Yesterday, I had Dave Ross on from CBS Radio to talk about the whole Enron mess.
Ross is a funny guy and I like him, but you people out there have got to learn to distinguish between liking somebody and agreeing with him.
I don't agree with Ross that the government should cover the losses of employees who had their life savings tied up in Enron 401(k)s.
The employees should get something back to make themselves — if not whole, at least partial — but it shouldn't come from our tax dollars.
Maybe the money could come from the guilty parties, like the Enron execs. Maybe employee 401(k)s could get tied into the company that takes Enron's assets. Why shouldn't an obligation go with an asset?
But a government bailout is wrong, and to equate it with the government picking up the tab for the victims of Sept. 11 is apples and oranges.
None of the Sept. 11 victims are happy with the compensation fund. Those victims died. The Enron victims had their property taken, and the law recognizes a big difference there.
Don't take this as being cavalier about the Enron employees. They got screwed by a bunch of high-flying big guys, and the big guys should pay and pay and pay and then — if somebody can find the crime — go to jail.
But it's wrong to make the guy in Des Moines pay for the malfeasance of the guys in the executive suite at Enron. That's literally robbing Peter to pay Paul for Kenny boy's problem.
Investing is risky. Even your 401(k) is risky. Should the government do something to try to ensure this won't happen to employees at some other company with high-flying stock? Sure. That would be smart.
A government bailout is a transfer of wealth from one party to another, and it isn't justified here.
And by the way, I wasn't so happy about that airline bailout either. On Sept. 11, Southwest had a year's worth of cash on hand. If they could do it, the others should have too. Then they wouldn't have needed your tax money.
That's My Word.
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