Economic Outlook: A postcard from prison

By ANTHONY HALL, United Press International  |  Oct. 21, 2011 at 8:23 AM
share with facebook
share with twitter

Dennis Kozlowski is puzzled, apparently, as to why New York state has not given him a job.

Kozlowski, who was convicted in 2005 of awarding himself millions of unauthorized dollars in bonus pay when he was chief executive officer of Tyco International Ltd., is suing the state from his prison cell because he has yet to be granted access to a prison work program.

This kind of humility -- which is to say none at all -- is puzzling, especially given The Wall Street Journal interview published this week in which Kozlowski admits he got "piggy" with his bonus pay. He then explains how much he understands the Occupy Wall Street moment, which, among other complaints, involves your average out-of-work American angry that bankers continue to give themselves billions of dollars in bonus pay after taxpayers bailed them out of trouble they had no small role in causing.

"I understand their frustration," Kozlowski told the Journal.


Kozlowski received a sentence of 8 1/3 years to 25 years and it is hard to imagine the average out-of-work Occupy Wall Street participant receiving the same slap on the wrist if, with a couple of cohorts, he or she had managed to illegally transfer $105 million from a Goldman Sachs account to their own in order to provide for their ultra-lavish lifestyles.

Is there something inherently more crass in a blue-collar worker stealing millions of dollars and going on a spending spree than a successful executive doing the same thing? Kozlowski was already among the top wage earners in the country when he decided to help himself to a lot more.

This is exactly how much Kozlowski understands the Occupy Wall Street movement: "My sentence is the same as people who brought down Enron and WorldCom. Tyco investors have enjoyed living off a lot of the assets that were accumulated by the management team that I had in place," he told the Journal.

The translation of that is simple. Kozlowski believes that being a successful executive before he took $105 million from the company entitles him to better treatment than other executives whose companies were struggling when they were caught with their hands in the cookie jar.

Far be it for a columnist to name an appropriate sentence for Chief Executive Officer Dennis Kozlowski. For now, he resides in the Mid-State Correctional Facility in Marcy, N.Y., where, he told the Journal, the food arrives cold and there are no shower curtains. So maybe he has something in common with the Occupy Wall Street protesters after all.

In international markets Friday, the Nikkei 225 index in Japan was flat, falling 0.04 percent and the Shanghai composite index in China fell 0.6 percent. The Hang Seng index in Hong Kong rose 0.24 percent and the Sensex in India fell 0.89 percent.

The S&P/ASX 200 in Australia was flat, off 0.07 percent.

In midday trading in Europe, the FTSE 100 index rose 1.36 percent while the DAX 30 in Germany gained 2.01 percent. The CAC 40 in France rose 1.43 percent and the Stoxx Europe 600 added 1.64 percent.

Related UPI Stories
Trending Stories