Tag Archives: Alex Gibney

The Art of Enron

Most people can bear adversity; but if you wish to know what a man really is give him power. This is the supreme test.
—Robert G. Ingersoll, Unity 1883

Unless you happened to work at Vermont’s Ben and Jerry’s in 1985 when the 5 to 1 rule was in effect1, America’s corporations, unwittingly or not, promote a type of culture that is “dog-eat-dog”. Under such merit-based systems, ambitious employees clock in long hours and rely on a variety of skills to climb the competitive corporate ladder. The highest tier of company leadership is where the best fruits of labor can be enjoyed.

Enron executives took this culture model and its fruits to an unprecedented level. For them, the culture wasn’t confined to activities in Enron’s trading floors and accounting offices; for this precious few, it became a way of life in which nothing was ever enough. Continue reading The Art of Enron

Injustice Served at Enron, AA&Co: The Roles of Michael Chertoff and Sherron Watkins

The collapse of Enron and the conviction of its accounting firm, Arthur Andersen, mark a critical juncture in American business and political life. Not only the accounting profession but corporate America as a whole—and those charged with regulating it—must now confront what has been learned, what is at stake, and what can and should be done to restore public confidence in the integrity of the markets.
Bigger than Enron, Frontline 2002

Before we watch the documentary film, Enron, The Smartest Guys in the Room (Gibney & Kliot, 2005), let’s assess our knowledge of the Enron scandal.1 Do we even remember the rise and fall of the Enron Corporation very clearly? After all, a new generation has emerged since the company’s December 2, 2001 bankruptcy. And, noting the date, did some simply discard that news, since we were then, and are still, adjusting to the devastation resulting from the bombing of the World Trade Center towers?

Comparing the Enron Case to 9/11

Enron trademark
Enron trademark, positioned in front of Enron’s Houston Headquarters

We can compare the two events in time, but maybe very little else to compare otherwise. Of course, the collapse of Enron was earth-shaking to many people around the world who had invested in the company and had faith in its positive pronouncements. And, it was earth-shaking to others who had benefited from Enron’s philanthropic largess.

However, were lives lost? Were there lasting injuries? Unfortunately, we must answer “Yes” to both. Continue reading Injustice Served at Enron, AA&Co: The Roles of Michael Chertoff and Sherron Watkins

Enron Trials: Mueller and Weissman in a Frenzied Witch Hunt

General Michael Flynn, former National Security Advisor to President Donald Trump, has every reason to be sweating bullets at present. After pleading guilty to lying to the FBI about Russian contacts, General Flynn is at the mercy of Special Counsel Robert Mueller and his team of investigators. In addition to Flynn, three other henchmen of President Trump’s are in hot water relating to the investigation over Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential Election:

  • Paul Manafort, Campaign Chairman
  • Ricky Gates, General Flynn’s assistant
  • George Papadopoulos, Campaign Foreign Policy Advisor

Andrew Fastow, the former CFO of Enron shown in this month’s movie, might strongly empathize with these men for he was once in their same distressing situation. Continue reading Enron Trials: Mueller and Weissman in a Frenzied Witch Hunt

Scientology: Know Anything Positive about It?

To my knowledge, I know no one personally, or even by second or third degree, who is a member of the Church of Scientology. Therefore, I begin with this disclaimer: my knowledge of the religion of Scientology stems from only secondary sources. Continue reading Scientology: Know Anything Positive about It?

How the Church of Scientology Appeals to Otherwise-Sane People and Why They Stay

A cult organization proclaimed tax-exempt in the US in 1993 (Levathan, 1993, May 15), the Church of Scientology appeals to  people for any number of possible reasons, but I’ll name two. Its main appeal may be that it promises ultimate truth that will conform one into a supreme being. Second, the Church of Scientology demands a significant amount of time and money.

That second reason may also be part of why members stay. In some cases, it’s also because Scientology owns their secrets.

Scientologists Possess Ultimate Truth

Scientology members believe that they can possess the “ultimate truth,” thus become godlike, in control of their lives, and “have it made.” According to the documentary film, Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief (Gibney, 2015), this idea is offered to members through the structures of “The Bridge,” a hierarchy of eight levels, where at each level a member strives towards the next for the sake of rising in prestige and becoming more godlike. Thus the various principles of Scientology are revealed piecemeal to members as they reach one level and move on to the next. Continue reading How the Church of Scientology Appeals to Otherwise-Sane People and Why They Stay