Our Apathetic Investor Class


Atrios today:

I think the reaction to the Lehman scandal (not particularly strong generally) is very telling. The investor class should, much more than me, care that a major company was engaged in accounting fraud and should worry, much more than me, that other companies are doing the same. That they aren’t says a lot about how the game really works.

It’s true. When it comes to the general public, the lack of interest is pretty understandable: Lehman’s collapse is old news, the whole “Repo 105” scam is hard to explain, and everyone already assumes that Wall Street bankers are a bunch of crooks anyway.

But the investor class is a different story. They understand Lehman’s accounting trick perfectly well, and even the ones that never invested with Lehman know that this same kind of thing can bite them in the ass if someone else does it.

So why don’t they care more? It’s obvious why banks don’t want more banking regulation — who wants to be regulated, after all? — but there are lots of wealthy investors out there who ought to be screaming for it. But they don’t seem to be. Part of this might be a result of the rentier class solidarity I mentioned earlier today, but it’s hard not to think that all the government bailouts and Fed programs are part of it too. Basically, rich investors just didn’t lose enough. When the banks got bailed out, a lot of them did too. So they aren’t really all that angry about what happened. And anyway, they might want to use a similar scam themselves someday. Memories are short and Congress is powerless, after all. It’s every mogul for himself.

One More Thing

And it's a big one. Mother Jones is launching a new Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on the corruption that is both the cause and result of the crisis in our democracy.

The more we thought about how Mother Jones can have the most impact right now, the more we realized that so many stories come down to corruption: People with wealth and power putting their interests first—and often getting away with it.

Our goal is to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We're aiming to create a reporting position dedicated to uncovering corruption, build a team, and let them investigate for a year—publishing our stories in a concerted window: a special issue of our magazine, video and podcast series, and a dedicated online portal so they don't get lost in the daily deluge of headlines and breaking news.

We want to go all in, and we've got seed funding to get started—but we're looking to raise $500,000 in donations this spring so we can go even bigger. You can read about why we think this project is what the moment demands and what we hope to accomplish—and if you like how it sounds, please help us go big with a tax-deductible donation today.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate