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Quest for Morals

Carol -
I am so sorry for this. I feel I just can't go on. I have always tried to do the right thing but where there was once great pride now it's gone. I love you and the children so much. I just can't be any good to you or myself. The pain is overwhelming. Please try to forgive me.
- Cliff.

Four years ago today, on the night of January 25, 2002, Clifford Baxter (former corporate vice chairman of Enron) pulled his shiny new Mercedes Benz into a space between two road medians in Sugar Land, Texas. He sat there in the dark for a few minutes, then touched a .38 caliber revolver to his head, then pulled the trigger.

Hmm. Lemme see. I'm sure I have a sufficiently satisfying moral for that story around here somewhere. What about this?

"For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?"

But really, that's so Old Economy. It's a brave new world we live in. What about something from the outfit that practically invented the New Economy?

"Ask why."

The problem with that one, of course -- flashy and new and sales-friendly though it may be -- is that "Ask why" was the corporate motto of Enron, the place where just about everybody who should have been asking why for years spent their tenure there doing just about everything humanly possible to not ask themselves, or anyone else for that matter, why.

Hmm. I suppose we could opt for another King James classic:

"For whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap."

Or, that same one using the International New Economy translation:

"The stinking son-of-a-bitch had it coming."

The difficulty with that version, of course, is that a Clint Eastwood character once famously said: "We all got it coming, kid."

(Brief pause.)

Yikes. Downer.

Okay, never mind. Have a nice day.


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I've read this post three times now, and I have trouble putting my reaction into coherent form that take up less than 1000 words. But one thing keeps coming back to the surface: Would it be worse to be Baxter, and be so troubled and distressed by what one had been involved in that one could see no way out, or to be Ken Lay and Co., and be unable to grasp that others just might be appalled and outraged by the lack of ethics one had demonstrated--because the only ethic one had was "more is better"?

My brother-in-law is a stockbroker, and had the dubious pleasure of being both in the same Naval ROTC unit as Ken Lay and a major in the same undergraduate department. He never could manage to summon up much enthusiasm for Enron.

I've read this post three times now, and I have trouble putting my reaction into coherent form that take up less than 1000 words.

Yeah, I know. Tell me about it.

That suicide note is Baxter's actual text that I got from the newly released DVD of "Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room" (based on the book). I rented it last night. It's pretty well done. Amazingly well done, actually. I highly recommend it.

At the end, there is a title card stating the trials of Lay and Skilling are supposed to start in January 2006. I've been kind of out of it lately, but I don't recall hearing they've started, or been adjourned to another date, or what-all. That's on my list of things to Google this week.

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