There’s a lot to celebrate here (like Claire McCaskill defeating walking rape gaffe Todd Akin, for example), but I’d like to take a moment to focus on the wonders of a personal favorite of mine: Massachusetts’ new Senator and Supreme Badass, Elizabeth Warren.
Warren first registered on my radar when I read her magnum opus in a journalism class. “Unsafe at Any Rate” is a prescient, eye-opening call for tighter regulation of the financial sector. (The title is a play on Ralph Nader’s call for safety regulation in the auto industry, Unsafe at Any Speed.)
Written in 2007, the essay opens with a smart metaphor that makes it hard to miss the absurdity of neglecting to regulate credit, and the danger that we now know was just around the corner:
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?
If you’ve been waiting for a reason to start caring passionately about debt and credit reform in America, and/or if you enjoy reading well written, well reasoned, arguments about interesting and important topics, do yourself a favor and read the whole essay here.
I loved the essay so much that I fell in love with Warren immediately for her wit and insight, so of course I was overjoyed when I learned that she was running for Massachusetts’ Senate seat. I can only imagine that she’ll bring the same intelligence to the Senate as she did to her writing. And, of course, now that her premonitions about the dangers of unregulated credit have come true, it can’t hurt to have someone who understands the need for change in that sector in a seat of influence if we ever want the economy to recover. Her election is not just a victory for women, but a victory for facts and logic.