Sunday, April 15, 2007

April 15

Many amazing people were born on this date: sociologist Emile Durkheim, journalist and labor leader Asa Philip Randolph, the incomparable blues mistress Bessie Smith, and Leonardo da Vinci. Da Vinci, interestingly enough, once wrote that "the act of procreation and anything that has any relation to it is so disgusting that human beings would soon die out if there were no pretty faces and sensuous dispositions." Perhaps if the sensuous Omer Lay and the pretty Ruth Reese Lay had taken heed of da Vinci's nauseated warning in the late summer of 1941, the world might have been spared the birth of Kenneth Lee "Kenny Boy" Lay -- a human monster -- nine months later.

Ken Lay's official website remembers him not as a horrid corporate criminal but as a paternalistic, plantation master:
Ken loved Enron, and saw the company as one of limitless possibilities. He often talked of the incredible talent at Enron and believed that the Enron employees were unsurpassed in any industry. Ken believed the real value of Enron was in its people. From the most junior employee to his top executives, Ken treated all with the same dignity and respect they deserved as children of God. Employees often remarked on how he recalled their names, family, and other personal details they shared with him.
Those employees -- 20,000 of whom lost their jobs in the greatest corporate collapse in American history -- now remember Ken Lay as the man who urged them to sink their pensions into Enron's company stock. Their retirement nest eggs liquidated by the staggering venality of Lay and Jeff Skilling, many of these people will now have to work until they quite literally drop dead.

If Lay had not devoted his life to plugging his arteries with rich, fatty spunk, he would have turned 65 years old today. Of course he would quite probably have spent his special day in prison, eating pan brownies instead of defrauding the public; instead, like an unwanted gas station hot dog, Ken Lay now rotates slowly and eternally on a greasy, barbed grate in the nether reaches of Hell. Sadly, Kenny Boy's passing was not the joyous occasion it should by all rights have been. By virtue of an agonizing quirk of law, Lay's death -- because it happened before his federal convictions could be affirmed -- vacated all charges against him.