Yes, Heather, There Is a Santa Claus
I read with great interest your column on June 6, 2014, entitled, The Hidden Cost of Democracy. Your expression and hope that things could be done better is a message we hear across this country every election year by candidates who tell us they can fix what is broken. It is a great message because it always gives the electorate hope that just maybe this time we have someone who will make a difference. And sometimes they do for a little while.
Then, unfortunately, the system takes over.
Having worked in state government I had some idea what bureaucracy was like. Having owned my own law firm, working with all types of businesses, I enjoyed how we were able to move forward as soon as decisions were made.
Coming to the federal government was like a world that exists by itself.
This is Washington, D.C., Heather, home of gridlock, the place where nothing gets done quickly. Where you hurry up and wait and where the unofficial motto is, let's make a deal.
You hit the mark when you talk about give and take, or making something unacceptable and then agreeing to change it in order to get consensus. In the case of a rule, a regulator can achieve what it wants and still give a victory of sorts to those who opposed what was presented.
In Washington everyone wants to be a winner. Actually, Heather, the present system of rulemaking is pretty good. It does provide an opportunity for everyone to make their case, get some of the changes they want and claim a victory.
Can it be done a little better? Yes, it can.
Proper messaging and communication before a rule is proposed can result in a better response from the trades. Knowing what to expect, rather than seeing it come out of left field, gives way to more constructive comment.
The regulator and the regulated must always work with each other at arm’s length, but that does not prevent there being good, open and honest communication. They both have their jobs to do. I truly believe both groups have the same goals in mind — a safe and sound credit union system, a strong insurance fund and an industry that is able to provide the best financial services possible in a competitive environment, as much regulation as necessary and as little as possible.
During the financial crisis many credit unions complained that they did not cause the corporate problem and should not have to pay for it. I needed to remind them that is not how it works. In the credit union industry it's about people helping people; it is a cooperative system. It's about one for all and all for one. It's about working together to get things done.
Our government has flaws. It is far from perfect. It will never be what some people will like it to be. But without question, in this world, there is no better.
Yes, Heather, there is a Santa Claus, but only on Christmas Day.
Michael E. Fryzel
NCUA Board Member