CBS News reports on the angry reaction of lawmakers in Washington to hearing audio recordings of Enron traders who bragged and joked about the massive profits they were racking up in California during the power crisis they helped to engineer through manipulation of the market.
One trader is heard on tapes obtained by CBS News saying, “Just cut ‘em off. They’re so fucked. They should just bring back fucking horses and carriages, fucking lamps, fucking kerosene lamps.”
And when describing his reaction when a business owner complained about high energy prices, another trader is heard on tape saying, “I just looked at him. I said, ‘Move.’ (laughter) The guy was like horrified. I go, ‘Look, don’t take it the wrong way. Move. It isn’t getting fixed anytime soon.”
Employee 1: “All the money you guys stole from those poor grandmothers in California?
Employee 2: “Yeah, Grandma Millie man.
Employee 1: “Yeah, now she wants her fucking money back for all the power you’ve charged right up, jammed right up her ass for fucking $250 a megawatt hour.”
Another taped exchange between different employees regarding a possible newspaper interview goes like this:
Employee 3: “This guy from the Wall Street Journal calls me up a little bit ago…”
Employee 4: “I wouldn’t do it, because first of all you’d have to tell ‘em a lot of lies because if you told the truth…”
Employee 3: “I’d get in trouble.”
Employee 4: “You’d get in trouble.”
Eventually, the lies unraveled and traders scrambled.
“I’m just—fuck—I’m just trying to be an honest camper so I only go to jail once,” says one employee.
My cynical side is ready to toss out a throw-away quip about how it’s only natural that our Congressmen are pissed at having competition in the screwing-over-the-average-American department, but I’m trying to be optimistic that they’ll actually do something to try and prevent this sort of thing from happening again. The CBS News item also contains copies of two Enron memos which describe the company’s plans for inflating energy costs during California’s crisis that are sure to piss you off if you read them. It still amazes me that so many of the company’s top officers have managed to avoid prosecution to any great degree. Granted, the process is a slow one and they did bring Former Enron Corp. chief executive Jeffrey Skilling up on a number of charges in February, but it’s hard to imagine that it doesn’t go higher than him. The whole Enron fiasco still boggles my mind as not only did the folks in California get bent over a table, but so many people who invested in Enron lost everything in the fall as well all the while being told there was nothing to worry about.