vendredi 19 septembre 2008

Fannie Mae: Wasn't she Jethro's sister on the Beverly Hillbillies?

Every time I see Todd Palin, standing behind Sarah at a rally, applauding vacantly, wearing a steadfast grin and a goatee/soul-patch combo, I think of one of my favorite television shows of all time. The Beverly Hillbillies. Story of the Clampett family: Jed, Ma, Jethro and Elly May.

Remember, old Jed barely kept his family fed until he discovered oil one day on his daily hunt for grub. Drill, baby, drill!

I don't welcome this period of financial turmoil, obviously, but I am almost glad that it came when it did. The focus this week is where it should be: on the economy, stupid! Will Sarah Palin ever live down the mistake of mistaking Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac for government-owned agencies? Only in the minds of people who thought Fannie Mae was Jethro's tomboy sister and Freddie Mac was that gay rocker who died. You know, the guy from Queen.

In fact, and I'm sorry if this is a boring topic, Freddy Mac and Fannie May have an interesting history that anyone who is interested can look up. But what I find most interesting is that what happened this month has been in the making for at least five years. Yes, at least five years. Back in 2003, our country's two largest mortgage finance lenders rose alarm bells in the halls of Congress, the Justice Department and the SEC. Both Fannie and Freddie had been operating as government sponsored enterprises (or GSEs) since 1968. Basically, a GSE is a privately-owned company operated by its shareholders but protected financially by the support of the Federal Government. They get access to a line of credit through the U.S. Treasury; they are exempt from state and local income taxes; and they are exempt from SEC oversight. Already, back in 2003, some were beginning to worry about the downside of this privileged status. So why was nothing done? And why did McCain say he would like to fire Christopher Cox (head of the SEC) when (a) he cannot and (b) Fannie and Freddie fall outside the realm of SEC oversight, even though they are traded in the financial marketplace. And therein lies the problem, in my humble opinion.

But I digress. I really wanted to share the song I wrote today. It is sung to the tune of the Beverly Hillbillies theme song. If all goes according to plan (not), we'll be singing this one for the next four years. Yee-ha!

Come and listen to a story about a man named Todd
An oil mine worker with a toned and muscled bod
He was out on the tundra shootin' at some food
When along came a gal and she called him First Dude.
Oil she said, black gold, Alaska beer.
Well the first thing you know ol' Todd's a dad of five,
Kinfolk said Todd show us you got drive
Said Washington-y is the place you ought to be
So they loaded up the truck and they moved to Washington-y.
DC, that is.
Policy wonks and lobbyists.
The Washington Hillbillies!

Well now its time to say good-bye to Todd and all his kin.
And they would like to thank you folks fer kindly droppin' in.
You're all invited back again to this locality
To have a heapin' helpin' of their hospitality
Hillbilly that is. Set a spell. Take your shoes off. Y'all come back now, y'hear?