Last night at Border’s I saw an interesting book I probably should have bought, rather than pushing it to the after-the-move list: What’s the Matter with Kansas?”
In asking �what�s the matter with Kansas?� � how a place famous for its radicalism became one of the most conservative states in the union � Thomas Frank, a native Kansan and onetime Republican, seeks to answer some broader American riddles: Why do so many of us vote against our economic interests? Where�s the outrage at corporate manipulators? And whatever happened to middle-American progressivism? The questions are urgent as well as provocative. Frank answers them by examining pop conservatism � the bestsellers, the radio talk shows, the vicious political combat � and showing how our long culture wars have left us with an electorate far more concerned with their leaders� �values� and down-home qualities than with their stands on hard questions of policy.
A brilliant analysis � and funny to boot � What�s the Matter with Kansas? presents a critical assessment of who we are, while telling a remarkable story of how a group of frat boys, lawyers, and CEOs came to convince a nation that they spoke on behalf of the People.
It’s the last part that got me, especially when I read some excerpts from the Enron tapes, made by some of the company’s energy traders. On behalf of the People, ahem:
During California’s rolling blackouts, when streets were lit only by head lights and families were trapped in elevators, Enron Energy traders laughed, reports CBS News Correspondent Vince Gonzales.
One trader is heard on tapes obtained by CBS News saying, “Just cut ’em off. They’re so f—-d. They should just bring back f—–g horses and carriages, f—–g lamps, f—–g kerosene lamps.”
And when describing his reaction when a business owner complained about high energy prices, another trader is heard on tape saying, “I just looked at him. I said, ‘Move.’ (laughter) The guy was like horrified. I go, ‘Look, don’t take it the wrong way. Move. It isn’t getting fixed anytime soon.”
Keep in mind, one of the good guys in the Enron scandal? The whistle-blower? She was working on a project to give Enron control of virtually all the potable water up for grabs in the world. Water. Imagine what jokes they could make about that.