Enron, The Slimiest Guys In The Room
I just finished watching "Enron: The Smartest Guys In The Room" and the subsequent discussion on PBS's Independent Lens. I've been meaning to watch the movie for a long time, but I knew it would be extremely upsetting so I had been avoiding it. Well, my premonitions were well founded. Frankly, I cannot believe the gall of these disgusting people who bilked millions of dollars from hardworking people all around the globe. From celebrating the California wildfires and encouraging power plants to shut down to raise electricity prices, to the PG&E line workers who watched their 401ks plummet (in one case, from $350k to 1200), and the tens of thousands of Enron employees who were prevented from selling their stocks as the share price plummeted, thanks to top level Enron execs dumping their holdings by the boatload. I even feel sorry for Gray Davis, who was considered to be a top Democratic candidate for President of the United States and ended up being "fired" from the Governorship of California. It's easy to see why George W. Bush and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission had no interest in helping California when their friends and major campaign contributors were doing so well.
It also irks me to learn how many of the criminals at Enron went unpunished and still enjoy the ill-gotten gains from those who's dreams they crushed. Not to mention the executives at Citibank, Merrill Lynch, CSFB, and on and on. The bankers were fully aware of the debt hiding practices at Enron, but went along with it for the only reason that mattered to them -- money.
Quite frankly, the story troubles me on a greater level as well; I fear it reflects the greed and consumerist nature of our society. In American culture, Green is God. I didn't lose money myself in Enron, but I did lose what was a considerable amount of money for me at the time in companies like Global Crossing, World Com, and others -- companies that lied about their holdings, their profits, and did so with their stock analysts' blessings. I'm fortunate, in that I'm young and still have a chance to recoup my losses. As for the lifelong Enron employees, the PG&E workers, and countless others who believed the lies and stock manipulations...well, they're not as fortunate.