Thursday, May 25, 2006

Thoughts on the Enron decision from an ex-Andersen guy

Recommended at Daily Kos and Booman Tribune. Front Paged at My Left Wing

As we all know, the Enron decision was announced. And coming from someone who (as well as my wife) lost my job at Andersen as a result of this debacle, I wanted to share some of my thoughts about it.

Yes, I am very excited that Lay and Skilling were found guilty of all these charges. And yes, it is some vindication. But I will say that this whole mess, which I lay (no pun intended) at the feet of Bush and Cheney for reasons that I will get in to below, has had huge repercussions and a major impact on both my life and my wife's life as well, not to mention MILLIONS of Americans in so many ways. So there is a different perspective and angle here that hopefully adds some value here.

For starters and for those who haven't kept up, the Andersen conviction for shredding documents was overturned nearly exactly a year ago UNANIMOUSLY by the Supreme Court. So not only did 70,000 US employees - hard working US employees who had no knowledge that Enron was even an Andersen client - lose their jobs over this, we lost our jobs for no reason.

Our (my wife and mine) anger was directed in a number of areas. First, while illegal activity is always wrong, Andersen was clearly the scapegoat for this widespread fraud. We asked ourselves (and our colleagues) why none of the brokerage houses that fraudulently pumped up the stock of Enron weren't taken down. I mean, to those who lost their life savings from this - Enron employees, other investors, or anyone else - they relied on the stock information that the analysts fraudulently provided.

We asked ourselves (remember it was back in 2001 at the time) why Cheney and Bush's ties to Enron executives weren't being probed. We asked why nobody was being held accountable for the California energy crisis. We asked how, with all of the blame to go around, how Andersen - a friggin accounting firm that was never even accused of fraud or conspiracy - was the fall guy when it was clear that there were so many crimes and so much guilt on many many other people's (including the highest of high level officials) parts.

Now, that is not to say that Andersen wasn't guilty of something. Or that they would have gone under for something else anyway. Certainly, I have a huge issue with top level management of Andersen at the time, who could have saved the firm if they really wanted to but were more stubborn, selfish and stupid, costing 70,000 people their jobs.

But there was a lot, I mean a lot that the Andersen folks were not privy to. Especially stuff that went on at the top and was hidden from Andersen auditors. Of course, there is enough blame to be spread around. But the job of an auditor is to make sure that things aren't out of whack, and lots of that is based on the client's management, the management representations, information provided by the client and other things that are done by the client. There were fraudulent documents that were provided by Enron management. There were schemes that were hidden from Andersen. But of course, Andersen does deserve a share of the blame.

Both my wife and I swore (even back in late 2001/early 2002) that we were done with Bu$hCo because of Bush and Cheney's relationship with Lay and the Enron crew, and us losing our jobs because of it. It is clear to us that Cheney and the Justice Department were more interested in finding a scapegoat and moving on.

Andersen was that scapegoat. Little did we know at the time how effectively this Administration would rely on the "scapegoat" strategy.

Andersen had nothing to do with the energy price manipulation in California that nearly bankrupted the state. Andersen had nothing to do with Cheney's secret energy commission that included Lay. And Andersen certainly had nothing to do with fraudulently pumping up the stock prices.

The number of people whose lives, personal savings, careers and whatever else was impacted is staggering. The people of California who had to pay for the increased electricity. The elderly who were bilked out of savings as a result of the higher energy costs. The innocent Enron and Andersen employees who have a stain on their resumes for the rest of their careers (hell, both my wife and I would have been partners at Andersen by now). The average American who invested heavily in Enron because of the analyst ratings. Anyone else that lost money, wages or now has to pay the cost of higher gas prices.

And pretty much everyone else since the fraud and loss of money has impacted the prices of pretty much everything, contributed to the downward spiral of the stock market, led to mistrust of the brokerage houses, and jut about anything else that was impacted by this wide ranging fraud.

These people are vile scum. Kenny-boy. Skilling. Fastow. Bush. Cheney. Their other enablers. The impact on this country from their thieving and crimes isn't even measurable. The lives ruined. The money stolen or lost. The impact on the economy. On consumer confidence.

Prison is way better than these crooks deserve. They should rot in hell.


HK Phooey said...

This story about sums it up

Sometimes, life throws us a helping hand when we least expect it. A few weeks ago, I was rushing around trying to do some Valentine's Day shopping.

I was stressed out and not thinking very fondly of the weather right then It was dark, cold, and wet in the parking lot as I was loading my car up. I noticed that I was missing a receipt that I might need later.

So mumbling under my breath, I retraced my steps to the mall entrance. As I was searching the wet pavement for the lost receipt, I heard a quiet sobbing. The crying was coming from a poorly dressed boy of about 12 years old. He was short and thin. He had no coat. He was just wearing a ragged flannel shirt to protect him from the cold night's chill.

Oddly enough, he was holding a hundred dollar bill in his hand.
Thinking that he had gotten lost from his parents, I asked him what
was wrong. He told me his sad stry. He said that he came from a
large family. He had three brothers and four sisters. His father had died when he was nine years old. His Mother was poorly educated and worked two full time jobs. She made very little to support her large family. Nevertheless, she had managed to skimp and save two hundred dollars to buy her children some Valentine's Day presents (since she didn't manage to get them anything at Christmas).

The young boy had been dropped off by his mother, on the way to her second job. He was to use the money to buy presents for all his
siblings and save just enough to take the bus home. He had not even entered the mall, when an older boy grabbed one of the hundred dollar bills and disappeared into the night.

"Why didn't you scream for help?" I asked.

The boy said, "I did."

"And nobody came to help you?" I queried. The boy stared at the
sidewalk and sadly shook his head. "How loud did you scream?" I

The soft-spoken boy looked up and meekly whispered, "Help me!" It was then that I realized that absolutely no one could have heard that poor boy cry for help.

So I grabbed his other hundred and made a run to my car.

Kenneth Lay
Enron CEO

Anonymous said...

You two make me sick. I can't believe you have so little respect for your fellow humans.