Recently I heard a talk from Ron Suskind. In his discussion, he spoke of a conversation he had with a Wall Street executive. He asked this executive, “What’s your problem with Elizabeth Warren? Mostly she just wants to restore Roosevelt to Regan Regulation, pretty much off the shelf stuff, to be head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). It’s consumer education. It’s anti-fraud. You guys are not officially in favor of fraud, as far as I know…”
A very basic and straight forward question, regardless if you believe that is all she was going to do at the CFPB. However, the response was much more telling and surprising to me. The executive responded by stating:
Oh no, it’s not that, it’s not that. It’s about a definition of public service. If Elizabeth Warren is permitted to breathe into life the Consumer Financial Products Bureau, breathe it into life from her Harvard Office and then step atop of it, to essentially have a battleship that she runs to face the Wall Street fleet, what it will do is it will change people’s perception of public service. They won’t simply be saying, “Ok, I’ve done my turn and when do I get my lobbying job,” or essentially when do I get paid ten times my salary to unwind the regulations I just put in place. If she gets that job, she will be replicated by 10,000 and there will be people who won’t take the money. They will say my purpose, my notion of worth, is bigger than that. And if that happens, well, the financial crisis he said would have created one true innovation, a rock star regulator, and then we are in big trouble.
Immediately it reminded me of the fight over the Secretary of Education spot in the Obama Administration. Linda Darling-Hammond was thought to be the leading candidate for the position, that was until there was pressure by many educational reform organizations and testing services to block her nomination. The above story sounded too close to home.
Is there a correlation? I don’t know. What I do know is that if she had ascended to the position, the power shift that schools have had out of the classrooms, away from teachers and into the hands of central administrators who are only concerned with data results and standardized tests, would have been slowed or reversed. She would not have handed over the keys to education to private companies to profit from and the savings would have been put back into the education of the students.
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