6 June 2003

Martha Stewart, sacrificial ma'am

At times, Jon Talton, business columnist for the AZ Republic, seems to be lodged in some sort of mythical magical happy funland, where the shield from reality is uber-thick - lending his brain to outpouring myopic business school textbook mantra that bears no substantive relationship to real life economics. But he is a gifted writer and on numerous occasions has delivered a truly insightful column that is dead on the mark. Today's rant on the the Martha Stewart prosecution falls into the latter category.

Somebody's got to take the fall for the worst corporate scandal in modern history.

It couldn't be the chiefs of the major investment banks. They knew where too many bodies, involving both political parties, were buried in Washington. And New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer might need their help if he decides to run for governor.

It couldn't be the brokers, analysts and managers who pushed fraudulent research and lured investors into a bubble about to pop. You'll find enough of them in Bush Justice Department perp walks. But the public isn't totally stupid - the scandal won't be eliminated as a political liability if only the small fry cook.

It couldn't be the corrupt chief executives with their Caligula-level compensation, or the institutional investors that failed to protect their millions of customers, or the lawyers and bankers who drove mergers that killed jobs but brought big fees. These are some of the biggest donors to both parties. Many are among the closest friends of the Bushes and Cheneys - indeed, the vice president worked among their ranks.

So Martha must go down.

In true Orwellian fashion, the federal authorities are using Stewart as a poster girl for all of the corporate malfeasance, while ignoring the need for real reform ...

... of course perception is everything, and beating up on a popular target will mask the inaction on other fronts and provide a false sense of justice and security to a guilible public, eager to swallow up such sensationalist fare to whet their palette for reality show type antics that inflict pain and suffering onto irrelevant targets ...

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