Cui Bono?

Fortune magazine reports on corporate revenue:

Last year, Fortune 500 sales fell 8.7% to $9.8 trillion, the largest percentage decline since 1983.

And yet profits soared:

For 2009, the Fortune 500 lifted earnings 335%, to $391 billion, a $301 billion jump that’s the second largest in the list’s 56-year history….The 500’s profits virtually returned to normal after years of extremes — bubbles in 2006 and 2007, collapse in 2008 — despite a feeble overall recovery that’s far from normal.

So corporate profits tripled during a recession year in which sales fell 8.7%. Has that ever happened before? The key to this, of course, was layoffs: “In 2009, the Fortune 500 shed 821,000 jobs, the biggest loss in its history — almost 3.2% of its payroll.” In other words, we have now been through a recession in which, essentially, nobody has really suffered except for all the workers who have been let go. Wall Street is doing great. Corporate profits are doing great. The stock market is recovering. Is it any wonder that Republicans don’t really care about any further fiscal stimulus? Their constituency is doing fine, thankyouverymuch.

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

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