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The Lessons From Enron,
|by Gaurang Bhatt, MD|
Lest some misguided zealot accuse me of communism, socialism or other unmentionable evils, I want to state at the outset, that the nature of man is to be greedy and self-serving and it is not my intention to change the character or inclination of humanity. Unfortunately, I realize that for a cohesive, peaceful and crime-free society to evolve, it is imperative that we have a rule of law and not leave it to might is right, as an indicator of public behavior. For peace and decency to prevail, it is necessary that some restraint be put on the power of the privileged and some concession be made to the weakness of the powerless. The reformed view of the American Constitution and law tried to do that poorly and temporarily in a successful way, but the ambiguous nature of the constitution and the political inclination of the only non-elected branch of government failed, as one would expect from human frailty.
I do not have a panacea for the failings of mankind, but I do have multiple indictments against the chicanery of free enterprise. First any brokerage company should have the choice of serving as an advisory status to the unsuspecting lambs of the public only if it does not trade on its own behalf or serve as an agent for any initial public offering and it does no business with institutions. Every broker should be forbidden from having a stake in any specialist firm, and every buy-out offers should be in cash, so that the acquiring firm is saddled with enough debt to evaluate the validity of any transaction, rather than paying in highly inflated stock, destined to depreciate and cheat the common shareholder of value, while rewarding preferred shareholders with undeserved value. The merger of AOL and Time-Warner is a classic example of profit for the powerful at the cost of impoverishing the ordinary person. The so-called Chinese wall never works and China is the best example of this utopian, human folly.
My biggest problem is, those who fanatically espouse the cause of free enterprise are those who shed their mask of capitalism, to seek special favors for private enrichment while hypocritically mouthing the mantra of free enterprise. I am not trying to condemn their unethical behavior, because it is the nature of the beast; only to modulate and control it and possibly channel it to the good of the species. I realize that it is the nature of an individual to indulge in actions which may be detrimental to the species, but my brief is, that such extreme lifestyles are detrimental to the individual, forcing him or her to live in constant fear behind guarded gates and thus depriving the individual of social interaction and appreciation, which is essential for the healthy psyche and survival of the individual.
The purpose of this essay is not to denigrate capitalism, but to promote it, without encouraging powerful vested interests to feed at the public trough, which is their habit and vice. It is easy for any idle idealist or armchair philosopher to write up prescriptions for Valhalla, but the reality is that one needs an informed, educated and caring common citizen, armed with the lethal weapon of a vote. Ah! If wishes were horses beggars would ride them! As Madison, who was no angel himself and changed sides and factions to suit his needs said, "If men were angels, what need would be for laws". The irony is even greater in Rousseau, who wrote of the noble savage and the inherent good of human beings, while putting all of his children in an orphanage, to the grief of his wife, the mother of his children! No wonder the former sinner and colonizing, atrocity-committing West, now talks of Human Rights!
Sau sau chooeh khaa ke billi haj ko chali!
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