Edmund Mierzwinski

Edmund Mierzwinski is consumer program director and senior fellow for the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, the federation of state PIRGs.

Recent Articles

Regulation as Civic Empowerment

The policing of the financial system can't just be left to bureaucrats. Properly designed, regulation can be a community-organizing strategy.

(iStockphoto)
In February 1975, a coalition of more than three dozen consumer groups paid a call on the newly installed chair of the Senate Banking Committee, Sen. William Proxmire of Wisconsin. Proxmire, a progressive who had previously headed the subcommittee on consumer protection, had already authored several landmark laws, including the Truth in Lending Act. The coalition wanted Proxmire to sponsor a deceptively simple law, which came to be known as the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA). The act requires banks and savings institutions to disclose, by zip code, the number and amount of loans they make in their primary service areas. The activists, who were led by a Chicago homemaker turned activist, Gale Cincotta, and Monsignor Geno Baroni of the National Center for Urban Ethnic Affairs, wanted the information so that they could shame or pressure local banks to stop redlining urban neighborhoods. Literally scores of neighborhood groups in dozens of cities were already several years into an...