Is it possible that Chip Filson is the last NCUA critical thinker of his generation or just a one-trick pony?
Read this most recent posting from Chip Filson on CreditUnions.com. Within just a few seconds you will pause and think “Oh, Chip, are you ever going to give up on kicking this dog? Does anyone really think it matters if we critique the NCUA’s action anymore? Does it make a difference?” But then you will read on—I always do. Chip Filson is a friend of mine and I believe his opinions on the system and the NCUA are valuable on many levels.
First, they remind me that the NCUA is not just an insurance firm or a regulator – they were designed to be more. They were designed to foster and separate the concept of a consumer-owned financial system that saw the world through a community lens and with bigger goals than just banking. Chip might be the last true commentator who had a pulpit focused on wanting the NCUA to be more than just a government agency.
Second, they remind me that you have to look further than today’s headlines to ADD it all up. And while the numbers are getting so large that we round to the nearest billion these days, Chip reminds us that the NCUA only rounds numbers up or down based on their own internal goals to look good. The NCUA is no longer balanced by anything other than its own sense of importance. And board members are no longer the voice of reason, they are simply the promoters of a bureaucrat’s reputation. Chip might be the last true historian with enough perseverance to audit, research, and painstakingly try to sum up the NCUA’s actions in totals to paint stories as lessons for the future, not just sound bites without conscience.
Third, they remind me that counting on the central planners of Washington and all those that see our business, credit unions, as some fine-tuned social model for justice is becoming more and more fool’s folly. For those who make up the industry have lost much of their fire over injustice, lost much of their indignation of those who would tread on consumers that act to be owners of community businesses, and have lost faith in political structures that cannot see a reason to separate a cooperative system from the evaluations and constructs of for-profit designs for banking and community action. Chip might be the last CU leader that truly reminds me to maintain hope that the NCUA could be more, and that counting on our system to heal itself is still worth the effort.
Today, the article strikes out against the way 8,000 member-borrowers were discounted and forgotten. Yesterday, there were dozens of moments Chip reminded us that the NCUA was off track. But what I am the most dismayed about in thinking about all of these articles is that they never rallied my generation of CU leaders and CU organizations to any recognizable effort to change anything at the NCUA. We have yet to mount any effort that showed us that any administration’s intent for the credit union industry was greater than a quid quo pro nod to a third level constituent owed a favor. We never got anyone’s attention for the effort to build a better NCUA, a better insurance fund, or a better machine to improve our own solutions.
We are capable community, small business builders, but we might be little else if Chip will be the last commentator to try to rally our ire and hopes for bigger things. Tell Me Why I’m Wrong.