The Senate Commerce Committee Hearings finally found the right metaphor for Enron's fate when Chairman Byron Dorgan (D-ND) compared the company to the Titanic.
"In the Titanic," he said, "the captain went down with the ship. And Enron looks to me like the captain first gave himself and his friends a bonus, then lowered himself and the top folks down the lifeboat and then hollered up and said, 'By the way, everything is going to be just fine.'"
But there is, in the Titanic cast of characters, a good analog for the Enron leadership. While the captain, the first officer, and the Titanic's designer did go down with the ship, there was one honcho whose behavior was more like the Enron ...view middle of the document...
At the same time, the company disclosed losses and charges against equity, touching off the free fall in stock prices that eventually led to the stock's delisting by the New York Stock Exchange. By then, Lay had earned more than $146 million in options trades.
Accept for a moment the claim by top leadership at Enron that they did not know about the accounting practices that led to the company's downfall-an assumption that, admittedly, strains credulity. But, for the purposes of argument, let's say they had no insider information that led them to dump stock.
Even if that proves to be true, isn't there something wrong with corporate leaders profiting when a company fails, especially while the rank and file and ordinary investors get nothing? What does it mean to be the chief executive officer or the chairman of the board if not that you take responsibility for the company's direction? If the organization goes under--whether through honest mistakes or illegal activity--aren't you supposed to be on the bridge until the bitter end, hollering, "Women and children first"?
In the case of Enron's demise--unless legal action reverses the inequity--the...