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Did Elizabeth Warren Plagiarize More Than Just Recipes?

Warren may have been a victim of plagiarism herself.

For those of you who have been following the increasingly laughable dust-up over Elizabeth Warren's shoddy academic performance and dubious Cherokee Heritage, the story has just gotten both more absurd and more serious.

Why? Because controversy has ensued over whether Warren was a plagiarist, or a victim of plagiarism. You see, along with her plagiarism of recipes for the "Pow Wow Chow" cookbook, Warren was recently accused of plagiarizing in an area where academic standards, or at least journalistic standards, are arguably in force - namely, in writing a book of Financial Advice. National Review's Katrina Trinko has reported that sections of Warren's book "All Your Worth: The Ultimate Money Lifetime Plan" appear to be lifted directly from the book "Getting on the Money Truck" by Rob Black.

Compare these passages from Warren's book:

In fact, more than 80 million Americans now owe money on a credit card. And not just a little bit of money: The average family that carries a balance now owes more than two months’ income on their credit cards.

A generation or two ago, almost no one carried any debt except for a home mortgage and maybe a car loan. There were no giant credit card balances, no payday loans, and no home equity loans. In fact, just 35 years ago, the total amount of debt outstanding among all American households was about 1/600th of what it is today. That means that for every dollar your generation owes today, your parents’ generation owed less than half a penny!

With these passages from Black's:

In fact, more than 80 million Americans now owe money on a credit card. And not just a little bit of money:  The average family carrying a balance now owes more than two months of income on their credit cards.

A generation or two ago, almost no one carried any debt except for a home mortgage and maybe a car loan. There were no giant credit card balances, no payday loans (watch out for these as they  end to charge 10 percent or more for the right to your own money), and no home equity loans. In fact, just 35 years ago, the total amount of debt outstanding among all American households was about 1/600th of what it is today.That means that for every dollar your generation owes today, your grandparents’ generation owed less than half a penny!

The Black passages, as you can see, are virtually identical with the passages from Warren's book. At first blush, full context doesn't do Warren any favors - she gives attribution to Black nowhere in the relevant pages.

But did she have to? According to a post by Trinko later after posting the above passages, it actually turns out that Warren published her book first:

On Amazon.com, the Warren book All Your Worth is listed as having been published January 9, 2006. As it turns out, that is thepaperback publication date; the hardback book was published in March 2005. As such, it appears that Getting on the Money Track (published in October 2005) plagiarized from All Your Worth, not the other way around.

This suggests something rather deeply problematic about academic standards in America. It also gives Warren an out on the plagiarism charge regarding her recipes - after all, if everyone's plagiarizing, recipe books are probably the least damaging place for the accusation to come in. Much as the story eats away at Warren's claim to Native American cultural heritage, it's still not as bad as having your own text lifted without so much as an acknowledgment.

One last thing…
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