Today is the anniversary of the Enron bankruptcy, an event which launched the first major witch hunt of the 21st century. On this anniversary, I decided to begin a series of posts about a disturbing aspect of “modern” American society.This article, which is about the latest round of criminal proceedings against individual BP executives, saddens me and makes me worry that we will never learn any of the crucial lessons of the Enron legal travesty. Not satisfied with extorting billions of dollars in civil fees from BP, the Feds also insisted on criminal proceedings against the corporation. Now that the Feds have strong-armed a plea deal from the BP corporation, it is pressing criminal charges against private individuals. This is a stupid move which will cost the USA taxpayers tens of millions of dollars (at least) and accomplish nothing.
I’m afraid we live in a society in which tragedies and accidents are not allowed. Somebody (and we don’t seem to much care who) must be held personally accountable for every bad thing that happens in the world. And civil penalties against corporations, which are the logical and most effective way to handle most situations such as BP and Enron, are no longer sufficient — we simply must figure out ways to punish private individuals also. It just strikes me that there is something dysfunctional about a society that cannot accept that there are failures and tragedies in the world which are not the result of criminal activity.
For reasons I cannot quite understand, the press and entertainment media in the USA has spent decades demonizing business and business people in the USA. The “evilness” of business is so mindlessly accepted now by such a huge proportion of the American public that nobody seems to ask serious questions when business people get railroaded by big government. Far from being the watchdog which is supposed to be their highest mission, the American press stokes the anti-business mob mentality in this country which makes witch hunts such as Enron possible.
Businesses and business executives have become the default witches for a dysfunctional society whose irrational biases increasingly seem indistinguishable from superstition. The press and media have spent so much time and effort demonizing business executives that the American public actually seems to believe that business people are actual demons!