An Open Letter to Richard Cordray

richard cordrayDear Mr. Cordray:

Congratulations on your recent appointment to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. I’m confident I speak for millions of people when I say it’s about time for this kind of effort on behalf of American citizens.

I have one simple suggestion that won’t cost much, but it could have a lasting positive effect on our democracy. Please rename your agency. Stop calling us consumers. We are Citizens with a capital C. In addition, please lead an effort to ask all kinds of media to follow suit.

Nothing captures the contemporary dilemma of political disengagement more than the commercial reality of consumer versus citizen. So many people view the government not as us but as them. “We the people” means that we are the government, because we are citizens, not because we are consumers. Citizens are responsible; consumers just devour.

Charles HayesCitizen versus consumer is an issue that transcends political affiliation. Arguments about inequality aside, I don’t think it’s that hard to convince the political left, right, or center, that a return to the ubiquitous use of the word citizen, while scrapping the word consumer, would have a positive effect for democracy. It seems like such a small thing, and some will no doubt think it silly, but it would likely result in a paradigm shift in democratic expectations.


Charles D. Hayes
Wasilla, Alaska

Published by the LA Progressive on March 10, 2012
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About Charles D. Hayes

Author and publisher Charles D. Hayes is a self-taught philosopher and an impassioned advocate for lifelong learning. At age 17, he dropped out of high school to join the U.S. Marines. After four years of duty, he became a police officer in Dallas, Texas, and later he moved to Alaska, where he has worked for more than 35 years in the oil industry. In 1987, Hayes founded Autodidactic Press, “committed to lifelong learning as the lifeblood of democracy and the key to living life to its fullest.”
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