At first glance, this seems like a stupid AND REDUNDANT undertaking if ever there were one. OF COURSE AMERICA IS CHALLENGED IN TERMS OF FINANCIAL LITERACY! JUST LOOK AT THE STATE OF THE NATION! On the other hand, it might be a worthwhile exercise to find out PRECISELY HOW FINANCIALLY ILLITERATE American actually is.
The first place that might be worthy of investigation is the White House itself, for this be a primary font of partisan economic "Eat your cake and have it too-ism". Congress surely is worthy of a survey to find out just how competent in fact our lawmakers are in matters of money and finance (outside their pay packets) though anecdotal assessment of policies during the past eight years would certainly cast doubt upon any assertions that they are in any way more adept with numbers than the rest of polity. And what of The Fed itself? Should the panel consider whether the Chairman himself, despite advanced degrees and tenured faculty position at Princeton, is perhaps financially challenged given his support of "The Savings Glut" Theory for imbalances, and his somewhat peculiar and contentious hair-trigger notions that dropping money from Helicopters might be the best answer to certain financial woes facing the nation, or whose past Chairman not only dared, but positively encouraged homeowners to swap their already low and certain 30yr fixed-rate mortgages for ARMs set at absurdly-low (albeit temporary) teaser rates when he himself was on the verge of raising the rates upon which the teasers were set?? And then we have The People themselves, who by comparison, look to be the most financially literate of the lot, many of whom saw a free-lunch, and seized upon it to "take-the-money" and run, leaving the bag-holders with the problem of considering whether the shitbox upon which they lent profusively and without due-diligence was worth anywhere near what was lent, or whether said borrows even existed. They also seem to be the sdharper of the sticks insofar as they intuitively understand that saving is way sub-optimal under an official regime of monetary debasement. This most certainly explains why savings rates are negative: only a fool would save when real rates are so obviously negative, and American's, call them what you like, are no fools....(I think). I am certain you will be as keen to see who is appointed to the panel , as well as the results of their findings, for numbers will, as they say, speak volumes....if of course they ask the right questions!
The Actual Executive Order (linked above is spelled out below):
Executive Order: Establishing the President's Advisory Council on Financial Literacy
White House News
By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America and to promote and enhance financial literacy among the American people, it is hereby ordered as follows:
Section 1. Policy. To help keep America competitive and assist the American people in understanding and addressing financial matters, it is the policy of the Federal Government to encourage financial literacy among the American people.
Sec. 2. Establishment of the Council. There is established within the Department of the Treasury the President's Advisory Council on Financial Literacy (Council).
Sec. 3. Membership and Operation of the Council. (a) The Council shall consist of 19 members appointed by the President from among individuals not employed by the Federal Government, consistent with subsection (b) of this section.
(b) In selecting individuals for appointment to the Council, appropriate consideration should be given to selection of individuals with backgrounds as providers of, consumers of, promoters of access to, and educators with respect to financial education and financial services. Each individual member of the Council will serve as a representative of his or her industry, trade group, public interest group, or other organization or group. The composition of the Council will reflect the views of diverse stakeholders.
(c) The President shall designate a Chair and a Vice Chair from among the members of the Council.
(d) Subject to the direction of the Secretary of the Treasury (Secretary), the Chair shall convene and preside at meetings of the Council, determine its agenda, direct its work, and, as appropriate to deal with particular subject matters, establish and direct the work of subgroups of the Council that shall consist exclusively of members of the Council.
(e) The Vice Chair shall perform:
(i) the duties of the Chair when the position of Chair is vacant; and
(ii) such other functions as the Chair may from time to time assign.
Sec. 4. Functions of the Council. To assist in implementing the policy set forth in section 1 of this order, the Council shall:
(a) obtain information and advice concerning financial literacy as appropriate in the course of its work from:
(i) officers and employees of executive departments and agencies (including members of the Financial Literacy and Education Commission), unless otherwise directed by the head of the department or agency;
(ii) State, local, territorial, and tribal officials;
(iii) providers of, consumers of, promoters of access to, and educators with respect to financial services;
(iv) experts on matters relating to the policy set forth in section 1; and
(v) such other individuals as the Secretary may direct;
(b) advise the President and the Secretary consistent with this order on means to implement effectively the policy set forth in section 1, including by providing advice on means to:
(i) improve financial education efforts for youth in school and for adults in the workplace;
(ii) promote effective access to financial services, especially for those without access to such services;
(iii) establish effective measures of national financial literacy;
(iv) conduct research on financial knowledge, including the collection of data on the extent of financial knowledge of individuals; and
(v) strengthen and coordinate public and private sector financial education programs; and
(c) periodically report to the President, through the Secretary, on:
(i) the status of financial literacy in the United States;
(ii) progress made in implementing the policy set forth in section 1 of this order; and
(iii) recommendations on means to further implement the policy set forth in section 1 of this order, including with respect to the matters set forth in subsection (b)(i) through (v) of this section.
Sec. 5. Administration of the Council. (a) To the extent permitted by law, the Department of the Treasury shall provide funding and administrative support for the Council, as determined by the Secretary, to implement this order.
(b) The heads of executive departments and agencies shall provide, as appropriate and to the extent permitted by law, such assistance and information to the Council as the Secretary may request to implement this order.
(c) Members of the Council:
(i) shall serve without any compensation for their work on the Council; and
(ii) while engaged in the work of the Council, may be allowed travel expenses, including per diem in lieu of subsistence, as authorized by law for persons serving intermittently in the Government (5 U.S.C. 5701-5707), consistent with the availability of funds.
(d) The Secretary shall designate an officer or employee of the United States within the Department of the Treasury to serve as an Executive Director to supervise the administrative support for the Council.
Sec. 6. Termination of the Council. Unless extended by the President, the Council shall terminate 2 years from the date of this order.
Sec. 7. General Provisions. (a) Insofar as the Federal Advisory Committee Act, as amended (5 U.S.C. App.) (Act), may apply to the Council, any functions of the President under the Act, except for those in section 6 of the Act, shall be performed by the Secretary in accordance with the guidelines issued by the Administrator of General Services.
(b) Nothing in this order shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect:
(i) authority granted by law to a department or agency or the head thereof; or
(ii) functions of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget relating to budget, administrative, or legislative proposals.
(c) This order shall be implemented consistent with applicable law and subject to the availability of appropriations.
(d) This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity, by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.
GEORGE W. BUSH
THE WHITE HOUSE,
January 22, 2008.
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