the suzi parker files

Politics, Pop Culture and Ponderings

Bill Clinton: Economic Literacy a Must for America

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SPRINGDALE, Ark. – It’s the economy, stupid. Still.

That’s according to Bill Clinton, who returned to his old stomping grounds Wednesday to address the topic about which he has been called an expert.

Springdale is an appropriate place to talk economics. The region is the home of two of the world’s largest companies – Tyson Foods, Inc. and Walmart.

Both companies sponsored the fundraising luncheon for the private non-profit, non-partisan Economics Arkansas, which promotes training for K-12 teachers to integrate economic and personal finance concepts into the classroom. Twenty-one states have such classes in school. This fall, all ninth grade students in Arkansas will be required to take an economics course.

Clinton, in a black suit and pale green tie, received a standing ovation when he entered the room over an hour late.

“The mess we got into in this country is that people didn’t have enough economic literacy,” Clinton told the 1,000 people gathered in the Holiday Inn Convention Center. “Economics became of less concern to people.”

In his view, the recent financial meltdown and recession can be tracked to that lack of concern. In the last decade, Americans maxed out credit cards and took advantage of the subprime mortgage situation. “We pay a terrible price when people don’t understand economics.”

Clinton did not say he supported another stimulus package, but strongly cautioned Washington about passing another one, considering the size of the national debt. Government bonds are bought by China and other countries instead of individuals and American companies as was the case during the Great Depression.

“Since we are on the dole, we can’t enforce our own trade agreements,” Clinton said.
He stressed that Washington needs to focus on corporate treasuries and banks. Corporations need to invest more and banks need to loan more money to small businesses and individuals to stimulate the economy.

“We need to figure out whatever is needed to get that done,” he said. “What would make bankers feel good? Until that happens we aren’t going back” to a balanced and thriving economy.

Earlier in the day, he popped into a coffee shop and ran into the daughter of a deceased friend. He spoke to a meeting of a local economic council and visited the construction site of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, a mammoth project funded by Walmart heiress Alice Walton.

Later, he was to visit the house where he and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton married in 1975. The street in front of the 1930s English-style house was renamed last week from California Boulevard to Clinton Drive.

Indeed, throughout his luncheon speech, Clinton seemed wistful and homesick for Arkansas. He talked about old political allies and singled them out in the crowd.

“I think about you more than you might imagine,” he said.


Written by suziparker1313

March 7, 2011 at 5:15 pm

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