Enron and the Corporate States of America
By Bev Conover
January 12, 2002-Amazingly, there have been few massive corruption scandals
involving presidential administrations in American history-Teapot Dome,
Watergate, Iran-contra and Iraqgate. Each of those were cooked up and
carried out by a sitting administration. Therein lies the difference
between those scandals and Enron.
The Enron scandal was carried into the White House by the Supreme
Court-selected Bush II regime. Oh yes, as president, Bill Clinton played
golf with Enron Corp. CEO Kenneth Lay. Many members of Congress on both
sides of the aisle also had cozy relationships with Enron and benefited
from its largesse-some $5.8 million since 1990, according to the Center for
Responsive Politics that said three-quarters of that money went to
Republicans. This is the age when corporations keep both sides of the bread
buttered-perhaps one side buttered a bit more than the other. The Wall
Street gang calls that "hedging your bets."
Of the current Congress, 71 senators and nearly half the House have
benefited from Enron's handouts. And in return, Enron received such
considerations as an exemption for its energy derivatives business under a
2000 act regulating commodity futures trading.
But Enron's "special" attention has been focused on the Bush family. Lay
was one of George W. Bush's "Pioneers" who raised $100,000 for GW's
campaign. Enron tossed in another $100,000 for Junior's inaugural gala, a
figure that was matched by Lay and his wife.
Corporations are not known for just handing away non-tax deductible money
out of some sense of civic duty. Their philanthropy is limited to private
trusts and foundations, whereby every penny put into such is tax deductible.
In return for Enron's largesse, GW stocked his administration with people
who had/have ties to Enron-either as former employees, lobbyists, service
providers (lawyers and accountants) or significant stockholders-that is,
when he wasn't appointing the dubious characters and criminals from his
If that weren't in our faces enough, he then allowed his shadowy second in
command, Dick Cheney, to hold secret meetings with Enron and other energy
company officials, who also had dispensed largesse to all the above, to
come up with a national energy plan, while doing nothing to reel Enron in
to put an end to California's energy woes.
While Ari Fleisher, chief press liar, and the corporate media think there
are nothing but dry holes when it comes to GW and his administration's
involvement with Enron, every time another hole is punched in Enron up
comes another gusher of filth to the point where few, if any, Bush cohorts
and agency heads aren't somehow involved. Bush's attorney general, John
Ashcroft had to recuse himself from any investigation because he, too, was
a recipient of Enron campaign donations. Ashcroft's deputy Larry
Thompson-he of the fame of claiming Anita Hill suffered from erotomania,
when, according to The New York Times, he was a member of Clarence Thomas'
legal team-was a partner in the law firm King & Spalding that represented
numerous Enron subsidiaries. Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman
Harvey Pitt and the head of the General Accounting Office, David Walker,
also have past ties to Enron. Pitt was a partner in the law firm of Fried,
Frank, Harris, Shriver and Jacobson and, in that capacity, represented
accounting firm Arthur Andersen, Enron's auditor, which signed off on
falsified reports and has now admitted to destroying or deleting documents.
Walker, until November 9, 1998, was a partner, board member and global
managing director at Andersen.
When Enron went belly-up, after its execs dumped their stocks and received
handsome bonuses, leaving its workers holding an empty bag as their company
stock-stuffed 401K retirement plans vaporized, Florida state employees saw
their pension fund shrink by $200 million thanks to a 9-million shares
investment in now nearly worthless Enron stock.
Reported the St. Petersburg Times last Dec. 12: "The pension fund's
investment in Enron is ironic because
Florida has little of the energy deregulation in which the Houston company
was a leading force. Enron was among the leading players in California's
energy deregulation scheme, which collapsed in a morass of blackouts and
soaring utility bills."
True on both counts, but the St. Pete paper made no big deal of the fact
that GW's little brother Jeb is Florida's governor. It did mention that
Enron dumped nearly $30,000 into "the Republican Party of Florida during
the 2000 election cycle."
To hear the administration spinmeisters and their corporate media
prostitutes tell it, George W. is an innocent as a newborn babe. Of course,
if that doesn't work, maybe he can try Poppy's "I was out of the loop"
trick. Hey, it worked for the senior George in the Iran-contra scandal.
Interestingly, it's only Democrats in general and Bill Clinton, in
particular, who are involved in nefarious deeds, according to the
right-wingers. And, when it comes to Clinton, guilt by association is
enough for them. After all, Clinton was governor of Arkansas at the time
the Iran-contra gang was running a drugs and weapons operation out of Mena,
so Clinton had to know, right? Forget the fact that GW's drug czar, the
ultra conservative and good Christian Asa Hutchinson, was the prosecutor
for the Western District of Arkansas at the time and the Mena operation was
in his backyard.
Enron, though, is but one element of what has gone wrong in America.
Government at all levels-local, state and federal-is now merely an arm of
the corporations. Politicians of all stripes swill at the corporate
troughs, then do the bidding of their masters. Governors, county officials
and even mayors shamelessly shill for the corporations under the guise of
bringing business to their states, counties or cities.
Rather than enforce the anti-trust laws and regulations designed to protect
both the people and the environment, government capitulates to the demands
of the corporations. And when the corporations have squeezed out as much as
they can get, they say thank you by moving offshore to exploit other people.
Under the current system, the notion of free markets and competition are
myths. The corporations control the markets and the competition is merely
something to be bought out, taken over or forced out. The people are
nothing more than expendable worker ants; corporate slaves, if you will,
who are kept mollified with just enough money to buy the corporations'
goods and services, and slogans about what a great country we have-God
Like absolute monarchs and dictators, the thing the corporations fear most
is the day the people come to the realization that collectively they hold
the power. That day can be hastened very easily by all those who ask, "What
can I do?"
What you can do is starve the corporations and feed democracy by only
buying necessities. It won't kill you not to have the latest gadget.
Moreover, it takes no time, effort or money on your part. Corporations
understand one thing: money. So what better time than now, with the economy
tanked and jobs vaporizing, than to hit them in the pocketbook? You'll be
ahead of the game in the short run and far ahead in the long run when we
take back our country and can again proudly exclaim, E pluribus unum: Out
of many, one.
As for George W., how much does it take before the House begins impeachment
proceedings? This man and his cohorts have all but shredded the
Constitution and stripped us of our rights. Is not overthrowing the
government from the inside treason? Is he not adhering to our enemies-the
corporations-and giving them aid and comfort? How many more Enrons will it
take before the Republican-controlled House wakes up to the fact that
global corporate domination is a loser?