How To Explain Enron to Your Children
Feudalism - You have two cows. Your lord takes some of the milk.
Fascism - You have two cows. The government takes both, drafts you into
the army and sends you to invadeF rance.
Communism - You have two cows. The government takes both of them and
hires you and your neighbors to take care of them. You stand in line to
Totalitarianism - You have two cows. The government takes them both and
denies they ever existed and drafts you into the army. Milk is banned.
Capitalism - You have two cows. You sell one and buy a bull. Your herd
multiplies, and the economyg rows. You sell them and retire on the
Enron Venture Capitalism: You have two cows. You give some milk to Congressmen, some yogurt to Senators, and mountains of Swiss cheese to the Republican Presidential candidate. You lose the two cows. You're not sure where. Maybe you lost them gambling in the Cayman Islands. You ask your CEO about it and he says the cows are doing great and multiplying like rabbits but he has personal problems and figures he'll resign. That makes your milkmaids and dairymen get nervous and ask you why the cows are shrinking. You say they're breeding and that's temporarily thinned out the herd, and pretty soon, thanks to all the bull, there are going to be even fatter cows and more cows and more dairy products, including Swiss cheese with some very large loopholes. They go back to work, more or less reassured, to try to milk the now-nearly-invisible cows.
Meanwhile, a newly-elected Vice President and fellow dairyman has invited you to several important ice cream parties at the White House where you and he invent ways to put even bigger loopholes in the Swiss cheese.
Back at the Houston ranch, the hands are getting really nervous and ask: How do we know these invisible cows are real? "They're as real as the bull I'm slinging right now," you snap, and then you go out and sell all your shares in the missing cows while at the same time prohibiting your ranch hands from selling theirs.
One milkmaid writes you a letter warning you that the cows are dangerously small, or maybe not even there at all, and she wonders what will happen to all the hammered hordes of cowshares and all the hordes of hammered cowshareholders.
The roof on the cow palace falls in and the roof inspectors confirm, for a certainty, that there are absolutely no cows, but that you're full of bull.
Meanwhile, luckily for your friend President Swiss Cheese, Osama bin Laden has knocked down the World Trade Center and everybody has somehow decided your friend the President is a great guy and can do no wrong no matter how much cheese you gave him and no matter how many cheese holes he and Vice President Cheesey gave you. The FBI learns that your official cow counter, Haymister Tallyman, has been secretly shredding cow-tallies; the shares in your invisible cows plunge to nothing, and you are herded out of the stock exchange, drummed out of the Dairyman's Association, and stripped of your dairyman's badge. Just about everybody in the country is mad at you, but you say "I don' need no STEENKEEN badges!" because you don't have to give back any of the money you made selling your cowshares because the Congressmen you paid off in milk processed it into a cheesey bill with big big loopholes in which you are free, with impunity, to lose your cows no matter how much everybody else gets swindled.
And your friend the Swiss Cheese President goes on TV and says his mother-in-law owned some cow shares, too, and hers are worthless just like everybody else's, and she's outraged, and he's outraged on her behalf, and he now feels like one of us, the little people, the people who got bamboozled. He says "You little people may think my ancestors stepped on Plymouth Rock, but now you can see that Plymouth Rock fell on me same as it did on everybody else. We been bamboozled, flimflammed, hornswoggled, and hoodwinked...No kidding, we're all in the same yacht, errr, boat." He says he barely remembers who you are, that he and his VP will never invite you to another ice cream party, and that anyhow you gave dairy products to EVERYbody inside the Beltway, and plenty outside as well, so how dare anybody point a finger at him without pointing a finger at themselves, as well. Then he invites Tom Brokaw over to the White House to suck up and give him some folksy spin control. And Tom searches the whole White House with his camera crew and doesn't find one piece of Swiss cheese and allows as how that pretty much exonerates President Swiss Cheese, and that his name should no longer be President Swiss Cheese, but President Kenny "he gives you the bunk" Bunkport. Vice President Cheesey stonewalls Congress about his & your secret cheese hole making, and the Presidential Press Secretary goes before the White House Pressgang and soundly bites them and tonguelashes the whole country, snarling that if we know what's good for us we'll stop whining and griping and thinking and saying that the President and his buddies ever took soft or hard cheese from you or had any idea how you lost your cows. And that better be the end of that or the President might get so distracted he'll be unable to eat pretzels and watch TV at the same time and he'll choke and then nobody will be there to protect us from Osama and the other Evildoers that are out there waiting to do us evil. And right after that the President goes on TV and says he needs 50 billion more dollars so he can hammer cowshares back into swords. And we're all so scared of Osama bin Laden, even though his color looks lousy and he just may be dead, that we don't make a peep, but meekly crack the lock on our Social Security lockbox and give President Swiss Cheese aka Kenny Bunkport anything he and his Press Secretary damn well tell us to give him.
Meanwhile, the Attorney General proceeds with an investigation of your lost cows, but goes really easy on you because he's grateful for all the milk products you gave him when he was running for Senator of Missouri and he has so much integrity he has recused himself from investigating you though his underlings haven't recused themselves so maybe he hasn't recused himself after all. And the Congress decides not to appoint an independent counsel to investigate you because everybody's had a lifetime's supply of Ken Starr and the last thing anybody wants to see is another independent counsel, no matter how much one is needed, especially if his investigation leads to the death of soft dairy products. And when some Congressmen suggest that the legislature pass laws against Congressmen accepting soft dairy products, all the other Congressmen remember how good milk and yogurt and cheese taste and how much they need milk to help them manufacture the bull they're feeding the rest of the country. And they remind their brother Congressmen that anybody's who's lactose intolerant better march right back to private life, because lactose tolerance is the sine qua non of public service, and lactose is the mother's milk of the body politic, building strong pols' campaigns 12 ways.
Got milk? I'll say! It's the American way!