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As George Bernard Shaw noted a century ago, “All change comes from the power of unreasonable people.” I think Shaw would agree to one small addendum to his sage observation, which is that such people are considered unreasonable only by the entrenched powers that always oppose change.
Let me offer two examples of people today who deserve our applause for rankling the establishment and, in turn, enduring its furious abuse: Sheila Bair and Elizabeth Warren. Both are daring to bring a stronger consumer and public-interest voice into the closed, cliquish, and often self-serving world of banking. Bair heads the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, which gives a big helping hand to banks by insuring their customers’ deposits. The FDIC is also supposed to help consumers and taxpayers by regulating banks. And – my goodness – unlike some of her predecessors, she has chosen to do both jobs, including providing tough enforcement of regulations to prevent bank failures, foster real competition, and deter banker finagling. At a recent meeting, financial chieftains showed their appreciation for her work (and their ugly side) with a cascade of catcalls, guffaws, snorts, and boos as she spoke.
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Booed by bankers. I’m sure that’s unpleasant at the moment – but what a badge of honor!
Likewise, Elizabeth Warren is under constant attack by Wall Street bosses and the flock of Republican Congress critters who shamelessly serve them. She helped create and is now setting up the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau as a watchdog over banker abuses. To show their gratitude, the bankers got their GOP maddogs to slash the bureau’s budget and simply eliminate Warren’s salary.
To add your voice in support of these two “unreasonable” women, go to Bankster USA: www.banksterusa.org.
“Consumer Bureau Official Debates G.O.P. Critics on Hill,” The New York Times,” March 17, 2011.
“A Badge of Honor For a Regulator,” The New York Times, March 21, 2011.