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Chief Executive (U.S.), January/February 2005 | Go to article overview

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Eliot Spitzer's 'Crusade'

I practically had to wipe a tear from my eye after reading your December editorial ("Spitzer's Climate of Fear," Final Word). As a CEO, I didn't know that my peers were being stalked by an avenging, self-righteous, career-stepping politician. How dare Spitzer think that, just because the good people of New York elected him as attorney general, he has the authority to go after anyone wearing a pin-striped suit or sitting in a corner office?

In a culture that increasingly glorifies "victimization," we've hit a new low: Now we CEOs are screaming, "Persecution!" Your editorial contained several examples of this perceived class assault (I've paraphrased slightly):

"This is the way we've always done it. Why is it wrong now?"

"Everyone else is doing it. Why pick on me?" (I've heard this defense before -most recently from my six-year-old grandson.)

Despite your survey results, I refuse to believe that the majority of American CEOs would agree with your assertion that "everyone involved in business realizes there are many practices that fall into the gray zone." Rigging bids, stealing from shareholders, falsifying financial reports ... these are not "gray areas." They are black and white. And they are wrong.

Lloyd L. Hill

Chairman and CEO

Applebee's International

Overland Park, Kan.

As a long-time CEO of a large company, I take issue with your criticism of Eliot Spitzer's investigations into Corporate America. While you insist that many business practices "fall into the gray zone," I would argue that's not what is at issue here. Rather, it's that our nation suffers from a new malady. Call it American Integrity Deterioration Syndrome.

Our cumulative evolved behavior has turned previous blacks into grays and many previous grays into whites. If the New York attorney general is to help cure this infection, his form of penicillin has to be strong. For many people, fear is the most-or only-effective constraint on bad behavior.

Josh S. Weston

Honorary Chairman

Automatic Data Processing

Roseland, N.J.

Don't Blame the Schools

Craig Barrett's claim that the U.S. is doomed economically because our public schools are failing ("Fixing America's Educational System," Agenda 2005, December) is essentially an update of the charges made in "A Nation At Risk." But repeating something often enough docs not make it any more true today than it did in 1983, when the controversial report on America's schools was issued.

Despite new competition from nations such as India and China, the U. …

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