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December 14, 2006

good news for millionaires

Remember, the great thing about the market is that it's self-correcting!  After criminals ran Enron and WorldCom into the ground, Congress enacted the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.  The intention of this act was to keep in check corporate fraud, whether in the form of book-cooking or in the form of bad-faith internal transactions.  The good people of America were mad, see, mad as heck!  So a courageous Congress took action, and everyone slept well.

Now, four or so years later, the country has come to its senses.  Executive compensation has exploded, while real wages are stagnant.  Accordingly, the Securities and Exchange Commission has decided to break those chains that bind.  An excerpt:

The proposed revisions are to 2002's sweeping antifraud legislation, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.  The SEC is acting in response to complaints by companies that a key requirement of the law enacted after a wave of corporate scandals is overly burdensome and costly.

Yeah, in a perfect world, antifraud legislation should carry no burden and be absolutely cost-free -- why should our corporate citizens be punished for the transgressions of a few?  Besides, all those transgressors did was wipe out billions and billions of dollars of equity; it's not like anyone got mugged.  People just lost their entire life savings, which is why we make sure that there is small print saying that there is a possibility of that happening in all investment documentation.  And that small print costs money!

Just to double-check on this, I checked the mission statement of the Securities and Exchange Commission:

The laws and rules that govern the securities industry in the United States derive from a simple and straightforward concept: all investors, whether large institutions or private individuals, should have access to certain basic facts about an investment prior to buying it, and so long as they hold it.

See?  In no way is the SEC acting contrary to its charter -- "Certain basic facts" must surely not include whether or not the corporation is committing fraud, for Heaven's sake.

It's good to see the natural order of the world restored.  And while you're at it, don't be quitting that second job anytime soon.

Posted by mrbrent at 10:31 AM

December 13, 2006

et tu, bandar?

I love it when the news events unfold in a fashion reminding one of a novel.  Specifically, a thriller -- no, not one of those new-fangled Jeff Long novels or even a Neal Stephenson gentlemanly and obsessively-plotted roller-coaster, more like a Ludlum or a le CarrĂ©, something you swiped from your parent's library and ended up enjoying.

Last night, Josh Marshall posts on the mysterious and sudden departure of the Saudi ambassador to the United States.  Just a weird little non-story of questionable interest outside of the world of diplomacy, with TPM pondering its significance.

This morning, the story breaks that the Saudis will pick sides in the event of a civil war that continues after a US withdrawal.  And not just pick sides, but pick the Sunnis, which is not necessarily the side that we would pick, if the Administration ever gets around to "deciding" anything.

So basically, the ambassador of our largest Arab ally delivers the news of their intention to hold our feet over the fire, and then it's all, "Here's my hat/What's my hurry?"  Hopefully one of the players in this was wearing a smoking jacket at the time, because the story has that texture to it.

And remember last week, those photos of President Bush holding the ISG report, looking wan and peaked?  Perhaps thinking to himself, "Well, it can't get much worse than this"?  Think again, Mr President.  And, might I add, a big "Way ta go."

Posted by mrbrent at 11:46 AM

December 12, 2006

mallard fillmore finally amusing

I've long wondered (publicly) why the comic strip Mallard Fillmore isn't funny.  Answer: Conservatives, like Bruce Tinsley, Fillmore's creator, are generally not funny and Consverative attempts at humor consist largely of feminist-this and ACLU-that.

I will admit to this, though -- Tinsley has finally found a way to amuse me.

Posted by mrbrent at 4:29 PM