A Relook at Enron
But the historian must look deeper. Was Enron really a free-market, capitalistic company even when its apparent self-interest lay elsewhere? Or were profit centers dependent on tax subsidies, advantageous regulation, or checks written on the U.S. Treasury? Was Enron passive or active in seeking and receiving special government favor?
As it turns out, Enron was a political colossus with a unique range of rent-seeking and subsidy-receiving operations. Ken Lay’s announced visions for the company–to become the world’s first natural-gas major, then the world’s leading energy company, and, finally, the world’s leading company–relied on more than free-market entrepreneurship. They were premised on employing political means to catch up with, and outdistance, far larger and more-established corporations.
This is from the September Feature Article, released this morning, titled “Enron: The Perils of Interventionism.” It’s by Robert Bradley, Jr., a 16-year Enron employee.
When you read the piece, I think most of you will find yourselves, when you see how closely Enron was intertwined with the government, saying “I didn’t know that.”