The Monopoly Man!

9 October 2017At the last minute we were incredibly lucky to get an interview with the oh-so-popular Monopoly Man! Amanda Werner, of Americans for Financial Reform and Public Citizen, joined us right at the top of the show to talk about her experience as the Monopoly Man at the recent Senate hearing on SJ Res 47. GOP members of the Senate want to rollback the new rule from the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (CFPB) which eliminates forced arbitration clauses. Due to careful tactical planning, the Monopoly Man was able to get a seat behind and just a bit to the left of the (now former) CEO of Equifax so that every time the CEO was on camera Amanda was right behind him making her point by clowning it up. Within a matter of minutes the meme blew-up on Twitter and generated a truly phenomenal amount of coverage. Obviously, this was a powerful and funny way to get the word out about a topic many would otherwise overlook. Amanda (cough!), I mean, Monopoly Man, take a bow! Now the rest of us need to do our jobs and call our Senators to let them know we oppose SJ Res 47. We cannot let this one slip through the cracks unnoticed.

Since we had already recorded the entire show and because it was an unusually formatted episode anyway, the only way to hear the complete show is on the website or through your favorite podcast app. The last ten minutes of Will’s block and all of my block are pushed back into Extra Mad.

Following the Monopoly Man interview, in the original top of show block, I talked about the work Big Pharma, and especially Indiana-based Eli Lilly, is doing to support their employees in Puerto Rico, to mitigate supply-chain disruption for critical medications for the US and to supply medication into the region. Pharmaceuticals comprise 72% of Puerto Rico’s exports and the 80 pharma and medical device facilities there employee nearly 100,000 people. It is an enormous job made no easier by the failure of the Trump administration and their disaster response. Will followed-up by talking about the response of private individuals and companies to the problem of entirely rebuilding the electrical grid and cell service system in Puerto Rico. Again, a massive task which should be the responsibility of the US federal government but which is being totally mishandled by unqualified Trump appointees and understaffed, under-resourced agencies.

Will did an extended block on self-determination. This was especially timely because of the recent vote in Kurdistan and the attempted vote in Catalonia. Will underpinned his later discussion of specifics with a thoughtful backgrounder on who it is who determines who will be “allowed” to determine themselves. He moves from there seamlessly to use the nationalist movements of the Kurds and the Catalonians to illustrate his points.

In my block I talk about why cash is still king. Unlike electronic transactions, cash is resilient enough to accommodate disasters like that in present-day Puerto Rico. But that is just a small thing in comparison to the fact that we are rapidly being trained to believe that a so-called cashless society is upon us and if we don’t give up (literally) dirty and ecologically harmful cash then we are falling behind the trend. This is a corporatist agenda being pushed by the companies who are skimming a bit off every single digital transaction. …and then there’s the digital trail. A cashless society is one where we forfeit the power of a transaction to the middlemen and we leave behind us a record of the “micro texture of our electronic life,” to quote economist/anthropologist Brett Scott. Preventing the subversion of cash to a cashless society not only preserves choice, it preserves our option to be anonymous. Cash equals privacy for all of us equally.

Until next week, many carrots! – Arliss

P.S. Giving Arliss the “Wild Haggises at Dawn” treatment, I closed out the show with a bit of a song called Subdisco by Niteworks, an Electronica band from the Isle of Skye who make a ton of great music, much of which modernizes Gaelic song traditions. –Will

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The CFPB is Under Attack!

31 July 2017 –  [Note:  this post was, somehow, erased from our site. We have republished to the site as of 20 September 2017.] We were incredibly lucky to have just the right interview guest at just the right time, Amanda Werner (@wamandajd), Arbitration Campaign Manager for Americans for Financial Reform & Public Citizen, was with us to talk about the dangerous efforts, by Congress, to overturn the new arbitration rule just published by the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (CFPB). In the first half of the interview Amanda gets into some great detail about why forced arbitration is problematic and why some communities are particularly impacted. In the second half we get into the politics of the rule and explain why it is essential that you get involved in this very winnable fight.

At the top of the show I talk with Will a bit about the letter sent by the American Psychoanalytic Association to its members clarifying their long-held position that as medical professionals they have a “duty to warn” and that they see this duty as particularly relevant due to the observable behavior of President Trump.

And speaking of observable, impulsive, antagonistic, aggressive behavior…

This week Trump thought he could change DoD policy with a 140 character tweet in which he attempted to ban transgendered individuals from serving in the armed forces…where they are already serving…by the thousands. The Pentagon was blindsided and made it clear that DoD policy is not now and never will be issued via tweet. Will spoke both about the organizational issues and the personal struggles of the trans community. Trump’s efforts to feed hatred are despicable and, frankly, just another bit of evidence that he is mentally ill and unfit to serve as president.

Just before the interview with Amanda Werner, I reviewed the mission and successes of the CFPB. I also talk a bit about their enemies. In government, of course, no good deed goes unpunished so Congressman Jeb Hensarling, in an especially personal and vicious manner, is directly attacking CFPB Director Richard Cordray. Hensarling really despises Cordray because Cordray is so good at his job. Which is proof that it is absolutely essential that, like other regulators, the CFPB remain insulated from the political process as much as is reasonable. The GOP is looking for every possible opening to diminish this critically important agency. As we did with the ACA, we must, we simply MUST fight to defend the CFPB at every turn.

And so it goes. No rest for the victorious! Carrots! – Arliss

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