Insomnia (insomnia) wrote,

Bush and Enron... together again!

When it comes to politics, videotapes are dangerous things...

Such as the one with Dubya and George Bush, Sr. going on about their close friendship with Enron's former CEO.

You have been fantastic to the Bush family. I don't think anybody did more than you did to support George..."

George Sr. is right. Enron and its employees have contributed more to Dubya's campaigns over the years than any other company. In return, they basically got to design the U.S. energy policy, getting special access and meetings with our leaders, while environmental and clean energy groups were denied any access whatsoever to the formulation of our energy policy.

What's worse, they helped to create the California "energy crisis".

Enron executives have plead guilty to overcharging and defrauding Californians during the "energy crisis", engineering phony shortages and conspiring to raise the price of energy from $40 a megawatt hour to as much as $1500. As such, Enron bears considerable responsibility for the billions of dollars that that Californians were overcharged - by some estimates, up to $40 billion dollars. Of course, Bush knew that there was no real energy shortage... certainly no shortage that dictated a nearly fortyfold increase in the cost of electricity. They turned their back on the intentional gouging of our citizens by their friends and financial contributors.

Sure, Enron was out to make money, but they didn't actually *conspire* to make an energy crisis, did they? Yes, actually, they did. Internal documents from Enron revealed the scams they were pulling to manipulate California's energy system. They even gave these scams a series of arrogant nick names, such as:

  • "Death Star": A plan to intentionally schedule power deliveries onto California's power grid in such a way that it would overload the grid. Because of this potential power overload, Enron would be paid hugely inflated rates not to deliver power in the midst of a shortage.

  • "Fat Boy": Transferring power from Enron to a company subsidiary that didn't need the power in such a way, and timing the power delivery from that subsidiary in such a way that it would lead to overloading, allowing Enron and the subsidiary to make money for non-delivery of power. In other words, playing corporate "shell games" in order to engineer overloads on the California power grid.

  • "Ricochet": Buying power cheaply that was produced in California in order to engineer power shortages, selling it out of state to an intermediary or subsidiary, and then reselling it back to California at prices up to 40 times what they paid for it.

    In effect, they played with our power system in the same sort of the same way that a computer virus plays with a computer system... they engineered power shortages, drove up energy prices to over 40 times what was normal, and even conspired to deliver that overpriced energy in such a manner that they would be paid hugely inflated prices for not delivering energy.

    Under the circumstances, shouldn't the people of California be entitled to a great deal more anger about this than we have thus far displayed? Shouldn't the people of the United States be more than passively concerned when a company buys our politicians, designs our energy policy, and engages in price gouging, while the president turns a blind eye? What would be the people's response, I wonder, if there was an engineered "food shortage" that raised the price of a loaf of bread to $50 in one part of the country, while the rest of the country had a huge surplus of food and no shortage of transportation?

    Enron made their money from buying surplus energy capacity in one place, and then selling that energy elsewhere... they didn't really produce anything. One wonders what we would know about Enron if they didn't go belly up due to fraudulent accounting.... not only were they playing unethical shell games with energy, they were doing it with money too. They hid over half a billion dollars of longterm debt from their shareholders and employees for as long as possible.

    Even though thousands of Enron employees lost their jobs and their savings due to Enron's collapse, we should be glad that they went under, because they almost got away with covering up their fraudulent dealings, largely due to the record profits they recorded during the "energy crisis". If it weren't for Enron's collapse, we would know little of their part in engineering the crisis.

    As sad as it is that Enron employees got screwed over and lost their savings, you have to wonder how many businesses went under and how many jobs were lost in California due to price gouging during the "energy crisis". I suspect that the number was considerably more than those lost at Enron. It's hard to underestimate the damage done to California's economy due to lost work, damaged hardware, and higher cost of operations due to the crisis. This doesn't even touch upon the pain companies like Enron inflicted to the state's poor and retired who can hardly afford to live under normal conditions; how many old people couldn't afford medicine or food because they needed to pay the electricity bill? How many were evicted because they couldn't afford both their electricity and their rent?

    That appears to be the American way, I guess... businesses pay for politicians to get where they are, and the politicians act in a clearly biased manner to make those businesses money. Bush almost certainly wouldn't have become president without Enron, but somehow, without direct payoffs, there's no corruption, right? Still, the Bush Administration's overt support for and cronyism with Enron makes previous cases of presidential financial corruption look like very small potatoes indeed.
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