Wednesday, June 11, 2008

When Goodies Morph Into Something Else

We all see them, and many of us get them. Hand outs from representatives of companies that we do business with. Most of the time they are small items, post-it notes, pens, and other odds and ins. A great goodie might be a lunch box, or computer backpack. Back in the good old days, as a travel agent, I was given trips. One year I was able to get 14 different trips in.

At some point you reach a dangerous point, when the goodies get so juicy that you have to wonder what is expected of you if you accept these little gifts.

It looks like Jim Johnson is the latest example of what happens when the goodies just get to good.

The questions about Johnson began after the Wall Street Journal reported Saturday that he received more than $2 million in home loans that might have been below average market rates from Countrywide Financial, a partner of Fannie Mae and a leading purveyor of the kind of subprime mortgages that spawned a national housing crisis.


I love that the whole dust up is because he might have gotten a below average rate on a jumbo loan. Not that he got an unprecedentedly low rate, or actual evidence that the loan he got involved favors. No discussion of who else, and under what circumstances they might have gotten loans under similar standards.

But, for me, it doesn't matter. We do not need the people in our next administration looking for, or accustomed to getting goodies. Because eventually you begin to expect those pens, or muffins, or lunches, or trips, and eventually you quit asking yourself, what are your trading to get these next goodie.



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