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The Pot and The Kettle

July 21, 2002

The apostle Luke asks an interesting question in Luke 6:41: “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?” I suspect that if he had been watching television this week, he would have confronted the US Congress with that question.

Some who feel the same way, but don’t quote the Bible, might say it is a case of “the pot calling the kettle black.” Either way, it is clear that Congress is on dangerous ground when it self-righteously points its collective finger at corporate America and laments the fiscal mismanagement and fraud it sees there.

I am not here today to defend the actions of the relatively small handful of publicly traded companies that have “cooked their books,” nor of the executives who profited from their deceit. I believe these companies and individuals should be prosecuted to the full extent of the perfectly adequate state laws that already exist to deal with white-collar crime.

“What do you mean, “…relatively small handful” of companies, Tom?!? Don’t you watch the news? Practically every corporation in the nation is corrupt, and is stealing our retirement money!!!”

If you believe that, then you believe almost every young girl in our country has been kidnapped in the last month, and most of our forests are on fire. The intense coverage of these two subjects would certainly lead someone from another planet to believe these things, if their only source of news was television. And it is understandable that the average American (whose only source of news is television) believes all of Corporate America is populated with greedy crooks. Especially when that’s what the liberal media wants America to believe.

The fact is that most corporations are run honestly and give good value back to their investors. If this were not true, we would not have the most advanced and robust economy the world has ever seen, right here in the good old US of A. I don’t believe this is true because men are naturally good. My reading of the Bible makes it clear that unless men turn their hearts to God, they are naturally “deceitful and desperately wicked.” No, the reason most corporations walk the straight and narrow is because of oversight. They have the SEC, state securities officials, independent board members, and, of course, we the shareholders looking over their shoulders. More important, they have a free market keeping them honest. If a company doesn’t perform, shareholders will invest in companies that give them good value.

I wish I could say the same about the Congress. They are accountable to no one. On Fox News, financial reporter Neil Cavuto recently had the guts to ask Congress the question the Apostle Luke would have asked: "Who are you to judge? Given the incredible fiscal mismanagement that pervades the federal government, Congress is ‘throwing stones from a very big glass house.’” It is pure hypocrisy for these greedy, corrupt politicians who produce nothing of value to throw stones at the only productive segment of our nation - especially when Congress has so mismanaged our nation’s finances with unconstitutional taxes and uncontrolled spending.

As I mentioned earlier, there are hundreds of laws already on the books to deal with corporate fraud. But Congress, as usual, has decided to use our pain for their gain. Overheard in the smoke-filled back rooms of the House and Senate, “Americans are scared and hurting because of Enron, WorldCom and the others. How can we make political hay from all this? I know - let’s show them how tough we are!”

So the House passes a bill doubling the maximum sentence for corporate fraud. The Senate responds, “My bill is bigger than yours,” and doubles the maximum sentence again! Real tough guys. I’m sure impressed. I’d be a lot more impressed if Congress would get its own house in order!

Texas Congressman Ron Paul, one of the few honest politicians on the Hill, is also one of the few who has the courage to speak up about the fraud and corruption in our nation’s capital. Because he has said it so well, I will end this article by quoting a paragraph from his recent article, “What About Government Accountability?” (To read the entire article, which I would heartily recommend, click here.)

“No corporation on earth comes close to the accounting fraud practiced year after year by the federal government. In fact, there is no real accountability at all for the trillions in tax dollars raised and spent annually by Congress and our entrenched federal agencies. The official "accounting" that does take place is a sham. Every year Congress creates a meaningless budget, the Fed prints phony money, the Budget office issues false revenue forecasts, and the administrative agencies waste billions in the most unproductive ways imaginable. Literally tens of billions of dollars go unaccounted for every year, simply disappearing down bureaucratic black holes. This hardly represents a standard against which corporations should be judged!”

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Copyright ©2002 Tom Barrett

Dr. Tom Barrett is a pastor, teacher, author, conference keynote speaker, professor, certified executive coach, and marketplace minister. His teaching and coaching have blessed both church and business leaders. He has been ordained for over 40 years, and has pastored in seven churches over that time. Today he “pastors pastors” as he oversees ordained and licensed ministers in Florida for his ministerial fellowship.

He has written thousands of articles that have been republished in national newspapers and on hundreds of websites, and is a frequent guest on radio and television shows. His weekly Conservative Truth article (which is read by 250,000) offers a unique viewpoint on social, moral and political issues from a Biblical worldview. This has resulted in invitations to speak internationally at churches, conferences, Money Shows, universities, and on TV (including the 700 Club).

“Dr. Tom,” as his readers and followers affectionately refer to him, has a passion for teaching, as you can see from his ministry website (www.ChristianFinancialConcepts.com); his patriotic site (www.ConservativeTruth.org); and his business site (www.GoldenArtTreasures.com). Tom's friend Dr. Lance Wallnau wrote of him, "Tom Barrett is a Renaissance man with a passion for subject matter ranging from finance to theology and American history."
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