(From the March 19, 2012, issue of Rubber & Plastics News)
AKRON—I yawned and sipped coffee while reading about President Obama's executive order creating the International Trade Enforcement Center. Another routine “whatever” story, the kind of thing an incumbent president does during an election year.
Then I nearly choked on my drink. “WHAT THE...How COULD THEY? What's our attorney's number?”
On second reference, in typical journalism style, the acronym was used for the International Trade Enforcement Center. ITEC.
Whoa there, partner. ITEC since 1994 has been the acronym for the International Tire Exhibition and Conference. Our technical meeting and trade show for tire manufacturers—“our” being Rubber & Plastics News. In 2009 Tire Business, which serves tire retailers and distributors, joined us as co-sponsor, and the show was expanded.
How dare the Obama administration usurp our good name. Or, anyway, our acronym.
The mission of the White House's ITEC is to go after those bad sports who violate international trade agreements or U.S. trade laws. In other words, stop any nation that isn't playing fairly and stealing our markets and jobs.
Kind of like stealing, well, an acronym.
It would have been so easy to just call this new entity something different. I would suggest the Trade Enforcement Department, a.k.a. “TED.”
“Hey, buddy. Yous better shape up or we's gonna sic TED on you. He's one mean Ã ”
Another option could be the Enforcement Trade Center, or ETC. As in “et cetera,” Latin for “and so on.” Or in more modern vernacular, “whatever,” since I question the purpose and potential of this new bureaucracy.
Three Republican senators had some good points in criticizing the creation of the new organization. They said it looks like the office of the U.S. Trade Representatives is just shuffling personnel around, and the Washington ITEC, for that matter, would be doing what the USTR already is supposed to be handling.
Creating acronyms is an art form in the Beltway—I wouldn't call it “high art,” more like “pop art.” Just look at the Transportation Recall Enhancement, Accountability and Documentation Act, passed in 2000 to protect consumers/punish tire makers following the Firestone Wilderness/Ford Explorer problem.
The flavor of the week for the national media, the tire disaster sparked Congress to jam through legislation in a matter of 18 hours from the start of the hearings to the overwhelming vote that made it law. I suppose half that time was spent creating that cumbersome name, which does roll off the tongue well as the acronym TREAD Act.
To demonstrate there is only one ITEC, and it's our event, just Google the name. You'll be linked to Europe's leading exhibition and conference for military training simulation Ã wait a minute. That's not it. And what's this Iowa Technology Education Connection?
No, no, no. Go to www.ITEC-tire show.com—take it from me, that's the real deal.
Noga is the editor of Rubber & Plastics News.