Never Having to Say You Are Sorry

Never Having to Say You Are Sorry

Experience has demonstrated that the justice system serves an important role in holding people and corporations responsible for their actions and in providing a strong incentive to change wrong behavior. Big business has always angled for laws which give them immunity for their actions and especially for laws which prevent them from being judged in open court by juries made up of citizens.  It came as no surprise,when, by an extraordinary Presidential Executive Order, President Bush, in May of this year, extended for another year the blanket immunity from legal actions against US corporations doing business in Iraq. It was almost unnoticed until some media discovered what had been done. This allows another year of unlimited opportunity for these corporations to continue to loot the country of Iraq and US taxpayers with immunity from legal action for what they do.Enron_1 

We now find that there is a new surge by big business, with the corperation of this administration, to extend general corporate legal immunity to corporations in the U.S. Such groups as the Cato Institute and Adminstration Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson have advocated such action. The Cato Institute has long been identified with the Republican Party through numerous ties. It’s corporate sponsors include such companies as ExxonMobil. Media mogul Rupert Murdoch has served on it’s board of directors. It has been a long time advocate of Social Security privatization. A combination of Administration figures, special interest groups and big business have begun a campaign to limit the liability of auditing firms for corporations, to limit the ability to prosecute corporations, to eliminate jury trials for corporate wrong doing and to sharply limit the ability of the Justice Department in these cases. One of the primary goals is to drastically limit the application of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act which was passed following  a number of major corporate and accounting scandals including Enron, Tyco International and World Com. One significant provision of the Act established a new quasi-public agency to oversee, regulate, inspect and discipline accounting firms when auditing public corporations.  It also has provisions for auditor independence, corporate restrictions and increased financial disclosure. It provides for careful audits of corporate internal financial records. Needless to say, these groups seek to repeal or revise the Act until it is a “tooth less tiger.” Of course, they plan to keep a low profile about this effort until after the elections.

The English long ago rejected the idea that the king can do no wrong. In America, the founders believed that immunity for one’s actions was unhealthy and un American. A system of checks and balances with accountability was created. From the time this country was founded, there have been those who have tried to find any means of avoiding responsibility for what they do and the effort has always been spearheaded by the rich and powerful. Immunity for what one does is bad for America. The best guard against wrong doing is the American justice system and the American jury system where all parties are on the same level and subject to the same law.

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