Enron shoved what up grandma Millie's....
June 1, 2004 8:50 PM   Subscribe

Enron traders caught, on tape, "talking energy" "They're f------g taking all the money back from you guys?" complains an Enron employee on the tapes. "All the money you guys stole from those poor grandmothers in California?" "Yeah, grandma Millie, man" "Yeah, now she wants her f------g money back for all the power you've charged right up, jammed right up her a------ for f------g $250 a megawatt hour."

Wacky Enron boys, what will they say next.....
posted by troutfishing (34 comments total)
"This is the evidence we've all been waiting for. This proves they manipulated the market," said Eric Christensen, a spokesman for the utility.

I suppose Enron's first response will be that it was just a couple rogue employees that don't represent the company's otherwise hardworking sales staff?
posted by mathowie at 9:10 PM on June 1, 2004

Texas boys sure can play a good game.
posted by stbalbach at 9:11 PM on June 1, 2004

I just watched a clip of that with my grandma. She was rather offended. Go figure.

"They need to be tarred and feathered and run up a tree."

Which about sums it up. Is unbridled rage still not PC? I've got a pitchfork right here, and torches are quite easy to make.
posted by loquacious at 9:12 PM on June 1, 2004

They can't talk about California like that! Arnold is gonna kick their asses!
posted by homunculus at 9:15 PM on June 1, 2004

Much ado about nothing. They're traders; it's their job to fuck everyone they can.

Except for that pesky breaking the law part...

Damn those pesky laws, getting in the way of good old virtuous capitalism.
posted by Space Coyote at 9:23 PM on June 1, 2004

it's their job to fuck everyone they can.

True, but this is some jump-out-of-the-bushes, bitch-slappy skull-fucking without a condom. I cry rape.
posted by scarabic at 9:26 PM on June 1, 2004

I don't think Space Coyote said anything about capitalism failing, trharlan... enron is a good example of capitalism doing what it does best. Whether one finds the results in this case morally reprehensible or not is, I guess, up to the individual.

They're traders; it's their job to fuck everyone they can.

I offer thanks to the gods that I'm just a humble botanist, happy that I am able to sleep at night after a day's work.
posted by Jimbob at 9:44 PM on June 1, 2004

They're traders; it's their job to fuck everyone they can

Damn straight.

...fortunately, my job is to take over the world and send traders to deathcamps! God I love my work.
posted by aramaic at 9:52 PM on June 1, 2004

Except for that pesky breaking the law part...

What law did they break?

According to the retail entron writeups, one of the California Policy Dudes complained repeatedly that the regulations were far to easy to abuse and should be edited and revised. When his comments fell on deaf ears, Enron hired him and built a trading team. Now California is finally revising its energy policy.

I'm not suggesting anyone cry for Enron -- but more attention should be paid to the California policy makers who couldn't be bothered to do their job.
posted by Kwantsar at 10:31 PM on June 1, 2004

Greed is good. Greed works.

posted by weston at 10:34 PM on June 1, 2004

He also said that Enron may have broken laws when it withheld from Andersen critical information regarding its controversial partnerships

Since they haven't been convicted of anything yet (hooray for the US' effecient legal system) "may have" is as far as statements like that will go at the moment.

As for questioning my love of capitalism, (1) you got nothin', and (2) i like capitalism just fine. Many capitalists, unfortunately, are turning out to be theives with friends in high places. If it's "their job to fuck everybody" well, fuck them for it.
posted by Space Coyote at 11:07 PM on June 1, 2004

sorry harlan. you and your libertarian buddies can repeat that "enron myth" tripe all you want but even the crooks themselves concede the point.
A former top energy trader, considered the mastermind of Enron Corp.'s scheme to drive up California's energy prices, pleaded guilty Thursday to a federal conspiracy charge.

Timothy Belden, the former head of trading in Enron's Portland, Ore., office, admitted to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and promised to cooperate with state and federal prosecutors as well as any non-criminal effort to investigate the energy industry. . . . Andrew Fastow, Enron's former chief financial officer, is accused of devising the company's complex web of off-the-books partnerships used to hide some $1 billion in debt from shareholders and federal regulators and is charged with money laundering, fraud and conspiracy.

A once-trusted Fastow aide, Michael Kopper, pleaded guilty in August to money laundering and conspiracy to commit wire fraud.
From Belden's plea agreement:
Beginning in approximately 1998, and ending in approximately 2001, I and other individuals at Enron agreed to devise and implement a series of fraudulent schemes through these markets. We designed the schemes to obtain increased revenue for Enron from wholesale electricity customers and other market participants in the State of California.
so wrapping yourself in the the flag and free markets makes it easier to apologize for liars and thieves? save it for November.
posted by caseymcg at 12:08 AM on June 2, 2004

Jeffrey Skilling caseymcg: (politely telling you, btw) don't confuse the flag with idiotism.
posted by Keyser Soze at 4:23 AM on June 2, 2004

"They're f------g taking all the money back from you guys?" complains an Enron employee on the tapes. "All the money you guys stole from those poor grandmothers in California?"

So dialog for Enron traders is being written by the Get Your War On guy?

Get Your Enron!
posted by Outlawyr at 4:28 AM on June 2, 2004

it is somewhat baffling that people like these are not hanging from lampposts already. seriously.
if anything, this fact alone is good evidence of the American people's coolness under pressure.

and by the way, for those who are curious about the psychopathology of the trader, there's a good book that tangentially touches that topic -- Michael Lewis' excellent "Liar's Poker". it helped save me from what at the time was an all-but-certain enrolment to Business School
posted by matteo at 4:43 AM on June 2, 2004

good evidence of the American people's coolness under pressure

You really give us too much credit. Laziness might be a better word, or perhaps the phrase abject stupidity. Coolness, however, it is not. Most of the people who were on the receiving end of the Entron gang-bang are crying bloody murder, but in this country where our national motto is "Whatever" and nobody gives a shit about something unless is affects them personally, I'm not surprised that the rest of the country isn't scewering assholes like these on pikes and putting them on the sides of the roads of our cities as a warning to future assholery.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 4:52 AM on June 2, 2004

"....more attention should be paid to the California policy makers who couldn't be bothered to do their job."

Kwantsar, trharlan - there are agreed upon ground rules in the given game, correct ?

So - If I were to concede that, technically, no laws had been broken in this case, despite the rash of pottymouthedness, there's a much more salient point here :

Why not modify the ground rules so that this sort of (perhaps legal, perhaps not) abuse is much less likely to occur in the future?

In a maximally efficient market system - one with the best underlying ground rules, you might say, which is also designed for the best utilitarian balance between the needs of producers (or, as it were, energy traders) and consumers - such blatant market manipulation would 1) be illegal or 2) (the most desirable solution) be inherently impossible or wouldn't be likely to happen because it would hurt the bottom line profitability of companies which attempted such manipulation.

There ARE ground rules to the "Market" - agreed upon by humans - and these can be changed and modified.

A "Tobin Tax" - like approach to the problem comes to mind :

A small tax on energy trading markets, to dampen down their "liquidity" a little bit, could remove the profit margins from speculative and market-manipulative trading.

The money collected via this tax could be used to fund a public corporation which researches alternative (i.e. - non fossil fuel) energy and energy efficiency technology.


As a theoretical note, think of this proposition :

In nature, we can observe the workings of an optimized "Marketplace" :

There are primary producers (photosynthesizers, and some anaerobic bacteria) and then consumers - the entire food chain built on that primary production driven, ultimately, by the Sun.

But even the "primary producers" compete for resources - sunlight, soil, water, nitrogen, CO2 sometimes......

In the overall system, there always evolves - despite constant and ongoing perturbations - a balance between predation, parasitism, and symbiosis which optimizes the system for maximal conversion of the ultimate resource - Sunlight - into........


And actual, sharp distinctions between predators and prey can become unclear - as in the case of parasites and benign symbiotes, and their hosts.

There are exquisite checks and balances, too - predator/prey relationships, parasitism, and disease outbreaks, as well as local resource constraints prevent unconstrained population explosions. When these happen, they are quickly followed by dieoffs as all the aforementioned factors kick into play to lop off the demographic bulge.

In this system

- "monopolies", as we currently understand them, don't really exist for the reason that genetic diversity is, in itself, a beneficial. Species which dominate resource bases don't tend to evolve because they tend to undermine and degrade local environments. "Monopolies" do not make for robust systems. Unconstrained growth is very unusual and - left unchecked - could mean, even, the death of the overall system.

- Almost everything that lives has a finite span of life - [ "deathless" organisms are few. Current modern corporations have no set lifespans. They are - in theory - both capable of consuming nearly the entire overall environment and are also granted effective legal immortality. ] and almost everything that lives - and perhaps even everything - suffers some type of predation which can become deadly. Even the largest, most powerful, organisms - immune by virtue of size and power, the whales, polar bears, eagles, big cats and so on - must contend with parasitism, and diseases - viruses and bacteria.

Or, to quote Jonathan Swift (who saw part of this overall scheme, anyway) :

So, naturalists observe, a flea
Hath smaller fleas that on him prey;
And these have smaller still to bite 'em;
And so proceed ad infinitum.....

I am just describing the biological economy (as I understand it, very imperfectly) under the premise that - since it is remarkably efficient at converting sunlight into biological life - it's underlying ground rules might be profitably studied for insight into how to optimize the human economy so as to be serve the needs of all of it's members.
posted by troutfishing at 10:02 AM on June 2, 2004

You really give us too much credit. Laziness might be a better word, or perhaps the phrase abject stupidity. Coolness, however, it is not.

Fatalism would probably be a more honest word. Not that I wouldn't like to see these fucks in a cell, but you ask most people and they'll shrug and say "yeah, it sucks, but what can you do about it and they'll get away with it anyway."

Right or wrong, that's how many, if not most, people feel about it.
posted by jonmc at 10:44 AM on June 2, 2004

"Liar's Poker" is wildly entertaining and although a bit of a caricature, is pretty close to the mark in its description of the seamier side of Wall Street. Despite that and the behavior of the hooligans at Enron, it is possible to work as a securities or commodities trader, operate within both the legal and ethical constraints of the job, and sleep at night. There are bad traders just like there are bad lawyers/doctors/engineers/teachers/etc. Are there any bad botanists Jimbob? One difference for traders, who do most of their business on the phone, is that compliance rules require all of those conversations to be recorded and saved for everyone to hear. That's why we get to be entertained by the knuckleheads quoted above...and why some of them will go to jail.
posted by cyclopz at 10:46 AM on June 2, 2004

Bad botanists? Doing, like, what ... manipulating the orchid market? I'll bet those bastards are responsible for all those overpriced "bamboo" sticks-in-water that are being sold in all the malls!
posted by five fresh fish at 11:42 AM on June 2, 2004

Even if it is technically legal, screwing over a whole state should earn you a tarring and feathering.

Same goes for the president for removing the price caps.
posted by destro at 11:43 AM on June 2, 2004

Myth #2: Without proper regulation from government, companies like Enron will abuse the financial system.

Yeah, I always get those myth-things confused with those truism-things.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 12:21 PM on June 2, 2004

"I'm not surprised that the rest of the country isn't scewering assholes like these on pikes and putting them on the sides of the roads of our cities as a warning to future assholery."

Damn that pesky rule of law, where are the lynch mobs when you need them eh?
posted by soulhuntre at 12:44 PM on June 2, 2004

So dialog for Enron traders is being written by the Get Your War On guy?

Outlawyr owes me a new keyboard. So sad, yet so true.
posted by junkbox at 1:10 PM on June 2, 2004

A couple of lynch mobbings would make a big difference to the (generic) West. We're run by bureaucrats and corporatecats, all looking to serve their own self-interest at the expense of the greater public good. Hang a few of the fuckers, and maybe they'll start reconsidering their ways.

It's supposed to be government for the people, not governing of the people.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:38 PM on June 2, 2004

This all reminds me of a little truism I like to haul out sometimes:

You can:
a) Work within the law.
b) Enjoy your job.
c) Make lots of money.

You can choose only two.
posted by Badmichelle at 1:48 PM on June 2, 2004

Has anyone seen any information on who, exactly, was doing the taping here? Was this a whistleblowing employee with a tape recorder in his pocket, or a "your calls may be monitored to ensure better customer service" gone awry, or an FBI wiretap, or did these traders have an audioblog, or what?
posted by ook at 1:53 PM on June 2, 2004

Instead of putting their carcasses on pikes, why don't we just pillory and bullwhip them in the city square? Alive, but utterly humiliated. I think they deserve it, all the way up to Ken Lay. I'd probably take a lash or two at 'em myself.

I did feel pretty good when I heard that during the "power crisis," even though Bush and Cheney told us straight out not to bother, that Californians cut their use of electricity by around 50% - thus cutting Enron's gross (and I do mean gross) profit by a large margin. This may have contributed to their downfall, as clearly they were expecting to make a lot more money than they did.

I hope the legal system puts the whole pack of 'em in prison.
posted by zoogleplex at 2:53 PM on June 2, 2004

zoogleplex You're hinting at the same reason why Michael Moore's idea of "Cops" for corporate crime would be so awesomely awesome, seeing your boss in a wife-beater having his head bashed agains the hood of a police car == kick ass TV.
posted by Space Coyote at 9:53 PM on June 2, 2004

ook...all securities trading operations are regulatorially (good lord, is that a word!?) required to record and preserve their phone and other electronic conversations.
posted by cyclopz at 5:49 AM on June 3, 2004

Thank you, cyclopz. I didn't know that.
posted by ook at 7:36 AM on June 3, 2004

Now if these guys had robbed a convenient store at gunpoint, we'd be talking some serious time ...
posted by moonbiter at 8:11 PM on June 8, 2004

« Older Talkin' Engery   |   See the USA in your CHEVROLET Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments