Saturday, February 04, 2006


I watched Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room today, and I am just about paralyzed with disgust.

A portrait of a true Free Market Economy at work. Libertarians and Republicans, I guess they see what happened and say, yeah? what's wrong with that? Who got hurt, only the people who weren't smart enough or aggressive enough to protect themselves. It's their own fault.

My tipping point in the movie was when Enron bought power plants in California and then called them and told them to shut down operations for a few hours to drive the prices up so they could make more money. That is so easy to understand, not complicated at all. They didn't have to be so smart to figure that out, they just had to be ruthless, and think of it as nothing but a game that uses money to keep score.

The film included a clip of Ronald Reagan saying, "government won't solve our problems. Government is the problem." And with the kind of laissez-faire economic policy he was advocating, I just about have to agree with him. But good government can solve problems. Otherwise, we might as well all be libertarians. We'll stock up on food and amunition and just try to survive long enough to breed so that our genes will be part of the future gene pool--is that all life is about?

I have never believed in a kind of intelligence that is asocial, or anti-social. Even though I'm kind of a loner myself, I've always been able to apply my intelligence to interpersonal situations. The portrait of the eccentric genius who can't function in society, I don't recognize that person as being truly intelligent. Talented, okay, maybe. But a truly intelligent person is capable of appreciating the effect his actions have on other people. Extreme intelligence, I believe, is best exemplified by someone like Mahatma Gandhi. He understood the human world that he lived in, and was able to act to make it better.

Actually, that phrase, "the smartest guy in the room" is one of my favorites, although I don't often say it out loud. I think about it, though: In any room, there is bound to be one person who is the smartest one there. And by my definition, that person always knows who he is. There are probably several others who believe they are the smartest, as well. But they are wrong, and just don't know it. There's a lot to think about in that situation. Potential for irony abounds.

Bottom line: those Enron guys, they were not so smart as they thought.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Individuality trumps intelligence. Carl Jung, in a little book, THE UNDISCOVERED SELF, wrote (quoting from memory)"Resistance to the organized mass can be effected only by the man who is as well organized in his individuality as the mass itself." Ghandi was one. The others are generally self-apparent. I could go on, ad nauseam (that's a clue), but will stop now.