JOHN HOPE BRYANT>>Hi, this is John Hope
Bryant. I’m the founder of Operation Hope and the Vice-Chairman of the U.S. President’s
Council on Financial Literacy. I have had the honor or advising President Clinton, President
Bush and now I’m serving President Obama as Vice-Chairman into 2010.
So I’ve watched your video, ‘creativescientist, on moral currency. And I’m only speaking for
myself here now-make that clear-I’m speaking as an individual. But-ah-I was inspired-ah-ah-by
your concept. I think it may be complicated in the elegant way in which you outline it
for it to be implemented. Although I think that a version of it is implemented already.
It’s called the failure of Countrywide. [LAUGHTER] It’s called the failure of Enron. In other
words the market has already paid a tax-ah-on unscrupulous-ah-companies that have-ah-ah-economically
raped and pillaged consumers. When the only equation is an economic equation, when there
is only an-a financial agenda-a money agenda and not a prosperity agenda, an ideas agenda-ah-an
empowerment agenda, a service agenda; when don’t live for something larger or more important
than yourself-ah-ah-well, you go far enough to the North Pole you end up south. You out-you
just outrun your course. Ah-I think there’s also another moral currency.
It’s called financial literacy. Ah-one of the things that I believe will happen-ah-as
a result of this crisis-well, one thing that’s happened is it’s got people like you exercised.
And-ah-and we’re having really a crisis of values in the U.S. and around the world because
we put all our stock in things. And, as you said, we didn’t value-ah-if we look at some
of the gangster rap on TV, they glorify a dollar whether it’s made sellin’ crack-ah-I
mean the Rolls Royce is bought by the same dollar whether it’s crack or whether you’re
a scientist. Ah-no pun intended. Ah-ah-and I think that in the last twenty years my friend,
Quincy Jones, says we’ve made dumb sexy. Think about that for a minute. We’ve dumbed down.
We-ah-our communities, our kids have really almost adopted a thug culture. It’s laziness.
Ah-and it’s just-you know-ah-how do I get paid today? So in the last twenty years we’ve
made dumb sexy. In the next twenty years we need to make smart
sexy again. So we need to flip the script. Financial literacy is a way to flip the script,
but it wasn’t important before. But with this global economic crisis everybody understands
the difference between a payment and an interest rate. The problem is that people didn’t ask
what the payment was or the interest rate was. They bought homes from-sometimes-from
unscrupulous predatory lenders and then asked only what the payment was. So we weren’t taken
advantage of but we participated in that. We contributed in that. And so we need to
have a new civil right. And that’s financial literacy for all.
We need to have a new silver right, ah-a bank account for every person. Ah-put the payday
lenders and the check cashers and the unscrupulous ah-financial predators who ghetto-ize financial
services-run ’em out of business. Ah-using free enterprise and capitalism give every
person an electronic FDIC insured bank account. Ah-and stream-ah-the payments from the treasury
for social security and other payments through that bank account. Ah-stream financial literacy
through that bank account, and literally put the unscrupulous-ah-financial predators out
of a ten-billion-dollar-a-year business. Ah-so you have a choice to make. In other
words it’s not just the government. Your moral-ah-your moral currency argument-ah-it was placed,
or at least I framed it-or I heard it, as almost irresponsible government. The question
is what can you do. There is only so much that President Obama is going to be able to
do. There is only so much that any government is going to be able to do. But-ah-Ghandi once
said that you can be the-the change you want to see in the world. You can make a choice.
You can make a choice not to do business with predators-ah-and to honor companies that honor
you and your community. Their code is-ah-do well and do good, ah-who are concerned about
their brand and their reputation. Ah-I guess the last point I’ll make is we’ve
got a massive, massive pullback in consumer confidence. Well, that’s also tied to financial
illiteracy. Ah-and so companies have to realize that they have to be concerned about ah-ah-not
just the transaction but the long-term relationship. If we treat our clients like relationships
and not just as transactions-ah-you don’t do business with a day, you do business for
a lifetime and that’s doing well by doing good.
I commend you for your concept of moral currency and I encourage you to go out and teach a
class in financial literacy today in your community or join Operation Hope and become
a Hope Club member because you’re certainly qualified. God bless you from Davos and thanks
for your passion.