Friday, January 6, 2012

The Smartest Thieves in the Room

The Enron debacle is maybe old news but still elucidates a corporate mentality that ever seeks dominion over our every thought and breath, that it may more effectively pick our bones. In their 2003 book, The Smartest Guys in the Room, Bethany McLean and Peter Elkind remind the gullible that so-called experts in the financial world need to be scrutinized carefully, that the respectability of their $300 haircuts and $4,000 dollar suits wither in the harsh light of a mug shot.

Wall Street apologists will caution that we should not judge a whole industry by the criminal behavior of a few bad apples but scrutinizing those bad apples reveals some interesting if wormy data: top Enron officers were among the loudest proponents of the “free market”, calling for deregulation when it promised them rip-off privilege but crying out for government largess when that would firm up their quarterly reports. The most prestigious of accounting firms, Arthur Anderson, turned a blind eye to illegal and/or deceptive Enron accounting methods since that was immensely profitable for the firm (short-term of course – ultimately it destroyed them). Wall Street analysts bought into Enron PR instead of analyzing. Politicians took the money and ran. Lawyers bent the law, Bankers took obscene fees while putting their depositors at risk. The central theme throughout the Enron story? Greed: million dollar fees left and right bought compliance and silence; multi-million dollar bonuses dazzled and corrupted; A vicious back-stabbing competitive Enron culture rewarded chicanery and weeded out employees with integrity, the few who mustered the courage to question the party line.

In the end co-conspirators were all frantically blaming someone else and one cornered big fish turned state’s evidence to reduce prison time. Enron’s Chief Financial Officer, Andy Fastow (CFO-turned-rat), served six country club years and, despite millions in fines, remains a millionaire. Top executives were urging employees to buy stock, “It’s going nowhere but up, we’ll all be rich!” while quietly selling off their own shares and squirreling away millions. Part of the function of accountability is to deter future crime, which apparently Enron and other corporate criminals rise above, ill-gotten gains only partially recouped. Another manifestation of this truly class war is the decision by our Muslim-Socialist-Communist-Uncitizen president not to pursue criminal charges against the previous criminal administration. To paraphrase a famous pirate, “Rob a convenience store and you’re a criminal, rob the U.S. treasury and you’re an entrepreneur.”

There was some meager justice in the Enron case: CEO Jeff Skilling spent $42 million in legal fees and will be in prison (albeit country club) until he’s 74. His family however remains free and holding, and enjoying, his remaining millions. The infamous Ken Lay, George Bush Jr.’s Kenny Boy, creator of Enron, would have received a stiff sentence also had he not gone and died – fruit for conspiracy theories here. His family also is enjoying whatever remains of his fortune not appropriated by defense lawyers and not squandered by his profligate spending. Most negative consequences however fell upon naive Enron employees and other investors. With the recent MF Global Holdings bankruptcy, larger even than Enron, it is clear that, to mix a metaphor, gangsters still have a pipeline into the henhouse and the guards… well, what guards? Why ever would the Free Market need guards?


  1. After going over a few of the blog posts on your blog, I truly
    like your technique of blogging. I book-marked it to my bookmark webpage list and will be checking back soon.
    Take a look at my web site as well and let me know how you feel.
    Check out my webpage :: What is addiction?

  2. These are truly fantastic ideas in concerning blogging. You have touched
    some pleasant factors here. Any way keep up wrinting.
    Feel free to surf my web blog : high quality beats by dr. dre headphones

  3. Hi there, You have done a great job. I will definitely digg it and personally suggest
    to my friends. I'm confident they'll be benefited from this site.
    my site > cheap dr. dre pro headphones online

  4. Can you tell us more about this? I'd love to find out some additional information.
    Review my web blog ... iraqi dinar rv

  5. Oh my goodness! Amazing article dude! Thank you, However I am having
    troubles with your RSS. I don't understand the reason why I am unable to subscribe to it. Is there anybody else having similar RSS issues? Anyone that knows the answer will you kindly respond? Thanks!!
    Also see my website > organic

  6. I am not sure where you are getting your info, but great topic.
    I needs to spend some time learning more or understanding more.
    Thanks for great information I was looking for this info for my mission.
    Here is my web site :: Get the facts

  7. My partner and I stumbled over here by a different page and thought I might
    check things out. I like what I see so now i'm following you. Look forward to looking into your web page for a second time.
    Check out my blog post ... ikea furniture assembly service

  8. Just want to say your article is as surprising. The clearness for
    your put up is simply great and that i could suppose you are
    knowledgeable in this subject. Fine along with your permission let me to grasp your feed to keep up to date with forthcoming post.
    Thank you one million and please keep up the rewarding work.

    Feel free to visit my web site manfrotto

  9. Write more, thats all I have to say. Literally, it seems as though
    you relied on the video to make your point.
    You obviously know what youre talking about, why waste your
    intelligence on just posting videos to your weblog when you could
    be giving us something enlightening to read?

    My web-site: lowepro
    My webpage > online shopping in india

  10. I always spent my half an hour to read this web site's content every day along with a mug of coffee.

    Feel free to visit my web blog; fingerprint building in thailand

  11. Ahaa, its fastidious dialogue on the topic of
    this post here at this blog, I have read all that, so at this time me also
    commenting at this place.

    Feel free to surf to my site quotes on fake people

  12. Hi there, i read your blog occasionally and i own a similar one and i was just curious if you get a lot of spam feedback?

    If so how do you stop it, any plugin or anything you can advise?
    I get so much lately it's driving me mad so any help is very much appreciated.

    Here is my web page :: Bizarre
    Also see my web site: Bizarre

  13. Yes! Finally something about welbutrin.

    my blog post - web design

  14. Great post! We are linking to this great content on our website.
    Keep up the good writing.

    Feel free to surf to my homepage :: our space to be honest

  15. If some one desires to be updated with hottest technologies afterward he must be visit this web site and be
    up to date all the time.

    Feel free to surf to my web page buy cheap youtube likes

  16. I don't even know the way I finished up here, but I believed this publish used to be good. I don't
    know who you are however definitely you are going to a famous blogger should you are not
    already. Cheers!

    Also visit my site buy youtube views

  17. Hi! This post could not be written any better!
    Reading through this post reminds me of my good old room mate!
    He always kept talking about this. I will forward this post to him.
    Fairly certain he will have a good read. Thanks for sharing!

    Have a look at my weblog;

  18. It's very straightforward to find out any topic on net as compared to textbooks, as I found this piece of writing at this web page.

    Also visit my weblog ::

  19. No matter if some one searches for his necessary thing, thus he/she wishes to
    be available that in detail, therefore that thing
    is maintained over here.

    Look at my website ...

  20. This paragraph will help the internet users for setting up
    new website or even a blog from start to end.

    Also visit my webpage: sex chat video

  21. I don't even know how I finished up here, but I thought this publish was good. I don't
    realize who you're however certainly you are going to a famous blogger if you happen to aren't already.

    Also visit my site: watch porn trailer **