Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Bless you, Elizabeth Warren! (12.2.08)

Sanity seems to be breaking out all over.  And the latest example is coming out of the Congress, where  Elizabeth Warren has just been elected chairwoman of the panel (appointed by Harry Reid) to over see the gigantic federal bailout.  Sanity, folks!  Listen to her words in today's NY Times business section (center front page with photo!):
"You can't just say, 'Credit isn't moving through the system,' " she said in her first public comments since being named to the panel. "You have to ask why."

If the answer is that banks do not have money to lend, it would make sense to push capital into their hands, as the Treasury has been doing over the last two months, she continued. But if the answer is that their potential borrowers are getting less creditworthy with each passing day, "pouring money into banks isn't going to fix that problem," she said.
How sane is that?  But it gets even better:
"Good ideas produce their own power," Ms. Warren said. "If we have good ideas, it will be a powerful series of reports. If we don't, it won't."

"Our role is to make sure that the right questions are asked as early as possible."
Wow!  A search for good ideas!  Questions being asked!  But wait till you read this, it's going to reach right down into your heart:
Meetings with Treasury officials so far have made her question whether they understand that "household financial health is profoundly tied to the economic health of the nation," she said. "You cannot repair this economy if you can't repair those families, and I'm not sure the people directing the bailout see that as their job."

"Any effective policy has to start with the households," she said. "Years of flat wages, low savings and high debt have left America's households extremely vulnerable."
Now, honestly, these are very simple sentences.  They  would make sense to your average wage-earner.   Household financial health.  And it's a sad commentary on the last eight years but reading them this morning practically brings me to tears.  The empathy.  The common sense.  The insistence that government spend money wisely for the common good.

I knew the Karma Virus had struck, but I never expected it would strike this fast or this deep.  It's reached the Congress.  It's reached Harvard.  And it's reaching down to care about the least among us.

Thank you, Harry Reid.  Thank you, Elizabeth Warren.  Thank you, Josh Marshall, for showcasing her writing first, right here at TPM.



Thera, thanks for bringing this article to our attention. It absolutely hits the nail on the head. It is going to be interesting to see how we, as a country, are going to respond to this problem. Somehow we all need to tighten our belts, while at the same time keeping the economy alfloat....pretty treacherous waters we find ourselves in. Glad to hear there are some in the government that are thinking outside the box.
I spent $300.00 yesterday (mom and pop business I hate to see go out!) on stuff I just wanted, didn't need (real money, no credit cards) which was hard for me to do given the circumstances (anything for the cause!) ;-) I hope I'm not wishing a few months from now that I had that money back!
You know, I find myself feeling the same way. When you spend money, where are spending it? Who can you help when you do?
That's a good question...I confess that for a lot of the necessities of life (shampoo, cleaning products and the like) I shop at Costco, Target or Walmart...But when it comes to fun stuff I go to the boutique shops. It's not like what I spend will save their businesses, but I know it helps. The 4 shops I frequent most often probably employ a total of 25 or so people and my "play" money amounts to about $700.00 per month. I know they are just minimum wage jobs, no benefits, but I'm sure the families that have the jobs are grateful for them.
We support the local farmer's markets (especially the organic growers) have a husband/wife gardening team that mows our lawns, go to a locally owned gym, and of course support a lot of the local fundraisers for schools, churches, etc.
We aren't keep up with the Jones's fancy clothes, jewelry or toys. Pretty simple lifestyle really. We don't "consume" an awful lot.
How about you?

Actually, I was asking more of a rhetorical question. It was more about being deliberate in terms of purchases, realizing that each time you buy from a merchant, you are part of choosing their future.
But, it's like the ruby slippers: we've been here, all along. We just didn't always know it.
Wonderful image! Full of whimsy and wisdom.
Highly recommended. All this blind bashing around with institutions, never noticing that the problem lay in the particular way that government and the institutions had ruined the customers.
Finally somebody has it right.
This is good news.
Thanks for a bit of good cheer. Elizabeth Warren blew the whistle on the myth of the family with too many plasma TVs. It's all about wages. When people work their asses off at one job and then two jobs with both spouses working and still they seem to trend water, they get demoralized. But when they begin to fall behind on payments and can't afford college, they begin to borrow too much.
Busting unions in the auto industry, airlines, aviation, screen actors, is the opposite of what should be done. Higher wages make for more efficiency and stability for everybody.
Now if they would hire Naomi Klein to serve also, I would be able to sleep a little easier.
You're such a sweetheart, Thera.
This is great news. Somebody needs to be in charge because the Treasury is acting like rappers with that 700 billion bailout - it's like they want to hang over the edge of the VIP and hand out money like Lil Wayne.
And not pay any attention to where it goes or why.
Bless you, too, Tena, my dear.
Professor Warren is in my Top 5 list of living heros (right up there with Springsteen & Dave Ramsey).
Give 'em hell Liz!! :)
I cut this out of today's Times and posted on my computer: (i)"Household financial health is profoundly tied to the economic health of the nation."(/i)
Yes, thanks, Thera, I hadn't seen the article yet, either.
Prof. Warren has been a clear voice in the bankruptcy reform debates and on debt in this country. I haven't always agreed with her, but she is almost always on the right track. I know she will be a strong overseer!
I think Obama deserves a thumbs up, too. After all he had the wit and wisdom to put her on his transition team.
Ms. Warren is no stranger to congress, and I think that Obama's appointment maybe lit the fire under Reids netherquarters. She should have been there years ago.
Thanks Thera, I agree with anyone and everyone that throws kudos Ms. Warrens way. Can't say enough good things about her.
I so agree.
I simply can't get over the depth of the bench here! It's looking like the Team of a lifetime. We're gonna get spoiled here!
The team needs to be successful at the basic resucitation and IV procedures; it will be awhile before we can all start wondering whether they've indulged us with too much foie gras.
But I admire your sunny outlook.
Yep, when I read tis article this morning I thought, "Wow, things really are going to get better. Elizabeth Warren is gonna officially watchdog the bailout. This is change I can believe in."
For the first time, someone who's work and ideas I'm familiar with is going to be in a position of real influence. Someone who understands the struggles of regular people. Not some Clinton re-tread, not some Bush hack, but somebody who really knows what she's doing and who's heart is in the right place. Someone I'm actually sure is not corrupt.
This is the most heartening thing I've come across since election night.
As the diarist said so eleoquently: sanity seems to be breaking out all over.
I've said any number of times right here on TPM that you can't keep taking money out of the pockets of wage earners without it having an effect. Thank you Elizabeth for expressing that sentiment. Not that I expect it to do any good.
Lost wages and benefits for workers have amounted to taxation without representation. The wages lost went into the pockets of somebody else higher on the economic food chain. And the reason that has occurred is because those persons higher on that food chain have a bigger voice on capitol hill.
Most of this stems from the lie of free trade. Our living standard is much higher than nations we are supposed to be competing with. Our higher standard has to be paid for in some way. The way that happens is things cost more, government costs more, clean water costs more, clean air costs more etc. You get the idea. If you were to follow the Bush lead he would abandon all those things and lower wages. And assure that those at the top of the heap still made at least the same and probably more.
What we end up with is exactly what we have seen. A widening gap between the haves and have nots. Blaming unions or labor in general is a complete lie used to rearrange the economic landscape. And keep in mind that across these last eight years the only segment of earners who showed gains are at the very top. So the money taken from wage earners over the years has gone to one place only. We've been lied to for years. Look at the 401K and IRA dollars lost in the current mess. Who had control of that money? And they would have had our Social Security money to blow as well if Bush had his way. Financial and bank mergers have caused the control of vast wealth to be placed in the hands of too few.
Every bit of this has been a monumental you know what. But more than that it is a true theft of unbelievable scope.
Thank you again Elizabeth for giving voice to the simple concepts that have been violated.
I know Elizabeth Warren personally. She is superb. Everything you inferred from her comments is right. But being down-to-earth, and having a truly excellent crap detector, are among her many strengths. She is also the smartest person in room most of the time, and I doubt whether being in the Senate Chamber will change that.

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