CHICAGO — During the five month implosion that left those on top of Enron corporation — Ken Lay, Jeff Skilling and Andrew Fastow — with a large chunk of money, while those at the bottom of the corporate food chain held zeros — you have to ask, where did the billions come from?
Part of the cash itself came from “Granny.” Picture a person or yourself getting into the kitchen. You flip the switch and there is no light. What? you say.
In “Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room,” you hear a taped transmission between a chief at Enron’s headquarters in Houston and a California electric station. Something to the effect of “Can you take it off line without getting traced? Granny gonna get [expletive] today?”
In Chicago, in the winter of 2004, a watchdog group uncovered a secret deal between the local Chicago monopoly on natural gas, which provides 98 percent of the heating in the city, and Enron. It was a deal that tripled the price of heat for consumers.
The following winter, Mrs. Brown, who lived in the city’s south side neighborhood of Englewood, died in a fire that was caused by a faulty electric space heater because her gas had been shut off. Her Social Security check could cover her rent, food, electricity and phone bill. The gas bill she owed was based on the 2004 winter’s price.
For Mrs. Brown, all the grannies and families, we have an obligation to learn from this movie and fight these corporate killers and the government that protects them.
Curly Cohen is coordinator of Affordable Power to the People, a grassroots campaign to make basic utilities fair, affordable and just.