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Jewish World Review July 19, 2002 / 10 Menachem-Av, 5762

Art Buchwald

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Consumer Reports

The loophole game | One of the most profitable cottage industries in Washington is the loophole business. It employs thousands of skilled lawyers, accountants and lobbyists.

I went to the factory on K Street, where men and women sat in front of computers turning out loopholes by the hour.

Horace Mann, the foreman, told me business was booming. He said that it has never been better. He said, "The more laws, rules and regulations there on the books, the more loopholes there are created."

He picked a printout. "Now here is a law that abolishes 'soft money.' Just before it was passed, the opponents sent it to us and by the time we finished there were so many holes in it that you could drive a truck through it."

"Do you always look for loopholes before a law is passed?"

"We prefer to do it that way because then our clients will know what to expect in advance. Over there, our people are working on a medical bill to cut down the cost of drugs for the elderly. The drug companies are aware some kind of bill will be passed during an election year, so they want us to get our legislators to find holes in it now."

"You not only find loopholes, you also make them?"

"That's a good part of our business. We will make holes in the most airtight laws and regulations in the country, so even the Supreme Court can't fault them."

"I guess Microsoft is a good example."

"They have us on retainer. The more holes we can find for Microsoft, the better it is for America. The coal and oil companies also have us on retainer and we have to find all the loopholes in the environmental regulations. The White House helps us on this."

I then said, "Do you find loopholes for the big time Wall Street crooks who have been indicted?"

"We didn't at first. Most of them had their accountants do the dirty work, and that's why they're in so much trouble. Arthur Andersen's holes were so badly constructed they brought down Enron. The indicted have ordered us to find loopholes - any kind of loophole to keep them from going to jail."

A partner came up and said, "Take a look at this. The government is shipping nuclear waste from South Carolina to Nevada. Nevada wants us to find a loophole to stop them."

Horace looked at the map. "Let's get an injunction to stop the trucks from going any further than Cleveland. By the time the injunction goes through the courts, no one will remember where the waste is."

I had a nice tour and I felt so much better knowing that there was a place in Washington where you could find a loophole for every law in the land.

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07/16/02: Money as a game
07/11/02: Just desserts
07/02/02: So you want to win?
06/19/02: Homeland security parking
06/13/02: The Accused
06/11/02: Don't let them know
06/06/02: The FBI changes its ways
06/04/02: RED ALERT
05/28/02: Malice On Purpose: I'm scared!
05/23/02: Barbie Doll
05/21/02: Why Bermuda?
05/19/02: White collar prisons
05/15/02: Those in depression
05/09/02: Mother's Day in the market
05/07/02: Salary negotiations
04/26/02: Homeland security
04/24/02: The greatest breakthrough
04/18/02: Conflict of Interest
04/15/02: The Sign That Couldn't
04/11/02: It's Cherry Blossom Time
04/08/02: The Young Audience
03/31/02: Safe Deposit for Sale
03/26/02: Au Revoir to Soft Money
03/21/02: Andersen Defense Fund?
03/19/02: Celebrity kickers
03/15/02: A Mickey Mouse solution
03/13/02: Shadow government in the sandbox
03/07/02: The Way It Is
03/05/02: Not telling the truth
03/01/02: Book flogging
02/27/02: The players are mad

© 2002, TMS