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Issue No. 196 19 September 2003  
E D I T O R I A L

A Secret Country
So Tony Abbott has tabled his legislation to crush the CFMEU, while refusing to release the secret volume of the Royal Commission on which the recommendations are based.

F E A T U R E S

Interview: Crowded Lives
Labor frontbencher Lindsay Tanner talks us through his new book on the importance of relationships and why politics is letting the people down.

Activists: Life With Brian
Work by men like Brian Fitzpatrick is exposing new Australians to old truths. Jim Marr reports

Industrial: National Focus
A showdown looms in Cancun, Qantas gets bolshie, casual and lazy in its response to aviation challenges, and long festering disputes fester on in Victoria and Tasmania reports Noel Hester in this national wrap.

Unions: If These Walls Could Talk
Trades Hall is preparing for a major facelift but first, Jim Marr reports, it must bid farewell to the colourful bunch who have populated its dusty corridors in recent years.

Economics: Beating the Bastards
Frank Stilwell looks at some of the proposals for building a fairer finance sector.

Media: Three Corners
So its come to this. Four Corners, one of the world's longest running television programs is now under pressure from an ABC Executive that is less cultural visionary than feral abacus.

History: The Brisbane Line
Percy Spender was Menzies' foreign minister, but, Neale Towart asks, was he also prepared to serve as Prime Minister in a Japanese controlled Australia?

Trade: The Dumping Problem
Oxfam-CAA helps set the scene for this month's World Trade Organisation in Cancun.

Review: Frankie's Way
In The Night We Called It A Day Frank Sinatra learns 'sorry' Down Under is a loaded word and refusal to say it when due will lose fans in important places, writes Tara de Boehmler.

N E W S

 Cole Skeletons Shake Monk

 Abbott Flags Move On Nurses

 Workplace Bullies Leave Three Dead

 People’s Bank Scraps People

 Left-Right Combo Drops Motorway Boss

 Free Wally - Movie Offer

 Detention for Minister Who Praised Scabs

 Cancun Flop Spurs Local Stars

 Public Sector: Cuts and Thrusts

 Medicare Cuts Take Cake

 Beating Around The Bush

 Other Half Lives It Up

 Anderson Ducks Mudgee Bill

 Deaf, Blind and Looking For Friends

 Filipino Vote Call

 Activists Notebook

C O L U M N S

The Soapbox
Staking Our Territory
ACTU secretary Greg Combet argued for a fairer Australia in his keynote address to last month's ACTU Congress.

The Locker Room
Seasonally Agisted
Spring is a season when a person’s thoughts turn to…horse racing. Phil Doyle reports on the fate of nags and folk heroes.

Housing
Beyond the Block
We are wild about the people who live in The Block but not too interested in those who are on the streets outside, writes Michael Rafferty.

Politics
The Westie Wing
Workers friend Ian West MLC, reports form the Bearpit about a project to raise awareness about trade unionism amongst young people.

Postcard
The Awkward Squad
Paul Smith meets one of the new generation of British union leaders who is taking the ball up to the Blair spin team.

L E T T E R S
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WHAT YOU CAN DO
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Tool Shed

SUPERGRASSO


At the heart of the world of capital lies the New York Stock Exchange, and at the heart of the New York Stock Exchange lies a man that makes Gordon Gecko look like Mother Theresa. Just when you thought the trough couldn’t get any deeper along comes a pig like our Tool Of The Week, Richard A. Grasso.

*****

How do we know the universe is infinite? Because it has to contain the ignorance of the board of the New York Stock Exchange and the greed of its chairman, Richard A. Grasso.

This week union and state pension funds in the United States decided to pull the plug on Grasso, who had set levels for corporate excess that even made Dick Cheney blush.

In the wake of the collapse of Arthur Anderson and Worldcom - events that threw millions in the richest country in the world into poverty - a bold new era of corporate governance was forecast, with the New York Stock Exchange set to lead the way in accountability, transparency and restraint.

This sort of crazy talk often emanates from the business media whenever the latest gorging is discovered. Of course their sociopathic ramblings mean jack. They are about as useful as Worldcom scrip, but not as much as the paper it is written on, when it comes to unravelling the tangled web that is the machinations of the modern market.

The truly amusing aspect to the Grasso fiasco (That is, unless your life savings were invested in WorldCom) is that the oracles of Wall Street act with such dignified horror when one of their pin up boys gets caught with the snout in the trough.

Grasso was into the New York Stock Exchange to the tune of US$140 million. Luckily it was not a performance-based remuneration as news of Mr. Grasso's compensation package came on the heels of several recent high-profile acts of common and large-scale theft, which in stock market parlance is known as a scandal.

In a mild understatement some industry leaders and politicians have said revelations of his exorbitant pay package eroded investor confidence in how the stock market is run. It has also demolished belief in god, human dignity and any other view of the US Business Community than that they are anything but a self-serving bunch of power-mad plutocrats.

This is in keeping with the stock market's belief that the scandal is not so much a crime, as a foolishness in getting caught.

To put it in perspective it would take an army of 1000 junkies over a year working day and night to steal the equivalent sum through housebreaking. If a thousand households a night were being broken into we might call it a crime wave. But when someone as unproductive and leechlike as Grasso pockets his pay we call it poor corporate governance. Maybe it's related to where the protagonist went to school.

Of course it is important in a democracy to know how the world's most powerful stock market is run, as it will help the punter to understand why the stock market is more important than democracy. In fact an understanding of the stock market will help explain why it is more important than the environment, labour standards or three fifths of the world's population being able to access clean drinking water.

Perhaps it is only fair that Mr Grasso is considered to be 4666.67 times more valuable to the US economy than a high school teacher, paramedic or police officer. After all, these people haven't showed any of the initiative shown by our Tool Of The Week. They, instead, devote their labour to helping their fellow human beings and creating a better world.

They must be deluded.

Grasso finally resigned last Wednesday, about five years too late.

As Sean Harrigan, Chairman of the Californian Public Employees Retirement Fund, says: "Today we're trying to pull the pig away from the trough and the next step is to figure out who filled up the trough."



Show Us YOUR TOOL!

The most inspiring interpretation of this week's tool get's a souvenir edition of Ship of Tools. Deface the Tool of the Week, click the button above to post your artwork, fill out the form and send your entry in and we'll post the winners next week in the Tool of the Week Gallery.

 
 

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