“As I looked around me, throughout the course of my life, it just dawned on me that Americans’ and America’s real value was hiding in plain sight.”
A Q&A with John Hope Bryant on How the Poor Can Save Capitalism: Rebuilding the Path to the Middle Class
John Hope Bryant is a visionary. He has an ability to see things right in front of us that so many look past, and in doing so see a better, brighter future. But beyond simply seeing it, he is out in the world shaking it up and making it happen, bringing it into being. He is, quite simply, an inspiration—to many people, and certainly to me. Before getting to the brief interview I did with him, the video below may help you understand why.
So let’s move right on into the questions and, more importantly… the answers, shall we?
1. People tend to think of the poor (if they think of them at all) as in need of charity. Your book flips that assumption on its head, saying not only that the poor need an infusion of capitalism, but that capitalism needs them. What prompted this revelation?
As I looked around me, throughout the course of my life, it just dawned on me that Americans’ and America’s real value was hiding in plain sight. That literally everything that was driving the economy had two features:
- It started with rich people. Planes, trains, automobiles, restaurants, cell phones, etc.
- But it is driven by the working poor, working class and teetering middle class.
Boom. That convinced me that I had a book. Not about black people, or minority people, or just poor people—but most people.
2. It seems like American capitalism is constantly looking for new markets to expand into, and will go (and has gone) to the ends of the Earth to pursue economic growth. Why is there such a blind spot with regards to growing the economies of poor communities here in America, which would really be a “rising tide to lift all boats?”
The bible suggests, “a prophet is only without honor in his own home town.” It is as old as the ages, my friend. We save our worst behavior for those we care the most about. We look right past our highest value, often at home, and go looking for new lands to conquer. It is the difference between leading by fear and insecurity and short-termism, and leading with strength, vision, confidence and desire for long-term wealth for all.
3. What work can we do to reverse that trend? How do we find the political will to address poverty in America when politicians themselves won’t even mention the word—or, if they do, it is with an insinuation that the poor are a drain on the economy instead of a potential for growth.
If will never happen because it is “the right thing to do.” It will only happen when it becomes a political reality—when politicians’ jobs depend on it. Which means, when it becomes a national priority, and a nation’s priority, and not just a poor people’s priority. And that is precisely what is happening now. The majority of Americans are not doing as good as they should, or even as they had—and most don’t believe that their children will be able to do better either. And America is all about the middle class American Dream. And that is why I believe this is the right book, at the right time, for everyone. It is the (positive) answer to Piketty’s book on 21st century capital. He makes very good points, and I believe that in many ways, my book answers his very good questions.
Get The new book, How The Poor Can Save Capitalism, here.
Watch the 4-minute movie on How The Poor Can Save Capitalism here.