Martha Stewart, Halliburton cases reveal ironic double standard

Posted: Tuesday, March 23, 2004

A couple of weeks ago Martha Stewart was judged guilty of lying to people. She also was convicted of making money illegally by selling stock in a company on insider information. It was big news that this woman had used her sources to sell her stock in a company before that stock had a chance to drop.

There were people who testified that this was a victory for the small people, that Americans would not stand up for this kind of abuse of insider power. It was decided that this woman, who made a few hundred thousand dollars on her insider tip, should spend some time in jail.

Since that time, the media has told us that because of her indiscretion, Martha Stewart's empire has begun to fold. Her sponsors are turning a blind eye to any connection with her name. Television producers no longer wish to broadcast her shows about cooking and interior design. The corporation, in which she owns a major stake, is distancing itself from her and is asking her to step down so as to save some face, as well as stock prices, for the company.

The stock prices of the conglomerate that is Martha Stewart have taken a nosedive. The news productions tell us of consumers who may no longer buy her products.

I'm sure I am not the only person who finds this scenario slightly ironic when compared to the actions of another major company that has its roots here in America. I'm sure I'm not the only person who questions the process of our American legal or moral system.

Surely we all remember the short blurbs in the news about a company by the name of Halliburton. This is the company that is in charge of selling oil, fuel and food to our hard-working soldiers in Iraq.

These are the same soldiers, who are fighting and dying for us, that have caused societal problems here on our own peninsula. We are all familiar with the water-throwing incident of last year that caused so much ruckus here in the central peninsula.

Well, this company, by the name of Halliburton, was found out to have overcharged our soldiers, who are leaving their blood on the sands of Iraq, by millions of dollars. This is the same company that is in charge of feeding our soldiers, who daily live in a hostile environment.

The last I heard about this American company was it had not paid the subcontractors to feed our soldiers hot meals. The subcontractors were in debt up to millions of dollars because Halliburton had not paid them for the service of providing meals. And so our soldiers were going to be fed cold sandwiches.

So where is the point? How do the two stories come together? Here is my thinking.

Was Martha Stewart guilty? Seems so. She was guilty of making money off an insider tip and probably short-changed a few people who were hoping to retire or were retired and wanted to live off the money they had invested. Should she face the consequences? Of course.

Was Halliburton guilty? Seems so. The company did not even dispute the overcharges and, seemingly, gave the money back to the government. There has been no resolution, at least in the news, about the feeding of our troops.

What I find ironic here, and I'm sure the reader does also, is that a woman who did wrong, and should be punished, fills up our news time, but a

company, who cheats our troops and our soldiers, who are fighting and dying daily on our behalf, gets no mention at all. In fact, I would bet

that the Halliburton stock is still going strong.

OK, so Martha cheated some of us. Halliburton is cheating our sons and daughters who are fighting and dying in the Iraqi and Afghanistan sands, as well as those others that are stationed around the globe.

Isn't that an act of sedition or treason to treat our armed forces in so callous a manner? Isn't it sedition or treason to cheat our government when we are engaged in a war against terrorists? Isn't it an act of sedition or treason to refuse to feed our troops correctly when they are so far away from home? Is it not an act of complete immorality to choose to detract from our war effort for the sake of a dollar?

I guess it's up to all of us to decide which is worse, but I'm thinking that my fellow citizens of the Kenai Peninsula will agree that it is quite ironic that Martha is being subjected to the full extent of the law, while those responsible at Halliburton are sitting at home reaping in the profits while more of our boys and girls perish in the sands so far away from home.

Are they both guilty? Yes! Why the double standard? Why is it that Halliburton continues to operate free of any consequences, while a woman goes to jail?

Mike Gustkey


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