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Big Business Needs Reins

Who will hold big business accountable for their misdeeds?

Imagine corporate behavior without the watchdogs - the people.

For years we have been told by big business that people have to accept responsibility for their situations. In the meantime, corporate leaders refuse to be held accountable for their unethical, if not illegal, actions. Instead, big business has thrown millions of dollars at politicians to lobby for their self interests. Lawyers have been blamed for runaway verdicts that it claims are increasing the cost of doing business.

In 1995 the Republican-controlled Congress, over the veto of President Clinton, passed the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act which, among other things, made it harder to sue executives and accountants - the types of lawsuits Republicans call "frivolous." This bill made accounting firms "sue-proof" for aiding and abetting securities fraud. The law also made it legal for CEOs to lie about their company’s prospects. Up to that point corporate executives had to avoid all "forward looking" public statements about future earnings. The law permitted Enron’s leaders to lie to stock analysts right up to the end.

But the truth is finally surfacing, and yet corporate American still does not accept responsibility for their actions. Thousands of workers have lost their jobs and thousands more have lost their retirement savings. What began as a scandal with only one company (Enron) apparently has become a pervasive breakdown of responsibility and eroded investor confidence in the entire Wall Street environment.

So, who is going to hold corporations responsible for their actions? Corporate America has to be held accountable. They must be made to understand there is a higher calling than fudging the numbers. Corporate America has to stop fudging a billion dollars here and there, and hope nobody notices.

The fact is there are only two ways to deal with corporate misbehavior. One is through government regulation and the other is by taking them to court and letting a jury decide their fate.

However, over the past decade Congress has weakened government restraint by repeated calls for deregulation. The ability to hold corporate America in check through the courts in private actions and class actions has been come under attack through the guise of "tort reform." Citizen access to the courts has been cut off through the lobbying efforts of big business, which does not like the little guy getting their day in court. By legally "bribing" politicians through lobbying, big business has in essence purchased immunity from lawsuits.

This is why big business initiates all the rhetoric about trial lawyers. Big business spends millions every year bashing lawyers and trying to convince people about the bogus need for tort reform. Let’s keep in mind, that it is lawyers, however, who are leading the investigation and lawyers who are trying to recover people’s life savings. It is any wonder that corporate America, the Republicans and insurance companies have been waging war on lawyers.

The reason for this is simple. Without lawyers, who will fight big business and hold it accountable? You might consider lawyers to be tigers or sharks, but who will bite the corporate hand that dips into your pockets? Imagine corporate behavior without the watchdog trial lawyers.

Democracy is founded on the concept of a trial by jury. It is ultimately a jury of 12 ordinary citizens who decide what is right and what is wrong. Big business and insurance carriers are afraid of this entity jury since it is juries who have the authority to slap big business with big verdicts.

Make no mistake about it. What big business and insurance carriers want is to eliminate the right to a trial by jury. Every person in America should support trial lawyers in their efforts to thwart the selfish agenda of big business to abolish individual rights. Protect your rights.