[sixties-l] Former '60s Ramparts' writer, Bob Scheer

From: Frank Smith (fsmith@kanokla.net)
Date: Sat Dec 29 2001 - 09:53:32 EST

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    Enron Is Symbolic of Bush Blunders
    By Robert Scheer | Los Angeles Times.

    December 27, 2001 IF YOU FOLLOW George W. Bush's thinking on how to fix our
    broken economy, you would throw a few hundred million in tax breaks to his
    buddies who bankrupted Enron. Not simply because they bankrolled his
    ascension to the Texas governorship and the White House but, more important,
    because they are modern alchemists who make money out of nothing.

     Nothing is what Enron is to its once-loyal employees, who lost those
    private savings accounts that Bush is always touting; some of them will now
    have to live on Social Security, which the president seems hellbent on
    bankrupting. Nothing is what Enron is to its many small stockholders,
    including California's public workers, whose state pension fund was heavily
    invested in the now-bankrupt company. Nothing is what Enron is to consumers
    in California and half a dozen other states forced to seek expensive
    long-term electricity contracts because of Enron's shenanigans in the energy
    market. Nothing is what Enron is to the people of India and other countries,
    still eating the ashes of spectacular Enron promises.

    But Enron's millions found their way into the bank account of company
    chairman Kenneth L. Lay - close family friend and financier of the political
    careers of Bushes, junior and senior. Equally fortunate was Jeffrey K.
    Skilling, the former CEO who masterminded Enron's meteoric rise and who
    resigned in August, cashing out tens of millions before the company's crash.
    Bush's secretary of the Army, Thomas White Jr., is another former top Enron
    executive who also managed to sell his $50-million to $100-million stake
    well before shares dropped from $90 to 29 cents. Karl Rove, top White House
    political adviser, had a smaller $250,000 stake that, as far as I can
    determine, reporters have not asked him about. Neither have they asked
    Bush's economic adviser, Lawrence B. Lindsey, or Trade Representative Robert
    B. Zoellick, both of whom went directly from Enron to the White House, if
    they are now in the ranks of the suddenly poor.

    The most important question for America's economic future should be directed
    to the president himself: Does he still believe in the miracle of Enron?
    Why, after Enron's collapse, does Bush still insist on a stimulus package
    that rewards high-flying executives while resisting extending unemployment
    insurance and medical coverage to workers thrown out of their jobs because
    of the mismanagement and other acts of economic stupidity by companies such
    as Enron?"Stupidity" is used charitably. Motives that appear more mendacious
    will be explored, we hope, by congressional committees planning to get to
    the bottom of the smelly Enron mess during February hearings. Can it be a
    mere intelligence deficit that led Enron's ex-CEO to claim to The New York
    Times that he didn't know how the company came to overvalue its assets to
    the tune of $600 million, that he didn't know of the highly suspect
    investment partnerships conducted by his chief financial officer - his most
    trusted aide - and that he is without a clue as to the reasons behind
    Enron's collapse? "We're all trying to figure out what happened," Skilling
    said. That eerily dumb, if not totally disingenuous, statement haunts at a
    time when we're trying to figure out what happened to a U.S. economy that
    has fallen into recession on Bush's watch. Enron was Bush's model for
    economic progress, and Enron's Lay was the one individual consulted most
    closely in private meetings with Vice President Dick Cheney and other top
    administration officials during development of their environment-busting
    plan to"solve" our energy problems. Bush's Enron advisers were the chief
    zealots in his kitchen cabinet pushing for unregulated markets combined with
    tax breaks for rich companies. Enron won handsomely on both counts. The idea
    that what's good for the super-rich is good for the economy remains Bush's
    economic mantra. It's a bankrupt philosophy, as witness the Enron debacle.
    For an even more ominous example, look no further than the current total
    collapse of the dramatically deregulated economy of Argentina. Food riots in
    a once prosperous society are not a pretty sight. (In accordance with Title
    17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those
    who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information
    for research and educational purposes.)



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