Enron was a company that was (in many different areas) partaking in illegal and unethical activities. The environment around the company was elitist, cutthroat, and from the top down operated with a win at all costs attitude. After it had been discovered that Enron manipulated the power grid in California for its own benefit, a series of tapes came out on which traders were discussing how they were “f–king” California out of $1 or $2 million a day.
“They’re f——g taking all the money back from you guys?” complains an Enron employee on the tapes. “All the money you guys stole from those poor grandmothers in California?”
“Yeah, grandma Millie, man”
“Yeah, now she wants her f——g money back for all the power you’ve charged right up, jammed right up her a—— for f——g $250 a megawatt hour.”
“If you took down the steamer, how long would it take to get it back up?” an Enron worker is heard saying.
“Oh, it’s not something you want to just be turning on and off every hour. Let’s put it that way,” another says.
“Well, why don’t you just go ahead and shut her down.”
Playing the blame game with the California energy crisis may be understood a little better if we use a metaphor that many of us (who were 12 years old when the crisis happened) can much better relate to: the current financial crisis. It is difficult to pick up an issue of the New York Times, or CNN.com without finding an article blaming some organization or policy for all of our current woes. Who is at fault? Let’s look at the possibilities: was it the sub-prime mortgage crisis, the irresponsibility of financial firms such as Lehman Brothers and BearSterns, are we (U.S. citizens) at fault for continuing to live far beyond our means when times were good, or the SEC for doing too little too late?
I’m not proposing that I have the answer to who should take the blame of the California energy crisis, or the current financial crisis. Nor am I suggesting that Enron was an innocent bystander, they certainly acted illegally and maliciously to cheat and manipulate the people of California. What I am suggesting is that instead of placing the blame of either crisis on one individual, organization, or policy, take a step back and think about all of the players who had a role in influencing the resulting crisis. If there was no deregulation of electricity, and if the SEC had better oversight of the financial firms, then energy crisis could have been averted and firms like Lehman and Bear could still be standing.
Filed under: Blog |