In One Eye

Thursday, June 16, 2005
I haven't been following the Cox story as closely as I should have—or would like to—but an editorial (subscription required) in this week's Nation pretty much brings me up to speed.
The appointment of Representative Christopher Cox to lead the Securities and Exchange Commission is as shameful as sending John Bolton to the United Nations, and should arouse a comparable swell of objections. Cox is a wholly owned agent of the financial and corporate interests the SEC is supposed to regulate. His political career has been financed by the same sectors--banking, accounting, corporate--that produced scandals like Enron and WorldCom. In return, he's worked to shield his patrons from the scrutiny of the government regulators, whom they duped, and the shareholders, whom they swindled.

Bush and his White House are beyond shame, of course. Their "code of honor" is as straightforward as the Mafia's: Always protect ideological kinfolk; always reward monied friends. What's public policy got to do with it? Or a decent respect for public values? The Bush cynics are assuming they can fog this one past Congress without awakening the public. Many Americans were deeply injured by the criminal collaborations of financiers and money-crazed CEOs. Yet the SEC is not well-known, its crucial role in policing Wall Street not widely understood. If the cynics prove correct and Cox is confirmed, replacing resigning chairman William Donaldson, George W. Bush will become an unindicted co-conspirator in this looting.

Bush intends to shut down any further possibility for reform, much to the relief of his patrons in corporate boardrooms and leading banks, plus their propagandists at the Business Roundtable, the US Chamber of Commerce and the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal. What scandal? These things happen in capitalism; get over it, losers. The financial-market casino will be open again for business, relieved of the modestly stiffened supervision adopted in law and regulation after the stench of Enron et al. Bring back your savings, suckers, and take another chance.
I'll be interested to see if this plutocrat (Let us remember that he sponsored the horrid 1995 law aimed at limiting shareholders' ability to sue companies for alleged securities fraud.) gets the job. If he does, it might be worth taking my money out of equities until he's replaced.