The Borrower No CU Loan Officer Could Likely Help
The scene: the desk of loan officer Gary Goodsense at Wright Patman Congressional FCU in Washington. A veteran of more than 30 years in the business, Goodsense has met with thousands of members and thought he had seen everything. That is until a man with a shock of white hair complimented by a long white beard and wearing a stovepipe hat in the design of the American flag, a blue vest emblazoned with white stars, and pants with vertical red and white stripes takes a seat across the desk from him.
Goodsense: Welcome to the credit union. I'm Gary Goodsense and I'll be your loan officer. I have your loan application in front of me, and I have a few questions. It says here your name is Uncle Sam.
Uncle Sam: That's right. That's Uncle with a U and Sam with an S.
Goodsense: And you're seeking a loan, although your application doesn't specify which type.
Uncle Sam: It's more of a line of credit. And I'm going to need to emphasize the need for the line to be open-ended.
Goodsense: Yes, Um, I've reviewed your income statement, and must say that while I've worked with more than a few members over the years who had bought more car than they could afford-why I once had a House staffer who bought a Ferrari to impress an intern-you seem to have outdone them all. Combined.
Uncle Sam: I don't understand. What do you mean?
Goodsense: Mr. Sam, there's no other way to say this except that you're $7.783 trillion in debt. And that was just at the beginning of this conversation.
Uncle Sam: I still don't follow...
Goodsense: Trillion, Mr. Sam. That's with a T. That's seven-thousand billion! I checked your credit report and you're adding another $2.35 billion in debt every day! Typically, if we have a member spending $2 billion a day he doesn't have, we recommend one of our financial counseling classes before we can approve any loan.
Uncle Sam: (laughing) Oh, that. That's not important. Besides, I have a plan.
Goodsense: And it's one I can't wait to hear.
Uncle Sam: It's simple. I plan to cut my income, and increase expenses.
Goodsense: Eh, say again.
Uncle Sam: I'm going to reduce my income and then spend more. That should eliminate my little deficit situation.
Goodsense: Uhhhh, yeah. You know, a couple of us here at the credit union volunteer and teach a sixth-grade financial fundamentals class you might want to consider, although it sounds like it might be too advanced. And just as an aside, in reviewing your application I noted you didn't actually count a number of other big, outstanding debts when you were creating your financial profile.
Uncle Sam: Oh, those are "off-budget."
Goodsense: (pause) I'm sorry, but say again?
Uncle Sam: They're off budget. I don't count them.
Goodsense (now unsure if he should laugh or cry): Mr. Sam, perhaps you should teach our financial counseling class. Just explain to folks that they should count their mortgage and car payment as 'off budget" and voila, financial problems solved. (Seeing no reaction to his sarcasm, Goodsense continues.) Here at the credit union we expect members to pay their debts. It's their obligation. If they don't we warn them they will end up in bankruptcy.
Uncle Sam: Now there's something I feel strongly about. (He sits taller in his seat). I was just involved in passing bankruptcy reform legislation, and I'm very proud to say the goal was to hold people accountable and make them fiscally responsible. (He removes his red, white and blue hat and wipes a tear from his eye.)
Goodsense (flabbergasted and looking about his cubicle and the credit union office): Umm, are you some sort of mystery shopper? Am I on camera? Did the American Bankers Association send you over?
Uncle Sam: Actually, I'm not as friendly with the bankers as I used to be. And let me tell you, $7 billion...
Uncle Sam: ...trillion, zillion, whatever. Anyway, it used to get you a lot of calendars.
Goodsense: I'm sorry, but I just don't think I can approve this application. We have some automated software I suspect might kick this one back. I just have to ask, who gave you credit in the past?
Uncle Sam: Typically I just raise my own credit limit. And when I hit that I raise it again. And again and...
Goodsense: Mr. Sam...
Uncle Sam: Please, call me Uncle.
Goodsense: We'll all be calling Uncle if you don't stop.
Frank J. Diekmann is Editor of The Credit Union Journal.
In the bad old days, there were three easy ways of losing money-racing being the quickest, women the most pleasant and farming the most certain.
-William Pitt Amherst