SOLVING FOR WHY

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OCTOBER 26, 2010 2:51AM

Elizabeth Warren: Sanity in a Wall Street Run Amok

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warrenpensive 

 

 Elizabeth Warren

 

 

 I first heard of Elizabeth Warren on NPR’s Fresh Air during an interview with Terry Gross. It was one of those “driveway moments” where you don’t want to leave your car for fear of never being able to recapture what you are hearing. 

 

Warren, among other things, teaches Business Law at Harvard University. She was describing a lesson she had given her law students. She had handed them all credit card applications from various banks. The assignment was for the students to tell her by the end of the class what percentage rate they would be paying at the end of a year. Harvard’s best and brightest, which presumably means among America’s best and brightest, could not answer the question.

 

I heard this broadcast in early 2008 while I was still gainfully employed. It was the beginning of the end of America as we once knew it. This Elizabeth Warren person I had just “met” was a cool head that had a firm grip on what was happening to our country.

 

She is the daughter of a janitor. Before she was born, her father lost his hard earned money to a crook. She is truly a crusader for the average American homeowner and consumer.

 

Following the 2008 election, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid appointed Warren chairman of the five-member Congressional panel tasked with making sure the Troubled Asset Relief Program worked as Congress instructed. 

 

warrenhardass 

 Warren: A sensible voice in troubled times.

 

From her appointed position she lobbied heavily for creation of her brainchild, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Warren states, “Just as the Consumer Product Safety Commission protects buyers of goods and supports a competitive market, we need the same for consumers of financial products — a new regulatory regime, and even a new regulatory body, to protect consumers who use credit cards, home mortgages, car loans, and a host of other products.” 

 

She succeeded. How can this be a bad thing? Not surprisingly, Warren’s assignment has ruffled some powerful feathers on Wall Street and among their Republican friends.  

 

Writes Warren in a 2007 issue of Democracy: A Journal Of Ideas: “It is impossible to buy a toaster that has a one-in-five chance of bursting into flames and burning down your house. But it is possible to refinance an existing home with a mortgage that has the same one-in-five chance of putting the family out on the street– and the mortgage won’t even carry a disclosure of that fact to the homeowner. Similarly, it’s impossible to change the price on a toaster once it has been purchased. But long after the papers have been signed, it is possible to triple the price of the credit used to finance the purchase of that appliance, even if the customer meets all the credit terms, in full and on time. Why are consumers safe when they purchase tangible consumer products with cash, but when they sign up for routine financial products like mortgages and credit cards they are left at the mercy of their creditors?”

 

On September 17, 2010, she was named a special adviser by President Obama to oversee the development of the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Her position will include the responsibility of recommending a director for this new entity, although it is unclear whether Warren herself will be considered for the position. Why will she not permanently head the very bureau she helped create? The director’s job must be ratified by congress and it’s still unclear if Obama and Harry Reid and Barney Frank can garner enough votes. Nearly all Republicans object to her nomination. 

 

warrentough 

Warren is fearless in  male dominated  Wall Street

 

 

Granted, “home mortgages are not toasters”, which some nay-sayers argue. The manufacturer of the toaster has a vested interest in you liking their product. The lender has an interest in the layman not being able to understand her/his mortgage or credit card contract. For over 30 years Wall Street has whittled away at the Glass-Steagall Act which was enacted following The Great Depression in 1933.

 

Again, from her article in Democracy: “Nearly every product sold in America has passed basic safety regulations well in advance of reaching store shelves. Credit products, by comparison, are regulated by a tattered patchwork of federal and state laws that have failed to adapt to changing markets. Moreover, thanks to effective regulation, innovation in the market for physical products has led to more safety and cutting-edge features. By comparison, innovation in financial products has produced incomprehensible terms and sharp practices that have left families at the mercy of those who write the contracts.”

 

Regulating the manufacture and safety of toasters has not driven the toaster industry out of business. Nor has the auto industry crumbled by being forced to make automobiles safer. Wall Street and therefore the Republican Party do not like Elizabeth Warren simply because by making their products safer and easier to understand for consumers, their profit margins might shrink a little.  Seven figure bonuses versus eight figure bonuses. In these troubled times this choice should not be difficult for 90% of Americans to make.

 

Elizabeth Warren’s cool head and mild manner make her a candidate for sanity. However, pity the poor fool who tries to outwit her. As many have learned, she was Oklahoma’s debate team champion in 1965 at age 16.

 

 

For the full transcript of Warren’s Democracy article:

http://www.democracyjournal.org/article.php?ID=6528

 

For Further biography info on Warren, go to:

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/25/business/25warren.html

http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1988953,00.html

 

 

All photos from Google images.  

 

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Comments

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It must be frustrating as hell for her to deal with the "business" mind-set that considers "profit today as much as possible" over keeping alive the very system that allows ANY profit at all.

The recent financial difficulties point out that there are those, who are in positions to ensure the survival of the system by simply working to ensure that it is fair and equitable for all, who put their own personal excessive profiteering ahead of all other considerations. It is very clear, from their incredible "bonuses", that they are quite comfortable with killing the goose that lays the golden eggs as long as they can grab a few more dollars by doing so. While whining about "labour" wanting sufficient income to live decently, they have tapped into the very veins and arteries of the financial bloodlines of our system and are bleeding it dry with great enthusiasm.

Can these people not see that this is so damaging to the system that they will kill it by doing this? How do they expect to profit by killing the very system by which they can earn any profit at all? Those of a Republican turn of mind ought to be the first to support her for it is only by regulating the degree to which the goose can be bled that the goose will live to provide those golden eggs for all.

Those of a more "share the wealth" frame of mind also ought to support her efforts to regulate how financial matters are conducted. They have much to gain when they are made less vulnerable to the trickery and chicanery of those who would bleed them of every last cent.

She may be too late. She may be able only to do too little. But by gosh she has guts enough to give it a try!! And, if anyone can do it at all, it will be her. It is at a time like this when we can pat ourselves on the back for bringing women into the political/economic hierarchy. I know of no man right now who seems to have his head screwed on as straight as she does. Now if we could only find a way to clone her about two hundred times.
amok amok amok..
Sorry I had to do that. :)
Something good has to happen it really does.
Great article and rated with hugs

CONGRATS ON THE EP
The same "compassionate" conservatives who raped America with Voodoo Economics want to run off the one person who shows up to counsel the victims. That should tell you all need to know about this Republican Party.
skypixie:
Warren is a dolphin in a tank of sharks. A superior brain and wits are keeping her alive. How long will she last? We'll know after the mid-terms. (BTW: Somebody wrote yesterday on the subject of spam that "the comments that I get are better than my blog".You qualify for that distinction here.) Thanks!
kateasly:

I could not agree more. He has misstepped many times, but he also has some victories and I would agree that bringing her on board was his smartest move. Her name was even being thrown around for a Supreme Court nomination. Thankfully she's serving in her current position. She's more useful to you and I in this capacity.
Linda:

Thanks Linda! Now if I could just get more people to read it! And vote accordingly.
this is great, as is she r.
Bonnie:

You can use numbers if you like. Adjusted for inflation we make half the money we made 30 years ago. Fewer high school grads per capita. Math and science scores vs other developed nations. The list is huge and we're never near the top and scarcely in the middle often times. In another 30 years we'll be the new India and India will become what we once were. Nothing against persons from India.
Thank you Jonathan! She truly has made heroic efforts. I've been following her career for three years now.
Tom:

How right you are! Let's just get rid of authority all together and the biggest bully wins! How these people can advocate for anarchy is utterly absurd.
Congrats on the EP, CC!
Thank you Belinda! My first. Very humbling. It was a worthwhile endeavor.
Conrad, you use an apt adjective in describing Ms Warren. Indeed, she is "fearless". How many other people had the opportunity to shine a light on this problem and shirked the responsibility to do so? Of course, there will be a continuous, organized effort to discredit Ms Warren and launch 'ad hominem' attacks against her. Every citizen, apart from those who draw an executive salary from the financial institutions, owes Ms Warren their gratitude.

Thank you for this article - it is good to see this on the Open Salon cover.
Katherine:

"How many other people had the opportunity to shine a light on this problem and shirked the responsibility to do so?"

One has to believe a HUGE number. Pitiful isn't it. Warren for Prez in 2012? 2016? I think I'd jump on that bandwagon with no hesitation.
Elizabeth Warren is a great example of sanity. You do a good job of describing why.
Faith:

Thanks for the props. The subject I chose makes the job an easy one.
I am happy to see this on the cover. Great piece.~r
Thank you Joan. And . . .Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you, HAPPY BIRTHDAY dear Joooooooaaaaannnn . . . Happy birthday to you !
1st good staff decision that Pres. O has made in my opinion.
Excellent piece about a woman with a head on her shoulders. I hope she will succeed in her endavors to get America back on its feet. Congratulations your EP, Conrad. ~Rated.
This is a great SANITY choice - I absolutely love this woman. Excellent writing as well.
@Fred: I could think of a couple of others, but thanks for for the input.
@FusunA: Thank you very much! She's a national treasure with a lot of heart.
@ The Wright Side: Thanks for the kind words!
Hi yah Conrad:

Warren already is part of Obama’s legacy. Only he can define his own legacy. To suggest she will recover his from the cliff over which he drove it, is to suggest he engage Michelle in the Political process to do what he cannot do, oh wait, that is happening.

His Political legacy is to pick those who value hyperboly over susbstance. The editor of the Washington Post picked this up and on 19 Sept: “Like many such activists, however, Ms. Warren can be simplistic and hyperbolic.”

She is already at odds with the huge industry she oversees, she has unlimited power, ludicrously monetized budget, is accountable only to the old tax cheat Geithner himself.

To appoint her Obama did his typical end run around the Senate . This angered both Republicans and Progressives. The Republicans see it as a dupe and the Progressives see it as robbing her of her full 5 year term.

This is Obama-ism at its best. It does not write his legacy, she cannot rewrite it, it just reaffirms it. As the blue dress affirmed Bill Clinton’s.
McAuthor:

I would suggest the the car was over Bush’s cliff when Obama got in the seat.

The editor of the Washington Post is one man at one newspaper. I can think of perhaps three people in my life whose opinions I would not question and none are newspaper editors nor politicians. Besides, the opposite of simplistic and hyperbole is Dick Cheney, and who wants that snake around anymore?

You said, “She is already at odds with the huge industry she oversees. . .” And what is the down side to this? The very industry she is overseeing has had it’s way with deregulation for thirty years. Now that it’s regulated again, you don’t like this? You LIKE that a credit card company can float the monthly due date of your bill with the hope that you won’t catch it? Then raise your rates 8% and say HA HA ,Gothca! I’d be nervous if the banking industry liked Warren.
I heard this interview on NPR, too, Conrad. It's encouraging that she has been given this job. I hope the bastards don't grind her down.
Glad I discovered this. I knew she was a good one but I am glad for the details.
america is driven by personalities, not laws, or even plans.

it is mired in the middle ages, and can't get up. even if warren is effective, the next person in her office won't be.

the situation is far outside the capacity of any well-wisher to fix.