When searching for phrase that captures a particularly elusive concept, you could do a lot worse than turn to the Germans for help. In this case, I want to talk about Schadenfreude. Derived from two Middle High German words, Schadenfreude is a mash-up of Schaden, meaning “damage”, and Freude, meaning “joy”. It is a noun used to describe those vicious individuals that seem to feed off the tears of their enemies. It is a term that’s been applied to me on a number of occasions, many of which were not entirely without merit.
However, Schadenfreude is an excellent term to describe the professional life of the late Ken Lay, who flat-out conned Enron employees and investors into a lie that he benefitted hansomely from.
When big business cheats the system as Lay’s Enron does, it damages one of the most important building blocks upon which the U.S. was founded: joint-stock companies. Going into business is risky. Companies issue stock to spread the risk around. By taking advantage of investor trust, Lay and others of his ilk jeopardize America far more than Mid-Eastern extremists.
Which is why I would have stuck Lay on a meat hook in front of Wall St. as
a reminder to all would-be white-collar crooks that massive theft will not be
When my people come to power, there will be changes…