Four months ago, it became clear to me that blogging about the financial calamity wasn’t going to cut it. We needed to do something about it.
It was clear even then – just days after the presidential election – that the Money Industry was still conducting business as usual on Wall Street and in Washington. There was a great danger that those with a vested interest in the status quo – the people whose greed caused this mess, and those who could have stopped them, but looked the other way – would hide the truth from the American people about how we ended up in this economic disaster. The commentators were already starting to blame average Americans – as if the entire financial system collapsed because we used our credit cards or tried to buy a nicer home. I could already see that they were rewriting history.
And if no one knows the truth about how we got into this mess, then there’s no way we’re going to figure out how to get out of it.
So I got in touch with the hard-working, smart people at Essential Information, a Washington, D.C. non-profit that’s been investigating and educating people, the press and policymakers about complex issues for more than two decades. We came up with a plan:
First, convene a conference of experts – economists and advocates independent of the government and the Money Industry – and spend a day discussing solutions to the crisis.
Next, research and write a report on exactly what caused this economic disaster.
Then start pushing for solutions that will work.
We moved very fast.
The conference was held on January 9th, nearly a week before the Inauguration of President Obama. The economic crisis had grown significantly worse since November, and the experts foresaw even tougher times ahead. But the most troubling news was that President-elect Obama was relying almost exclusively on people from within the institutions that were responsible for the debacle to advise him on how to fix it. You can watch videos of the speakers and conference panels at the special web page we’ve set up: WallStreetWatch.org.
Today, Wednesday March 4, we completed the second step in our plan: we published a 231 report whose title explains it all: “Sold Out: How Wall Street and Washington Betrayed America.” After four months of exhaustive research, we came up with twelve things that Washington did – or failed to do – that led to the collapse of our economy. Then we figured out why: between 1998 and 2008, the Money Industry invested over $5 billion in Washington, in the form of campaign contributions and literally thousands of lobbyists. You can download the report at the WallStreetWatch site.
Now we need to take this information and insist that our elected officials sever their ties to the fat cats and start serving the needs of the voters who elected them.
This is going to require the support of the public. You can’t afford just to read this blog or the report. You need to join the fight and do something about it.
We turned our outrage into action. Now it’s your turn.
PS The blog is back. You can follow our work right here.