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The Money Issue

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Saving Justin Berry
Kurt Eichenwald's tragic attempt to save a child-porn star.
The Catastrophist View
What would it take to send the U.S. economy into free fall?
The Good-Behavior Bribe
Can cash incentives pull a poor family out of poverty?
The Sucker Wears a Wire
How day trader David Glass turned informant.
The Emperors of Benevolence
A dossier on the board of directors of the Robin Hood Foundation.
A Staff of Struggling Artists
Big dreams and low wages at Trader Joe's.
Lords of Dopetown
A conversation between Frank Lucas and Nicky Barnes.

The title of this issue is, yes, lifted from the television show called Dirty Sexy Money, which is about a rich New York family that behaves badly. We don’t have any stories like that in here, but there is plenty of bad behavior involving money, or at least very questionable behavior involving money, as in the first story, by David France, about the investigative journalist Kurt Eichenwald and his bid to rescue a teenager from a well-paid career in Internet porn. “The Catastrophist View,” by Duff McDonald, explores the national spending habits that, doomsayers contend, have set us up for an economic nightmare, and “The Sucker Wears a Wire,” by Joe Hagan, looks at a lifelong hustler who banked millions on the sleazy side of Wall Street, then helped put his co-conspirators behind bars—a double dose of dirt. It’s enough to make you almost nostalgic for the seventies heyday of the Harlem drug lords Nicky Barnes and Frank Lucas, who inspired the movie American Gangster and who Mark Jacobson interviewed here. These days, wealth seems to automatically arouse suspicion about where it came from and what it’s doing to the people who have it, even if they’re not drug dealers. But lest the issue be entirely about scoundrels, we also look at virtuous purposes of money, as in a who’s who of the powerful Robin Hood Foundation board and Gabriel Thompson’s story about the wisdom of a new city program that bribes parents to take better care of their kids. Finally, we have a story called “The Supermarket of Struggling Artists,” about artistically inclined young college grads acquainting themselves with the lower rungs of the city’s job market and (this is the fun part) with each other. It’s only a little dirty.


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