The Smartest Morons in the Room
Back when Enron imploded, I was wondering to myself about the motivation of some of the players. I can understand the greed and fraud, and the looking aside when fraud was being perpetrated. I like to believe that I would never get caught up in that, but I’ve never been placed in the situation some of these folks were in, namely where a little fraud could result in humongous rewards. (I’ve also been fortunate enough never to be placed in the reverse situation, where giving in to fraud was necessary for survival.) There’s something to be said about that line in that old Catholic prayer, the Our Father: “lead me not into temptation.”
So while I don’t condone the behavior of the
Lately, I’ve been thinking of Enron again. See, there were some reputedly very smart people who engaged in some very shady business that was not sustainable and they had the information to know it was not sustainable… and they stuck around too long, finding themselves still at the party when the when the roof caved in. Sure, not everyone involved had access to enough information to know things couldn’t last, but many, many of them did. And sure, the story isn’t ending the Enron way – courtesy of our illustrious President, our esteemed future President, the honorable dude who was hoping to be our esteemed future President, and a whole host of other worthies in Washington, now we’re all being looted in a desperate effort to keep these folks comfortable. But let’s be realistic – this last batch of nation-wide theft could never have been anticipated by the folks at Goldman, Welfare, Queen, & Sachs and is merely, for them, a fortuitous accident. But the ending is nowhere near as happy for the Welfare Queen class as it would have been had they simply walked away a couple years ago, as for instance this fine fellow did, albeit inadvertently.
So what’s going on? Does greed blind people? Are these folks really the imbeciles they appear to be in hindsight? To be honest, I’m starting to think folks like Fastow and Paulson really have little actual intelligence at all. They may have benefited from connections, and they may know some arcane subject pretty well, but clearly they cannot see how things connect to each other. And its a real shame that people like that are often those that get elevated to a point where they can do some serious damage. And the fact that this sort of thing keeps happening makes me wonder about the rest of us – me included – who tolerate living in a world where buffoons run the show. Perhaps those morons really are the smartest guys in the room.