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A Fighting Chance (2014)

A Fighting Chance (2014)

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4.2 of 5 Votes: 4
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1627790527 (ISBN13: 9781627790529)
metropolitan books

About book A Fighting Chance (2014)

A Fighting Chance by Elizabeth Warren“A Fighting Chance” is an interesting personal story of the life of now Senator Elizabeth Warren. This book tells her public story of her admirable quest to give the working families a fighting chance. Former Harvard Law Professor, accomplished author and now senior Senator from Massachusetts, Elizabeth Warren shares her inspirational life story from a girl growing up in a small town in Oklahoma to competing in a major Senate race. This moving 334-page book includes the following six chapters: 1. Choosing Battles, 2. The Bankruptcy Wars, 3. Bailing Out the Wrong People, 4. What $1 Million a Day Can Buy, 5. An Agency for the People, and 6. The Battle for the Senate.Positives:1. Engaging, well-written memoir. Her personality shines through in the book. She is determined, wise and she CARES.2. Elizabeth Warren’s life story is a fascinating one. She has a sense of humor too, which makes the book even more enjoyable to read. Her humor tends be self-deprecating and gives the book warmth. She is also very respectful and does not throw anybody under the bus.3. Readers will get an inside look at her life and gain a better understanding of what fuels this amazing woman. “But I did have one talent. I could fight –not with my fists, but with my words. I was the anchor on the debate team.”4. Motherhood and education. Warren brings you into her family.5. A very interesting look into her quest to understand bankruptcy. “As I dug deeper into my study of bankruptcy and the new law, I kept bumping into the same question over and over: Why were people going bankrupt?” “Over time we, we learned that nearly 90 percent were declaring bankruptcy for one of thee reasons: a job loss, a medical problem, or a family breakup.”6. How the banking industry changed over time and why. “To pump up their returns even more, the banks tried a new tactic: What if they could persuade the government to limit bankruptcy protections?”7. Her quest to be fair to families. “The Founding Fathers had called for bankruptcy protection in the Constitution itself, and surely even the banking lobby wouldn’t pick a fight with them. But they did propose changes – stacks and stacks of changes.”8. An excellent behind the scenes discussion on the proposed bankruptcy legislation. It covers victories and defeats and the long process of legislation. Readers will gain an understanding of the process.9. Some astounding facts. “By 2001, the number of families in financial collapse was shocking: More children would live through their parents’ bankruptcy than their parents’ divorce.”10. A look at the financial crisis of 2008. Warren’s involvement in a Congressional Oversight Panel (COP).11. The real story behind the meltdown. Great insights. “Many lenders made a mad dash for quick profits, abandoning their time-honored practice of carefully investigating job histories and pay stubs before approving a mortgage. Down payments shrank. Penalties and fee shot through the roof. Mortgage lending became so profitable that salesmen went door-to-door, often targeting African American and Latino neighborhoods for their highest-cost, most deceptive products.” A bonus quote, “The real cause of the crash was not some inevitable cycle; this crash was the direct consequence of years of deliberate deregulation and the resulting dangerous actions of the big banks.”12. The story behind the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) the $700 billion bank bailout. Warren explains how Wall Street greed in essence was behind this whole mess. “The traders soon figured that if they could make a little money bundling and trading a few mortgages, then why not make a mountain of money selling a mountain of mortgages?”13. The concept of Too Big Too Fail (TBTF) well described. “Grow your bank as big as you possibly can, as fast as you possibly can. Even if it means taking on big risks. Even if it means overpaying to acquire smaller companies. Even if it means entering shaky or unprofitable markets. Do it anyway, so you can grow, grow, grow. And then – here’s the important part – borrow from everyone else to finance growth.”14. The importance of the government to provide meaningful oversight to protect the public interest. “In the article, I compared the safety of toasters with the safety of financial products. I proposed the creation of a new government agency, one whose sole mission would be to look out for consumers, and to serve as the cop on the beat who would make sure that financial companies follow some commonsense rules.”15. Some great examples of banks clearly taking advantage of the public. “Somewhere in the fine print, the rate on his car loan was marked ‘preliminary.’ No one was obligated to spell out what that meant, and what it meant was: ‘Preliminary means that after you buy the car we can increase your monthly rate by $105, just because we want to.’”16. An interesting look at how lobbyists operate in Washington. Their role in attempting to derail the CFPB or limit their ability to execute their mission.17. The politics involving the selection of the director of the new agency (CFPB). Some of it is troubling. “So there it was: Senator Shelby and his fellow Republicans were furious, not with the mortgage servicers that broke the law and stole people’s homes, but with government regulators who were pushing for more accountability – and specifically me.”18. Warren’s fascinating battle for the Senate. Great stuff! “One of her remarks stuck with me: We need to try. When a woman runs, she makes it easier for the next woman to run, and that’s how we’ll win.”19. Photograph inserts.20. Notes included.Negatives:1. I was hoping to learn more about her political views. Of course she shares her passion for bankruptcy laws and how to help working class families but there is very little else. An appendix or tables capturing her views would have added value.2. Regarding predatory lending that targeted service members, name the banks involved. Shame on them!3. Elizabeth Warren was too nice in her memoir. Sure she goes after banks with plenty of zeal but she was surprisingly complementary and for a lack of a better word too civil but that’s just this reviewer’s respectful opinion.4. Notes included but not linked.In summary, a terrific memoir on a driven, wise and caring woman. The book provides excellent insights into her evolution from a girl from a small-town in Oklahoma to a big-time Senator with a big presence and defender of the working class. Interesting and easy book to read I just wished it had more insights into her political views. It’s a book worth reading I recommend it!Further suggestions: “Bailout” by Neil Barofsky, “The Divide” by Matt Taibbi, “A Call to Action” by Jimmy Carter, “Winner-Take All Politics” by Jacob S. Hacker, “Predator Nation” by Charles H. Ferguson, “Screwed the Undeclared War Against the Middle Class” by Thom Hartmann, “The Monster: How a Gang of Predatory Lenders and Wall Street Bankers Fleeced America…” by Michael W. Hudson, “Divided” and “Perfectly Legal…” by David Cay Johnston, “The Looting of America” by Les Leopold and “The Great American Stickup” by Robert Scheer.

If I could have dinner with just one famous person or historical figure, I'd choose Elizabeth Warren without a moment's hesitation.Listened to the Audiobook version, narrated by Senator Warren herself and it was so much more powerful.This book gave me a wild mix of emotions. It's depressing; it's uplifting. It's rage-inducing; it's sentimental. It's all of these things in the best possible way. I have to admit though, that through most of the narrative, my teeth felt clenched tight enough to shatter. The absolutely brazen behavior of this nation's financial institutions and the cozy relationship they have with politicians - to the extent that they operate in the open and don't even bother hiding their behavior (AND STILL GET AWAY WITH IT) is absolutely infuriating and makes me want to go live on an island somewhere far away from people. What kept drawing me back in was Warren's own story. By her own account, it's the story of an ordinary, plain American—nothing remarkable or special—inexorably drawn into the highest rungs of power in the American political system. It's an impossible tale. It's one that shouldn't be true, like a ridiculously fantastic Horatio Alger rags to riches story whose objective is to keep Americans placated that the American dream is alive and well when it isn't. I'm incredibly torn. Years of teaching AP Government and digesting political news as well as academic studies of our political system (like this one) make me incredibly cynical about the power and potency of the ordinary citizen in our democratic citizen. And yet here is Elizabeth Warren, in blatant defiance of everything that my intuition and the facts tell me should be true. Here is a woman who defied Goliath on multiple occasions and became increasingly more powerful and influential with each encounter, win or lose. Here's a woman who has been in the closed off citadel of Washington D.C. surrounded by armies of lobbyists for almost three full years and who has remained true to the principles she campaigned for. It's enough to make you want to weep with relief. A Fighting Chance is a humble autobiography recounting in particular Warren's interactions with our political system as an academic, as a representative of the interests of middle class families, as an agent of the executive and de facto head of a government agency, and as a Congresswoman. She shares details of her life along the way, highlighting her ordinariness and the degree to which her story is characteristic of the American experience as a whole and with so much to talk about keeps a book that's part biography and part policy remarkably organized and readable. She does so by sticking to her theme of fighting for what's right. Whether in the context of her responsibilities to her family, her students, to her community or to whole classes of people. It's incredibly difficult not to like (love) Elizabeth Warren. She has a genuine quality about her in both speech and print that abounds with honesty and integrity. You just get a gut feeling that she's the real deal, that she cares, that she's human, and that she's just like you. She's a patient teacher and guide through the labyrinthine world of financial (de)regulation and her enthusiasm for her work is absolutely infectious the way your favorite and greatest teachers are. You may not go in caring about financial regulation and bankruptcy law, but when you leave, you absolutely will. She's also a fantastic storyteller. She had my eyes completely watered over when she talked about losing her dogs and smiling nearly ear-to-ear when she excitedly recounted her own election victory, the successful creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Board, or the memorable times she spent with her grandchildren. As an opponent of the financial sector, Warren has gained a falsely earned reputation among those on the right as being a socialist (the famous catcall for anyone who believes government has an obligation to establish rules and make sure everyone plays fairly). She clarifies her position in her book quite succinctly. She believes in capitalism. She believes in celebrating, rather than punishing success. The vast, vast majority of Democrats in general do. But capitalism and the free market don't work properly when people cheat. We don't have a capitalist system in America. We have crony capitalism. Businesses that make money bending rules and the ears of powerful people in the government while the ordinary small business owner or small corporation is forced to pay the taxes laid out in our tax code without the help of loopholes or subsidies. EVERYONE should be outraged at the way this works and support Warren because we don't have honest competition. The government shields certain industries and certain companies selectively and allows them to get away with things other companies and ordinary people could never dream to get away with. When she spoke to small business owners in Massachusetts to gain their vote, she lays it out. "You're afraid I'm going to raise your taxes. Because that's what "Democrats" do. Do you have a bank account in the Cayman islands? Do you have a lobbyist in Washington to get you subsidies at the expense of your competition? No? Then I'm not your enemy." And most Democrats aren't. They want small business owners to succeed (and succeed without limit) so long as people recognize how being part of a community contributes to all of our success and that they play by the same rules the rest of us play by. There's a false dichotomy in American politics, an oversimplified narrative that says Republicans are good for business and Democrats are bad for business. Republicans don't like the workers and Democrats do. It's not that simple at all and there's plenty of evidence to the contrary on both sides in both statements. At the end of it all, I don't know how to feel. I'm still incredibly pessimistic about the structure of our political system...perhaps I've been burned too many times in my youth falling for the promises of reform and change from charismatic politicians. Warren is a personal hero of mine. And if she tells me that we can win the fight to end the influence of fat cats and make a system that is genuinely fair for all, I still find that I'm inclined to believe her. Thank you for being real and being you.

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One of the biggest takeaways for me: Plutocracy cannot triumph when the people understand the wool the corporate puppet masters are trying to pull over their eyes.Elizabeth Warren's genius -- and she IS in that category -- is first in being a fighter herself, refusing to give in -- aka, a definite passion for the people -- egalitarian inside and out; and second, in that she's a brilliant law professor with a talent for understanding the complexity of the financial world and making it clear and simple for everyday people to understand.I read a review when I had first started this book saying that it's a Middle Class manifesto. That's pretty much right on the mark.The cure for apathy is empowerment. Elizabeth Warren tells a mighty fine story of her own empowerment and the relentless drive she has to empower everyday Americans in the never ending struggle against those who have insidiously taken control of Washington DC.Lastly, her story, especially the chapter about her campaign for the US Senate, makes me want to run for office.

All I knew about Elizabeth Warren before I listened to this (she reads the book herself)was she beat Scott Brown for Teddy Kennedy's seat in the Senate, and she creates great sound bites.I didn't know she's been studying and researching the effects of bankruptcy on families, and the machinations of the big banks, and the traps we in the middle class fall into in our almost-impossible quest to live a debt-free life...for over 20 years. She's written books I didn't know about, including one with her daughter.She's worked with other researchers creating a body of work that shows, without a doubt, the system is rigged against us, and in favor of the bankers.The most poignant story (aside from her dog stories) is about her fight to help create the Consumer Protection Agency in DC. Her sucessful work on behalf of us all made her such an enemy of the bankers, they made sure their Congressmen, bought and paid for, would NEVER confirm her to the agency she invented and created. Petty politics kept her from that post...but it allowed her to challenge centerfold Scott Brown for the Senate.I knew she was from Oklahoma, and her family stories are much like my own from Indiana. I think that's what I love about her. I see so many similarities...She didn't want to be in the spotlight. She wanted to solve these problems she saw plaguing the middle class. That meant she had to be willing to speak up, no matter what the consequences.That passion we see, that zeal, is not a put-on. It is born from decades of work that has enlightened her in a way the rest of us cannot imagine. She KNOWS things, and she feels impelled to share them, to warn us, to stand with us.I'm now very interested in the book she wrote with her daughter: THE TWO-INCOME TRAP -- I think!! In that book they prove that with inflation and flat salaries, it takes two incomes now to provide what one income did in our parents' times. We're not greedier and more grasping. We're working two jobs to make ends meet. And it's not our fault...the system is rigged.

I am an extremely skeptical realist. I went into this biography with a grain of salt and realized that it was already seasoned perfectly. Senator Warren is the ideal choice for leadership in American government. I believe that having a leader who reluctantly dove into the murky waters of politics (and perhaps a bit naively) but was tough and smart enough to stay afloat, and then build a boat and start pulling others on board is the exact person I would want to represent me. I would vote for Warren any day. You should as well, or at least read the book and make your own informed opinion. Blindly following partisan lines is exactly what a sheep would do. Warren is the wolf who may have dressed as a sheep once on Halloween, but leaves the costumes at home when shes at work. Thank you for your work and keep it up!
—Sean Barrett

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