What Class Privilege Looks Like

Admittedly, it’s The Identity That Shall Not Be Named, but this is pretty awful (boldface mine):

James Kidney, a longtime SEC lawyer, was assigned to take the completed investigation and bring the case to trial. Right away, something seemed amiss. He thought that the staff had assembled enough evidence to support charging individuals. At the very least, he felt, the agency should continue to investigate more senior executives at Goldman and John Paulson and Co., the hedge fund run by John Paulson that made about a billion dollars from the Abacus deal. In his view, the SEC staff was more worried about the effect the case would have on Wall Street executives, a fear that deepened when he read an email from Reid Muoio, the head of the SEC’s team looking into complex mortgage securities. Muoio, who had worked at the agency for years, told colleagues that he had seen the “devasting [sic] impact our little ol’ civil actions reap on real people more often than I care to remember. It is the least favorite part of the job. Most of our civil defendants are good people who have done one bad thing.” This attitude agitated Kidney, and he felt that it held his agency back from pursuing the people who made the decisions that led to the financial collapse.

And simple identitarianism isn’t a sufficient explanation, as James Kwak notes (boldface mine):

Kidney knew what was going on. This is what he wrote in one email: “We must be on guard against any risk that we adopt the thinking of those sponsoring these structures and join the Wall Street Elders, if you will.” The problem is that his colleagues seem to have wanted to be part of the Wall Street Elders—not that they necessarily wanted jobs on Wall Street, but that they wanted to feel like part of the sophisticated club, the people who designed the most complicated financial products ever.

Yes, most of the potential defendants were probably white. But more importantly, they were of the same educational background and approximate social status. Class matters too.

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2 Responses to What Class Privilege Looks Like

  1. Felicis says:

    Here – let me finish that bolded sentence”

    “Most of our civil defendants are good people who have done one bad thing.”.. That we have found out about.

    Which is more likely – that they have only done exactly one bad thing, or that they have done many bad things, but we have only discovered one?

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