The Enron Scandal Essay

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The Enron Scandal


In a front-page article with no less than four by-lines (7/03, "Enron Triggers a Slew of Proposed Fixes But What Will Stick?" by Steve Liesman et al.), The Wall Street Journal reports, "As more than 10 congressional committees pursue inquiries, 32 Enron-related bills have been introduced to address ills ranging from auditor conflicts of interest to the scams of an unregulated derivatives market. The Securities and Exchange Commission pledges to reform accounting rules, get tough on fraud and overhaul auditor oversight. General Electric Co. says it will issue a disclosure statement the size of a phone book, if that's what investors want." The trouble is that such a phone book, if it reflected the state economic
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The "level playing field" catch-word distracts attention from the monstrous discrepancy between the accountancy practised by the government in its own books and what the large corporations get away with. The corporations hide their debts by keeping them "off-balance-sheet." The government buries its investments. The level playing field is the Mother Lie that has birthed the swarm of distortions and untruths that are now crawling out from under every table and from every crack in the walls.
It is gratifying that the media and some of our politicians are starting to recognize some of what ER had warned about for many years. But the most basic lie is still protected by the greatest of taboos. It goes on being drummed into freshmen's heads in every country of the world. No Finance Minister can open his mouth without it jumping out at you. The mirage of a self-balancing economy made up of tiny actors that are all powerless individually to affect prices is the "scientific" version of the "level playing field."
That could hardly cover an economy dominated by the Microsofts, General Electric, and the Enrons. Surely you have to deal with that obvious clash between the fine theory and the reality to which it is being applied. You might as well send…

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