think about all these corporate crooks living in the lap of luxury--do we wonder why Americans are hated for what is the perception that we are all a bunch of scumbags who would sell out our mothers to drink at the trough of personal wealth.

Here is some poor refugee, sitting in a refugee camp watching the "camp" TV and seeing all this atrocious "goings on" in America. With an unsophisticated worldview, why would they not hate? What we have at our very being is an unexamined view of the haves and have-nots. September 11 gave us that chance.

I know I'm sounding like a professional left-winger who wouldn't know practicality or common sense if it ran over them. However, we must examine. I can think of a few solutions. Here's one, Martha Stewart, who says she didn't have any knowledge of what was going on when she unloaded her shares-yes, we believe you, Martha-which made her $228,000 big ones. She should take the money and give it to the Widows' Bakeries in Kabul. These are literally war widows who bake the bread and distribute it. Afghanistan is estimated to have the world's largest population of war widows-more than 700,000. They get some help from the World Food Program but the widows are the drivers behind this great effort. They produce 33,500 loves of bread a day. For many, in this war-ravaged country, a loaf of bread a day is about all they get.

The Americans like these Corporate Thieves and the Martha Stewarts of the World ought to be ashamed but guess what--they aren't. I am, however, and I think most Americans are. God bless us.
JHL

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