The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Editorial:
Enron:
“A Tribute to the Capitalist System”

Jan 21, 2002

Is there any doubt that Enron, until recently the country’s seventh largest company, is a giant fraud? Executives created over 3,000 shell companies to funnel literally billions of dollars into their own pockets. They set up over 900 offshore accounts with the sole purpose of defrauding the U.S. government of its taxes. They emptied their employees’ savings and pensions. When the whole house of cards began to collapse, they and their accountants began to shred thousands of documents, erase thousands of e-mails. In a confidential memo to the Enron CEO Ken Lay in August, Enron Vice President Sherron S. Watkins summed it all up: “...we’re such a crooked company.”

And yet, there are no arrests?

The people at the very top of this government claim to have zero tolerance for crime. Bush ran for office based on his record as governor of Texas, bragging he had okayed the execution of more prisoners than anyone else. The attorney general is a religious zealot who claims not only to fight crime, but sin itself.

But what do they have to say about Enron? Bush’s secretary of the treasury, Paul O’Neill, declared that what happened at Enron was no big thing: “Companies come and go. It’s part of the genius of capitalism.” Bush’s top economist, Lawrence Lindsey (a former Enron adviser), went on to characterize the Enron affair as a “tribute to American capitalism.”

In other words, what happened at Enron is business as usual. Truer words were never spoken.

If anyone needs proof, just look at who was involved with Enron, a veritable “Who’s Who” of the business and political world. First, the Board of Directors, considered one of the most distinguished in the world, includes a member of the British House of Lords, the wife of a senior U.S. Senator, the dean of a major law school. Enron executives – tied closely to the Bush Administration – needed and got the go-ahead from the Board of Directors to do many of the things they did. Second, they needed and got the help of some of the top banks, accounting companies and law firms in the country, literally the cream of the crop. Finally, they needed an entire political structure that allowed them to do what they pleased.

There was never any indication that any of these parties tried to stop Enron’s corruption or fraud.

Why should they be concerned? Enron may have been stealing right and left, but so do other big companies. The main difference between Enron and the others is simply that Enron got caught. Corruption, fraud and theft are at the very basis of the functioning of the capitalist system.

We have no reason to believe a word from any of these liars and cheats who run both business and government. Not on anything. They are the same people who want us to hand over Social Security to them so they can create a giant 401(k) plan, like the one that Enron just plundered. They are the same ones who try to convince us that wars – fought to defend the interests of the big multinational corporations – are in our interest. They aren’t.

We have no reason to sacrifice for or to die for any of these liars. They promote the corporations and the capitalists at our expense and at the expense of working people all over the world, including here.