Left In Lowell

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February 3, 2012

Warrenpalooza

by at 3:20 pm.
Goal Thermometer
So cool. It looks like Elizabeth Warren’s baby, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, is doing a lot of good work (via dkos) for a department in its infancy:

In the first six months of its existence, the CFPB fielded 13,210 complaints from consumers via its phone line and online submission forms, as well as referrals from other regulators, the report said. Of those complaints, 9,307 were tied to credit cards, with another 2,326 pertaining to mortgages.

On credit cards, billing disputes were the most common complaint, totaling 13.7 percent of responses for that financial product. Under the mortgages category, 38.2 percent of complaints deal with a situation where someone is unable to make their mortgage payment.

The team at the CFPB devoted to responding to consumer concerns processes the complaints, and then sends them along to the company that is the subject of the complaint to offer a chance to respond.

So far, a little over half of the complaints received have been settled between the company and the consumer “with relief.” Another 30.6 percent have been settled without a mutually agreed upon remedy, while companies are still reviewing another 11.9 percent.

Remember, this is an agency hobbled by Republicans who prevented Obama from appointing a director until he out of frustration did a recess appointment (arguably, despite the “open session” the Republicans “kept” during the holiday break). It’s an agency which is already somewhat underfunded and under severe attack by Republicans who’d love to totally starve it, if they stay in any sort of power.
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Here’s a personal account of a woman who needed the CFPB’s help, with rave reviews.
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And here is a front-page dkos post outlining how fast Scott Brown is running from his nearly-lockstep Republican voting record. Because, you know, a moment talking to Obama and agreeing with him on politician “insider trading” makes him a total independent/liberal/moderate.

There are two issues here. One is that Scott Brown is running scared from Elizabeth Warren. This is not how it was supposed to play out for Senator 41, the hot new Republican celebrity of the big Republican year of 2010. Massachusetts Democrats were not supposed to be able to find a candidate with a compelling biography, a strong voice on economic issues, exceptional media skills and enormous fundraising ability… But then Elizabeth Warren emerged, and Scott Brown had to start fighting for his political future—and if that means cozying up to Obama, he’ll do it.

Of course, as the post says, the lazy media will probably try to let him get away with that. So we can’t let them do it.

Please, if you can spare some change, donate to Elizabeth Warren via our Lowell for Warren page!!

Pinkwashing and Politics

by at 1:52 pm.

I haven’t posted on the whole Komen/Planned Parenthood thing. I think it’d be clear where I stand on it (having praised Planned Parenthood many times before, both from a doing-good thing and on a personal level). I’m glad there’s an intense backlash on the fundraising org for its terrible, and apparently very politically motivated decision to stop funding breast exams for poor women at PP clinics (all protestations to the contrary, the evidence is piled quite high…one can doth protest too much).

But this Gin and Tacos blog post (via the dkos “backlash” link above) goes further in dissecting Komen and why you should be boycotting its races and fundraisers, and its products (including this gun):

But you should not have a low opinion of Komentm because of their announcement on Wednesday. You should have a low opinion of them because they’re a fake charity run like any other company with a product to sell. In this case the product is a combination of guilt, pity, and hope dissolved in a weak acid and dyed a nauseating pink.

And that’s all Komen is – a consulting firm that helps large corporate clients sell more of their products through pinkwashing campaigns. By slathering everything from pasta to baseball bats to perfume to fast food with the Pink Imprimatur, consumers are led to believe that their purchases are making meaningful contributions to breast cancer research. Somewhere down the line a few cents per purchase may trickle into those bloated coffers, but the immediate and motivating effect of that pink packaging is to get you to buy things. In short, Komentm is a group of salespeople selling image. Whatever money benefits the sick, researchers, or recovering patients is ancillary. Getting those big, fat tax-exempt checks from their Partners for the Curetm is what drives their business model.

The Gin and Tacos post also links to a Marie Claire expose (I know, right?) as background information. Both the post I quoted above, and the Marie Claire article, are well worth a full read. There is a paucity of articles and reporters questioning the very concept of “cause marketing” in general and the breast cancer “pink” campaigns specifically. Like “greenwashing,” “pinkwashing” is a marketing ploy first, a way to make a customer feel good about their purchase and therefore, encourage more buying. The Marie Claire article writes about outfits which provide “pink” branded merchandise that have nothing to do with donating to cancer research, and it’s questionable how much of your purchase of a “good” pink-bedecked item really goes to research. What’s clear is that the proliferation of charities and foundations around the breast cancer awareness and research “movement” have done a lot of enriching of themselves, however, and have become big business.

So next time you are in a store or asked to donate towards or participate in a fundraiser like a race, think before you pink!

Just to add, the last page of the Marie Claire article does outline how to truly support breast cancer research and how to watch out for scam charities. (Sorry, fixed the link!)

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