I know it’s obnoxious to pat myself on the back, but I wrote an Op-Ed for the New York Times in 2005 titled, Counting Corporate Crooks, and I think my suggestion was good and sound and I stand by it.
In it I argued for the need to start examining and analyzing how well the people who are charged with investigating white collar crime are doing their jobs. The way to do that was to start gathering data about the crimes we know about and the ones under investigation.
I point out the problems, the main one being it’s tricky to even know when a crime may have occurred and should be investigated. It’s generally obvious when someone has been murdered, but “without a dead body,” I wrote, “it’s harder to tell how many people are getting away with your retirement account. That said, to a conscientious and curious investigator or accountant, where there’s significant fraud, there’s often a big bold chalk outline in the financial statements.”
I got some criticism when this came out, mostly having to do with the difficulty of what I proposed. I concede that it’s hard, but so we shouldn’t try? Or try to do better? Look where we are now. I was also criticized for bringing up the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, which I had only suggested might be a useful tool. I didn’t know! This was not my area of expertise. But a wrong suggestion about how to go about it is not a good argument against trying.