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Song Parodies -> "ACORN's The Borrower, Screwing Lenders, See?"

Original Song Title:

"Neither A Borrower, Nor A Lender Be"

Original Performer:

William Shakespeare: Hamlet (Lord Polonius)

Parody Song Title:

"ACORN's The Borrower, Screwing Lenders, See?"

Parody Written by:

Tommy Turtle

The Lyrics

We *finally* found out what caused the housing boom and bust that led to the current terrible recession in the US. The answer, per this Associated Press article: ACORN.

"The 1977 Community Reinvestment Act was intended to end redlining, a practice in which banks in effect walled off many inner-city neighborhoods from mortgage loans. But some GOP lawmakers say it has outlived its purpose and is being used inappropriately by ACORN to shake down banks for money. Rep. Ed Royce, R-Calif., ... has described ACORN's actions under the law as "legalized extortion," contending that the law gave ACORN the power to stall or prevent bank mergers or expansions by filing CRA complaints with regulators."

"In order to avoid these filings, financial institutions would either ***lower their lending requirements*** (see below) to meet the needs of ACORN associates or they would simply ***pay out funds to one of the many ACORN-affiliated organizations" *** (yes, that's extortion, folks), Royce wrote in an article posted on his House Web site.... "

Read the rest of the article. It gets worse. But a little background needs to come before the parody, to set the stage, so to speak.
(Don't worry, there will still be footnotes. "Whew"! ... collective sigh of relief.)

For decades, the three "Cs" of home mortgage lending were: Capacity, Credit, Collateral.

Capacity: Ability to repay, as demonstrated not only by income, but by the *stability* of said income. Have you held the same, or steadily-improving, positions for years, or do you change jobs frequently without benefit, get fired, etc.? What percentage of your take-home pay is consumed by mortgage debt, installment debt (cars, boats, etc.), and revolving debt (credit cards)? These "debt-to-income" ratio standards used to be quite strict, but have been relaxed in recent decades under pressures including those discussed here.

Credit: Have you demonstrated responsible repayment of previous and current debts, or do you often run late, have a history of judgments, liens, foreclosure, repossession, bankruptcy, etc.? Contrary to Treasury Secretary Lloyd Bentsen's statement below, having plenty of income is not enough. You must have the self-discipline and sense of responsibility (and *honor*) not to squander your income, but to pay your debts, budget for necessities, put aside savings for a down payment and a rainy day, etc. Also, criminal record. Going to jail tends to interfere with making your mortgage payments. (Sometimes referred to as the fourth "C", for "character", as demonstrated by driving record, criminal record, civil judgments [failure to pay child support or alimony, e. g.], etc. Honest people, on the average, repay their debts more often than those who frequently break the law.)

Collateral: The value of the property in relation to the loan sought. TT's first home required saving up a 20% down payment, a requirement steadily whittled away, until at the height of the ridiculousness, banks were lending *more* than the value of the home (to pay for closing costs, insurance, etc.), so that you didn't have any of your own money in it (probably because you didn't have any savings and never have had any), and therefore had no incentive not to walk away at the first sign of trouble. Perhaps if you'd spent years saving up tens of thousands of dollars for a down payment, you might work more hours, get a second job, quit smoking, gambling, drugging, ho'ing, or take other drastic measures to keep your home.

Good collateral also helps reduce the bank's losses if you don't repay the loan. We are seeing today the effects of that. TT knows personally of one person who bought a $400,000.00 home, which is very expensive in Turtleville (not so much in New York City or San Francisco, etc., of course), with NOTHING down. I think you know the end of that story. The bank took it on the chin.

The value of a home is determined by what other buyers are willing to pay for it. Not by the bank, not by the Government, but by people just like you and me. If most of us choose not to buy homes in run-down inner-city neighborhoods, then *we* are establishing the (lower) value of those homes.

Whether such differences among neighborhoods are due to past injustices is a valid philosophical and political question. The answers might be remedial education, job training, training in financial management (actually offered by FNMA, or Fannie Mae), improvements in streets, lighting, more police to keep crime rates down..... NONE of which are the responsibility of banks. Forcing banks to lend despite the real difference in value and *ability to re-sell* the property, and in violation of the other "C"s as well, is to use our deposits and lives' savings, and the lives' savings of the bank's stockholders (which might be you and me, perhaps through mutual funds, our IRAs, pension funds, etc.) to redress wrongs that we did not commit.

In 1977, Democratic President Jimmy Carter signed into law the Community Reinvestment Act, subsequently made more powerful by the (Democratic) administration of President Bill Clinton in 1995. This Act pressured banks to increase their lending in minority areas, even if actual property sales, values, incomes, debt ratios, credit histories, etc. violated the standards described above.

Discussing the reasons for the Clinton administration's proposal to strengthen the CRA and further weaken a bank's ability to refuse a loan to a minority buyer, even if not qualified by these time-tested standards, Lloyd Bentsen, Secretary of the Treasury at that time, said, "The only thing that ought to matter on a loan application is whether or not you can pay it back, not where you live."

Excuse me, Mr. Secretary, please read the primer on lending at the top of this page, especially regarding credit history, *down payment*, savings, job history, criminal history, etc., since you obviously never were taught these things. (Despite the fact that you were at one time the head of a financial holding company, which is a scary thought.) If all of these are indeed satisfactory, then the bank is foolish to turn down what is likely to be a profitable loan, and if one *is* so foolish, or biased, they will lose good business to a non-biased competitor.

(Please note that Secretary Bentsen majored in Law, whereas TT majored in Finance and Economics. TT also has a few more years' experience in the financial field than Secretary Bentsen, all of it "in the trenches", not as a cushy CEO position, and some of it with his own hard-earned seaweed, unlike the banker who lends out other people's money. And a far greater percentage of it in minority neighborhoods than most banks, probably including Mr. Bentsen's. Or you, for that matter. So *before disagreeing*, PLEASE let me know how much business you've done, or how much of your own money you've invested, in minority neighborhoods. Without that info, we can't judge the credibility of your disagreement, so it will be zero. Fair enough?)

(Fun fact: During the Korean War, then-Congressman Bentsen advocated using atomic weapons against North Korean cities if they did not withdraw north of the 38th parallel. He never got the chance, but nuked us all instead.)

Presidents Clinton and George W. Bush both bragged of the huge increase in minority home ownership that resulted from pressuring banks to make loans that did not meet traditional, time-tested standards.

This general loosening of standards encouraged less-qualified non-minority borrowers and investors to buy as well. The total increase in buying among all of these formerly-unqualified buyers caused a rise in prices. This is called the "Law of Supply and Demand", which is stronger than any law that can be passed by Congress, most of whom have never heard of it. This rise spiraled, as first investors, then ordinary homeowners, began speculating on continued price increases of 40-45% per year, despite being obviously unsustainable. (At that rate, a $100,000 house would cost $800,000 in six years, and $1,600,000 in eight years, and how many of us could afford that?)

Parody time.
(FINALLY! ... massive round of applause.)

Act I, Scene 3.
Lord Polonius, the retiring president of the Bank who made the loan for TT to buy said first home, is giving advice to his son, Laertes, who will succeed him. (Last 14 lines of OS speech -- how sonnet-like! Sonnet-of-which! heh heh)

Let everyone apply, but careful: choice
Check each one's credit, their reserves, and judgment [1]
Is debt their habit? Do they curse, or pay?
Do not be pressed: loans, chancy; ACORN? Shady! [2]
For their embezzling sloughs their claims as scam
They're *loans*, not grants; to those best ranked, proration
Deposits: customers'; don't "generously" lend that
Not "any" borrower, should you: lender, be
Such loans oft lose taxpayer bucks, no end
No borrowing: those who lack of husbandry [3]
CRA: fall! With our own pelf, deal you
"Race card", don't swallow; else, the plight today:
Loan applications: false; a zany plan [4]
This Hell-recession: reason, plain to see!

OS speech parodied:

Give every man thy ear, but few thy voice;
Take each man's censure, but reserve thy judgment.
Costly thy habit as thy purse can buy,
But not express'd in fancy; rich, not gaudy;
For the apparel oft proclaims the man,
And they in France of the best rank and station
Are of a most select and generous chief in that.
Neither a borrower nor a lender be;
For loan oft loses both itself and friend,
And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry.
This above all: to thine ownself be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.
Farewell: my blessing season this in thee!

[1] In TT's early days, required "reserves" (savings in the bank, CDs, etc.) were six months' income. Later reduced to three months' *mortgage payments*, then to two. (Hey, if you lose your job, in addition to making mortgage payments, don't you still have to buy food, electricity, gasoline to hunt for a new job, keep making your car payments, etc.?)

[2] A JPMorgan Chase mortgage officer, Guilermo Loaiza, until recently was on the board at ACORN Housing Corp. He also served as presidents of Arizona ACORN Housing Corp. and ACORN Beverly, a limited liability corporation through which ACORN developed a Phoenix subdivision with help from $4.8 million in credit from JPMorgan Chase. Uhhh... conflict of interest there, methinks? (no pun intended on "interest", heh heh)

[3] "husbandry" -- Nothing to do with being married, but "prudent management of one's resources".

[4] You use to have to prove, or document, all that stuff at the top, by showing two years' income tax returns, last two pay stubs, bank statements, etc. But under this pressure, the "no-doc"(-umentation) loan was invented. "Say whatever you like on the application, or whatever we need you to say, and we'll take your word for it". ACORN doesn't take all the blame here. Plenty of mortgage brokers and loan officers are known to have encouraged borrowers to falsify their applications, just as in the famed "sting" video, where ACORN urged the undercover "hooker and pimp" to lie on their application for housing assistance; plenty of homebuyers had no trouble figuring this loophole out for themselves.

For the record, on your loan application, you sign under penalty of law that everything stated is true and correct. Knowingly making any false statement on an application for a loan from any institution whose deposits are insured by the FDIC (Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, an agency of the US Govt.), which would include all banks and the overwhelming majority of all home loans made, is a felony against the United States, punishable by five years' imprisonment. Have you read any stories of any of these foreclosed homeowners going to jail for lying on their loan application? ... just asking.

The banks themselves often did not take the losses for their promiscuity. Loans were being packaged and sold to insurance companies, pension funds (there go your and my retirement dollars again), and other investors, most of whom were unaware, until very recently, of the poor quality of the borrowers, loans, and documentation. They were also sold to Fannie Mae (Federal National Mortgage Association, in response to Phil Alexander's complaint a while back that "Fannie Mae" was a "twee" name, whatever "twee" means to those twee Brits), which had also loosened its standards in the face of pressure from Congress and from both aforementioned White House occupants. (They've since said that they'll buy no more no-doc loans. Now that all of the cows and horses are gone from the barn....)

One report a couple of years ago, as the massive wave of foreclosures was becoming apparent, noted that 81% of the loans being foreclosed were of the "no-doc" type, quickly labeled "liars' loans" (good one!), but that fact has been drowned in the wave of pity and scapegoating from the bleeding hearts, who, oddly enough, never seem to bleed for honest, hard-working, taxpaying, bill-paying citizens. Strange choice of bleeding.

© 2009 Tommy Turtle. All rights reserved. E-mail:

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Voting Results

Pacing: 5.0
How Funny: 4.5
Overall Rating: 4.8

Total Votes: 10

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    Pacing How Funny Overall Rating
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 5   10

User Comments

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adagio - October 14, 2009 - Report this comment
Turtle....I have to get to this one, for the footnots anf top comment, if nothing else. j/k...parody too. :)
John Barry - October 14, 2009 - Report this comment
Here's to the Bard of ACORN.
TJ at Sea - October 14, 2009 - Report this comment
A fantastickle tour de bourse! Ewe should write for Sesame St. Given your demonstated ability to make learning 'unreservedl' fun!
Fiddlegirl - October 14, 2009 - Report this comment
Fave line: "For their embezzling sloughs their claims as scam"

Difficult now to see the forest for the ACORN-spawned trees... But at least the truth is now out, for those who have eyes to see. Well-wriTTen. :)
Tommy Turtle - October 14, 2009 - Report this comment
5-1-3 voter: "*before disagreeing*, PLEASE let me know how much business you've done, or how much of your own money you've invested, in minority neighborhoods. Without that info, we can't judge the credibility of your disagreement, so it will be zero.".

So, you're not only an anonymous coward, but illiterate, as well -- as most auto-One-rs are. Vote is therefore thrown out, as all anonymous negative votes are.

John Barry: I'd like to see ACORN Bard, alright: Bard from receiving any more tax money, grants, or donations, and barred behind bars. Thanks for v/c.

TJ at Sea: LOL @ "tour de bourse" (French stock market, for those who DK). ... Yes, I wish children were taught saving, financial management, and economics ... For that matter, I wish politicians were, too! Thanks for v/sea!

Fiddlegirl: None so blind as him who will not see (cf. One-voter, above), and that seems to describe most ostrich pols and voters these days.... Thanks for v/c -- well-played, from a fellow Shakespeareafan. Take a bow!
adagio - October 14, 2009 - Report this comment
Good grief, TT!! I really didn't know all the fiscal irresponsibity that the required reserves had sunk so low. I thought it had remained the same all these years.
BR> Your parody was excellence unequaled. 5's
Tommy Turtle - October 14, 2009 - Report this comment
adagio: Isn't it strange how the media have omitted these facts and history from their sob stories of poor homeowners being taken advantage of by predatory lenders? Did anyone hold a gun to their head and make them take the loan? .... No, but the Gov and ACORN held a gun to the banks' heads and made them reduce their standards.

Glad you found it enlightening. Pass it on to everyone you know. :) .. thanks for the very kind v/c.
513 - October 15, 2009 - Report this comment
I clicked on this link to read a parody, not a blog. I happen to agree with the content, however it was sorely lacking in humour, hence my vote.

"you're not only an anonymous coward, but illiterate...": so much for "Tommy loves reader feedback". Everyone loves positive feedback. The greats can deal with the less than glowing responses without resorting to slinging inaccurate and wholly weak insults at anonymous voters.
seweweno - October 15, 2009 - Report this comment
Bravo, bravo, standing O from me!
Tommy Turtle - October 15, 2009 - Report this comment
rob: heh heh!

513: So why didn't you say so the first time instead of anonymously hit-and-running? Sure, reader feedback is welcome, but from those who sign their identities. The greats - even the decent -- aren't afraid to stand behind their critiques.
Corrected reply -- cut off accidentally - October 15, 2009 - Report this comment
rob: heh heh!

513: So why didn't you say so the first time instead of anonymously hit-and-running. Sure, reader feedback is welcome, but from those who sign their identities. The greats - even the merely decent -- aren't afraid to stand behind their critiques.

What "blog"? Blogs would be about me or my work. They were explanatory notes so that readers, most of whom have no background in the financial field, would understand the ACORN story and have the background to understand why and how these things happened, since the media sweep them under the rug.

Satire has been used for social criticism since the ancient Romans and Greeks. It's recognized as an honorable method of pointing out a society's flaws. There have been many discussions to the effect that "serious" parodies are welcome here, not just "ha ha, I ripped gas", and that sometimes "funny" should be replaced with "meaningful". Not just moi, but many other writers.

I agree with you 100% - there isn't the slightest thing funny about the entire situation. Tragic, in fact. Turning Shakespeare's speech by Polonius into advice to bankers was, well, if not funny, perhaps witty and clever?

If the background info and explanations exceeded your attention span, time frame, or taste, you weren't under any obligation to read it. You said you did, so you could have explained your vote the first time. I understand that even in "funny" parodies, what is funny to one person isn't funny to another. If hard-hitting satire at an organization that is presently under investigation for possible (probable) criminal violations doesn't suit you, you could have said so when you voted.

Given that even now, you're using "513" instead of a recognizable, stable nick, I stand behind my assessment of "anonymous coward", which has just been proven again. So, who are you? (Rhetorical -- I don't expect an answer, since s/he has hidden behind anonymity twice in a row.)

seweweno: Thank you, thank you ... although at the moment, "O' isn't exactly a desirable comparison lol! Thanks for v/c.
seweweno - October 16, 2009 - Report this comment
I always say take your "O's" any way they come.
TT - October 16, 2009 - Report this comment
seweweno: heh heh heh! A person after my own heart! Too bad the Pres has co-opted the term, "The Big O", eh? ;-D ... maybe he should change his name to. B. O. Hussein, and be called the "Big H". (as in "hemorrhoid"), and leave our Os alone, eh?

Agree, and glad you enjoy yours. Standing, huh? Cool!
John Jenkins - October 18, 2009 - Report this comment
The last two administrations thought they had accomplished something by using the Community Reinvestment Act and other techniques to increase home ownership from 64 percent to 69 percent. They did - they distorted the housing market and enabled borrowers and lenders to get involved in loans they should have avoided. The negative unintended consequences were much worse than the "positive" intended benefits. Well expresed, TT.
Tommy Turtle - October 18, 2009 - Report this comment
John Jenkins: "The negative unintended consequences were much worse than the "positive" intended benefits." ... as is true of so many - uh, *most* -- Government social programs, no?

You too expressed it well, and in far fewer words than TT, which, of course, is to be expected. :) Thanks for the v/c, and nice to see you back.
Congressman Barney Frank (D - Mass.) - December 01, 2011 - Report this comment
Mr. Turtle and Mr. Jenkins are correct.

In 2003, while the ranking minority member on the Financial Services Committee, I opposed a Bush administration proposal, in response to accounting scandals, for transferring oversight of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac from Congress and the Department of Housing and Urban Development to a new agency that would be created within the Treasury Department. The proposal, supported by the head of Fannie Mae, reflected the administration's belief that Congress "neither has the tools, nor the stature" for adequate oversight.

I said at the time, "These two entities ...are not facing any kind of financial crisis ... The more people exaggerate these problems, the more pressure there is on these companies, the less we will see in terms of affordable housing..."

I also said then what has been called my "famous dice roll": "I do not want the same kind of focus on safety and soundness [in the regulation of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac] that we have in the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Office of Thrift Supervision. I want to roll the dice a little bit more in this situation towards subsidised housing."

We all can see how well that worked out. Of course, I was gambling with only the taxpayers' money, not my own. In fact, I continued to get re-elected. You certainly can fool a lot of the people a lot of the time!

Even in 2008, when any moron, or any dispossessed homeowner, knew that we were all in deep doo-doo, I said, "I think this is a case where Fannie and Freddie are fundamentally sound, that they are not in danger of going under. They’re not the best investments these days from the long-term standpoint going back. I think they are in good shape going forward."

Of course, these agencies have cost taxpayers billions of dollars, with no end in sight. Gee, I hope none of you bought stock in them...

In any event, I am very sorry that the current crisis was not nipped in the bud due to my opposition to the 2003 reforms, and to show my repentance, I will retire next year and live on my taxpayer-funded pension for the rest of my life, as atonement for my screw-ups.

In retrospect, I should have consulted Mr. Turtle.and Mr. Jenkins before taking any action, or making any statements, about the mortgage industry. I urge all politicians to do so in the future.
John Jenkins - December 01, 2011 - Report this comment
Representative Frank, I have a hard time accepting your apology. I see that, in a PBS interview, you blamed Congress's problems on James Madison for setting up Congress with more frequent elections than Presidential elections. You still don't get it.

On the other hand, the representative quoted above, Ed Royce, does seem to get it. I'm going to vote for him. Oh, I already have - 10 times. Wish there were more Congressmen like Royce.
Congressman Ed Royce (R - CA ) (no relation to RCA Corp.) - December 02, 2011 - Report this comment
To my esteemed constituent Mr. Jenkins: In all fairness, my esteemed soon-to-be-ex-colleague Mr. Frank is merely being consistent. It is a fundamental policy of his party to blame everything on someone else -- usually, the other party. I admire Mr. Frank's ingeniousness in blaming the Founding Fathers, whom they always ignore anyway.

Even after three years, the President blames the previous President for our dismal situation, despite campaigning on promises to fix what he would inherit. So Mr. Frank is merely following the non-leadership of the "leader".

I appreciate your continued loyalty and support, Mr. Jenkins. Could there be any correlation to the fact that my degree is in Accounting and Finance, instead of in Law, and that I have been a business owner and corporate manager, as oppose to a career politician who has never worked in the real world?
John Jenkins - December 03, 2011 - Report this comment
Wow! Thank you for honoring AmIRight with your comments, Representative Royce. In particular, thank you for choosing this opus of Tommy Turtle as the location for your contribution. If more members of Congress would read the works of Tommy Turtle, then Congress might become a more enlightened legislative body. Of course, if every member of Congress read every parody and every comment posted by Tommy Turtle, there might not be any time to pass any legislation, but that is not necessarily a bad thing.

Regarding your comments about the propensity of the president and the outgoing congressman to blame the man who was president from 2001 to 2009, that propensity becomes even more ludicrous when one realizes that there was a Democratic majority in the House and Senate from 2007 to 2011 (and there still is a Democratic majority in the Senate). So it is appropriate to credit or blame Republicans for legislation passed between 2001 and 2006, but any blame after that must either be shared by or allocated entirely to Democrats.

In answer to your closing question about qualifications for holding office, it is abundantly clear that the California congressman with the Accounting/Finance Degree from Cal State Fullerton is much more qualified than the soon-to-be former Massachusetts congressman with the Law Degree from Harvard.
Congressman Ed Royce (R-CA) - December 04, 2011 - Report this comment
Mr. Jenkins, thank you for your kind remarks and support. However, I fear that there has been too much generosity to the oppostion party, as per your statement,

"So it is appropriate to credit or blame Republicans for legislation passed between 2001 and 2006,"

Reference should also be made to legislation *not* passed. In fact, there has been a Frank admission [1] that it was Rep. Frank and his Democratic Party who blocked the mortgage reforms proposed by the preceding Administration, as you yourself so astutely noted here:

"The Bush administration wanted to improve the regulation of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae in 2003 by assigning supervision to an agency of the Treasury Department. Unfortunately Democrats wanted to continue to have loans available to people who could not repay them and blocked the legislation."

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Mr. Turtle for quoting me in his Introduction. I agree that Mr. Turtle's facts, reasoning, logic, and resultant policy implications would benefit Congress substantially, and I urge all citizens of this once-great nation to e-mail their elected Senators and Representatives with links to these rare fonts of wisdom.

And I must also agree that any legislative gridlock resulting from Mr. Turtle's prolixity would at least slow the rate of decay. Passing no laws is better than passing bad laws.

In closing, I solicit your opinion, as a well-informed constituent, of the apparent implications of your assessment of the inadequacy of qualification for public office provided by the Harvard Law degree, to wit: The current President too has a degree from Harvard Law. Do you think that helps to explain his inability to comprehend what reforms are actually needed? I offer for contrast the previous President, whose Administration proposed the reforms discussed here, who too had a graduate degree from Harvard, but a Master's from the School of Business Administration, rather than the J.D. from the School of Law.

I look forward to your analysis of this possible correlation. Thank you for the opportunity to address this community and for your continued support. If my office can be of any assistance to you at any time, please do not hesitate to contact me or my staff.

[1] As I am addressing a web site of parody, satire, and comedy, I have done my best to meet the expectations of the constituency here, to wit: by making an atrocious pun. "When in Rome, do as the Romans do" -- which in this venue apparently includes the liberal (no pun intended there) use of footnotes. Hence I join this communiy's time-honored tradition there as well.
They Learned Nothing, And Forgot It Immediately - April 07, 2013 - Report this comment
The POTUS is pressuring the surviving banks to loosen the lending requirements to which they returned after the previous loosening caused a crisis whose effects we are still feeling. D'oh. ... Many stories about this; one is here:

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