Mike Milken: Scapegoat Or Scoundrel?

The Paul Craig Roberts headline, "Mike Milken, scapegoat for the Feds" (Economic Viewpoint, Sept. 30), says it all. His article is full of facts--which seem to be scarce in the media these days. A democratic government is supposed to stand for freedom. Since when does democracy translate into being used as a scapegoat by the government, including overeager prosecutors? U. S. citizens deserve fairness from the government, and Michael Milken deserves freedom.

Thomas Pritzer

Van Nuys, Calif.

The worst statement in the article was the comment that Drexel and Milken's errors appear to be "inadvertent, technical, and without malice aforethought." To believe that someone who agrees to pay a $600 million fine and plead guilty to criminal charges was only guilty of inadvertent technical violations is naive, to say the least. More believable is that these rascals were guilty of much worse and when offered a plea bargain on lesser charges, grabbed it.

The government's prosecution of Milken was selective, but then, that is how government is often forced to operate. When violations are so rampant that there aren't enough (God forgive me) lawyers or time to investigate or prosecute all the miscreants, selective prosecution of highly visible violators is the best deterrent, a la Leona Helmsley.

Had there been no S&L debacle, there is no question that the Milken junk-bond Ponzi scheme would be cited as the greatest financial debacle of the 1980s.

Richard Lehmann


Bond Investors Assn.

Miami Lakes, Fla.

Editor's note: Roberts responds that Milken's plea cannot be taken as an admission of guilt because of the intimidating power of the Racketeer-Influenced & Corrupt Organizations Act. And he notes that Ponzi schemes can't recover--as junk bonds have--when they collapse.