The President’s Advisory Council on Financial Literacy is holding a listening session today in Des Moines as part of a nationwide effort. The council will hear from experts and ordinary citizens on ways to improve education about finances. John Hope Bryant is the council vice chairman and the founder of a non-profit agency in Los Angeles that works with the poor.
Bryant says he believes they council will hear that it’s time to move from "small ball, to a major agenda." He says financial literacy has always been viewed as a nice thing done for children, but has never been taken seriously as a hard economic tool. Bryant says it’s time to make people more aware of financial literacy and how they can be involved.
Bryant says this is "extraordinarily important" to the economy, key to American competitiveness , and one of the core reasons we are having a global economic crisis. "If we want to have a shared prosperity, this has to become a new enduring value of the American experience, and we all have to see that we have an enlightened self interest," Bryant says. Bryant says this is not a problem of the poor, it’s a problem of the middle class.
"I think we all know people who bought too much house, and asked the wrong question. They asked ‘what was the payment’ and not what was the interest rate," Bryant says. Sharon Lechter is an Arizona author and a council member who says they are holding hearings like this across the country. Lecht says they are not here to talk they are here to listen, and the council has made a concerted effort to not be dictatorial, but to be collaborative. Lecht says they need input to succeed.
Lecht says they want to hear concerns, but also what people think the solutions are, and what programs are working. She says they will take the various programs and resources from across the country to try and create the best results. The council will submit a report to President Bush and the Obama transition team. The council is set up to operate into 2010.