Enron and the Corporate States of America

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 father's administration.

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 bless America.

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?

http://www.onlinejournal.com/Commentary/Conover011202/conover011202.html

 

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