The University of Kentucky hosted Elizabeth Warren Monday night. Mrs. Warren is a special assistant to President Obama whose address to the campus was titled “Debt, Credit and the Middle Class”.
Bluegrass Institute board chair Kathy Gornik was in attendance and had this to say regarding the address (also posted in the comments section of this Kentucky.com article):
I attended last night’s lecture by Dr. Elizabeth Warren which I found to be very biased toward big government solutions and very much opposed to market solutions to our economic problems. Indeed, to Dr. Warren, free markets are the problem, and her condescending characterization of consumers-as-victims is her justification for the formation of the newly-formed Consumer Financial Protection Program which she now heads. This is simply not an accurate depiction of how consumers experience the credit card market which is the main thrust of the new agency and the focus of last evening’s presentation. In fact, I never, ever hear any of my friends or employees complain about their credit card companies, so I don’t know what problem Dr. Warren is attempting to fix with her big new expensive Federal Bureaucracy.
Her reference to the “shrubbery that muggers can hide in” for credit card contracts could be just as easily leveled at IRS tax regulators who assault us with infinitely more confused verbiage and with consequences for us on a much larger financial scale than credit cards companies ever could. On the other hand, I know of no one who didn’t find their tax preparation a truly vexing, dispiriting experience, despite paying for experts to prepare and file them.
Every single complaint Dr. Warren alleged against credit card companies are questionable as to their actual existence; but turn the tables toward government tax and regulatory codes which we are all required to follow at the point of a gun (unlike credit card companies which you can freely leave at will) and you will see that the government is a far worse perpetrator of the evils Dr. Warren is attempting to save the citizens from.
Additionally the Q & A was a huge disappointment. Despite a large stack of questions submitted by the audience, the moderator kept flipping through them, reading them, and passing them by, selecting only a few that, IMHO, were softballs predictably thrown and which yielded predictable, uninteresting answers. I submitted a question which asked “How much will this new Federal Bureaucracy cost taxpayers?” Given the relevance of cost to the evening’s discussion, you would think this would be a question worthy of an answer. I found out that at least one other person submitted the same question. But it was never brought up, and a very fundamental fact for providing context to the assertions in the presentation was never brought to light.
The evening could have been far more interesting and educational if Dr. Warren had had to face some very good and tough questions from an audience wanting to hear her defend her assumptions and assertions about the benefits of government intervention in the economy. As it was, it came across as “The Dr. Elizabeth Warren Show” and it was apparently set up in advance to keep it that way. Too bad for everyone who longed for a more vigorous and substantive debate.
Elected officials not wanting to break from the script and answer the tough questions – I’d like to see that changed myself.