Letter to the Editor: NCUA Board Member Fryzel Asks, Is Bigger Really Better?
Do you remember when Burger King extolled the size of its hamburgers with the jingle, “The bigger the burger the better the burger, the burgers are bigger at Burger King?”
Or how about the Chicago chain restaurant that advertises, “Burritos as big as your head?”
And then of course there is the retailer Big Lots.
So is bigger better? Some people believe it is.
Recently, some have advocated to increase the size of the NCUA Board from three members to five. Some believe this change would allow for greater dialogue and debate. Both terms are elements of conversation. This leads one to ask, would it be just more talk?
Now don’t get me wrong; a good discussion of any issue can be extremely productive. However, do we really believe that by increasing the number of NCUA Board members it will get more things done? That it will make NCUA more productive? That it will result in anything being done differently? That it would be more representative of the industry’s stakeholders?
Let’s consider the U.S. House of Representatives. The body has 435 members, each representing a state or a district, a certain segment of our country. The U.S. House is one of the biggest legislative bodies in the world. Certainly, with so many members you would think that there is much dialog and debate.
But, what are the results that have been achieved? How has having such a large body of representatives been productive? In some years Congress has been very productive. In other years we have witnessed complete blockage. So, being bigger is no assurance of increased efficiency.
Aside from the issue of whether more debate and dialogue is better amongst a greater number of decision-makers leads to better results, perhaps we should consider the cost of being bigger.
Credit unions already believe their regulation costs too much. At least that is what the two major trade associations regularly say.
The average cost of an NCUA board member for one year is approximately $748,000. This includes the board member’s salary, as well as the salaries of the board member’s staff, office supplies, equipment, travel and other things. Based on that number, an additional two board members would in the first year cost credit unions $1.5 million dollars, a number that would grow with inflation every year going forward.
Add to that the one-time cost of remodeling the NCUA offices to accommodate the expanded board, as well as moving current employees who are now in the space that would be converted. In addition, there is the cost of furniture and fixtures. So, ballpark this cost at $500,000.
The big question then becomes, do you really want to pay that much for more dialogue and debate?
If you really want to listen to more conversation, turn on CNN, C-SPAN or CNBC. At least those debate channels are already included in your cable bill.
Michael E. Fryzel