A Job For Big Government

Someone Needs To Keep An Eye On Big Business

A weekly commentary by CBS News Correspondent Andy Rooney:

For a long time now, most of us have thought that there's too much government in Washington. We say "Washington" as though it was a dirty word.

Maybe the pendulum has reached the top and ought to start swinging the other way. Maybe we need more government, not less.

Something's seriously wrong when the seventh-largest company in the country, Enron, suddenly goes broke and the president of the company walks away with a couple of hundred million dollars while the employees get zilch.

There are things that need to be done to fix a problem that big and only government is big enough to do it.

The first thing we need from government is a law that prevents Business from buying politicians. That's a crude way to put it, but it's the truth.

How did we ever let this happen?

Enron was doing things that were bad for all of us and the government didn't stop it because Enron had paid to get a lot of politicians elected.

We all like President George W. Bush. He's a good guy doing a hard job, but he took half a million dollars for his campaign from Enron.

The Attorney General, John Ashcroft, has excused himself from making any decisions in this case; he took $57,000 from them.

The head of one of the investigating committees, Sen. Joe Lieberman, is relatively clean. He hasn't taken money from Enron since the $2,000 he got in 1994.

Seventy-one senators and 188 representatives took money from the company. How tough were they going to be on it?

This week, speaking about Enron, President Bush finally said that the government ought to force companies to disclose more of their financial information. Well, I'll say.

What we can see of Enron's books are a mess, and a lot of their records are confetti now.

The financial records of corporations ought to be open to everyone. If Enron's had been, this never would have happened. We even find out now that neither General Electric nor Enron paid any taxes last year. None at all! That's what you call tax free enterprise.

It might be good if all of us had to say what we pay in income taxes. Forget Enron and General Electric. I have a neighbor whose tax return I'd like to see.

Sometimes it seems as if our government and everyone in it is dishonest, and that's too bad because it simply is not true. It also seems as if everyone in business is out to screw the rest of us and that isn't true, either. The fact is, Big Government and Big Business are a lot alike, and they both have to be watched - by each other and by all of us.

© MMII, CBS Worldwide Inc. All Rights Reserved