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Indybay Feature

The Smartest Guys in the Room

Wednesday, January 05, 2011
7:30 PM - 9:30 PM
Event Type:
Location Details:
Humanist Hall
390 27th Street
uptown Oakland, between Telegraph and Broadway

Film evenings begin with optional potluck refreshments and social hour at 6:30 pm,
followed by the film at 7:30 pm, followed by a discussion after the film.

by Alex Gibney

An important theme in this penetrating documentary is the story of people — more than the story of arcane financial accounting methods or numbers — and because it is people, it can happen again. Enron is just the manifestation of the evil begotten by hubris, in spectacularly public fashion. It is classic Greek tragedy, and it is one from which its chief protagonists, Ken Lay and Jeff Skilling, must not escape. They designed Enron to be the ultimate shell game, with no pea. The only thing Enron ever had to sell was its stock price. And they knew that this was their only product. With the bevy of Bernie Madoffs and other Captains of Corruption we could easily forget the scale of corruption that Enron represented just a few years ago. Up to that time the idea of a Fortune 500 company based on absolutely nothing was unthinkable. But this riveting film exposes the scale of that corruption and how the amoral culture of Enron, flowing from the top, affected everyone and everything about the company. The film proves that personal ethics, character, and morality ARE indeed relevant in a corporate context; the market will NOT weed out the grossly immoral through the “magic of free markets.”

The most chilling part of this film is the Enron analysts who were able to create rolling black-outs through California. They invested in the stock of power companies before they called the power companies and asked them to shut down the power for hours at a time. This, in turn, created demand, which increased the price of the stock and their profits. The real chill is that you hear what is tantamount to their psychopathic laughter at the misery and hardship they helped create throughout the state. In another instance, they actually began cheering when a forest fire shuts down a power plant. Their “profit cheering” with no regard for the misery of the people without power may make the viewer want to drop these guys from a tall building.

Wheelchair accessible around the corner at 411 28th Street

$5 donations are accepted
Added to the calendar on Fri, Dec 17, 2010 7:55PM
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