Schoolyard bully

Letters to the Boston editor: December 29, 2006
By BOSTON PHOENIX LETTERS  |  December 27, 2006

Sallie Mae should change its name to Bullie Mae. Can you imagine the uproar if homeowners were suddenly unable to refinance their home with a different lender? Or worse, if they could not refinance at all? This year, Sallie Mae and a few other giant student lenders successfully lobbied to add to and solidify the restriction-of-trade laws that have dogged the federal student-loan program for decades. This collection of laws has made it difficult, if not impossible, for student-loan borrowers to shop around for the lowest available rates when they wish to consolidate their education debt. Under the new laws, effective July 1, 2006, the vast majority who had previously consolidated their loans are now legally barred from ever refinancing again, no matter what other lender later might have offered them a better deal.

Some would argue that because the government is subsidizing student loans, open-market refinancing is not appropriate. But the fact is that under the just-repealed laws that heretofore allowed reconsolidation, lenders — and not the taxpayers — absorbed the cost of lower rates offered to borrowers.

Adding insult to injury, Sallie Mae, like a football player spiking a ball after a game-winning touchdown, has begun celebrating. Their VP, Tom Joyce, was quoted crowing in the Orlando Sentinel, “Smaller corporations will now think twice about getting into the student loan business.” Such ugly statements by Sallie Mae’s chief media spokesperson graphically emphasize the necessity of Republicans and Democrats joining forces to restore open competition in this very important marketplace. The cost of college is just too high to protect Sallie Mae’s profits at the expense of America’s students and their parents.

C. Victoria Patrick
Retired Educator, College Administrator and Financial Adviser
San Jose, California

Vanity or vindication?
When the mainstream media (MSM) offends or errs, it’s time to pile on; but when the MSM celebrates a darling of the blogosphere, it’s cause for celebration. These disparate attitudes are awfully hard to reconcile. And they make it hard to take the outrage over John Carroll’s gaffe all that seriously. That seems to be your argument, and it’s just so bizarre. It’s like this is some kind of playground game of who the kewl kids are. What’s hard to understand about this? When bloggers are misquoted or the blogosphere misrepresented, as with any other news source, they demand corrections. When they get published or broadcast in the mainstream media, that makes them happy, naturally, because the MSM audience is larger than the blogger audience. This means, first, that they get to be on TV or in the paper, which appeals to most people. Plus, it means their message makes its way into more people’s homes. The reason political bloggers are blogging, by and large, is because they don’t think the POV they represent shows up in the MSM. So when they have an opportunity to present their views in such a forum, they’re pleased.

From the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal to an alternative weekly in Boston, the attitude is the same. The only conclusion I can come to is that you guys feel threatened. No reason for that, dude. We all want the same things — accurate, objective journalism. On dead trees or online. That is what you want too, isn’t it?

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