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July 22, 2005 | Page 12

The corporate crime wave
Perpetuating a stereotype
Apologies they owe us

The Army's false promise

LET ME begin by saying that the information I read on your Web site was like a breath of fresh air to me.

I was one of the many unfortunate individuals that got taken in with an enlistment bonus for the Army. When I enlisted I went into the delayed entry program on November 2, 2000, for a bonus in the amount of $9,000. "Wow," I said, "that will be a great start when I get out of Advanced Individual Training."

Of course, we all know that we have to pay taxes, but how much? How about paying as much as 69 percent from each disbursement? From my first disbursement of $7000, there was $4,830 taken in taxes, and for each disbursement following in the amount of $500, $345 was taken.

Two years of being both in the military had begun to take its toll on both me and my husband, so I chaptered out. Little did I know I would not be receiving any pay for the month of January, and that they would take the money back for selling almost 40 days of leave time. I am currently paying the remainder of the bonus back today.

It's a long ongoing story. I had problems getting unemployment; DFAS reported the extra income to the IRS in 2002, but didn't notify me of another existing W-2 until this year, so I owe money there as well.

I could go on and on, but it wouldn't change anything. I would just like to say keep getting the truth out, and maybe things will change.
Dante Collins, from the Internet

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The corporate crime wave

WASHINGTON IS sending a message to Corporate America: after a few touchy years, it's cool to be crooked again.

The signs are unmistakable. President Bush has nominated Rep. Christopher Cox, a pro-business fundamentalist, to head the Securities and Exchange Commission. This prospective chief regulator of U.S. stock markets has received over $250,000 in donations from the securities industry.

The Supreme Court recently vacated the conviction of Enron's shred-happy auditor Arthur Andersen in a verdict widely understood to discourage already-difficult prosecution of "white-collar" crimes.

And, in a stunning move, the Justice Department has offered to settle a major federal lawsuit against the tobacco industry for $10 billion--big money, but a tad less than the $130 billion that the government's own expert witness said it would take to launch an anti-smoking campaign to undo generations of tobacco company lies. Even the tobacco lawyers responded with disbelief to this move, rumored to come from the highest levels.

Democrats have responded to all this with their usual slavishness, staying mum or actively championing insane pro-business legislation like the gutting of bankruptcy protections.

Not that corporate scandals have gone away. Insurance giant AIG recently admitted to cooking its books, mutual fund managers are under investigation for using dirty tricks to cheat small investors and drug companies are facing record--and growing--fines for pricing fraud. New disclosures of "improprieties" grace the pages of the financial press every day--although such stories rarely make it into the popular media where working-class people might learn about it.

What kind of justice system throws cancer patients in jail for smoking pot while letting corporate crooks live the high life on stolen money?
Shaun Joseph, Providence, R.I.

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Perpetuating a stereotype

AS A rehabilitation counselor for people living with severe mental illness, I feel compelled to respond to two articles recently published in Socialist Worker.

In his review of the film Cinderella Man, "Seabiscuit in boxing gloves" (June 24), Dave Zirin wrote: "Baer struts around with a psychotic gleam in his eye, as if he would enjoy nothing more than killing Braddock and spitting on his grave. In reality, Baer was devastated by the ring deaths that occurred at his hands, as any non-sociopath would be." In "The New Republic[ans]" (February 18), Zirin used the phrase "psychotic rant" to describe a piece by The New Republic's T.A. Frank in which Frank called for the torture and murder of antiwar activists.

It is clear that Zirin has made the all too common mistake of confusing the term "psychotic" with the term "psychopathic."

For future reference, the latter refers to a person who repeatedly violates the rights of others, and who lacks the capacity to experience guilt or remorse (In a more just world, we would see pictures of Bush, Clinton, and T.A. Frank next to the dictionary definition of "psychopath"!). The former refers to disorders like schizophrenia, in which a person suffers from hallucinations, delusions, disorganized thought and speech, etc.

Contrary to the stereotype perpetuated by the mass media, people with psychotic disorders are generally not violent. In the future, Socialist Worker would do well to avoid contributing--albeit unintentionally--to the already enormous stigma with which people like my clients must cope on a daily basis.
Jenni Rowe, Baltimore

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Apologies they owe us

I THINK it is great that the U.S. Senate has "apologized" for not passing legislation against lynching. I wonder if the Congress will apologize for its support of slavery and the terrible treatment of the American Indians. Shouldn't they?
Chuck Mann, Greensboro, N.C.

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