Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Elizabeth Warren - Mad as Hell and Not Gonna Take it Any More!

Product Details  There's only one way to read Senator Elizabeth Warren's book, "A Fighting Chance," and that is to listen to it. No one else could have recorded this book but Elizabeth herself and she does a bang-up job of it. Every time she calls out some senator or congressman with a "horse pucky!" or a "jeesh!" you'll understand that this Harvard law professor has not forgotten her Oklahoma roots and the people she's fighting for.

Call me a cockeyed optimist but I live in hope that this woman will be one of the few who won't become jaded by Washington, but will continue to fight for the underdog the way she did when she was charged with forming (and then refused the right to head up) the Consumer Financial Protection Agency, a result of the financial meltdown of 2008.

Ms. Warren is a passionate speaker and advocate for the least of our brothers. From a hard scrabble childhood, her dad ill and out of a job, her mom heading back to the workplace, Elizabeth was expected to find a man who made good money and marry him immediately. Dreams of college and a teaching career were poo-pooed by her mother but she secretly applied for scholarships and, when they were awarded in droves, her dad made the decision to send her on her way. Thank goodness for us!

Elizabeth Warren's specialty, when she taught at Harvard, was bankruptcy law and she must have been a hell of teacher. Warren makes sure that her readers know that bankruptcy is not a moral failing as some politicians would have us believe,  but the direct result of three major life events that could have, or have happened to many of us, job loss, illness, and divorce.

She's able to explain the most complicated financial  products and laws in such succinct language that even I, who tend to zone out over facts and figures, could easily understand the implications. And she buries forever one of the most despicable tropes to come out of the recession years, that the lower classes - read blacks and Hispanics - took on more mortgage debt than they could handle, thereby destroying the economy.

This would be laughable if it wasn't so insidious and repeated so often that folks came to believe that our measly little fifty or seventy-five thousand dollar home loans could take down Wall St. With what big banks gamble and lose in a single day the government could have paid off every home loan in America and kept folks in their homes. But that's another story.

Elizabeth's story is that of an outsider, despised and feared by big banks, who came to Washington to change things and banged her head against a big brick wall. She tells the truth about those who helped - Ted Kennedy, Barney Frank - and those who hindered - too many to name. A story about a dinner with the infamous sexist and former head of Harvard, Lawrence Summers, confirmed what I already knew. But his flat out threat, advising Warren to keep her head down or know that she will make powerful enemies, only fired her up more.

When the president's staff, and later the president himself, informed her that she could not be confirmed to head the consumer organization she founded because she was "poison" in Washington, she headed home and explored a run for the senate. Fortunately, for Massachusetts and for all of us, we know how that turned out. We have an advocate in Washington.

This is a great read, an accessible memoir, a story of David and Goliath that has only just begun. If you've wondered about "too big to fail," the great recession, the bad guys and the good guys and how the people of our country were mislead and fooled into blaming ourselves for the financial meltdown, then this is your chance to exonerate yourselves and meet a wonderful new voice for sanity.

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