Tuesday, October 24, 2006


"I am innocent of these charges. I am innocent of every one of these charges."
"We will continue to pursue my constitutional rights."
These were the words of Jeffrey Skilling as he stood convicted of 19 criminal counts and faced 24+ years in a North Carolina prison. A better choice might have been the Houston area where all those former Enron workers live and can freely interfere with his parole hearings as his name comes up on the schedule.

Did Skilling get what he deserved? That remains to be seen. If he gets out of prison on parole, I guess that would be how I would define no. If he dies in prison, I suppose that’s how I would define yes because he would never have a chance to bounce on the bed with piles of money anymore. We don’t bankrupt women and children to get back all the money of a white white-collar criminal anymore, so that means if he gets out of prison he will be free to enjoy what’s left of his stolen capital.

He can’t have a book deal today and profit from it (as I understand the law), but when he’s out he can write a book, tell brand new lies, and get brand new money for it. Maybe someone will see him as a perfect guy for a start-up venture and he’ll be into new and even higher finance within three years of his release.

In a perfect world, there are no Skillings. This isn’t a perfect world (not even The Patio, in Berkeley, is perfect, but it’s got as close as you’ll get to a perfect burger), and that means all bets are off. So maybe you’ll recall my “Emperor” piece (look in the archives) and decide what seems appropriate for a man so greedy that he didn’t just steal a little from a few, but everything from many.

One thing we should do is immortalize the boy by calling any massive white collar crime a “Skilling”. Won’t his family be proud? Actually, this is America and by the third generation his grandkids at Andover will probably take pride in the sheer greed of the crime. “You’re that Skilling’s grandson? I know W’s grandson, but Skilling’s! That’s real money!” And, that, my children, is exactly what’s wrong with capitalism.

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