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December 5, 2002

Jack Covert Selects: Jack Covert Selects - Best Business Crime Writing of the Year

By: Dylan Schleicher @ 11:08 PM – Filed under: Management & Workplace Culture

Best Business Crime Writing of the Year edited by James Surowiecki; Random House; 250 Pages; $12.00; Paperback; November 2002, 1400033713
The fact that this anthology exists speaks volumes about the state of our economy as well as the state of our society. How is it that there is so much corporate crime, and the reporting of, to not only warrant a Best of volume? What is terrific about this volume is that, for example, weve heard all we can take about Enron, but from the perspective of PJ ORourkes How to Stuff a Wild Enron? My favorite quote from this piece was, [W]hen someone creates a system in which you cant tell whether or not youre being fooled, youre being fooled. And ultimately it explains just what Enron did, was trying to do, and how it failed. And yet, he also looks at how the system of regulations is what enable Enron to defraud its investors. ORourke asserts that Regulation creates a moral hazard. We dont understand finance, but its regulared so were safe. In other words, regulation dulls managements own moral voice, that little angel that sits on the shoulders of management. Presumably, regulation has replaced the angel and the devil is all thats left. An interesting argument, and only one of many great pieces youll read when you buy BBCWY.
Also, these stories are still so timely; were still trying to figure out how these crimes happened, how to prevent them in the future, and how were going to dig ourselves out of the economical mess they created. Certainly there is a vast continuum regarding the intent of the CEOs, CFOs, Directors and others who ran their companies based on promises. Not all of them meant to hurt anyone (weve heard that before), but like many of us during the holidays, our eyes are bigger than our stomachs, and unlike our individual ability to leave our plates, these folks kept taking food and finding ingenious ways to hide it. Well, hidden food eventually rots and the smell gave these folks away.
Anther interesting quote comes from Peter Behr & April Witts Visionarys Dream Led to Risky Business. Weve done much to blame the head honchos for these corporate shenanigans, but what about those who went along for the ride. These authors write that these folks had chosen shame over confrontation. What a stunning way to put it.
If you want a solid understanding of the devastation American business has faced in the past year or so, this is the perfect book for you. Just the best written, most pertinent pieces of very, very important news.

About Dylan Schleicher


Dylan Schleicher has been a part of the 800-CEO-READ claque since 2003. Even though he's stayed on at the company, he has not stayed put. After beginning in shipping & receiving, he joined customer service and accounting before moving into his current, highly elliptical orbit of duties overseeing the ChangeThis and In the Books websites, the company's annual review of books and in-house design. He lives with his wife and two children in the Washington Heights neighborhood on Milwaukee's West Side.