There Is No Cat

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Saturday, November 2, 2002

Harvey Pitt is on the roof

It looks like Harvey Pitt, the head of the Securities and Exchange Commission, may finally have slit his own throat. This story by the Associated Press is the first sign that the White House has given up on him. They're saying they haven't, but they're not exactly giving him a ringing endorsement. The message I get from this is that he's toast. And a good thing, too. He's been a complete disaster for investor confidence in the market, a toady of the now-discredited accounting industry.

It wasn't enough that he backtracked on the nomination of John Biggs as the head of the commission that would look into auditing because his accounting overlords considered that Biggs might actually do something. He originally supported Biggs, then withdrew his support in one of the more blatant examples of an administration flunky buckling under to their masters in industry, despite widespread acclaim for Biggs and his approach to making the accounting industry more accountable. That wasn't enough to get the White House to abandon him, since they're basically all corporate flunkies themselves. But now, the reports coming out that Pitt didn't tell the rest of the SEC that the accounting industry's preferred candidate, William Webster, had been complicit by omission in accounting fraud himself through his position on the audit committee of a company now under investigation, appears to have been too much for even the bush leaguers in the White House. It makes it absolutely crystal clear that the criticism of Pitt for being in the pocket of the people interested in perpetuating the status quo is true. And that destroys investor confidence in the transparency of the markets, making it seem like the whole game is rigged against the little guy. With that attitude, normal people will stay out of the market, and ensure that Bush's abysmal record on the economy will continue.

Even Bush seems to realize this now. I see this article as the equivalent of telling the vacationing friend whose cat you're watching that the cat is on the roof. The only question at this point is whether Webster will have to go too. He certainly hasn't done his reputation as an honest civil servant any favors.

Posted at 6:00 PM


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This site is copyright © 2002-2024, Ralph Brandi.

What do you mean there is no cat?

"You see, wire telegraph is a kind of a very, very long cat. You pull his tail in New York and his head is meowing in Los Angeles. Do you understand this? And radio operates exactly the same way: you send signals here, they receive them there. The only difference is that there is no cat."

- Albert Einstein, explaining radio

There used to be a cat

[ photo of Mischief, a black and white cat ]

Mischief, 1988 - December 20, 2003

[ photo of Sylvester, a black and white cat ]

Sylvester (the Dorito Fiend), who died at Thanksgiving, 2000.


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