On PointVincent Carroll, editor of the editorial pages, writes his On Point column most weekdays. He is also an author and freelance writer. Reach Vincent Carroll at carrollv@RockyMountainNews.com.
Investor's naiveté not Nacchio's fault
Even in 2000, even at the height of the stock market's tech bubble . . . no, especially in 2000, especially at the height of the tech bubble - how could any sensible adult invest all of her regular savings in a single telecommunications company?
Yet that's what Sally Anderson says she did after receiving a rah-rah e-mail in the fall of 2000 from Qwest CEO Joe Nacchio - an e-mail he sent to all Qwest employees touting the company's future.
Her testimony last week at Nacchio's trial on insider trading charges was presumably meant to supply the face of a "victim" of the CEO's upbeat assessments. Whether it succeeded in the jury's eyes remains to be seen. But what it also supplied was the face of someone once apparently oblivious to the most elementary advice drummed into every investor: Diversify, diversify, diversify.
On Monday, Nacchio's attorneys filed a motion for a mistrial based on Anderson's testimony, arguing that it wasn't even relevant to the period in 2001 that prompted the insider-trading charges. They're reaching, of course, but you do have to wonder what Anderson's investment naiveté - and that's a gentle word for it - really has to do with Nacchio's guilt or innocence.
Qwest's merger with U S West was completed barely two months before the e-mail that supposedly moved Anderson to redirect her investments. What sort of message did she expect from the new company's top executive: one of defeatism and gloom?
Yes, Virginia, corporate CEOs like to emphasize the upside, especially when addressing their own workers.
Incidentally, those of you poised to accuse me of being in Nacchio's corner can spare yourselves an e-mail. I was lambasting his arrogant, buccaneer style and "preposterously outsized compensation" - yes, those were my words - long before he was ever indicted.
"We all know there is a misconception out there that tenure is an appointment for life, no matter what you do, and that's not true," declared University of Colorado Regent Michael Carrigan recently during discussion of a plan to streamline how long it takes to fire a tenured professor.
Carrigan is technically correct: You can't do literally anything and remain a professor for life. You can't burn down your neighbor's house or prey on children for sex. And as Ward Churchill found out, you can't repeatedly mock and denounce the "little Eichmanns" who pay your salary while engaging in a wholesale pattern of academic fraud, plagiarism and invention.
Short of such gross misbehavior, though, tenure is an appointment for life, "no matter what you do." And with the exception of federal judges, there's probably no other job in the land with anything close to equivalent security.
Vincent Carroll can be reached at .