Regarding "Enron and campaign finance" (Jan. 29): What everyone needs to know about Enron is that while it was ripping off its investors it was also ripping off our environment. From forest products, crude oil and natural gas, to coal, pulp, and paper, Enron contributed to the mercilessly taxed our land and waters. Ozone problems exist because we burn too many fossil fuels. We have polluted rivers because of logging and toxic dumping. Our oceans are over-fished and our population is out of control. We need to change, and our environment needs time to re-generate itself.
Our energy companies need rehabilitation, the same way our criminals do. Let Enron be the example. Their penalty should be to fund alternative solutions, and our government should follow through to ensure that they do.
Woodland Hills, Calif.
It's clear that Enron handed lots of money to members of both parties in both houses of Congress. Naturally, all claim they were not influenced by this largess, and perhaps they were not. But has anyone suggested that these politicians deposit the money they accepted into a fund to help the employees and retirees most adversely affected by the Enron collapse? Such action would give credibility to their claims, would help those who stand to suffer most by Enron's demise, and would be a much-needed means of putting principle above politics.
Not only did Enron lock its rank-and-file employees into their company 401(k) plans, but it also demanded inhumane hours and single-minded dedication from its employees. This unconscionable demand for the very hearts and souls of employees at Enron was supported by a corporate culture based upon compulsory workaholism and unrelenting employee competition.
Employees are encouraged and pressured by top management by means of insidious "carrot and stick" company policies: Namely, impressive-sounding fringe benefits and largely illusory promises of advancement, held out in exchange for "performance." Meanwhile, excommunication (termination or forced resignation) was the punishment for failure to achieve a certain quota.
My wishes are that all former Enron employees have swift financial recovery, success in their lawsuits against the guilty parties, and a more civilized and humane work environment the next time around.
Bryn Mawr, Penn.
Regarding Godfrey Sperling's Jan. 22 column, "How Bush can keep approval sky high": President Bush is undoubtedly concerned that his ratings have slipped from 90 to 80 percent. But I'm more concerned that they went up because of the US military reaction to Sept. 11.
Following in the footsteps of leaders who used large-scale violence to rid the world of people they perceived as evil, Mr. Bush held all of Afghanistan accountable for the actions of a few. What were we thinking when Bush urged India to resolve conflicts peacefully as we bombed Afghanistan? Or when he renewed support for space weapons, ignoring how terrorists actually wage war? Or when he asked us to shop until we drop, while fully aware that we have inadequate retirement savings? Did we not notice his short-sighted decision not to attend international conferences on global warming and race relations?
Thanks to media "infotainment," our leaders directed our attention to airline security, instead of the more complex political dynamics that fuel terrorism. A wise president understands that our well-being depends on that of the rest of humanity.
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