Enron workers who saw their stock-based retirement plans vaporize in the wake of the company's collapse could recoup some of their losses with the partial settlement of two lawsuits announced Wednesday.
The lawsuits stem from complaints that Enron executives and others breached their duty owed to employees under pension laws.
Should U.S. District Judge Melinda Harmon give her blessing to the deals, current and former employees would receive $69.2 million of the $86.5 million settlement sometime in the late summer or fall.
Wow! $69.2 million! That sounds great!
Except for the problem of dividing it among 20,000 employees, which parcels out to $3,450 each.
When you consider that the average account balance in a 401(k) plan in 2002 was $39,885, and there is no reason to think that Enron's 401(k) plan was anything less than average, then each employee's settlement would effectively provide them with a return on their life savings of – 91 percent. Yes, that's a negative number. Nine cents on the dollar is all they will get of their own money. All thanks to Jeff Skilling, Ken Lay, and their beneficiaries in the White House whose campaign was partially funded with Enron's skimmed and imaginary profits.
The employees of Enron are a symbol of what has happened to Americans since the turn of the millennium. From surplus to deficit, from plus to minus, from productive to disgraced. All because of the consistent incompetence or outright fraudulence of those running the show.
Nine cents on the dollar is what's left after you pay for the crimes of management, as we will see again when the crimes of Kenny Boy's friends at George & Co. are finally tallied long after they're gone.