Wheres the Outrage? Right Here
At first it was ridiculous. Now its outrageous.
First came Enron, a rogue company that financed the political drive for deregulation across the United States, then took full advantage of the laws they helped write to rip off consumers for millions in jacked-up energy prices.
Then came WorldCom, Adelphia, Dynegy, Tyco, and even Martha (sell and make millions right before a stock tanks; its a good thing) Stewart. The corporate CEOs were practically coming into congressional hearings with their coats over their heads just like the Mafia guys from the 1950s. Except the Mafia guys at least looked like they might be ashamed of what theyd done.
Now the big picture becomes clearer. Bush and Cheney entered office to usher in a new era of government by the corporation of the corporation and for the corporation. It turns out that Arthur Andersen didnt single-handedly subvert the accounting profession. There were plenty of shenanigans going on for years to help a few executives maximize their greed at the expense of workers, shareholders, and just about anybody else you can think of. Two such guys who made a pile as a result of cooked books wereBush and Cheney.
And now theyre preaching the virtues of corporate accountability and the need for reform? Please.
If Bill Clinton had the relationship with "Kenny Boy" Lay of Enron that George W. has, the calls for impeachment would be filling the air. Whitewatera $70 million, taxpayer-financed fishing trip that yielded virtually nothingpales in comparison to the insider trading and creative accounting that filled the personal bank accounts of George W. and Dick Cheney at their old oil companies. If Clinton had done what they did, conservatives would be foaming at the mouth. We dont hear much from those hypocrites these days, do we?
This administration and its ethically-challenged fat cat buddies are doing more than lining their pockets. Theyre ripping apart the fabric of our country worse than any outside enemy could do.
The worst part is that this is our money theyre taking. Their crimes are threatening to bring down the whole economy. Some estimates say that $578 billionyes, thats billionin retirement savings have disappeared because of the stock market plunge brought about by the current corporate crime spree. Average folks all across North America, including some of our members, have seen their retirement nest eggs dwindle to almost nothing. Labor-management investment funds are scrambling to protect our future security. Plans for college for the kids, plans for a new home, plans for a secure future all of these have been put in real jeopardy for countless working families in the United States and Canada because of the rapaciousness of corporate cutthroats. And now they want to "privatize" Social Security too. Are they so greedy they literally want everything that working people have?
Its time to pull the plug on W. and his cronies. And we have two ways to do it. First is the labor movement. We will fight for shareholder resolutions to stop abuses. We will fight for legislation to reform business practices. We will organize workplaces and negotiate contracts, because every collective bargaining agreement is part of a firewall to keep corporate hands off your retirement.
And well vote. Oh boy, will we vote. Well have to cool our jets before we can take on Bush and Cheney in 2004, but we have this little affair called a mid-term election this year. Thirty-four U.S. Senators, all 435 members of the House of Representatives, and 36 governors are on the ballot. Thousands of state and local offices are up for grabs. Its way past time to put some populist common sense back in government at all levels.
Just use one litmus test. If W. comes to your town and puts his arm around candidate X and says he needs that person to help him finish the job, run the other way. They can try to push any button they want, but they cant hide the fact that theyre after your wallet and your job.
Jeremiah J. O'Connor
July/August 2002 IBEW Journal