The Common Good

Book Tour Diary: On Point Callers' Stories of Banks' Bad Behavior

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The best interview on Wednesday was with "On Point," an interesting NPR show that goes out to 160 radio stations. Tom Ashbrook is the host; he wondered what morality, values, and especially religion have to do with the current economic crisis. But all the callers were adamant that a values reset was indeed key to a real recovery, and they related some very sad personal stories about how the "moral contradictions" had affected them. One unemployed man told how a $15 bank overdraft resulted in $60 worth of penalties for him. Those egregious behaviors on the part of too many of our banks and credit card companies -- and what we can do about them -- are highlighted in the book. Conservative economist Tod Lindberg from the Hoover Institution came on for a short segment, and we agreed on much more than the host or others expected. He said that true conservatives shouldn't value money above all else, as many have been doing, but rather use the market to help people -- even lifting them out of poverty. And both of us were quoting Jesus as a moral authority for our economic lives! Listen to the On Point interview.

We ended the evening with a wonderful event at the home of child psychologist Gail Furman, hosted by my dear friend Erica Payne of the Agenda Project. Erica always gathers smart, creative, and influential people; this night was no exception, with a big crowd at one of the best book "salons" I have ever attended. Gathered were writers, lawyers, academics, business people, and activists. Again, we had the kind of in-depth and provocative conversation about both personal and public morality in our economy that this book tour seems to be producing at every stop. They were all very excited this conversation was finally taking place, and I was encouraged by their enthusiasm and the quality of their discussion. If this quality of discussion is a preview of things to come on the tour, we are in for a real treat.

The Italian restaurant was so good that I went back with Rob Wilson-Black and Kevin Lum from Sojourners! Good pasta. Good day in NYC.

portrait-jim-wallisJim Wallis is the author of Rediscovering Values: On Wall Street, Main Street, and Your Street--A Moral Compass for the New Economy, CEO of Sojourners and blogs at www.godspolitics.com.

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