A friend of mine from Northern Ireland recently visited, and over a very bad fish dinner at a local watering hole that we should have tagged as suspect for anything more than a basic brew, he caught me up on what was going on in his neck of the woods. Stevie runs a big NGO that provides many different types of adult education. He told me about his funding, some layoffs, the changes in emphasis in national policy that drove some of that and then we talked about our families and such.
In amongst what he told me, was that the Enron fiasco has to some extent changed the face of work in Northern Ireland because it nearly destroyed many people’s pensions. A key platform of the Conservative government during the 80s and 90s was to encourage private pension provision that relied mainly on stock market growth. When Enron collapsed, so did confidence in stocks and people found their pensions decimated. Where people had been poised to quit work at a fairly young age (compared to the U.S.), retiring and moving over to allow younger people a shot, many must now work longer than they had expected. This ties up the job market in a region where economic growth has been limited and young people already emigrate in relatively large numbers. Northern Ireland has problems enough to deal with given it is still trying to consolidate a peace process after 30 years of conflict; this is one more strain they could have done without.
One more story from the annals of Enron ripples.
Lest anyone believe the vague commentary one hears regarding the degree to which Enron execs were involved in righteous civic activity, from the Summer 2006 issue of NPQ comes the epic “Enron Family Philanthropies,” a tale of betrayal and deceit beyond what has been covered in the mainstream media; here is corporate sin and unfettered greed, this time in the name of charity.
Don’t miss it. It’s a good read from Rick Cohen, one of our favorite muckrakers.
Meanwhile, after you download that article, go to our renovated homepage. Access NPQ articles indexed by categories such as governance, finance and fundraising. Have a ball!