THE BLOG
07/05/2006 06:37 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Don't rejoice over Ken Lay's death-learn from it instead

It is a fair bet that at least in a few of the households where Enron's financial antics caused 401 (k)s to crash and retirement hopes to be dashed- these words will be uttered tonight- "he got what he deserved."

Those words could also be said by California business people whose livelihoods were ruined by phony shortages and rigged energy market spikes committed by Enron and others when Lay was chairman of the company.

My personal feeling is that whatever it, or who, it is that metes out death is beyond our understanding. As a more practical matter, I also believe that expressing gratitude over the death of one that has ruined your life - an ex-spouse, a bad business partner, a convicted executive such as Lay- is nothing but vengeance.

We, and you, can do better.

I believe the best lesson we can all learn from Lay's now ended-life is that unregulated free markets are subject to greed and pillage in the name of the few.

Because the only force that can restrain the worst impulse of free markets is government, you should be prepared to shout down those who would remove government entirely- or almost entirely- from the boardroom.

The energy industry is especially besotted with men (yes, mostly men),who would take America to the poorhouse in order to line their pockets. It is for this reason that the energy industry should be controlled, price caps placed on gasoline, fuel economy standards raised on vehicles, and prohibitions reinforced against drilling in environmentally endangered areas.

But it is not only the energy industry. The telecommunications industry wants to seize the fastest highways of the Internet for their business partners, and place those who lack the funds or connections to play allies with them into the slow lanes.

Industry after industry has its own get-rich-and-stay rich schemes. Banking, real estate, you name it. Some would argue that's the very nature of capitalism.

As one who is not anti-capitalist, but is anti-greed, I will say it again. When you hear this talk about "smaller government," please remember that honest, activist government is the only force strong enough to begin to counter the selfish impulses of the many rogues suits who have survived Ken Lay.

We have an election coming up. Do I really need to tell you which major party, by and large, is more amenable to stand up for your interest? For our interest?