The Art of Calling Consumers Stupid

Brian Wise
|
Posted: May 20, 2015 11:25 AM
The Art of Calling Consumers Stupid

“Actions speak louder than words.” This common principle is something we teach our children to understand from a young age. Yet, politicians who say one thing and pursue policies that directly contradict their public statements have become an unfortunate mainstay of Washington politics.

Senator Elizabeth Warren has played this card in spades. For many years, she has worked to build her image as a “champion for consumers” and, more recently, an “advocate for working families.” Her most significant contribution to this cause has been the creation of an embattled agency called the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). The very name of the agency conjures visions of some Beltway knight in shining armor on her white horse charging in to save Americans from the evils of those who would take advantage of the little guy.

The actions of this secretive, unaccountable agency and of Senator Warren herself tell a much different story.

Elizabeth Warren and the CFPB are not protecting consumers from fraud as they claim. The policies advanced by Warren and the CFPB reinforce the false narrative that assumes American consumers are simply not intelligent enough to make their own financial decisions. Policies such as the pending payday loan rulemaking that limits consumer choice and freedom are not targeted against fraud, but rather target the consumers themselves, whom Warren’s allies believe cannot be trusted to make their own decisions.

The promise of security in an uncertain world is so tempting and so comforting that the American people have taken the word of Senator Warren, instead of questioning the real-life effects of her actions on their choices, jobs and freedom. The media are more than happy to help, working to find the relatively rare and salacious stories of the unfortunate victim of fraud, and then malign an entire industry as predators. What they ignore is the fact that for every legitimate victim of fraud, there are millions of people who use and enjoy products and services like trade schools and short-term loans, industries that Senator Warren and the CFPB have targeted for destruction.

There is fraud out there, to be sure, and the FBI, FTC and other agencies do an excellent job of prosecuting fraudsters. But the actions of Senator Warren and the CFPB aren’t geared towards stamping out real fraud. They are centered around increasing government control over the decisions made by hard-working Americans. They are designed to limit the financial choices of working families, and “protect” Americans from making choices that Senator Warren, in her infinite wisdom, deems unfit.

The most recent actions of the CFPB against trade schools and payday loans will prevent students from getting an affordable education to become a nurse or mechanic, and could keep the abused mother of two from getting the short-term loan she needs for a bus ticket away from her abusive husband. Actions speak louder than words.

The CFPB is the embodiment of elitist arrogance. It’s time a new conversation starts in America. It’s time we stop the witch hunt against lawfully operating businesses that are providing a hand up, rather than hand out, to the less fortunate among us. It is time government treated the American people with respect and recognize the intelligence of the consumer.

Unfortunately, Senator Warren’s policies, now aggressively enforced by the CFPB, will only take away options for the underserved in our communities. Her actions tell all of us she thinks we’re stupid.