Ford School Currents: Porter McConnell (MPP '05)

December 8, 2020 0:04:01
Kaltura Video

Porter McConnell (MPP '05) of “Take on Wall Street” speaks about reforming the financial system for the average American.


This is Ford School Currents, now with Porter McConnell MPP 2005,

who is the Campaign Manager at Take on Wall Street. So Porter, first

off, how did Take on Wall Street get started?

Take on Wall Street was launched before my time in 2016

in anticipation of a Hillary Clinton presidency. And the idea was that

a lot of unions and faith groups and community organizers and national advocacy

groups felt that the Dodd Frank Wall Street Reforms, while they were really

important, they didn't go far enough. So we're now a coalition of about

60 groups hosted by Americans for Financial Reform, the group that originally

worked with Elizabeth Warren and others to pass the Dodd Frank Act. After

January 20th, 2017, you were dealing with a very different set of circumstances.

And thinking about reforming financial institutions, you have national local

state regulations, you have online, you have all sorts of different kinds

of players, so how do you focus that down, how do you figure

out what are the issues where you can really make a difference?

One of the biggest challenges is that while Wall Street plays a role

in all of our lives, it sometimes can be an invisible role.

And so one of the biggest things we need to do is kind

of pull the curtain back. There's a lot of work to explain to

folks like, "This is what a stock buy back is, and this is

why... If you try to do this, it would just be seen as

a hustle or it would be illegal, but there's a set of folks

who are really good at reading the system and they are able to

do this work." And so, a lot of what we do is translating

and explaining. The other thing we don't ever need to explain

to working families is that the system is unfair or that the system

is rigged, or that... Let's say the difference between the debt that Stacey

Abrams took out, for example, to when she was supporting her family versus

the debt that Brian Kemp took out because of a failed business,

of failed investment. People instinctively know that we treat those debts

differently, and it's sort of a youthful indiscretion for him and a sign

of maybe a need for more financial literacy or whatever for her.

So I think people understand the politics, the small p politics,

but they don't necessarily know the jargon. And so, the biggest challenge

for us is, here's the jargon, here's what it means. Here's what's happened

over time. Making money for money has happened,

that practice has grown over the last 40 years.

It hasn't always been true that the economy has been financialized. It used

to be that you'd make money from products and services more.

So a lot of that is explaining, but then on another level,

we're listening to families who are talking about the role of payday lenders

in their lives, or the role of student debt in their lives,

so it's a bit of a two way conversation. And the big challenge

for us is to be the translators of the jargon, but then to

really listen as activists are telling us their stories. Porter McConnell,

thanks for your insight. Nice talking to you.