For years, Enron was hailed as one of the most forward-thinking corporations, and Lay, its founder and CEO, was a man in great demand. During his 13-year tenure that ended with a bang in 2001, Lay collected more than $220 million in cash and company stock, and just months before “the largest bankruptcy in America” (at that time) Lay gave five presentations at the 2001 World Economic Forum meeting in Davos.
As Mr. Bradley, now the CEO of the Institute for Economic Research, recounts, Lay was the salesman promoting a business model developed by Jeffrey Skilling, whom Lay had brought on as chief operating officer. In Mr. Skilling’s “mark-to-market” accounting, anticipated future profits from any deal were accounted for by estimating their present value rather than historical cost. Thus, Mr. Skilling argued, Enron did not really need “assets.”
It just needed connections.
And that was Lay’s special skill. His idea was to embrace a “revolution always” business philosophy, which Mr. Bradley called “a perpetual search for the first-mover advantage.” To that end, he became all things to all people, winning favor from Republicans, Democrats, environmentalists, minorities, and business leaders. His “illusion-making” in effect created a smokescreen so strong that nearly everyone was caught by surprise when the bubble burst.
[Editor’s note: As an environmental writer in Louisiana, I wrote in 1999 that the U.S. Senate rejection of the Kyoto Protocol would ensure Enron’s soon demise. I based my view on the fact that the company lacked assets and had built its presumed net worth on Kyoto largesse. As Mr. Bradley points out, Enron relied heavily on government favors.]
Today, the collapse of FTX and the recent criminal conviction of founder and CEO Sam Bankman-Fried (who is facing a lifetime behind bars) brings Enron, Mr. Skilling, and Lay to mind. But, despite the magnitude of SBF’s fraud, it pales in comparison to the ongoing fraud being perpetrated mostly on the United States and its Western allies in the name of “climate change.”
A bit like FTX, but unlike Enron, there are plenty of warning signs that the “Green Revolution” is about to come tumbling down and its loudest advocates brought to account. The main thing keeping the mirages afloat today is the massive egos and their investments in folly that may leave them going down with the ship.
Although the “Green Revolution” has been underway for decades, it is the Biden administration that has imposed mandates, attacked popular energy sources and transportation options, and waged war against traditional industrial development. Europeans and states such as California had earlier imposed their own mandates with supposedly “hard” deadlines for abolishing the use of oil, natural gas, coal, and every tool or vehicle that uses them.
The green war on fossil fuels, as fleshed out in the “Net Zero” campaign, is perhaps history’s greatest example of philosophical fraud.
Still, 30 countries are signatories to the Glasgow Declaration that would force all vehicles sold by 2040 to have zero carbon dioxide emissions, and 21 others have crafted plans to ban new ICE vehicle sales earlier than 2040. Dozens of major cities and states, most notably California and the California clone states, intend to disallow new ICE vehicles by 2035.
Like Ken Lay with Enron, the Green Revolution has relied heavily on government subsidies and a “revolution always” business philosophy aimed at making pariahs of anyone who dares oppose the grandiose—but fatally flawed—plan.
Ford in March projected a loss of $3 billion on electric vehicles in 2023, offsetting profits of as much as $14 billion from its other divisions. Ford also admitted losses of $900 million in 2021 and $2.1 billion in 2022 in its EV division. Ford and GM have said they believe their EV fortunes will turn around by 2025, but those rosy scenarios seem wholly dependent upon President Biden’s (or an even “greener” Democrat’s) winning the White House next November.
President Biden’s reliance on huge subsidies to underwrite the Green Revolution has brought soaring inflation to the United States that is taking away purchasing power faster than it can increase subsidies and Mafia-style “incentives” (You will buy what we want you to buy, or else!).
The United States’ doddering President Biden, now facing pre-impeachment hearings for other alleged mistakes, may not live to see his name smeared as Lay’s once was. But does anyone truly believe President Biden is calling all the shots here?
Who will, then, get the blame if the United States’ forced march to EV subservience to Xi’s China brings an end to America’s hegemony on the world stage?