Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Pointing the Finger at Sallie Mae

from the Chronicle (paywall):

Sallie Mae, the nation's largest student-loan provider, is enduring a new round of attacks from across the political spectrum. A pair of reports issued on Tuesday -- one by the American Enterprise Institute and the other by Education Sector -- assign Sallie Mae a leading share of responsibility for the scandals now buffeting the $85-billion-a-year student-loan industry.

"The story of Sallie Mae's rise from a government-sponsored agency created to help needy students to a private corporation with a $142-billion loan portfolio goes a long way toward explaining how and why the student-loan industry has landed at the center of controversy," Erin Dillon, a policy analyst at Education Sector, wrote in her report, "Leading Lady: Sallie Mae and the Origins of the Student-Loan Controversy."

Awesome. Although I wouldn't really call that progression a "rise." How about "The story of the private takeover of Sallie Mae and the perversion of its original mission from helping needy students to being a profit machine"?

And thinking about it, honestly, although the leadership of Sallie Mae acted badly here and there, they played mostly by the rules of capitalism as it exists. The company had a shareholder revolt and installed a CEO who cared only about profits. They manipulated the law, lawmakers, and college aid officials disgustingly, yet within the boundaries of existing campaign finance and inducement laws. I have to point the finger at our federal government, both civil servants and elected leaders, for their abdication of responsibility and pandering to corporate interests.

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