using technology to show that government can work
November 15, 2010 1:23 PM   Subscribe

Elizabeth Warren on setting up the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection - lecture starts here, but really starts getting good here: "I feel like this is a boring speech." stay for the Q&A.
posted by kliuless (27 comments total) 44 users marked this as a favorite
I heart heart that woman so much.
posted by poe at 2:04 PM on November 15, 2010

I think I've seen the world's best puppy just before it got thrown into a tank full of alligators. The problem is that there are tens of thousands of people on the hill with billions of dollars at their disposal and a nearly infinite supply of favours owed who will work 24/7 to make sure she looks very, very busy doing nothing at all. I hope I'm wrong, but she just looks too earnest and honest to really succeed at politics.
posted by seanmpuckett at 2:08 PM on November 15, 2010 [6 favorites]

Jesus, the Q&A session is incredible.
posted by boo_radley at 2:15 PM on November 15, 2010

Only at about the 51 minute mark, but my heart broke a little bit when she spoke about how the application of technology could somehow preserve the agency's ethical mission. If only.
posted by Rat Spatula at 2:15 PM on November 15, 2010

Rat Spatula: " how the application of technology could somehow preserve the agency's ethical mission"

Did you get the the followup at ~1:15?
posted by boo_radley at 2:18 PM on November 15, 2010

(No, not in the six minutes since the 51 minute mark)
posted by Rat Spatula at 2:22 PM on November 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

basically I'm trying to communicate that she's not that naive.
posted by boo_radley at 2:24 PM on November 15, 2010

She has such a wonderful combination of serenity and tenacity - and a mountain of data and research on her side.
posted by ao4047 at 2:32 PM on November 15, 2010

It struck me precisely because I've never thought of her as naive before. In retrospect, though, I probably jumped the gun; on review, I really do think she meant "this would be one specific implementation strategy that would make sense" (the website for citizens to upload credit agreements for agency review), not "the Internet will make sure that Brawndo doesn't purchase the agency."

I think we all have to share seanmpuckett's fear to some degree. On the other hand, I'm glad the EPA, FDA &c. exist, even though they are corruptible, because at least the occasionally starry-eyed true believer gets a shot at raising some Cain with the status quo.
posted by Rat Spatula at 2:37 PM on November 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

"Is there a better place to start this fight than over the fine print? The notion that people can be mugged by contract infuriates me.

Well think about it. What is it? It's that I want to be able to legally bind you; but I know you aren't going to be able to read all that stuff. And so I hired a team of lawyers to write it and to put in whatever I wanted in it. And then I expect to be able to call the law to enforce it. To be able to get judges to enforce it. To be able to come and seize your property. To throw you out of your home. Right? Based on whatever it is that's backed in that fine print.

And my view of it is, I am just old fashioned enough about contracts to believe that the whole premise behind contacts was that both sides understood the deal."
They are going to try to eat her alive.
posted by Catblack at 3:12 PM on November 15, 2010 [2 favorites]

Is this the heroic American figure from ages past who rode over the hill with the cavalry? It has been a generation or more since America has had a hero in that classic mold. A White Hat", one of the good guys.

More than any other single thing in along list of troubles and befuddled, ham handed and outwardly corrupt "solutions", America needs a hero to rally around. Elizabeth Warren could well be that hero.

Warrens true enemies are not those of politics and finance, but those who would label her a "Washington pol" , write her off as one of "them", force a series of political labels on her, or worse, simply ignore her. She does not fear politics or money, she fears apathy and ignorance.

The Republicans or Bank of America will not do her in, we will.

When characters like Walter Brennan saw the dust from a hundred Federal horses rising over the hill from the ramparts of the beaten on fort, they threw the gates open wide and and rang the steeple bell. We may simply sleep through it, or find it all too much trouble to think about or care.
posted by Aetius Romulous at 3:46 PM on November 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

They are going to try to eat her alive.

2nded. Not so much because I fear for her, but because there's only so much you can do without support, pace Brooksley Born. It's not that I don't think she'll try, it's that I think if she looks like she might do something that'll cost real money she'll find herself alone on the battlefield. And in order to get your way in those circumstances, you have to be adroit as Machiavelli, managing to gin up scandal and outrage while appearing to do no such thing. Frankly, the public's a punch drunk boxer when it comes to this stuff; too badly beat to do more than reel and swing wildly. No focus and no real ability to damage.
posted by Diablevert at 3:58 PM on November 15, 2010

"managing to gin up scandal and outrage while appearing to do no such thing"

If anybody can manage that, I think it might actually be Warren.

I watched (listened, actually, while working) all the way to the end, and dammit if I didn't tear up when she did -- talking about reading survey forms, for crying out loud.
posted by epersonae at 4:10 PM on November 15, 2010

See, I'm curious how they'll tear her down. Obviously, she's a Harvard egghead, but beyond that, what? She's a poor Okie girl that made good.
posted by Rat Spatula at 4:49 PM on November 15, 2010

you have to be adroit as Machiavelli

I think you Machiavelli's hypothetical Prince, rather than oft-struggling writer/philosopher and proto-bureaucrat.
posted by raysmj at 5:22 PM on November 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

you mean, rather. He didn't have the happiest life, was jailed and tortured by the Medici, then never was able to recovery his rep after the book, had his positions confused with the Medici, etc. Anyway, academic politics can be god awful (I've worked in it, so I know), and she was at Harvard Law School. Then she managed to get Obama's backing despite his rolling over and dying for the GOP on so much else. So she's no shrinking violet, I'm guessing.
posted by raysmj at 5:46 PM on November 15, 2010

I have a crush on Liz Warren.
posted by tommyD at 6:07 PM on November 15, 2010

She's tough and she cares. She's like the mom from an 80s sitcom family. Which is why we all love her.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 6:30 PM on November 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

She's absolutely the best. I think she's very savvy, very sincere, and very smart, and if anyone can succeed in a fight like this, it's her.
posted by shivohum at 7:54 PM on November 15, 2010

For comparison see Frances Perkins, The Roots of Social Security (text & audio).

"I feel at home because the Social Security Administration has, ever since it was established, been a sort of special concern of mine, although by the chicanery of politics it was not placed in the Department of Labor. I, of course, thought it should be."

On a lighter note:

"[Justice Harlan Stone] said, 'How are you getting on?' I said, 'All right.' And then I said, 'Well, you know, we are having big troubles, Mr. Justice, because we don't know in this draft of the Economic Security Act, which we are working on--we are not quite sure, you know, what will be a wise method of establishing this law. It is a very difficult constitutional problem, you know. We are guided by this, that, and the other case.' He looked around to see if anyone was listening. Then he put his hand up like this, confidentially, and he said, 'The taxing power, my dear, the taxing power. You can do anything under the taxing power.'

"I didn't question him any further. I went back to my committee and I never told them how I got my great information. As far as they knew, I went out into the wilderness and had a vision."
posted by chymes at 10:14 PM on November 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

I think I've seen the world's best puppy just before it got thrown into a tank full of alligators.

Funny, I saw Grover Norquist drowning in a bathtub.
posted by eddydamascene at 10:44 PM on November 15, 2010 [4 favorites]

It's clear she knows what she's talking about, has a vision, and believes in it. I hope she is given the ability and freedom to do her work. Thanks for the post. I really enjoyed listening to this.
posted by Arbac at 12:49 AM on November 16, 2010

Frances Perkins got us most of the New Deal. If Elizabeth Warren can be a new Frances Perkins, I'll be a very happy camper.
posted by QIbHom at 7:44 AM on November 16, 2010

I've been a fan of Warren since her first appearance on the Daily Show. I have the same fears as voiced above ("...thrown into a tank full of alligators", "They are going to try to eat her alive.") but I really get the impression that she's someone who will "die on that hill" on behalf of those of us who can't afford to spend millions on lobbyists.
posted by srw12 at 8:27 AM on November 16, 2010

My local paper had an article on bank healthiness and we got a few Santelli-esque "underwater mortgage? your own damn fault". If there were image inclusions somebody would do their forehead with an "L" hand signal on it. All you want is a well-regulated banking system, and they want the wild west with Nigerian scammers across a desk.
posted by dhartung at 8:12 PM on November 16, 2010

I'm so impressed with everything I've seen from Elizabeth Warren so far.
posted by kprincehouse at 9:55 PM on November 16, 2010

The iVillage Interview:
Student Loans
"Students should be using up the maximum amount they can in direct borrowing from the government to finance their educations. It's cheaper and it's safer…This agency is going to work on ways to make sure that students know this and know it in advance because let's face it, the private loan industry spends a lot of money advertising out there…"

Protection from Predatory Lenders
"What we're going to push for is to cut down the paperwork at closing on the mortgage and instead try to get a one page mortgage shopping sheet that carries the basic information that you need in order to decide whether or not you can afford the mortgage and that gives you the opportunity to compare one mortgage with two or three others."

GOP Calls to Roll Back Wall Street Reforms
"All I can say is I am going to keep fighting and the families who fought for the creation of this consumer agency so they would have a voice, so they could enter marketplaces that are just fair, just level playing fields, nobody's looking for a handout, just a fair deal here, that those families are going to come in and help us in that fight."
posted by adamvasco at 12:40 AM on November 17, 2010

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