Saturday, September 09, 2006

The Smartest Guys in the Room, sort of...

SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Free movies are hard to turn down, plus, the tale of Enron was too good to pass up, so a normal Friday-stay-put-at-home turned into a night at the University at a showing of The Smartest Guys In the Room.

I had seen snippets of it earlier on PBS, but seeing it on the big screen - and all at once - gives it much more power. clearly calling into question the power of corporations.

And it pretty clearly says that corporate ethics is an oxymoron, at least at Enron, I thought last night.

But after mulling over the movie and then reading a few headlines today, the smart guys at Enron are hardly alone in their arrogance and total disdain for the havoc they wreak.

Twenty-five years ago, when I was a newspaper editor, I debated with a free market friend of mine about corporations and the lack of personal accountability. I opined that the invention of the corporation was one of the worst ideas ever conceived. We argued for hours because although he was a free market advocate, he also believed that corporations were very necessary to shield people (people running the corporations).

My point exactly. No personal responsibility.

Unfortunately, the corporate make-money-at-any-cost mentality has so pervaded society, that even the few students who attended the screening last night seemed more upset that Ken Lay and Jeff Skilling got caught than that their hubris ruined the lives of thousands and thousands of people and actually cost California Gov. Gray Davis his political career.

Were Dante to revise his Inferno today, I believe he might describe a new circle set up for corporate executives who put profits (and their salaries) over any thought of people. It's probably one of the most crowded spots in Hell.

Perhaps the most intriguing part of the film is a description of the budgeting practices of Enron and how no one could figure out how it was making so much money.

It wasn't, of course, it was all sham, all lies and ultimately collapsed in a heap that wiped out the life savings of many people and will have ramifications for the retirements of a big chunk of the nation for years.

I would not recommend watching this movie and "Who Killed the Electric Car?" in the same evening, unless you have studied with Zen masters about how to control your blood pressure.

But do watch it.

In the meantime, the following website is worth taking a look. Be sure to check out the brief movie trailer.

  • Enron movie
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