It is a pleasure to be with you again at the CUNA Governmental Affairs Conference. Every time I come here I am re-energized by what I see and the people I talk with. I know you are as well and that you gain new energy from your exchange of stories and ideas.
This is one of the most important conferences of any kind in the nation. Where else can persons representing 91 million Americans -- nearly one-third of our population -- gather in harmony and good spirits to learn, listen, and discuss? Where else can persons gather to share ideas on how best to improve the nation’s largest kind of self-help, not-for-profit, democratically run cooperatives? And, to also tell Congress, the Administration, and credit union regulators how you believe the whole system can be made better to serve those 91 million Americans, attract even more members, and improve financial services in countless communities from Maine to Kansas to Hawaii.
Credit unions began in many instances with a coffee can and just a handful of persons around a lunch table, putting up five, ten or twenty dollars. Credit unions now hold nearly one trillion dollars in deposits and are close to overtaking savings & loans by becoming the second largest sector of financial services in the United States. This is an astonishing achievement.
But, of course, achievement and work are in American blood; rooted deep within our DNA. Aristocracies in Europe believed that the most important factor defining your station in life was the family you were born into -- noble or peasant...