What I care about

By Gus Bode

In Tyler We Trust

There are a lot of things I care about:my mom’s birthday coming up, getting financial aid, free speech, the War in Iraq and, you know … a lot of other stuff. I spent the entire week compiling a list as research for this column. Around number 5,387 (I care that my green plastic “Special Programs and Center Events” cup no longer gets me free refills at the McDonalds in the Student Center, like they said it would), I realized something. I do not give a damn about the Michael Jackson trial.

I’m sorry, I just don’t. I mean, I appreciate all the effort the media put into finding a new high-profile case for me to fret over every six months. I’ve tried, I really, really have. I woke up and tried to think, “Today feels like a good day for prospective jurors!” or “I sure hope cool-dude Jay Leno has some sweet jabs in his opening monologue!”


The thing is, though, I actually care about things that might have some significance to the people in this country. There have to be a few cases not involving a celebrity or Scott Peterson.

Remember Kenneth Lay? He was one of the goons who raped Enron and stole pensions from thousands of employees. It may have slipped your mind because he was indicted in July 2004 and the trial date was recently set for January 2006. In the meantime, he’s out on bail. After all, when compared to the $90 million he stole, what’s $500,000 to him? As Randy Moss said, “When you’re rich, you don’t write checks. Straight cash, homey.”

If that name didn’t do anything for you, here’s another:Dennis Kozlowsi. He’s a former Tyco CEO who stole over $600 million. He actually went to trial but narrowly avoided conviction with a mistrial. His re-trial is going on right now.

Why care about these cases? Someone needs to. A new report released by the Government Accountability Office shows that “white-collar criminals” convicted of fraud are easily avoiding the harsh punishment of having to pay back what they stole. In the study, it showed that only 7 percent of what was owed was actually being collected. They’ve found legal loopholes to avoid collection, like making a minor child president of the company and then joining as a salaried employee.

But who am I to complain? After all, they got Martha Stewart. She was convicted of trying to cover up insider trading that allowed her to save about $55,000, and the media actually covered this one. “Martha Stewart Trial” was mentioned in an amazing 237 separate Fox News transcripts in the last two years. “Kenneth Lay” was mentioned in a grand total of 7. So, Martha Stewart took less than 1 percent the amount Kenneth Lay stole and gets 3,385 percent the amount of media coverage. This statistic is flawed, though, because no one in his or her right mind would call Fox News “media coverage.”

You know something? I don’t even care much about Martha Stewart. I care about these guys who cost working families their pensions. I care that white-collar criminals don’t have to pay for their crimes in this country, and no one seems to want to do anything about it.