« Hitting It Big for Retirement | Main | Protesting the Lack of Protests »

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

USA, inc.

Molly Ivins on the corporate takeover of America:

Closing the book on Enron, by Molly Ivins, Commentary, Creator's Syndicate/CNN: A Houston jury convicted both Ken Lay and Jeff Skilling ... Many a thoughtful analyst has given us to understand that Lay and Skilling are guilty of arrogance and hubris. Actually, they were convicted of fraud -- massive, overwhelming and monstrous fraud. They also stole money and looted pension funds. They rigged energy markets and almost drove California (seventh-largest economy in the world) into bankruptcy.

And all along the way, this monstrous fraud was connected to government. Enron bought the politicians who bent the rules that let them steal, con and gyp. Lay and Skilling talked state after state into following the California model and deregulating electricity. ... And then, of course, there was the thumbing-the-nose thievery...

The interesting thing about Lay and Skilling is they weren't trying to evade the rules, they were rigging the rules in their favor. The fix was in -- much of it law passed by former Sen. Phil Gramm of Texas, whose wife, Wendy, served on the board of Enron.

Where does that sense of entitlement come from? What makes a Ken Lay think he can call the governor of Texas and ask him to soften up Gov. Tom Ridge of Pennsylvania on electricity deregulation? ... The extent to which not just state legislatures but the Congress of the United States are now run by large corporate special interests is beyond mere recognition as fact. The takeover is complete. Newt Gingrich and Tom DeLay put in place a system in which it's not a question of letting the head of the camel into the tent -- the camels run the place. ...

I'm not attempting to make this a partisan deal -- only 73 percent of Enron's political donations went to Republicans. But I'll be damned if Enron's No. 1 show pony politician, George W. Bush, should be allowed to walk away from this. Ken Lay gave $139,500 to Bush over the years. He chipped in $100,000 to the Bush Cheney Inaugural Fund in 2000 and $10K to the Bush-Cheney Recount Fund.

Plus, Enron's PAC gave Bush $113,800 for his '94 and '98 political races and another $312,500 from its executives. Bush got 14 free rides on Enron's corporate jets during the 2000 campaign, including at least two during the recount. Until January 2004, Enron was Bush's top contributor.

And what did it get for its money? Ken Lay was on Bush's short list to be energy secretary. He not only almost certainly served on Cheney's energy task force, there is every indication that the task force's energy plan, the one we have been on for five years, is in fact the Enron plan. Lay used Bush as an errand boy, calling the governor of Texas and having him phone Tom Ridge of Pennsylvania to vouch for what swell energy deregulation bills Enron was sponsoring in states all over the country.

It seems to me we all understand this is a systemic problem. We need to reform the political system...

    Posted by on Wednesday, May 31, 2006 at 12:20 AM in Economics, Policy, Politics, Regulation | Permalink  TrackBack (0)  Comments (8)

    TrackBack

    TrackBack URL for this entry:
    https://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00d83451b33869e200d8348fdec753ef

    Listed below are links to weblogs that reference USA, inc.:


    Comments

    Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.