The AOC, Enron and Dr. Stanley Milgram

Posted on December 27, 2010

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Ask Why.

In many ways, many of the actions of the AOC can be compared to the actions of Enron, the utility whose market manipulation scheme blacked out California. Like Enron, the AOC is enabled by the same question that no one asks, which also happened to be Enron’s corporate motto. “Ask Why?”
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Had anyone bothered to “ask why” early on, chances are good that people would have realized that Lay, Skilling and Fastow had utilized irregular accounting procedures to book about 62 billion dollars in profits that never materialized. Enron’s success wasn’t in manipulating the energy markets. Enron’s primary success came from bullying analysts to cover them in a favorable light if the investment houses they represented wanted any of Enron’s business. Kind of like what the AOC does to reporters and news outlets. Other successes came through their friend George W Bush, who appointed to FERC anyone Ken Lay suggested to him to appoint.

In 2001 Daniel Scotto, a financial analyst with BNP Paribas did a story titled “all stressed up and no place to go” in which he suggested that investors immediately dump, as fast as possible, their stock and bond holdings in Enron Corporation, lowering his ratings on the company from a ‘buy’ to a ‘neutral’. BNP Paribas, knowing that the story would cause them to lose Enron’s business, immediately fired Daniel Scotto, saying that the rating and the story was unwarranted. “We don’t think it was a good recommendation or a reasonable one” is what BNP Paribas told the media.

Four months after the story, one of the largest accounting scandals in U.S. history was born. Four months earlier, Scotto dared to state that the emperor had no clothes and he was right. Everyone ignored him and no one would utter a bad word about Enron until the accounting scandal broke.

No one else dared to publicly ask why.

For the previous nine consecutive years, Daniel Scotto was named as the “Top Bond Analyst in the United States” by Institutional Investor Magazine. At the time of the rating, four months before the accounting scandal was revealed, Enron’s stock price was hovering between $35.00-$40.00 per share. Those that heeded Mr. Scotto’s sound advice walked away with most of their investment. Those that didn’t lost everything.

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Obedience.

In July of 1961 Dr. Stanley Milgram set out to answer a question regarding the holocaust in Nazi Germany with a social psychology experiment. His question was “Was there a mutual sense of morality for those who took part in the holocaust killings?”

To determine this, he set out on an experiment known today as the Milgram Experiment
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where one person was placed in a room with electroshock electrodes attached to them and another person was placed in a room with a microphone and a device that delivered an electric shock in increasing voltages – including those voltages capable of causing death.

The real test was hidden inside a false test. The false test was to see if getting a jolt when one forgot something would help them remember better. Punishing them for forgetting, if you will. The real test was to see if one party would go as far as killing someone under the color of someone elses authority. Subject “A” the inquisitor was to ask subject “B” to remember word associations and repeat them. When subject “B” got the answer wrong, subject “A” would push a button delivering an electric shock of increasing voltage for every wrong answer to subject “B”.

During the time of the testing, many subject “A”‘s moral compasses would tell the subjects that what they were doing was wrong. Many would even stop the scenario and indicate to Dr. Milgram or one of his aides that they just couldn’t continue to torture subject “B”. But an amazing thing happened when Dr. Milgram or one of his aides reinforced that they must push through, they must continue on because they agreed to complete the experiment.

Most subject “A’s” had no problem with authoritative reinforcement of their duties to delivering voltages that would have resulted in the death of the subject B’s. All subject “A’s were unaware that the subject “B’s were also aides and in on it and not really getting shocked.

Does this social psychology have a resemblance to any current events?

You be the judge.