The P.A.

A weekly address from Patrick Adams,
President of St. Louis Community Credit Union

Unfortunately, Good Politics Usually Trumps Good Policy

On August 19th, 2013, posted in: Uncategorized by

Part of what I do is meet and talk to politicians and their respective staff people (at all levels). It is part and parcel with my role, and the least popular thing on my “to do” list – that and visiting my dentist who, by the way, is a great guy. It’s just that he represents dentistry, the ultimate necessary evil.

This is what I’ve learned over the years as it relates to what goes on in DC. Just remember, watching sausage being made is very, very disturbing and takes a really strong stomach.

1) Good policy does not necessarily override good politics.

2) There are two types of legislative leaders: loyal public servants and bureaucrats.

3) The last to write is the last to write.

4) Good public policy may be overrun by the agencies that have to execute on them.

Usually, while any meeting is framed under the heading of DC wanting to find out what credit unions need in the way of legislation to be successful, we really never talk much. Dialogue in those meetings over the years is usually quite interesting and disconcerting. Those who are in the know invariably rinse and repeat the pattern of giving hope and destroying it for about an hour. Meetings are basically Poli-Sci 101 minus a chalkboard and podium. After the expert on DC finishes talking, I’m fairly close to entering into the fetal position.

To think that good policy is overridden by good politics may tell you where the American citizen is on the list of priorities. Shouldn’t good policy always prevail and, inversely, shouldn’t bad policy be eliminated? After all, policy is a government term for how the people of our country are affected. Nope. Politics regularly kills policy. Because of social media, the mainstream media lobbies with pockets full of money and the verbose nature of the chatter on the fringe, good politics regularly takes over good policy. Common sense is not a factor.

Loyal public servants exist, but are harder to find in DC. Bureaucrats who have fallen in love with a bankrupt system have learned to use said system to stall the process of a true public servant’s altruistic idea of accomplishing something. Bureaucrats are winning – very sad.

Legislators who are last in the room and the last to affix their thoughts to a bill are the only ones who know what the bill will look like in its final form. If a guy or gal from your favorite delegation leaves the room early under the assumption that what they were promised for their constituency was going to take place, they have a really good chance of finding out later on that they got skunked. Basically, that’s a nice way of saying that trust among peers is far from guaranteed. At home on the playground, we kicked your butt for going behind somebody’s back – especially after a handshake.

And, apparently, the 900-pound gorillas called government agencies that are responsible for the execution of new policy have a knack for taking legislation and mushrooming it into something of biblical portion. Making something big and burdensome, after all, ensures employment. UGH!

So credit union officials keep meeting and trying to get something done to better our world. We show up on our regular pilgrimage to DC with little expectation and leave with even less. Thanks for nothing, DC!

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