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Enron's Kenneth Lay Dies 868

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the so-long-and-thanks-for-all-the-sarbox dept.
Don420 writes "This morning the biggest corporate criminal in modern history, Kenneth Lay, died of a massive coronary before he could receive his sentence. Lay was found guilty of being in charge of the scheme that had many lose their live-savings through a scheme of complex offshore holdings and is to thank for our having to live with Sarbanes-Oxely." From the article: "Enron filed for bankruptcy in December 2001 after investigators found it had used partnerships to conceal more than $1 billion in debt and inflate profits. Enron's downfall cost 4,000 employees their jobs and many of them their life savings, and led to billions of dollars of losses for investors."
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Enron's Kenneth Lay Dies

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  • by Tyten (726456) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @02:45PM (#15661698)
    Good Riddance.
  • by Capt'n Hector (650760) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @02:47PM (#15661723)
    how 'bout "Ken committed suicide rather than face sentencing"?
  • by calbanese (169547) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @02:48PM (#15661735) Homepage
    Ted Bundy was polite and charming too.
  • by rhsanborn (773855) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @02:52PM (#15661773)
    You're kidding right...? The guy is 64 years old and has been dealing with a high stress situation for 5 years. I don't suppose that could have anything to do with it.

    But hey, let's jump to the completely absurd conspiracy assumption as "much more likely" than the fact that "coronary heart disease (CHD) is the single leading cause of death in America." (American Heart Association, 2003 study).

    I'll leave open the possibility of suicide, but I think it unlikely. There are far more convenient ways to kill yourself.
  • by jcr (53032) <[jcr] [at] [mac.com]> on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @02:54PM (#15661794) Journal
    So were Carlon Ponzi and Reed Slatkin. It's a common trait among perps in the con game.

    -jcr
  • Damn Right! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fm6 (162816) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @02:55PM (#15661799) Homepage Journal
    Sure, nobody just keels over and dies from a heart attack. That never happens. And anybody who talks about "stress factors" like being pilloried in front of millions of people or facing spending the rest of his life in prison, is just spreading misinformation. And if you mention the fact that he was in his 60s, you've just got your head up your ass.
  • by Churla (936633) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @02:56PM (#15661801)
    I doubt it's faked.
    I doubt it was the government, because they want to see him punished as a way of showing that they're "tackling" the problem.
    I doubt it was cholesterol either... as he would have been on any medication around to stop that.

    My bet is that facing a very probable "rest of your life in real actual PMITA prison" (A 20 year sentence would ahve effectively been life for a man of his age) the stress got him.

    At least he saved us the tax dollars it would have cost to shelter and feed him.
  • At least.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MImeKillEr (445828) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @02:59PM (#15661844) Homepage Journal
    .. he saved the state some $ now that they don't have to warehouse him in jail.

    I wonder how much that was...
  • Re:Life Insurance (Score:3, Insightful)

    by timmyf2371 (586051) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @03:00PM (#15661852)
    "Two wrongs don't make a right".
  • by TopShelf (92521) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @03:00PM (#15661860) Homepage Journal
    Sometimes, it's the rags-to-riches types who go to these extremes, because they're deluded by their own success into believing that they can pull off just about anything, and even in their darkest hour, they've got a plan for wriggling out and turning things around. I'm sure at some point in this whole saga, Lay and Skilling and the rest had a few moments of trepidation when they were crossing the legal line, but a few rationalizations later, they're off and running and all that is in the rearview mirror.

    That hard-working, affable manner doesn't excuse their crimes in the least. Let 'em put those skills to work in federal, PMITA prison.
  • by MindStalker (22827) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .reklatsdnim.> on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @03:01PM (#15661863) Journal
    I don't know about the fresh blood, but most demonic beady eyed people are just morons, from my personal experience, and not actually bad people.
    Either way, someone who looks dangerous doesn't get away with many crimes, so if they look dangerous and act that way too, they are probably already behind bars.
  • by lbrandy (923907) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @03:02PM (#15661872)
    Dear God, for the sake of humanity, please take the rest of those corrupt Republican potato chips!

    PS. God, no need to worry about the Democratic corrupt. We recognize that red-state/blue-state is really the fight between good and evil, and, as such, in times of people losing their entire life's savings and others dying young, the most important thing is whether or not another state switches to my color. GO TEAM GO

    /sarcasm
  • by WindBourne (631190) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @03:03PM (#15661881) Journal
    Ken Lay was a regular rags-to-riches story. Easy to do when you are ripping off and lieing to folks. It is much more difficult to do it honestly, such as Warren Buffett. Oh well, I always thought that the man would not serve a day in prison.
  • by Tiger4 (840741) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @03:03PM (#15661887)
    OK, everybody knows they can do anything better than anyone else, and there is no real point to following rules created by others. But, in order to end the fighting and constant bickering, we put up with these little annoyances called rules, regulations, and laws. Given that they are silly and pointless, what Other Reasons could there be to not increase corporate financial accountability?

    Seems to me anything that puts the CEO, COO, CFO and every other cheif of a company right in the line of fire for criminal and civil liability is a good thing. The Board Officers should be there too of course. To me, the CEO and Chairman are like the Captain of a ship or a Genereal on the battlefield. You Are in Charge and You Are Responsible. If you say the company is in XYZ condition, it damn well ought to be and if we can prove you lied about it, you go to prison. Youd don't get to hide by saying, "the underlings run the company and I don't have a clue". Nothing should be hidden from "conventional interpretation" by some warped usage of accounting and bookkeeping practices. If you want to create a high risk, closed box operation, there are legal ways to do that without hiding it from your investors.

    Sunlight and visibility in all the operations should be normal operating procedure, not an inconvienience to be endured.
  • Show some humanity (Score:2, Insightful)

    by TheBracket (307388) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @03:06PM (#15661905) Homepage
    It really bothers me that most of the threads in this story are either "we should let employees piss on his corpse" or "he's not dead!". Assuming that he is in fact dead, aren't we forgetting something? Irrespective of what he presided over and did, he was a human being. He doubtless had people who cared about him, who will be mourning his death. As a human, no matter what sins he committed in life, we should show some respect - if nothing else for the sake of his family and loved ones.
  • by Pope (17780) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @03:07PM (#15661924)
    In other words, total bullshit. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ken_Lay [wikipedia.org]

    "Lay worked in the early '70s as a federal energy regulator. He then became undersecretary for the Department of the Interior before he returned to the business world. He became an executive at Florida Gas. By the Reagan administration, when energy was deregulated, Lay was already an energy company executive and he took advantage of the new climate by merging Houston Natural Gas Co. with Nebraska-based Inter-North to form Enron in 1985,

    Lay was one of America's highest-paid CEOs, earning (for example) a $42.4 million compensation package in 1999.[1] Lay sold large amounts of his Enron stock in September and October of 2001 as its price fell, while encouraging employees to buy more stock, telling them the company would rebound. Lay liquidated more than $300 million in Enron stock from 1989 to 2001, mostly in stock options."

    Yeah, that's a real "built the company from nothing" story. Where's my rolleyes smiley?
  • by plague3106 (71849) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @03:17PM (#15662001)
    Yeah, i'm sure his death makes the wiping of your retirement savings easier to deal with...
  • What The F!CK (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Microsift (223381) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @03:19PM (#15662019)
    What was a convicted felon, awaiting sentencing, doing on vacation? His ass should have been in jail.
  • by Oz0ne (13272) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @03:20PM (#15662034) Homepage
    Hi. Respect is EARNED.

    What value would respect have if it was given freely and equally regardless of what a person is or does? What would be the point. This man was a criminal, and through his direct actions and deceipt harmed thousands of lives. Why should anyone respect that?

    Perhaps people should respect his family, but this man dug his grave years ago.
  • Well that does it! No more hanging around polite charming people for me.

    I often sense that people who are overly formal and curteous are hiding behind a facade. I don't like them very much. I prefer those who, while still being polite, show their true natures, and don't attempt to be something they're not. Of course, I practive what I preach so when people don't recieve the usual barrage of trite curteousies from me, they probably tend to assume that I'm being rude. The way I see it, putting on a facade is being rude.
  • Dead Zone deja vu? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ScooterComputer (10306) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @03:21PM (#15662045)
    So didn't I just see this on a Dead Zone episode? Snake venom, heart attack, problem solved?

    Look: faced with a life-long jail sentence and plunging my family into poverty or winking out prematurely and letting them collect my fat-ass life insurance...which would I choose? Hrm.

    The last greedy, selfish thing the man ever did was perhaps the most selfless, at least to his family. I hope somebody is running tox screenings for exotic substances...Kevorkian meets Capitalism.
  • A guy eulogizes someone who he had a good deal of respect for and you piss on his grave.

    Need anyone be reminded of the thousands of employees, shareholders and suppliers that the late Mr Lay metaphorically urinated, on as he profited from their misfortune? Who eulogizes for them?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @03:27PM (#15662105)
    DNA doesn't help much if you don't trust they guys administrating the DNA database or holding the samples.
    One sql statement or one misplaced hair and DNA tests are as fakeable as a photo - perhaps moreso since photo editing leaves more detectable traces.
  • by Mister Whirly (964219) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @03:28PM (#15662115) Homepage
    As a human being, I'd like to say the same...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @03:31PM (#15662140)
    Yeah, Hitler, Dahlmer, and Bundy were also human beings who sinned, and I'm sure they had family that mourned their passings. How much respect do you feel for them?
  • by fm6 (162816) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @03:32PM (#15662146) Homepage Journal
    Jeez. OK, the guy was pure evil. Because of him, hundreds of Enron employees lost their retirement funds, and thousands of investors got screwed. Not to mention his role in the great energy "deregulation" scam. I'm just sorry he didn't live long enough to do time.

    But there are people who are even more evil, believe it or not. Even a garden-variety pedophile is worse.

  • Re:Justice? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by John Jamieson (890438) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @03:36PM (#15662193)
    You are right, him dying is not justice. For what he did, being sent to the Gulag would still not be justice.

    He absolutely ruined tens of thousands of lives, taking away the ENTIRE life savings. These people cannot get another life to earn it back, it is gone... I can think of no punishment that would be severe enough.
  • by vought (160908) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @03:37PM (#15662195)
    He grew up in Missouri and he was a son of a preacher. He was one of five children, and he grew this whole company, Enron, from nothing.

    From nothing, to nothing. Are you trying to convince us that he was a good confidence artist?

    Ken Lay caused misery. The money he helped to steal from all the people of California (with the help of a misguided Public Utilities Commission) could have dampened the state's economic recession - a problem blamed on politicians who had less power than Lay.

    Ken Lay caused misery by believing that a nonfeeling, noncaring organization had the power to do good by free market principles. Ask all the people in Houston and elsewhere - people who were encouraged by Lay and Skilling to invest their retirement savings in a legal shell game named Enron stock.

    I'm sure he was a nice guy. And I'm sure that he deserved to be held accountable in a more agonizing way - but it's some small solace that he spent his last few minutes on earth knowing that for a hundred years, people in the United States, from Atlanta to San Diego will curse his name.
  • Oh, the irony (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PCM2 (4486) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @03:38PM (#15662219) Homepage
    I read down to the very bottom of the page and read today's randomly-generated quote:
    Dishonor will not trouble me, once I am dead. -- Euripides
  • by Deviant Q (801293) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @03:41PM (#15662255) Homepage
    While in my gut I agree with you, philosophically I'm having a hard time justifying that. He's less evil because it was money, which is a step detached from the misery its lack causes? He's certainly not less evil by quantity; he managed to miserableify (that should be a word :-P) tons of people.

    The pedophile definitely gets a much worse gut reaction than the corporate scammer. But who causes more suffering?

    I mean, from a Mill (utilitarian) standpoint, it's clearly Lay who's worse... from Kant... I guess it depends on whether Lay was just being selfish or was actively trying to screw people over. But then, the same could be said for the pedophile. Hrm. Philosophy is fun.
  • by K8Fan (37875) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @03:42PM (#15662264) Journal
    Assuming that he is in fact dead, aren't we forgetting something? Irrespective of what he presided over and did, he was a human being. He doubtless had people who cared about him, who will be mourning his death.

    And how many people's lives did "Kenny-Boy" (GW Bush's nickname for him) destroy with his evil fun? How many people died of heat stroke because their manipulation of energy prices? How many committed suicide because their savingand retirement was wiped out?

    He was evil. And the theft he committed was so senseless because he HAD millions, and wanted billions. This was not a man stealing to feed his family, this was an already rich man stealing and more importantly building a huge criminal enterprise and corrupting others to steal far more than any person could ever possibly spend in a thousand lifetimes.

    He was an evil troll, and I think the possibility exists that his death was faked is credible. He hurt more Americans than Zarqawi, and an honest tally would likely show that he was responsible for more deaths. Pissing on his grave is the least of the insults he deserves. Until these bastards who steal billions actually face the death penalty "business ethics" will remain an oxymoron.

  • by SeattleGameboy (641456) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @03:43PM (#15662275) Journal
    Did Kenny Boy show respect for people who lost their life savings? I am sure there were MANY people who died in similar fashion to Kenny Boy after realizing their life savings were gone. Did he show repect for them? As to their family, his wife KNEW his husband was a fraud and in trouble, did she show respect for others who can't afford to spend millions on their birthday party? Did he kids who financially benefitted GREATLY from their "good ol" dad, return some of their ill-gotten gains to those who lost everything? HELL NO!!! The world is a better place now that Kenny Boy is no longer with us. And if his greedy bastard family is upset about that, so WHAT???
  • by Greyfox (87712) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @03:44PM (#15662278) Homepage Journal
    It's not Karma when someone dies. Everyone dies eventually.

    What's Karma is when you have everything you worked your entire life to build destroyed before your eyes because you got greedy and stole a lot of people's money. Which was in the process when he died. I suspect that a large portion of the fortune he's leaving behind will go to the US Government instead of his surviving family.

    Ken Lay fucked up the lives of a lot of people. Thousands of Enron ex-employees will not be able to retire thanks to his actions. I doubt those people will feel vindicated by his death. I suspect that there will be some very bitter Wal-mart greeters in the next 20 years. Even his heirs won't be on solid ground given the controversy over his fortune. I'd suggest striking his name from the history books except that those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

  • by iceperson (582205) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @03:45PM (#15662289)
    Unfortunately this is the world we seem to live in. People who were screaming about terrorists with underwear on their heads have no problem arguing that this man deserved torture and other fates worse than death.
  • by vought (160908) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @03:45PM (#15662293)
    A person who puts all their money into one security isn't investing or saving, they're gambling.

    So, when your company handles your 401(k) and your Employee Stock Purchase Program, then urges you by incentives to put more and more of your liquid capitol into the company's sinking stock...because it's such a good deal right now... whose fault is that?

    If we're going to treat corporations as people in the eyes of the law, then we should have every right to take punitive action against the "person" who caused all the misery. Enron defrauded stockholders and customers - that means they lied about the actual worth of their stock and assets. Fuck the "should have known better" crowd.

    When companies start telling employees to stay out of the ESPP because it's a bad deal, then you can talk about "they should have known better" - but most companies push their own stock on employees like day-old bread, and employees for the most part are content to sit there and lap it up. There's no time or much interest in "individual investing" when companies make it so easy these days.
  • by frodo from middle ea (602941) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @03:46PM (#15662294) Homepage
    Sometimes sudden death is a blessing.

    The ones who survive have to suffer

  • by grammar fascist (239789) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @03:46PM (#15662298) Homepage
    As a human being, I'd like to say the same...

    I admire your humanity and deep sense of empathy.
  • by dsgitl (922908) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @03:47PM (#15662309)
    Give. Me. A. Break.

    Working stiffs need to diversify their portfolio? Sure. How many 9-to-5ers do you think putting away $60 a paycheck had the wherewithal to take investing classes for their $10,000 retirement kitty? How many of them do you imagine had financial consultants on payrool?

    Please. If I mug you the day you happen to have your laptop, iPod, cellphone, PSP, and engagement ring for your girlfriend on you, is it your fault? All those Cambodians get blamed because they put all of their eggs (i.e. their lives) in one basket by living in Cambodia?

    Don't be an apologist stooge. It's unbecoming.
  • by badmammajamma (171260) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @03:47PM (#15662310)
    Ken Lay was a piece of shit. I couldn't care less if he blew sunshine up the ass of people who worked around him to make them think he was a great guy. Personally, I'm deeply saddened that the thieving fuck won't rot in jail the rest of his life like he fucking deserves. Of course, a better sentence would have been to put him in a room for 30 minutes with all the people he fucked over but that's of no avail now either. If it were up to me, I'd open a monument on his grave that invites people to come piss on it.

    Oh, and anyone who respected Ken Lay deserves to get pissed on too.

    *anxiously awaits to get modded down* :)
  • by kahei (466208) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @03:48PM (#15662325) Homepage
    Irrespective of what he presided over and did, he was a human being.

    Well, arguably.
    That was a joke.

    no matter what sins he committed in life, we should show some respect

    Why?
    That was serious.
    I suppose showing respect to him now would be a good way to piss on the people he defrauded and the society he helped make a little more unjust -- but I guess I don't see why you'd want to that.
  • by Himring (646324) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @03:49PM (#15662327) Homepage Journal
    Fair enough I suppose. Let he who hath no sin cast the first stone and all that....

    In the end, we judge others and actually judge ourselves. The former CEO of Enron was, understandably, a modern type of monster. You're hard-pressed to find much good to say about him other than, "he was human." But so is every death row inmate.

    I find the older I get, the more careful I am in judging simply because I've been through a certain amount of crap and I also realize that, as my southern grandfather used to put it, "you gotta walk that lonesome valley.... You gotta walk it by yourself."

    Lay emerged on the world scene like the rest of us, and like the rest of us he struggled to climb to the top. Along the way, as most of us do, he compromised. A time came when he compromised big, and then he kept on compromising until that little voice we all have simply wasn't there anymore. He had to know he was destroying lives as he built his personal pile.

    I'm reminded of what the news paper tycoon said to the young Orson Wells as his life was ending in public shame, indebtedness and legal turmoil: "my fight with the world is ending. Yours is just beginning."

    While the vitriol makes perfect sense right now, we just gotta be careful. We, too, will screw up either in a big or small way in this world. Hopefully, not that big. Still, the man is dead.

    Frodo: "It's a pity Bilbo didn't kill him when he had the chance."
    Gandalf: "Pity? It was pity that stayed Bilbo's hand. Many that live deserve death. Some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them, Frodo? Do not be too eager to deal out death in judgment. Even the very wise cannot see all ends. My heart tells me that Gollum has some part to play yet, for good or ill before this is over. The pity of Bilbo may rule the fate of many."

    Let's have a smidgen of pity boys....

  • by Grant,thompson (985589) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @03:53PM (#15662368)
    I understand this is news and should be reported, but why on /.? As the place for "news for nerds", where is the nerd factor? So a rich guy who did some bad things died because he ate too many Big Macs (or the Ruth's Chris version)...
  • by vought (160908) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @03:54PM (#15662377)
    I doubt it was the government, because they want to see him punished as a way of showing that they're "tackling" the problem.


    I doubt there's any conspiracy at all. But I take issue with this - I'll bet brother Bush, one of Lay's "oldest and best friends" was on the horn to Snowmass this morning mouthing his condolences to poor, pitiful Mrs. Lay, who will now get to sit on all of Kenny's money - since he hadn't been sentenced, his assets could be freed from government liens, and she'll get to keep the nice houses and money until she leaves it all to their snotty brat kids.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @04:01PM (#15662439)
    Because of him, hundreds of Enron employees lost their retirement funds, and thousands of investors got screwed.

    While I'm with you on the employees, that's capitalism for you: the employees get screwed.

    On the other hand, even when Enron was flying high it was obvious from their publicly available SEC filings that they were doing some really screwy things. Anyone who invested in Enron and lost big deserves what they got.

    Of course, the stock market is fundamentally a zero sum game so for every loser there's a winner and for every winner there's a loser. In this case, the winners are people like Warren Buffet who is donating his money to charity. Essentially, Warren Buffet is taking the retirement savings lost by a bunch of rich Texas Republicans and donating it to charity.

    Occasionally, the selfish people (Republicans) are also stupid which leads to some rather satisfying, if subtle, justice.

  • Sarbanes-Oxely (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Citizen of Earth (569446) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @04:01PM (#15662445)
    and is to thank for our having to live with Sarbanes-Oxely.

    Just off the top of my head, It seems to me that you actually have guys named Sarbanes and Oxely to thank for having to live with Sarbanes-Oxely.

  • by AK Marc (707885) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @04:02PM (#15662448)
    One of the main problems is the enviros in Cal prevented new power plants from being built in the state since the 1970's.

    Currently, there are no new plants in CA, no Enron, no blackouts. Since there was only one variable changed, I think I can guess the one most closely correlated with the blackouts.
  • by tompaulco (629533) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @04:08PM (#15662497) Homepage Journal
    Hindsight is 20/20, isn't it? Well, people have been saying "don't put all your eggs in one basket" for centuries, but people still do it. Of course, not nearly so many people do now as did before the Enron scandal. That is when it truly came to light that it was not a good idea to invest in your place of business. So I for one, don't blame the victims. I blame the ones who victimized them.
    As an aside, the company I most recently worked for only recently (after I left) gave employees a choice as to what their 401k match went into. When I was there, your only choice was company stock.
    I know people who lost hundreds of thousands due to other people's lies and mismanagement. My father worked for Lucent and lost a huge amount of money. He was diversified, so didn't lose everything, but hundreds of thousand remain hundreds of thousands even if you don't lose everything. I lost hundreds of thousands due to Dennis Kozlowski's lies. I'm still bitter even though I was somewhat diversified.
  • by seanadams.com (463190) * on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @04:10PM (#15662530) Homepage
    what Other Reasons could there be to not increase corporate financial accountability?

    The down-side to Sarbox is that it massively increases accouting burden and raises the bar in terms of funds and overhead required for any small company to go public. This both reduces the benefits of going public and limits the IPO opportunity to larger, better funded corporations, at the expense of many more interesting younger companies. It puts the opportunity further out of reach of smaller entreprenuers.

    Most venture investors and entreprenuers feel that Sarbox goes too far. You seem to be speaking strictly from the perspective of a (rather uninformed) public shareholder, and frankly you seem to lack the necessary insight into the costs of Sarbox compliance to form a balanced viewpoint. Increasing penalties for (and actually enforcing) SEC rules would have gone a long way without having to add new requirements.
  • by smellsofbikes (890263) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @04:17PM (#15662590) Journal
    I disagree. Putting him in jail for life is incarceration, not rehabilitation, and does diddly squat for all the people he harmed. I think accountants and auditors should've gone over his financial records and penalized him all the money he made during his time at Enron, plus another, oh, say, $50mil, and put all that money into a fund split up among the people who were screwed over by his selfishness. Plus five years in jail and, most importantly, a five-ten year parole in which he was prevented from being an officer of any corporation or member of the board of directors of any corporation. Take away his livelihood, like he did to other people, keep him from doing more damage, and repay, as best possible, some fraction of the people whom his actions affected.

    Nobody should get more time in prison for cooking the books (or for copyright infringement) than a person who murders. Criminal penalties should fit the crime. But so should the financial penalties, and his financial crimes were large indeed.

    I'd say the same thing about Skilling and the world.com people, while I'm at it. Hit them where it hurts: get them working at McDonalds to make their car payments, and use their ill-gotten gains to help those they harmed.

    Consider it a different version of "an eye for an eye": their punishment is to supply from what they have, what they've made another lose. Which, by the way, is what I believe "an eye for an eye" originally was intended to do: if you blind someone, you must then act as that person's eyes.
  • by GuyMannDude (574364) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @04:18PM (#15662601) Journal

    Working stiffs need to diversify their portfolio? Sure. How many 9-to-5ers do you think putting away $60 a paycheck had the wherewithal to take investing classes for their $10,000 retirement kitty? How many of them do you imagine had financial consultants on payrool?

    Diversification is not some advanced financial concept that requires taking investing classes and you know it.

    Please. If I mug you the day you happen to have your laptop, iPod, cellphone, PSP, and engagement ring for your girlfriend on you, is it your fault? All those Cambodians get blamed because they put all of their eggs (i.e. their lives) in one basket by living in Cambodia?

    I have no say in whether you mug me or not. The people living in Cambodia have no say in whether they can move or not (because they are too poor to move). The people who lost their life savings -- I'm not saying those who lost any money, I'm talking about those who lost everything -- did have a say in whether this would happen to them. If Ken Lay had forced everyone to put all their money in Enron stock at gunpoint, then you'd have a case. And please, don't tell me about how Enron's 401(k) plan required them to buy Enron stock. If that's the case, then you have to get some investments outside your 401(k) plan, even if the company won't match those funds. That was my original point. These people looked at what would get them the most money in the short term and ignored one of the basic tenets of financial management.

    Don't be an apologist stooge. It's unbecoming.

    I'm not. Kenneth Lay was a bad man. He was not a serial killer, however, and the people who got hurt by the scam must accept some responsibility for their actions.

    GMD

  • by RexRhino (769423) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @04:19PM (#15662610)
    The trouble is that Sarbanes-Oxley puts restrictions on law abiding citizens never implicated in crimes.

    I mean, we all want to stop rape, right? How about we make a law requiring you to provide your DNA to a government database so they can catch rapists. After all, if you are not a rapist, what do you have to worry about?

    We all want to stop illegal drugs from harming people. How about we have random drug testing for all citizens. The police will select random names from a voting database or DMV records or something, and give them all drug tests. If you test postive, you go to jail. If you don't take the test, you go to jail. Sound reasonable?

    We all want to stop terrorism. How about requiring that police search every residence once a month. Nothing harmfull with that, you have nothing to worry about if you are not a terrorist, right?

    While there is nothing wrong with creating laws to punish people guilty of theft and fraud, there are big problems with creating a system where everyone must prove their innocence on a regular basis or be considered guilty. Especially, like in the Sarbanes-Oxley, it is a series of vauge rules that are very difficult to comply with and can be arbitrarily enforced. This is more fodder for the government to go after it's critics, or to demand political donations as protection money for non-enforcement, or to help a company with political connections by going after it's competitor, and the fixed costs of compliance help keep smaller buisnesses with competing with large corporations. It is not going to stop this kind of corporate crime, it is just another tool for the government to aid certain corporate criminals, and harrass other people they don't like.
  • by Mister Whirly (964219) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @04:20PM (#15662619) Homepage
    Sorry, but just dying won't earn you anything in my book, eveyone does it... Respect is earned, not given...
  • by Wah (30840) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @04:38PM (#15662762) Homepage Journal
    PUBLIC CORPORATIONS ARE NOT PEOPLE!!!!11!!!!

    Any metaphor drawn from that cloth is fundamentally flawed.

    The "innocence" you say must be proved is, in reality, reports on how much money the corporation has/owes/and is owed. As these numbers HUGELY influence how real people invest their own money, it is requisite for our entire system of finance that these numbers be accurate and trusted.

    SOX might be a bit onerous, but that's only because things had become so lax....and Lay was the perfect example of how they were so lax that CEO's could try and argue in court they had no idea how much the company has/owes/and is owed.

    I'll not touch your liberaltarian ranting that follows...I hear they're infectious.
  • by JesterXXV (680142) <jtradke.gmail@com> on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @04:42PM (#15662785)
    Do you actually have any sources on any of that?

    Specifically, you mention that Lay's personal doctor pronounced him dead, but linked article says that a hospital spokesperson confirmed it.

  • by jdray (645332) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @04:42PM (#15662786) Homepage Journal
    I suspect what the parent was saying is that Lay caused a lot of problems for the GOP. The economic crisis that he touched off, as well as his ties to the current administration, have caused a lot of heartburn for a party trying to maintain their controlling position.

    I, for one, won't really mourn his passing except in the abstract sense (the humanist in me). I'm not a Republican or a Democrat (or a member of any other party), though I am an employee of a company formerly owned by the big E.
  • by ultranova (717540) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @04:43PM (#15662793)

    Which, by the way, is what I believe "an eye for an eye" originally was intended to do: if you blind someone, you must then act as that person's eyes.

    From what I've understood, it was meant to define the limit of rightfull punishment. If someone pokes your eye out, you may poke his, but you may not kill him. You may, of course, refrain from taking revenge or take less severe revenge (say, hit him on the stomach with our fist); but if you do take revenge, taking an eye for eye is the worst you are allowed to do. Acting as his eyes would be analogous to paying damages, not being punished. So, "an eye for an eye" was meant to stop the vicious circle of escalating revenge.

    Of course this still basically agrees with the other parts of your post: taking away the property of a conman who destroyed other people's life savings and forcing him to live off his own labor is a fitting punishment.

  • Re:Errr, no. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Joe Decker (3806) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @05:02PM (#15662933) Homepage

    Actually, everyone who decided that Enron and a handful of others could be extrapolated to the entire US economy are the ones to thank for our having to live with Sarbanes-Oxley.

    Oh, c'mon. SOX is in places pretty badly designed, but a good fraction of "standard corporate accounting" is pretty messed up, too, it's not entirely an overreaction to "a few bad apples" like Enron and Worldcom and Liberate and Adephia and Waste Management and Sunbeam and Arthur Andersen and Duke Energy and El Paso and Merrill Lynch and Cendant and Citigroup and Computer Associates and Kmart and Lucent and Tyco and Brystol Myers and Global Crossing and so on. Spend some time looking at how companies account for derivatives and, if you can get through it, you'll start feeling like it's time to buy gold and bury it. Ask yourself how the entire accounting profession could justify saying that it cost nothing to give away stock options for decades, and notice how the politicans tried to rewrite traditionally independent accounting standards the moment the accountants started talking about expensing stock options..

    There are certainly high-quality companies out there, managed with responsiblity and integrity. I believe that if you look closely at issues of accounting responsiblity, however, you'll find them in the minority. (I think a majority of companies meet a looser standard, that they believe that they're being responsible, but are missing places where they're taking advantage of irresponsible accounting techniques., e.g., not expensing stock options.)

  • by rumblin'rabbit (711865) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @05:03PM (#15662935) Journal
    I agree with you, but...

    When an employee asked during a company meeting whether having most of his (her?) savings in Enron was a smart thing to do, the management spokewoman could have advised diversification. Instead she made it clear that Enron was where their money should be, all the while making a big joke about it.

    I accept your point that employees take responsibility for their actions. They should have no more legal claims than other investors for the fall of Enron stock.

    But by encouraging employees to stay undiversified, Enron management compounded their criminal culpability.

  • Re:they're right! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by whoever57 (658626) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @05:04PM (#15662943) Journal
    Exactly right. Personally, I'm against the death penalty. Rotting in jail for the rest of someone's life, with the only prospect of dying there is worse (or it should be worse).
  • I say we resurrect him.

    Then we stomp him.

    Then we tattoo him.

    Then we hang him.

    Then we kill him.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @05:25PM (#15663079)
    So does his family just get to keep all of his ill-begotten earnings? Shouldn't the case continue with Lay's sentence being converted into fines that are subtracted from his estate before any will can be executed?
  • Re:Damn Right! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by warith (121181) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @05:43PM (#15663212)
    If the death WAS faked (I don't really believe that, but I recognize it as at least a possibility for any rich fucker about to land hard time), obviously something believable would've been chosen as a cover. The more believable and fitting the better.

    You make it sound like a believable death PROVES there's nothing more to it.

    If Ken Lay was killed by, oh, say a falling circus elephant accidentally dropped out of a plane, would that make you more or less likely to believe the death was faked?
  • Re:What The F!CK (Score:3, Insightful)

    by retro128 (318602) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @05:45PM (#15663219)
    Money is more important than life. Welcome to America.
  • by feed_me_cereal (452042) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @05:52PM (#15663253)
    Having a BS in math, I remember a few more things than that. Here, I'll be a smug asshole too: Do you remember what the word "causation" means? Or perhaps the word "relative", or one of the many idioms using said word?

    First off, some freak *buying* kiddy porn = some kiddy pornographer making $. Beyond that, I still don't believe in passing the buck. Sure, you could argue advertising revenue, but the causation is just getting weaker and weaker. $5 for a kiddy porn producer does not enable one to abuse children. If you're going by this logic, then next time you buy pretty much anything in most retail stores you should directly turn yourself into the police for forcing 14-hour work days on children in malaysia.

    A responsible person doesn't support or enable people who abuse other people. An asshole abuses other people. There's a difference between being irresponsible in stopping problems, and directly causing them.

    But for argument's sake, let's say you have a point, and the act of some pedophile looking at kiddy porn, say, puts 50 kids in the hospital. This is still not nearly as bad as the damage Ken Lay did, and Lay doesn't even have the excuse of being mentally deranged in the way most pedophiles are.
  • by Tiger4 (840741) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @06:05PM (#15663324)
    "Most venture investors and entreprenuers feel that Sarbox goes too far. You seem to be speaking strictly from the perspective of a (rather uninformed) public shareholder, and frankly you seem to lack the necessary insight into the costs of Sarbox compliance to form a balanced viewpoint. Increasing penalties for (and actually enforcing) SEC rules would have gone a long way without having to add new requirements."

    I'm going to go with "Wrong" on two counts here.

    First, so what even if I am an uninformed public shareholder? Does that suddenly mean I really don't need to know, should not be informed of, or have a way to find out the internal workings of how the compnay I own a piece of is operated? Is the company intentionally structured so that only a few insiders with good personal connections can have a clue as to what is going to happen to their investment? Even if I can't tell a balance sheet from a chart of accounts or a budget, the structure and contents of the reports have to be understandable, so the underlying management philosophy can be understandable, so the intent of the managers and Board and prospects for the company can be inferred. We'd all like to think they have one, and hopefully it is in accord with our investemtn goals.

    Second, If SEC enforcement had been doing its job, then maybe we wouldn't need more law. OK, maybe true, but clearly it wasn't doing its job so we did need new law and a new approach. It costs nothing to just put it out there and let people see what's up. But that wasn't happening. The backroom wizards found it more convienient to just let slip what was the legally required minimum and hold back stuff "you don't need to know". Ok, thanks for watching out for my interests. But in this case, I as shareholder am supposed to be watching over you. You don't get to decide what is the best way for me to do that. You don't get to play with my money and tell me to shut up and be happy. That is as true for the $100 investor as the $100 million investor. So now the cost of reporting and compliance goes up over what it had been in the past. That is seen as a bad thing, but since the reporting in the past was inadequate under the old regime, I have to wonder if the cost was just artificially low all along.
  • by Maxo-Texas (864189) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @06:19PM (#15663392)
    I disagree. If you kill a person, does it matter if you cut their knife with a throat or ruined them financially so they can't get medical care?

    Ken Lay basically died of shame and being caught. I believe that many of his victims died similar deaths to him from his actions.

    And I think you are ignoring the fact that Zarqawi probably only *personally* killed less than a hundred people (maybe less than fifty). The rest were all based on his organizations actions. We say he is responsible for the deaths caused by his organization-- I think we can extend deaths caused by corporate actions just as well.

    When you knowingly pollute and cover it up and people die, they died.
    When you work people to death with excessive hours, they are still dead.
    When you take an excessive salary that means your people can't get medical care (which your salary would have covered) then you traded your happiness for their lives and they are still dead.

    Historically, we have drawn a line that said if a person dies because of business, then it is not murder. Corporations have become so powerful and so corrupt, that I think it is time to redraw that line.
  • by mrtivo (869568) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @08:27PM (#15663923)
    Actually right now it's something like 0%. The congress is debating extending this too.
  • by macsimcon (682390) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @09:24PM (#15664173)
    Superman, is that you? You must have used your x-ray vision to look through the masks of the men in the video footage. Even if Zarqawi claimed responsibility, that's what? Two dead Americans? Versus how many thousands with ruined retirement accounts, millions of dollars lost? We have no way of knowing how many deaths, let alone injuries, Lay's activities caused.

    I'd say it's a safe bet that he injured more than two Americans however. See, I live in California, and I personally have been injured by the actions of Enron, the company Lay oversaw.

    Presumably, you have links from the AP regarding these AQ funded labs? I have this link

          http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/artic le/2006/06/09/AR2006060902040_2.html [washingtonpost.com]

    which depicts Zarqawi as wanting to ally himself with AQ, but not being embraced by the terrorist organization's leadership. Furthermore, I have yet to find a mainstream media outlet which claims AQ was operating from Iraq before the war.

    There is nothing absurd about calling Republicans traitors, it is indisputable: they seek to undermine the Constitution of the United States, and do not support the Constitution, the document upon which almost all of our laws depend. In so doing, they hope to destroy the United States, and are hence traitors, QED. There is nothing in the Constitution which allows violation of amendments one, five, or six, but there are the Republicans, supporting their violation each and every day.

    Traitors all. To paraphrase the Traitor-in-Chief, "you're either with us, or you're with the Republicans."

    You don't _have_ to be a traitor, you know. You can always read the Constitution, and educate yourself about this country's founding, and the ideals behind it.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @09:44PM (#15664256)
    Enron and other energy-related concerns were deliberately shutting down generating plants to create a phony energy shortage.

    A shortage is simply when the number of goods demanded is more than the number supplied. So, if Enron chose not to supply energy, that was a real shortage. The question is, why would Enron withhold energy? There's demand for the energy, so why not supply it if possible? The answer is that Enron could not raise the price of the energy to the level Enron desired. Price controls = shortage. The real culprit here is the politicians (and their supporters), because they foolishly tried to defy the law of supply and demand.
  • by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @10:07PM (#15664353)
    Only one variable changed?

    You are ignoring the context of his post. He was responding to a post that essentially blamed "enviros" for the california energy crisis. Since the "enviros" have presumably not gone away, yet the energy crisis is ancient history, it is hardly plausible that the "enviros" were the cause in the first place.
  • Three words for these fuckers: Financial Death Penalty.

    Take every single goddamn dime away from them. Everything they own, period. Including assets in other countries, jail them until they turn them over. Everything single thing they own, everything their spouse owns, everything their minor kids own. (We, however, will give the kid's stuff back when they hit 18.)

    And just like a divorce, if it looks like did something to try to keep something afterwards, like selling your car for 'one dollar and other considerations' to a friend or putting the deed to your house in the name of your 16 year-old son...no. We grab that too.

    We'll let them stick, say, a thousand dollars worth of family heirlooms and photo albums and paintings their kids did in storage and they can buy them back if they ever get enough money, and the rest goes to auction. (Most of the actual personal stuff like photographs is technically valueless, so they should be able to buy all their memories back for 20 bucks or so, before anyone whines about that.)

    And then, of course, we aren't completely heartless. We'll give them one of those 'out of prison' outfits and fifty bucks, just like anyone walking out prison gets.

    And before anyone says 'What about the children?', there are plenty of poor children in this country. They can always apply for food stamps. Any proposed consideration shown to those kids better apply to kids born to families with almost nothing, or you subconsciously think rich kids 'deserve' more.

  • by SonicSpike (242293) on Thursday July 06, 2006 @01:32AM (#15665119) Homepage Journal
    That's because energy companies are heavily regulated government-granted monopolies. In a free-market setting the second that E decided not to supply product/service, another competing firm would've stepped in to replace them.

    It's amazing how the free market works isn't it?
  • Re:Errr, no. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Lord Flipper (627481) * on Thursday July 06, 2006 @02:35AM (#15665285)
    The ludicrous notion that ethical business practices can be enforced by government fiat.

    Sure, as long as there are laws there will be law-breakers. So, your 'logic' [term used loosely in extremis] dictates that law is ineffective and, therefore, pointless? Nice try.

    Now try this: Law can't ensure compliance, (with morals, ethics, etc) but transgression, (followed by apprehension, and adjudication) can ensure loss of freedom, forfeiture of ill-gotten gains, etc, not to mention little 'kickers' like treble damages, civil suit vulnerabilities, etc.

    A few formerly-rich, Republican white guys, doing time, kissing their golden years 'goodbye' (and some caged-heat weiners, "Hello"), will give the chicken shit (greedy, usurious, larcenous, etc) opportunists... pause.

    You lackey 'mouthpieces' for the laissez-faire, special-interest corporate-welfare assholes never give up, do you? Just consider taking it up the ass in the joint )against your will, for a change) before putting your so-called libertarian bullshit into practice.

    Have a nice compliant day. :=)

  • by TygerFish (176957) on Thursday July 06, 2006 @04:54AM (#15665649)
    As someone with a sense of logic, I'd like to say....

    WoodstockJeff wrote:

    Admittedly, there is little value in this as an examination of the facts at hand, but it does throw a spotlight on certain really crappy types of 'argument.' A few gems:

    "All facts are created equal. If I state a fact, my conclusion, no matter how lame, is true."

    It's always interesting to read comments about how this is a GOP problem, but it was a Republican administration that refused to grant special favours to Enron, accelerating the collapse of the house-of-cards they built

    If this isn't a "GOP problem" what is? The chief executive of the current Republican administration knew Kenneth Lay well enough to have a nickname for him. Stating that the current administration didn't grand special favors to Enron is very like saying, "with the police in hot pursuit of a bank robber and in visual contact, X refused to shout out, 'Hey, come hide in my house!"

    Seriously, if this isn't a GOP problem, then it must be an alien conspiracy, because anyone else you could possibly point to would have to be off-planet.

    "....with the regulatory approval of a Democratic administration.

    Yes, the Democratic Party was in power while Enron engaged in unbelievably rank fraud involving accounting tricks, offshore accounts and manipulation of energy supply and pricing that caused rolling brown-outs in California. Apparently, not to investigate a company whose financial reports say that it is a picture of health and fiscal sobriety constitutes regulatory approval (whatever that might be) when it is convenient to the writer.

    Of course, by this reasoning, the fault might not belong to the democrats who were not alone in failing to call for an investigation of Enron's bookkeeping. They might share blame for failing to investigate Enron's claims with Kim Jong il, who was in power at the time in North Korea, and with, say, the German Christian Democratic Union which was not in power at the time but one is sure that they had their eyes on some office to be gotten at some point in the future: you will notice that their responses to Enron's claims are not more and not less than a deafening silence.

    This guy could write for Rush Limbaugh.

  • by jotaeleemeese (303437) on Thursday July 06, 2006 @08:54AM (#15666287) Homepage Journal
    I see far too many comments considering that homosexual rape is a fit punishment for somebody.

    You guys are barbaric, you presume to be civilized but in many ocassions you show ideas no better than the ones spoused by a Hutu or Serbian war criminal.

    It speaks volumes about US society that many consider normal a situation in which inmates in jail can be abused, tortured or raped.

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