Pro-capitalist folksinger convicted of insider trading, fraud
It took a Green Lake jury only sixteen seconds to find Bumpy Howell guilty on charges of felony fraud, insider trading, attempted bribery and spitting on the sidewalk, but it took much longer for the 73 convictions to sink in for Howellâ€™s supporters.
â€œItâ€™s like a death sentence for all of us, they want us to die out,â€ said Daylen Keene, Senior Vice President for Price Hiking and Layoffs at Queasland Petrochemical. â€œBut Bumpyâ€™s message will live on. And so will Bumpy, cause theyâ€™re not actually killing him.â€
Bumpy Howellâ€™s message is in his music- thousands of songs and more than sixty albums of pro-capitalist folk songs. The 84 year old first made his mark at a 1947 union protest in Appleton, where he silenced strikersâ€™ demands (they wanted to be able to file for workersâ€™ compensation without having to stand underwater) by hitting the union leader in the nose with his banjo. Howellâ€™s song about the incident, â€œKeep Your Nose Outta My Business,â€ was released by the Appleton Chamber of Commerce and quickly became a hit single.
Howellâ€™s pro-business ideology was shunned by the left-of-center folk music establishment- Pete Seeger once hit him with a steel chair during an appearance on â€œThe Tonight Showâ€- but he was embraced by large corporations and the government, who gave him the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his song about the House Un-American Activities Committee â€œName Those Names.â€
Howell has spent the last few decades the same remained busy as a performer, playing countless trade shows and shareholder meetings, recording new songs every few months and even winning his first Grammy in 1999 for a CD of duets with top CEOâ€™s. His most recent public appearance was several weeks ago at the Tyco trial in New York, where he introduced his newest song, â€œThe Ballad of Dennis Kozlowskiâ€:
He had dreams like you and me.
Givinâ€™ the missus a big party,
Ice sculptures peeinâ€™ vodka instead of pee.
If you take him away, itâ€™s a tragedy,
America needs Kozlowski!
Yet prosecutors had secretly been building a case against Howell for years, noting that heâ€™d buy stock in a little-known company and then write a folk song about it, which inflated the price. They indicted Howell in July of last year, saying that heâ€™d made millions off songs like â€œIf I Had A Share In Josephson Hammersâ€ and â€œBumpyâ€™s 49th Mercker Trust Dream.â€
Howell told the press that each of the 637 songs heâ€™d written about recent stock buys were â€œcoincidences,â€ but in court, he acted as his own lawyer and refused to present a defense. â€œOur cause is bigger than Bumpyâ€™s case,â€ said Gerald Morton, longtime friend and co-owner of Ger and Donâ€™s Wacky Export Groop. â€œHeâ€™s willing to become a martyr for business.â€ The convictions mean Howell could spend up to 18 years at the State Correctional Facility and Glam Rock Hall of Fame.
Howell showed no emotion as the verdict were read, but turned to the hundreds of weeping supporters whoâ€™d come to the trial. â€œThereâ€™s work to do, friends,â€ he said as he was led away to prison. â€œDonâ€™t mourn, outsource!â€