Madoff Matters


I’m still thinking (as are we all) about Bernie Madoff and the New Year recession. Over at the Daily Beast, an artist conveys what it’s like to go from riches to rags over night. I link to it mostly because of the appalling comments it generated.

As the author tells it, she scrimped, saved, and worked her way to a schmancy NY apartment, a vacation cottage in Palm Beach, fancy truffles, and real pearls, refusing even to take alimony post-divorce! Yet, oh so predictably, readers crap all over her. Why? Even if she’d inherited all her money and spent her days in a heroin haze, does that make it all right to steal her money, then vilify her? She was victimized! And the readers victimize her again.

There’s a lot of petty emotion from readers too obvious to bear discussion, but these are comments we really need to talk about.

Now that no one can deny that the “smartest guys in the room” are really just the greediest, it’s time to unravel the mindset that rich people get that way cuz they deserve it (and, therefore, we don’t). No, most rich people get rich on all our backs (auto bailouts, anyone?), however inept. What burns me up is our willingness to buy this baloney. The fat cats have taught us to blame ourselves for our ‘failures’ (like being unemployed, uninsured, etc.), when it’s their machinations largely responsible for the small margins of either error or success available to us. And boy, have we bought the mindfuck.

So, if you’re inclined to agree with this poor, defrauded woman’s detractors, ask yourself why. Why are you madder at her than at Madoff and all the running dog capitalists who’ve ruined our country?

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.

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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.

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Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

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