There's rich and there's really rich. As the poet and well-paid insurance executive Wallace Stevens supposedly once said, "There's a difference between appreciating art and owning it."
So take pity on Harvard's Elizabeth Warren, the scold of the 1 Percent who is currently running for the Senate in Massachusetts after getting hosed by the Obama administration. Warren is widely credited with pushing for the creation of a Consumer Financial Protection Agency that would simplify credit offerings so that all of us idiots who bought houses we couldn't afford could blame somebody else. Faced with opposition from Republicans, Obama tossed Warren aside as the first hea of the CFPA.
Buzzfeed reports that Warren, like Marie Antoinette and Bruce Springsteen, only likes to play poor:
"I realize there are some wealthy individuals – I'm not one of them, but some wealthy individuals who have a lot of stock portfolios" she told [MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell].
Hard to see how Warren wouldn't be, by most standards, wealthy, according to the Personal Financial Disclosure form she filed to run for Senate shows that she's worth as much as $14.5 million. She earned more than $429,000 from Harvard last year alone for a total of about $700,000, and lives in a house worth $5 million.
She also has a portfolio of investments in stocks and bonds worth as as much as $8 million, according to the form, which lists value ranges for each investment. The bulk of it is in funds managed by TIAA-CREF.
Making a ton of dough – she's well into the 1 Percent of income earners based on her salary alone – doesn't mean she can't understand with special care the problems of the rest of us.
But it's worth pointing out that Warren is in fact out of touch with those for whom she claims to speak. She consistently says that folks "didn't know the deal" when they signed up for credit cards that charged interest on balances, mortgages that required monthly payments, or loans that charged interest. She is the embodiment of a paternalist (maternalist?) who thinks that jes' plain folks are dolts who are always getting screwed by mustache-twirling bankers that exist mostly in the imagination of Faulkner's Jason Compson. Hence, her longstanding desire to "simplify" the offerings of financial institutions down to a few types of loans, all of which can be read "by the average American" in a couple of minutes.
It may be quaint for a Harvard prof to want to help the great unwashed, but if she seriously thinks that people overextended on houses and more because they didn't understand their credit terms, she's fighting the wrong battle and we'll all be the poorer for having fewer credit options.
And for those of us who don't make $429,000 a year, or live in $5 million homes, or have as much as $8 million in stocks and bonds, that's not good.
Here's some vid of Warren commiserating with another honorary 99 Percenter, Lawrence O'Donnell of MSNBC: