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Posted: January 29, 2009 7:10 p.m.

Broken trust

 Dear Editor: There’s a kind of stench hanging over our country. It is the stink of corruption on a grand scale with a large admixture of incompetence thrown in. It’s not new; we’ve always had our Bernie Cornfields, the ‘pump and dump’ thugs of New York boiler room infamy, the Jack Abramoffs, Duke Cunninghams, Rod Blagojevichs, Bernie Madoffs, Hughey Longs, etc. These crumb bums now permeate American business and government at all levels. That’s the new part; they’re everywhere.

  Beyond that — and this has gone largely without comment- — corporate boards of directors seemingly no longer serve to protect the shareholder. Most of them are selected for complicity by the very people over whom they supposedly watch. Very few of them have been held accountable for their misdeeds.

 Lawyers still obfuscate, and the TV commercials lie with such skill that Daniel Webster would be amazed at their facility with the language. Our regulatory agencies, such as the FCC and SEC are captives of the very entities they are supposed to regulate, and our last president had little respect for the constitution he swore to uphold. Our banks seem incapable of self management, and our deficit spending threatens to devalue our currency.

 Warren Buffet said it: You don’t know who’s swimming naked until the tide goes out. It seems there are a lot of people swimming in the buff nowadays. Or, just maybe, they’ve been doing it for a long time, and the world suddenly threw in a surprise, a curveball, the unexpected paradigm change. The tide is out, they’re naked, and everyone is looking. It’s not a pretty sight and, without the current debacles, it is likely we might never have known.

 Lives have been ruined.

 People have lost that essential ingredient to both good governance and good business practice: Trust. Trust is the lubricant of all transactions. Without it we are dead in the water, and no amount of deficit spending will change that.

 What are we to do? Try by whatever means to restore that trust by demanding justice, draconian if need be. We no longer need to go abroad in search of monsters to destroy. We have plenty of them right here at home.

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