You have to hand it to New York Times business columnist Joseph Nocera — he has certainly come up with a reason that most folks would not have thought of for why New York Aspiring Governor Eliot Spitzer should drop his propaganda campaign, . . . er, I mean, excessive compensation lawsuit against former New York Stock Exchange chairman Richard Grasso and the former chairman of the NYSE board’s compensation committee, Kenneth Langone.
In this NY Times Select ($) column written in the form of a memo to Spitzer, Nocera starts off by snarking Clear Thinkers favorite Larry Ribstein for “gloating” over Spitzer’s decision earlier in the week to drop fraud and larceny charges against Paul Flynn, the former Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce executive who Spitzer had accused of aiding hedge funds in improper mutual-fund trading. Then, without ever mentioning the substance of Professor Ribstein’s well-grounded criticism of Spitzer’s dubious regulatory tactics, Nocera proceeds to urge the Lord of Regulation to drop the Grasso lawsuit not because it lacks merit, but because the lawsuit will probably not lead to the type of salutory business reforms that earlier Spitzer lawsuits have prompted — “the Grasso suit doesn’t meet the lofty standard you’ve set for yourself.”
Are you kidding me? The phrase “lofty standard” being associated with Eliot Spitzer?
Does Nocera mean that lofty standard of indulging public envy and resentment of wealthy businesspeople by defaming Maurice “Hank” Greenberg (here and here)?
Or does he mean the lofty standard of criminalizing those who would take the risk of creating a market for home ownership for those who most need it?
Or is Nocera referring to that lofty standard of Spitzer creating employment opportunities for his chums?
Or maybe he means the lofty standard of Spitzer not coordinating his investigations with other agencies?
Or perhaps Nocera is contemplating the lofty standard of Spitzer interfering with the regulatory role of other governmental agencies (here and here and here)?
Or maybe he is simply referring to the lofty standard of Spitzer’s not insubstantial contribution to the drive of U.S. governmental officials to criminalize everything?
Nocera is right that Spitzer should drop the Grasso lawsuit, but for the wrong reason. Spitzer should drop it because it’s a cheap publicity stunt, which is hardly a “lofty standard.”
Update: Professor Bainbridge does an even better job than the examples above in fisking Spitzer’s “lofty principles.”