- a True Example of Conservative Compassion
by J. Carlos Jiacinto
The past week represented the first news cycle since the
September 11th attacks that the war on terrorism appeared
nowhere in the media. Instead the subject of the week revolved
around the collapse of Enron, which has the potential to become
the next major Republican "scandal". Out of this company's
collapse numerous employees and investors lost their hard
On a recent "Capital Gang," the two conservative
panelists, Robert Novak and Kate O'Beirne, scoffed at the
investors and employees who lost their life savings. They
both spoke about how these individuals needed to know how
"capitalism works" and that the true response to them should
be "tough luck." Novak called them outright "idiots."
From these two panelists the true nature of what "compassionate
conservativism" emerged. The fact is, "compassionate conservatism"
is really "selfish indifference."
The fact that these two panelists lacked any compassion or
sympathy for these shareholders reveals their true nature.
At best their actions were inconsiderate. At worst they were
reprehensible and horrible. The fact that the only emotions
that they showed to the public consisted of hostility, ridicule,
and indifference revealed how it mattered to none of them
whether these investors lost their money.
Enron's employees worked extremely hard for the company's
bottom line. They put their life savings in the business's
401(k) plan so that they could live a decent retirement. Numerous
shareholders, including myself, bought shares of this company
unaware of what was really taking place behind closed doors.
Although my loss was small - 15 shares bought at $36.80 -
these employees watched their life savings evaporate.
During the period when Enron's shares crashed the company
prevented these employees from selling their stock. They were
unable to at least take some of their hard earned money back.
Instead they watched helplessly as their hard work evaporated.
The fact that the Bush administration KNEW perhaps weeks and
months in advance that the company's shares were going to
lose all their value reveals the true nature of "compassionate"
Although O'Beirne and Novak were right in saying that the
government had no obligation to tell the shareholders, the
fact remains that they could have done so - and that it would
have been the right thing to do. Instead they let the executives
cash out their shares while Enron's workforce watched their
wealth deteriorate into thin air.
This type of "crony capitalism" makes me sick. The right,
who glorifies the laissez-faire economy, interefered. They
prevented the free market and its forces from acting without
undue influence. The employees of Enron lost the ability to
save their capital and the system failed. Although I often
scoff at some of the far left's economic ideology, this form
of capitalism undermines the main foundation of the system.
Crony capitalism prevents each market participant from having
an equal chance to improve his well-being and profit from
his labor and investments. If this system typifies what these
politicians consider to be capitalism, it is rather
a form of socialism, one in which nepotism determines
who makes profit. The market in which Enron traded was not
free, but rather dominated by nepotism.
The Enron crisis reveals how indifferent and how uncompassionate
the Republicans can be, especially to their own employees.
These employees built Enron into the empire that it became,
only to be thanked by losing their livelihoods. The ridicule
coming from conservative columnists reveals that they could
care less about the employees welfare - all that matters is
whether the CEOs take out their money without losing any of
their investment and that they do not go to jail.
What a great way to show compassion!