Burn Witch Burn
Feb - Mar., 2002
As I watched the Congressional hearings surrounding the Enron
Financial Collapse over the past several days and weeks, I have been shocked at
what I observed (although not totally surprised).
Senator after Senator
from both sides of the aisle lined up to demonstrate their incompetency as a
representative of this great country and their total lack of objectivity as
someone seeking the truth. Almost without exception, every Senator clearly
demonstrated having pre-determined their response with a total disregard for
truth and a fair hearing of the facts. Clearly they were not asking questions
with the anticipation of getting an answer. They already had their answers
pre-determined and only had to tolerate the time the witnesses had to respond
in order that they could then grandstand with some inane comments designed to
woo their constituents back home into voting them back into office.
presented with a fact, the common response from the Senators was most often a
reaction that they didn't even listen to what the witness had to say and chose
rather to debase themselves with childish name-calling.
been the response from committee after committee. Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-ND) on
the Sentate Commerce Committee clearly demonstrated his bias over and over
again as he led his committee on their witch-hunt.
Jeffrey Skilling insisted to Sen. Ron Wyden they
look at the actual documents he was asking questions about, Wyden reluctantly
allowed Skilling to read "word-for-word" from one document. All the while Wyden
squirmed in his seat and retorted by reading his own "out of context" document
from a meeting that had no chronilocgical relevance. Obviously, he was getting
into an area he didn't want to go because what he would likely find was not
consistent with what he wanted to find.
When Sen. Max Cleland (D-GA)
asked Skilling for his opinion of what happened to cause the collpase, he got a
detailed description from Skilling of a systemic problem occuring in our
economy and one that Congress should be addressing. He went on to describe how
the disastrous effects of MAC (Material Adverse Change) clauses that have
creeped in to all levels of financial transactions. These clauses allow banks
to pull money out of a company that is threatened. It was these MAC clauses
that essentially triggered a classic "run on the bank" scenario and brought
Enron down. What the Federal Reserve Board put into place to protect banks are
automatically built into contracts for corporate America allowing banks to suck
liquidity out of companies at the slightest provocation. I thought Skilling did
a masterful job of turning the responsibility right back into Cleland's lap
along with the rest of Congress. What was Sen. Cleland's response? He totally
minimized Skillings reponse by comparing it to George Baley, Jimmy Stewart, and
"It's A Wonderful Life." While that response drew laughter from fellow
Senators, it clearly showed this bafoon didn't have a clue and didn't really
want to know what caused the collapse of Enron... he just wanted a chuckle to
help him get through his meaningless day.
Not to be oudone, Sen.
Barbara Boxer (D-CA) followed with her version of comedy with a video showing
Skilling nodding his head in agreement to a suggestion that Enron employees buy
Enron stock. And in another notable example of a total lack of responsibility,
Sen. Boxer defended the government's role of imposing MAC clauses on corporate
America and then completely ignored Skillings response to her question about
the truthfulness of a "so-called simple fact" asserted by Ms.Watkins that a
company can never use its own stock to generate a gain or avoid a loss on its
income statement. When he responded with a specific example contradicting
Watkin's claim and then going on to pointing out that she (Boxer) had
introduced legislation to keep the executive stock option exemption in place,
she found herself in an area of truth she didn't want to go. Since she didn't
get the answer she wanted and Skillings response clearly put her on the
defense, she replied by saying that she undestood stock options and quickly
changed the subject.
I do not believe these elected representatives
have any intention of seeking the truth, let alone improving the lot of the
American citizen. Rather, they are participating in a classical witch-hunt,
where regardless of the truth, the "big bad corporate executives" are what's
evil in our country and must be destroyed.
From what I've seen,
Senators from both sides of the aisle have but one objective in mind... and
that is to further the cause of socialism in this country by denigrating the
capitalist structures that are the foundation of our economic power. Clearly,
they will not be happy until EVERY American institution is federalized and all
power is vested in the sovereignty of the government.
As common sense
might dictate, perhaps our focus shouldn't be so much on the accounting
practices of Enron and other American corporations, but do we really want the
failed policies of a bankrupt American government to dictate to profitable
corporations how to conduct business?
On numerous times, I heard
Skilling and other witnesses offer suggestions regarding what the real problems
might have been behind the collapse... only to be brushed off by the closed
minded inquisitor with a meaningless remark. What the Senators did prove was
they ARE NOT INTERESTED in the truth and don't want to hear about any
solutions, they only want to make some childish remarks and engage in
name-calling so they can tell their constituents back home, "they care."
© Copyright 2002