Wednesday, June 29, 2005

It Pays to be, make that SEEM Nice

Michael Jackson--NOT Guilty.

Martha Stewart--Guilty.

Baretta--NOT Guilty.

Bernie Ebbers--Guilty.

O.J. Simpson--NOT Guilty.

Leona Helmsley--Guilty.

Richard Scrushy (former founder/CEO of HealthSouth who was "ignorant" of the huge scheme that overstated profits to the tune of 2.7 BILLION bucks and made him a rich guy)--NOT Guilty.

What do all these people have in common? They are all guilty to one degree or another. What else? They all could afford the best defense money could buy.

So why do some get off and others get nailed? Why are a psycho pedophile and two murderers along with a stealing CEO off the hook and golfing a round (or in Michael's case riding around on a golf cart looking at little boys, monkeys and llamas) while other people doing time?

The federal government is asking to give Bernie Ebbers 85 years in prison for defrauding WorldCom shareholders to the tune of 2.2 billion with a B dollars.

Does he deserve it?

Does he deserve 85 years when a murderer might get a manslaughter conviction and 20 years? Does stealing money equal loss of life? Really, anyway what is a life worth? How much money can be exchanged for a human life? A million dollars? A hundred thousand? $10? If you valued a life at a million dollars, old Bernie is on the hook for approximately 2000+ deaths. That's almost the number of people who died in the World Trade Center.

Is Bernie Ebbers a corporate terrorist? Can we equivocate malicious money abuse to murder?

Here is my theory:
Some people are more likeable than others. The people who "got off" somehow managed to appear "sympathetic" to the jury while the other defendants came across rich, entitled, unrepentent, arrogant, and everything "Average Joes" loathe and envy all at the same time.

Another example: Bill Clinton would be forgiven again. I'd like to go out for a beer with him myself. I bet he's fun and wouldn't "talk down" to me. But Newt Gingrich? Well, just look at his name...Newt Grinch. Plus, he has that kind of high-pitched intensity that makes you nervous. You know what I mean?

O.J.? He's just that frazzled guy running through airports and being silly in Airplane movies. And as we sit here the true murderer is rampaging through LA today.

Michael Jackson? How dangerous can a guy be who shows up to court in pajamas? Eccentric. He's eccentric. Forget that no normal 45 year old man would even consider giving booze to a 12 year old and sleeping with him. In the same bed. "Sleeping" in the SAME BED.

Let's do a word association for a moment.
Martha Stewart...............mean
Leona bitch
Bernie Ebbers (average guy)........who?
Michael Jackson..............thriller
O.J......................the juice

Richard Scushy (in his home town)...nice guy
Exhibit A:
But people close to the company insist the fraud was maintained for so long because of his influence. As chief executive, they say, he held sway over a circle of young, ambitious locals glad to accept an opportunity that was rare in Birmingham: a chance to be a leader in a Fortune 500 company and amass wealth. The parties and glamorous lifestyle were even more of a draw.Emery Harris, one of the senior executives who admits helping inflate earnings, was only 33 and already a group vice-president. Other mid-level executives, including those who admitted their guilt last week to conspiring to commit securities fraud, were hired with little accounting experience but given senior finance positions relatively quickly.According to plea agreements, Rebecca Kay Morgan, 35, rose to group vice-president of finance though she had taken only a few accounting courses when she was first hired in 1987. Cathy Edwards, 39, was also employed by the accounting department with no experience and later became vice-president. Both women helped falsify ledgers and account statements, practices they said they were assured were to be temporary. Diagnosis of fraud. Financial Times April 15, 2003

Richard was likeable--even to a jury. And, as far as I can tell being "nice" even if you're a murderer, pedophile, thief or scumbag gives you a free pass.

I guess mom was right after all: it pays to seem nice.
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