Episode 105 with Touré
Greetings from sunny Miami, where we’re wrapping up our second year of KK&F! The final episode of 2022 is a conversation between Krystal and Touré, a writer who documents the fall from grace of a former classmate and newcomer to the élite Ivy League world. The subject of The Ivy League Counterfeiter attended a top-level prep school and Columbia University through scholarships, but became swept up in counterfeiting, a journey Touré masterfully describes in what reads like a “made-for-Hollywood script” but is instead a powerful, fascinating true story. That, plus Touré’s insight as a cultural critic into the biggest artist scandals of the year, is the focus of our conversation this week.
We’re interested by the implications of counterfeiting as a crime, and how it blows up the division of “violent” and “nonviolent” crimes in comparison with other devastating financial schemes. The major harm of counterfeiting is its effect upon the innocent people who eventually receive the circulated fake money. They can unwittingly end up in hot water for trying to use it, or receive worthless bills for their work. Yet counterfeiting is a nonviolent crime: it doesn’t involve direct bodily harm. By thinking about counterfeiting — especially the élite, high-level counterfeiting scam described in Touré’s book — alongside the financial crimes of (for example) big banks during the 2008 crash, which forced everyday people out of their homes and emptied public coffers for bank bailouts, we begin to see how it, too, can inflict powerful damage on the public. And we begin to question why the criminal acts of our financial institutions aren’t seen as violent or threatening to public health and safety: they often are.
Maybe the most interesting part of this entire story is that there are legalized forms of financial corruption and predation that take place every day in ivory-tower enclaves. Cliff, the Ivy League Counterfeiter, simply moves from the “officially sanctioned” public theft that Ivy League students perpetuate on Wall Street to another form of scamming that has instead been criminalized. Our conversation with Touré about his incredible book reveals the true criminal behavior of our most “official” and “professional” financial institutions, and calls into question why they, too, haven’t been met with prosecution — yet.
We hope you enjoy this episode of KK&F. You can listen to this conversation tomorrow through Pandora, Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and more!