A Little Justice for a Big Man
“We’re shocked. This is not the outcome we expected.”
So said Ken Lay after his conviction on fraud and conspiracy charges relating to the collapse of Enron. Shocked? Really?
My theory is that he really doesnÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢t believe he did anything wrong because he never intended anyone to get hurt.
If someone breaks into my house and takes everything I own, they know they are robbing me blind. But when a CEO and other top executives choose personal greed over employee and investor welfare, they donÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢t intend to hurt anyone. So does that make LayÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s crimes less severe than those of a burglar?
Whether or not Lay intended harm makes no difference. His actions were like those of a drunk driver who kills a family. The drunk had no intention of hurting anyone but we still throw the book at him because his negligence was of the most deplorable sort. Like the drunk who chooses personal pleasure and convenience over concern for all others on the road, Ken Lay chose personal success and wealth over concern for the employees and investors of Enron.
The result of his actions were tragic. The punishment is warranted.
But I do want to add: to all those who claimed Ken Lay would never suffer justice because of his personal connections to the Bush family, please note that the system is not so malleable. Ken Lay didnÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢t walk. HeÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ll serve time just like every other criminal who gets caught.
And I, for one, am glad to live in a country where even the most powerful are not above the law. That might ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œshockÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚? Ken Lay, but it should please the rest of us.