Kind of Pitt is This?
January 31, 2003
By Joseph Arrieta
Harvey Pitt, Chairman of the SEC, resigned on election night
last year. He'd made a complete cluster of his appointment
of William Webster to serve as head of the new oversight accounting
board - turned out Webster was on an audit committee that
was being investigated for fraud.
In a little dance so pathetic it's sad, Pitt announced amid
the furor that he'd have the SEC investigate itself for this
gem. "Oh, Pitt," Karl Rove and Andy Card must have
said, firing him once the last polling station was closed.
"Rather than be a burden to you or the agency, I feel
it is in everyone's best interest if I step aside now, to
allow the agency to continue the important efforts we have
As I write this, Harvey Pitt is still on the job. What kind
of Pitt is this?
Anyone else reading this would have been fired in a slightly
different fashion. Payroll and network accounts are instantly
shut down, some boxes dumped next to the chair and it's stated
bluntly that one has 30 minutes to get the hell out. Often
a security guard hangs around to make sure everything stays
Harvey, on the other hand, has some special Republican pixie
dust on his shoulders. He was fired approximately 85 days
ago and the Pitthead is still collecting a paycheck, still
contaminating SEC documents with his grubby corporate mitts.
He completely screwed up his job, announced to world he was
leaving and yet 85 days later is still there. Ain't that some
2002 was a disaster for the securities markets. Widespread
accounting fraud erupted across the news wires, every major
indice lost significant value, and Congress passed a half-assed
securities reform bill that had no options rules. The public
and investing community took it all in and continued to dump
shares in 2003. Apparently firing the head of the SEC but
letting him keep his job isn’t the greatest prescription
for investor confidence. No Pitt.
It should be abundantly clear with Pitt's continuing presence
that the Bush administration thinks securities and accounting
oversight is a game - a game of fraud, abuse, and felonies
where the bad guys are fired but allowed to keep their jobs
and their stolen money. The hapless investors and employees
who inevitably suffer from this rigged charade? The Bush Administration
doesn't give a Pitt.
Even though the Bush administration treats the investing public
as childish powerless pawns they can manipulate at will, an
extremely effective tactic is available for even the smallest
investor: get out. 401k's are not exclusively set up for stocks
- in just 15 minutes an entire 401k portfolio can be switched
to bond funds.
It is indeed amazing the feeling the of peace and security
that comes about from knowing all of one's retirement money
is safe from the securities jackals.
There is a caveat to the tactic. Be sure to let the mutual
funds manager and the NYSE
know that trillions of dollars of lost wealth and one's retirement
money is not something to play around with. That allegedly
firing someone and having them still on the job 85 days later
is just another way of being lied to. That although integrity,
honesty, sincerity and wisdom have been tossed in the Pitter
at the SEC they still make up a vital bedrock for a real citizen's
The jackals can't steal any securities money if no one gives
it to them to start with. The Bush administration and Wall
Street lie and snicker at the investing public to this very
day, but the instant they're aware a great many investors
are not putting up with this Pitt things will start to change.
Joseph Arrieta is a writer and web producer living in San