Write Lightning is a blog from writer Deb Thompson.
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Thu, Oct 07 2004

Fannie Mae And Freddie Mac Need To Grow Up

In considering the investigation into the financial practices and management at Fannie Mae, I begin to wonder about something. I realize that the lender is sort of a hybrid creature that has both Federal leanings and private ownership. Maybe it's that very distinction that makes it, along with Freddie Mac, the sort of place where people can rise to the top of management with a sense of both unique placement and unique power. This is what baffles me. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have cute little nicknames that don't sound very professional or important at all.

Like some other people, I'm notorious for nicknaming things. I nickname cars, people and even home appliances. I've noticed that among those of us who are fond of making up nicknames, we tend to take one of two tracks. When we value or cherish the item or person we tend to make the nickname gently descriptive, or embarrassingly cute. When we dislike the item or person we tend to make the nickname sarcastic or derogatory. It isn't always a conscious choice, but it does tend to affect our interaction with the object or person.

It's easy to use the abbreviation or first initials for the names of things. And I realize that folks occasionally make up funny parodies of other phrases for the initials CIA, FBI, FCC, IRS, NYSE, NASA, DOJ, SEC and other governmental agencies. But as far as I know, we don't have any accepted common nicknames for any of these other agencies. We don't refer to the Central Intelligence Agency as Cinnie Ann nor do we call the Securities and Exchange Commission Sarah Kay. We don't refer to The Department of Justice as Davy Jack. We just don't.

Maybe it would be better for all concerned if we stopped using the nicknames for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Let's use FNMA (for Federal National Mortgage Association) and FHMC (Federal Home Mortgage Corporation). When we say we're going to deal with Fannie Mae, it sounds like we're trying to have a relationship with a toddler in training pants. When we say we're going to deal with the FNMA the whole thing takes on a whole different meaning. Maybe we're more likely to promote professionalism and respect with the FNMA than we would from something nicknamed Fannie Mae.

posted at: 09:43 | category: /Politics | link to this entry

Choosing The Lesser Of Two Evils Isn't A Given

By way of The Kitchen Cabinet I browsed over to a piece by Elbert Lin at Yale Daily News. Its central idea invites us to call for a choice for None of the Above in elections. TCK also pointed to some samples of this type of ballot choice at the Voters for None of the Above site. I hadn't realized that Nevada has been using this option for almost 20 years. NRS 293.269 provides for a non-binding None of the Above option, which means that if the majority of votes is for None of The Above the person with the second highest number of votes wins the election. A binding choice would mean another election would need to be held, and the new election could include a whole new list of candidates. Depending on how the option was written into law, the subsequent election might eliminate the original candidates from the the new ballot.

There are many people in the U.S. who don't vote, or who vote for a candidate of a minority party only in order to protest what they perceive to be poor choices between the two major parties. A binding vote for None of the Above would send a much clearer message of voter dissatisfaction. If Americans went to the polls (for instance) this November and eliminated both George Bush and John Kerry as possibilities, who would emerge to take their places in a subsequent election? And would the option be set up in such a way that the second election would declare a clear winning candidate, or could None of the Above wins keep the whole thing going for an indefinite period of time? I have some questions, but I do like the option of having some sort of "no confidence" vote. I wonder if the idea will catch on.

posted at: 08:14 | category: /Politics | link to this entry

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Stealin' copy is as bad as horse-thievin'
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