DESC: President Bill Clinton, founder of the William J. Clinton Foundation and 42nd president of the United States, speaks to the graduates.

THANK YOU VERY MUCH. JONATHAN, THANK YOU. THANK YOU, PAULA SINGER, FOR YOUR SERVICE, AND THANKS FOR TELLING ME WHERE ALL THE GRADUATES ARE FROM.

[ LAUGHTER ]
THANK YOU, DOUG BECKER, FOR CREATING THIS AMAZING GLOBAL NETWORK OF UNIVERSITIES AND FOR GIVING ME THE OPPORTUNITY TO SERVE WITH YOU AND TO COME HERE TODAY. THIS IS THE NINTH UNIVERSITY IN THE LAUREATE NETWORK THAT I’VE HAD THE HONOR TO ADDRESS BUT MY FIRST COMMENCEMENT ADDRESS. THE REST OF ‘EM I WAS IN A TRIAL RUN. HE WANTED TO SEE IF I WAS, YOU KNOW, GOOD ENOUGH.

 [LAUGHTER]

I WANT TO THANK THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS, THE FACULTY, THE STAFF, FOR WHAT THEY HAVE DONE FOR ALL THE GRADUATES TODAY. I WANT TO THANK THE FAMILIES FOR SUPPORTING YOU. I HAVE TO SAY A SPECIAL WORD ABOUT TWO PEOPLE. FIRST OF ALL, SOMEONE WHO’S NOT HERE. BESIDE DICK RILEY, WHO I DO LOVE LIKE A BROTHER. FIRST I WANT TO TELL YOU SOMETHING ABOUT MY WIFE.

[CHEERS & APPLAUSE]

TODAY...I TOOK A FEW PICTURES BEFORE I CAME OUT HERE, INCLUDING WITH FOUR TEACHERS OF THE YEAR WHO ARE PART OF THE LAUREATE FAMILY, AND THE TEACHER FROM FLORIDA SAID, “I TOLD MY 7-YEAR-OLD I WAS GOING TO MEET YOU TODAY AND THE QUESTION WAS, ‘OH, ISN’T THAT HILLARY’S HUSBAND?’”

[LAUGHTER]

SO AS I MOVE INTO THE SUNSET OF MY LIFE, I BECOME INCREASINGLY IDENTIFIED AS HILLARY’S HUSBAND OR CHELSEA’S FATHER. IT’S FINE.

[LAUGHTER]

BUT THIS IS A FUNNY THING. HILLARY JUST GOT BACK FROM A GRUELING TRIP OF ABOUT 12 OR 13 DAYS TO GREECE, TURKEY, INDIA, INDONESIA, HONG KONG, FLEW BACK TO WASHINGTON, WORKED FOR TWO DAYS. THERE WAS A HUGE TORNADO WARNING ALL OVER THE EAST COAST LAST NIGHT SO SHE WAS STUCK IN THE AIRPORT OR ON THE PLANE FOR TWO HOURS. FINALLY GOT HOME LAST NIGHT,
LOOKED AT MY SCHEDULE, AND SAID, “THIS IS THE FIRST TIME I’VE BEEN HOME IN MORE THAN TWO WEEKS AND YOU’RE LEAVING TOMORROW?”

[LAUGHTER]

I SAID, “YEAH. I’M GONNA GIVE A COMMENCEMENT SPEECH AT WALDEN, WHICH IS THE WORLD’S BIGGEST INTERNET, VIRTUAL UNIVERSITY, AND 70% OF THE STUDENTS ARE WOMEN.” SHE SAID, “WELL, WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR, THEN? GO ON AND GO.”

[LAUGHTER]

[APPLAUSE]
THE SECOND THING I WANT TO TELL YOU IS THAT I’M GLAD JONATHAN KAPLAN MADE FULL DISCLOSURE. YOU KNOW, WHEN HE WAS UP THERE BRAGGING ON MY TERM, I THOUGHT, “YOU KNOW, IF YOU DON’T TELL THEM YOU WERE PART OF IT, IT’S GOING TO SOUND LIKE YOU’RE A HIRED FLACK.”

[LAUGHTER]

BUT I HAVE TO SAY, I’M VERY PROUD OF HIM, BUT IF YOU THINK ABOUT WHAT’S GOING ON IN WASHINGTON, HE’S IN THE WRONG PLACE TODAY. [APPLAUSE]

I MEAN, THINK ABOUT THIS. HE WORKED ON THE FOLLOWING: FIRST BALANCED BUDGET
WE’D HAD IN 30 YEARS. HE WORKED ON SOMETHING CALLED THE NEW MARKETS PLAN, WHICH GAVE EXTRA INCENTIVES FOR PEOPLE TO INVEST IN PARTS OF AMERICA WITH HIGH UNEMPLOYMENT AND LOW PER-CAPITA INCOMES—WHICH IS STILL WORKING FOR US OUT THERE. HE WORKED ON WELFARE REFORM, WHICH REDUCED THE WELFARE ROLLS BY 60% AND MOVED 100 TIMES AS MANY PEOPLE FROM POVERTY TO THE MIDDLE CLASS AS HAD BEEN MOVED IN THE 12 YEARS BEFORE OR THE EIGHT YEARS AFTER, COMBINED. HE DID THAT. AND...

[APPLAUSE]

HE WORKED ON HELPING PREVENT THE ASIAN FINANCIAL CRISIS IN 1998 FROM TURNING INTO A FULL-FLEDGED COLLAPSE. NOW, WITH THAT RESUMÉ, HE OUGHT TO BE SPENDING THE WEEKEND IN WASHINGTON HELPING THOSE PEOPLE FIX THAT MESS.

[APPLAUSE]

NONETHELESS, I’M GLAD HE’S HERE. I KNOW WE HAVE A NUMBER OF PUBLIC OFFICIALS AND FORMER PUBLIC OFFICIALS HERE. I THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE.

I WANT TO SAY JUST A FEW THINGS TODAY ABOUT THE WORLD YOU ENTER NOW WITH THIS DEGREE. FIRST OF ALL, NOTWITHSTANDING THE TROUBLES OF THE ECONOMY, THERE IS STILL A STAGGERING PREMIUM TO HAVING MORE EDUCATION. WITH THE UNEMPLOYMENT RATE OVER 9%—AND WE ALL KNOW THE REAL UNEMPLOYMENT RATE IS MORE LIKE 16 OR 17% WHEN YOU COUNT THE PEOPLE WHO HAVE DROPPED OUT OF LOOKING FOR JOBS AND THE PEOPLE WHO ARE WORKING PART TIME WHO WOULD LOVE TO WORK FULL TIME IN AMERICA AND A LOT OF OTHER PROBLEMS IN THE COUNTRY’S REPRESENTED HERE. LAST WEEK, THERE WAS A REPORT ISSUED IN ONE OF OUR MAJOR NEWSPAPERS THAT SAID THAT UNEMPLOYMENT AMONG PEOPLE WITH PH.D.S AND PROFESSIONAL DEGREES IS ABOUT 2%. AMONG PEOPLE WITH MASTER’S DEGREES, ABOUT 4%. AMONG PEOPLE WITH BACHELOR’S DEGREES, ABOUT 5 TO 5.5%. SO IT STILL MATTERS TO DEVELOP YOUR MIND AND TO INCREASE THE RANGE OF THINGS THAT YOU CAN DO AND TO WHICH YOU CAN CONTRIBUTE.

AND THAT CONNECTION—ONE OF THE THINGS I JUST ASKED DOUG, I SAID, “HAVE ALL THE LAUREATE COLLEGES IN THE UNITED STATES CONVERTED TO THE DIRECT LOAN PROGRAM?” WHICH WAS PASSED BY CONGRESS IN 2009, AND HE SAID, “YES.” THE GREATEST THING ABOUT THAT IS THAT BECAUSE THE COST OF HIGHER EDUCATION HAS BEEN GOING UP MORE RAPIDLY THAN INFLATION—WHEN INTEREST—WHEN INCOMES WERE FLAT, EVEN BEFORE THE FINANCIAL CRISIS IN 2008, AMERICA STILL RANKS FIRST IN THE WORLD IN THE PERCENTAGE OF OUR PEOPLE WHO ENROLL IN HIGHER EDUCATION, BUT WE DROPPED, DEPENDING ON WHOSE RANKINGS YOU LOOK AT, TO SOMEWHERE BETWEEN NINTH AND 14TH IN THE PERCENTAGE WITH WHO COMPLETE FOUR-YEAR DEGREES. THIS IS A RECIPE FOR DISASTER. IT’S CRAZY.

BUT A LOT OF PEOPLE DO IT BECAUSE THEY THINK THEY’LL NEVER BE ABLE TO PAY THEIR LOANS OFF, OR THEY THINK THEY CAN’T BORROW MORE MONEY. THE LAW NOW SAYS IF YOU GET A FEDERALLY SUPPORTED STUDENT LOAN, YOU HAVE THE ABSOLUTE RIGHT TO PAY IT BACK AS A SMALL PERCENTAGE OF YOUR INCOME FOR UP TO 20 YEARS. MEANS NO ONE EVER HAS TO DROP OUT AGAIN IN THE UNITED STATES. THIS IS A VERY, VERY IMPORTANT THING. NOW…

[APPLAUSE]

SO, I CONGRATULATE YOU ON STICKING WITH IT, AND I KNOW A LOT OF YOU ARE WHAT WE USED TO CALL NONTRADITIONAL STUDENTS, ALTHOUGH NOW YOU’RE PROBABLY MORE TRADITIONAL THAN WHAT WE USED TO CALL NORMAL STUDENTS. USED TO BE GRADUATES BROUGHT THEIR PARENTS TO THE CEREMONY; MORE THAN HALF OF YOU PROBABLY BROUGHT YOUR KIDS.

[LAUGHTER]

AND GOOD FOR YOU. AND IF YOUR CHILDREN ARE OUT THERE, THEY SHOULD BE VERY PROUD OF YOU!
VERY PROUD.

[APPLAUSE]

BUT, HERE’S WHAT I WANT TO SAY. EVERY SINGLE PERSON WHO HAS BEEN EMPOWERED WITH
EDUCATION HAS A FUNDAMENTAL DECISION TO MAKE, NOT SO MUCH ABOUT WHAT YOU DO BUT HOW YOU THINK ABOUT WHAT YOU DO. AND IF YOU THINK ABOUT ALL THESE DEBATES GOING ON
ALL OVER THE WORLD TODAY, THEY’RE ALL SORT OF VARIATIONS ON THE THEME. WE LIVE IN THE MOST INTERDEPENDENT WORLD IN HISTORY. OTHERWISE THIS INSTITUTION COULD NOT EXIST. RIGHT?  IF THERE WERE NO INTERNET, NO WALDEN. RIGHT? IF NATIONAL BORDERS DIDN’T NOW LOOK MORE LIKE NETS THAN WALLS, YOU WOULDN’T HAVE ALL THESE FLAGS BEHIND ME. AND THERE ARE LOTS OF WONDERFUL THINGS ABOUT IT. YOU ARE EXHIBIT A. I MEAN, THIS IS AN AMAZING TIME TO BE ALIVE.  JUST LOOK AT—I SPENT A LOT—IF YOU’RE AN AMERICAN CITIZEN, I SPENT A LOT OF YOUR TAX MONEY WHEN I WAS PRESIDENT...

[LAUGHTER]

TRYING TO FINISH THE SEQUENCING OF THE HUMAN GENOME BECAUSE I BELIEVED IT WOULD LEAD US TO WHOLE NEW PLACES IN IMPROVING LIFE EXPECTANCY AND THE QUALITY OF LIFE, AND I BELIEVED IT WOULD LEAD TO EXPLOSIVE GROWTH IN ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITIES IN BIOTECHNOLOGY IN THE COMING DECADE, ABOUT WHEN I THOUGHT IT WAS GOING TO HAPPEN. AND JUST LOOK WHAT WE FOUND OUT. WE’VE ALREADY IDENTIFIED THE VARIANCES IN OUR GENOMIC MAKEUP FOR WOMEN THAT ARE THE PRIMARY PREDICTORS OF BREAST CANCER, SO NOW YOU CAN PUT OFF THE BEGINNING OF ROUTINE MAMMOGRAPHIES, AS THE MEDICAL ASSOCIATION SAYS, UNTIL A LATER AGE UNLESS
YOU HAVE ONE OF THOSE VARIANCES, IN WHICH CASE, YOU SHOULD START OUT YOUNGER.
AND LEARNING THESE KINDS OF THINGS, IT’S ONE OF THE REASONS THAT, FOR ALL THE PROBLEMS IN OUR HEALTH SYSTEM, WE STILL RANK FIRST IN THE WORLD IN SURVIVABILITY RATES FOR WOMEN WITH BREAST CANCER, AND WHY I HOPE THAT THESE TECHNOLOGIES CAN BE BROADLY SPREAD ACROSS THE WORLD AND WE CAN ACHIEVE OTHER GAINS IN THE GENOME PROJECT. WE’RE GETTING CLOSE ON UNRAVELING THE VARIANCES THAT TAKE US TO PARKINSON’S, THAT TAKE US TO ALZHEIMER’S.

AND ALONG THE WAY, WE FOUND SOME AMUSING THINGS. LAST YEAR WE LEARNED—I MEAN, EARLIER THIS YEARWE LEARNED—THAT UNLESS YOUR HERITAGE ALL THE WAY BACK TO THE BEGINNING OF HUMANITY IS 100% SUBSAHARAN AFRICAN, WHICH MEANS ALMOST NO AFRICAN-AMERICANS, RIGHT?
UNLESS IT’S 100%, NOT ONE BREAK IN THE CHAIN, UNLESS THAT, YOUR GENOME IS BETWEEN ONE AND 4% NEANDERTHAL. BECAUSE IT TURNS OUT THAT WHEN PEOPLE GOT OUT OF AFRICA ABOUT 90,000 YEARS AGO, THEY SHARED THE EARTH FOR ABOUT 40,000 YEARS WITH NEANDERTHALS, AND THEY WERE BIGGER THAN WE WERE, THEIR BRAINS WERE SLIGHTLY BIGGER. THEY NEVER SPOKE, AS FAR AS WE KNOW, IN THE WAY THAT A HUMAN SPEAKS, BUT APPARENTLY WE AND THEY LIKED EACH OTHER WELL ENOUGH TO HAVE SOME OFFSPRING.

[LAUGHTER]

AND WE PROBABLY SURVIVED AND THEY DIDN’T NOT BECAUSE WE WERE SMARTER BUT BECAUSE WE COULD RUN AND THEY CAN’T, AND MAMMALS WERE GIANT THEN. BUT, ANYWAY, WHEN THIS CAME OUT, I COULDN’T WAIT. I GOT ON THE PHONE, I CALLED HILLARY THEN I CALLED MY DAUGHTER. THEY WERE NOT AT ALL SURPRISED TO LEARN THAT THEIR FATHER WAS PART NEANDERTHAL.

[LAUGHTER]

BUT THEY WERE QUITE SURPRISED TO LEARN THAT THEY WERE PART NEANDERTHAL.

[LAUGHTER]

I SAID, IT’S AN EXCITING TIME. AT THE DEPTH OF THE AMAZON RIVER IN MY LAST YEAR AS PRESIDENT, TWO FRESHWATER SPECIES WERE FOUND THAT HAD NEVER BEFORE BEEN IDENTIFIED. EARLIER THIS YEAR, THE HUBBLE TELESCOPE FOUND A PLANET OUTSIDE OUR SOLAR SYSTEM IN THE CONSTELLATION LIBRA, WHICH APPEARS TO BE FAR ENOUGH FROM ITS SUN THAT THE CONDITIONS THERE MIGHT CLOSELY APPROXIMATE WHAT IS OUR ENVIRONMENT, AND, THEREFORE, MAYBE IT COULD SUPPORT LIFE. A LOT OF INTERESTING THINGS GOING ON. I WISH I WERE YOUNGER. I WOULD LIKE TO BE AROUND TO SEE MORE OF IT.

BUT THIS WORLD WE’RE LIVING IN HAS THREE HUGE PROBLEMS. IT IS ENTIRELY TOO UNEQUAL. AND IN SOME PLACES, GROWING MORE SO. I’VE BEEN TALKING ABOUT THIS FOR 20 YEARS. FINALLY, EVERYBODY’S BEGINNING TO THINK IT’S A SERIOUS ISSUE. WE AMERICANS BELIEVE IN INDIVIDUAL INITIATIVE AND HARD WORK, AND WE KNOW THE GOVERNMENT CAN’T LEVEL THE PLAYING FIELD TO THE POINT THAT THERE’S NO INCENTIVE FOR HARD WORK AND PEOPLE AREN’T REWARDED FOR CREATIVITY. BUT IF A SOCIETY BECOMES SO UNEQUAL IT CANNOT SUPPORT A STRONG AND GROWING MIDDLE CLASS, AND IF POOR PEOPLE HAVE NO HOPE OF WORKING THEIR WAY UP AND GIVING THEIR CHILDREN A BETTER FUTURE, THEN THE WHOLE ENTERPRISE IS COMPROMISED. HALF THE WORLD’S PEOPLE ARE STILL LIVING ON ABOUT $1.25 A DAY. OR— I TAKE THAT BACK—HALF THE WORLD’S PEOPLE ARE LIVING ON ABOUT $2.25 A DAY, ABOUT A BILLION PEOPLE LIVE ON $1.25 A DAY. TWO MILLION PEOPLE HAVE NO ACCESS TO SANITATION. REMEMBER THE CHOLERA OUTBREAK IN HAITI? IT WASN’T JUST BECAUSE A UN SOLDIER FROM A CHOLERA-INFECTED COUNTRY CAME TO HAITI. IT WAS BECAUSE THEY HAD NO SANITATION SYSTEM. A BILLION PEOPLE NEVER GET A CLEAN GLASS OF WATER. A BILLION PEOPLE GO TO BED HUNGRY EVERY NIGHT. 130 MILLION KIDS NEVER DARKEN THE DOOR OF A SCHOOL. AT LEAST THAT MANY GO TO SCHOOL BUT THEY NEVER HAVE LEARNING MATERIALS OR BOOKS OR COMPUTERS OR TRAINED TEACHERS. OUTSIDE OF THE WEALTHY COUNTRIES, A QUARTER OF ALL THE DEATHS COME FROM AIDS, TUBERCULOSIS, MALARIA, AND INFECTIONS RELATED TO DIRTY WATER, CHOLERA, DYSENTERY, AND DIARRHEA.

THEN WITHIN WEALTHY COUNTRIES, SOME MORE THAN OTHERS, NONE MORE THAN OURS, THERE IS GROWING INEQUALITY. BEFORE THIS FINANCIAL CRASH AND THE LAST DECADE, 90% OF THE GAINS IN INCOME AND EVEN MORE OF THE GAINS IN WEALTH WERE REAPED BY THOSE OF US IN THE TOP 10% OF EARNERS. AND LISTEN TO THIS, A WHOPPING 42% WENT TO THE TOP 1%. THIS IS NOT A SUSTAINABLE SITUATION. AND, THEREFORE, I AGREE WITH ABRAHAM LINCOLN, WHO SAID THAT YOU CAN NEVER BUILD UP THE POOR BY TEARING DOWN THE SUCCESSFUL, BUT WE HAVE GOT TO FIND A BETTER SYSTEM THAT EXPANDS MIDDLE CLASS LIVES AND LIVELIHOODS. AND AROUND THE WORLD, WE NEED TO DEVOTE SOME OF OUR MONEY SINCE WE NOW KNOW HOW TO DO IT. I CAN TESTIFY TO THAT. BECAUSE I DO THIS WORK ALL OVER THE WORLD TO HELP OTHER PEOPLE FIND THEIR DREAMS AND GIVE THEIR CHILDREN THE HOPE OF A BETTER FUTURE.

[APPLAUSE]

WE WORK...

[APPLAUSE]

LET’S GIVE YOU AN EXAMPLE. I WORK IN AFRICA AND LATIN AMERICA WITH FARMERS, WOMEN, MEN, ALL DIFFERENT KINDS OF FOLKS, DOING DIFFERENT KINDS OF THINGS. NOT A SINGLE PLACE WE’VE WORKED WHERE WE HAVEN’T AT LEAST DOUBLED FARM INCOMES AND USUALLY TRIPLED OR QUADRUPLED THEM BY DOING SIMPLE THINGS LIKE BUYING FERTILIZER AND SEED IN BULK, HELPING DEAL WITH PESTS, HELPING TO STORE AND TRANSPORT THE FOOD TO MARKET. JUST SIMPLE THINGS YOU TAKE FOR GRANTED IF YOU’RE AN AMERICAN THAT CHANGE THE WHOLE TRAJECTORY OF LIFE FOR PEOPLE.

WE’VE GOT TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT INEQUALITY. SECOND THING WE HAVE TO RECOGNIZE IS THAT THE WORLD WE LIVE IN IS HIGHLY UNSTABLE AND A WORLD WHERE BORDERS LOOK MORE LIKE NETS THAN WALLS. SOMEBODY ELSE’S INSTABILITY QUICKLY CAN BECOME YOURS. MOST AMERICANS COMING UP ON THE 10TH ANNIVERSARY OF 9/11 THINK OF TERRORISM AS AN EXAMPLE OF INSTABILITY BUT LOOK HOW FAST THE FINANCIAL CRISIS, WHICH WE STARTED, SPREAD AROUND THE WORLD. LOOK HOW MUCH SOUTH AFRICA’S AIDS PROBLEM WAS DUE TO THE FACT THAT PEOPLE WERE FLEEING ZIMBABWE TO FIND A SAFER PLACE TO LIVE. IT’S AN UNSTABLE WORLD WE LIVE IN. AND, LOOK, SOME INSTABILITY, JUST LIKE SOME INEQUALITY, IS POSITIVE. YOU NEED A LITTLE SPACE FOR PEOPLE TO FEEL THE EDGE AND THE EXCITEMENT AND THE POSSIBILITY OF DOING BETTER AND CREATING, BUT IF IT GETS TOO OUT OF HAND, THEN THINGS JUST SHUT DOWN. PEOPLE SAY, “I JUST CAN’T DEAL WITH THIS.”

AND FINALLY, THE WORLD IS NOT SUSTAINABLE BECAUSE OF THE WAY WE PRODUCE AND CONSUME ENERGY. AND OTHER RESOURCES, CLIMATE CHANGE IS REAL. NINE OF THE 10 HOTTEST YEARS ON RECORD HAVE OCCURRED IN THE LAST 13 YEARS. WE HAD A TORNADO WARNING IN WESTCHESTER COUNTY, NEW YORK, LAST NIGHT. WE HAD A TERRIBLE TORNADO IN MASSACHUSETTS. TORNADOES ARE SUPPOSED TO OCCUR IN THE MIDDLE WEST AND THE SOUTH. I WAS GOVERNOR OF ARKANSAS FOR A DOZEN YEARS, IT’S THE NUMBER ONE STATE IN THE COUNTRY IN TORNADO DAMAGE, JUST SOUTH OF JOPLIN, MISSOURI, WHICH WAS DEVASTATED. THIS YEAR WE LOST A COUPLE OF BLOCKS OF QUEENS IN NEW YORK CITY TO A TORNADO. SO, THE GOOD NEWS IS, IF WE QUIT DENYING THIS AND GET THE SHOW ON THE ROAD, IT’S THE NUMBER ONE THING WE COULD DO FOR THE NEXT 10 YEARS TO GENERATE ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY IN AMERICA.

BUT IT’S IMPORTANT TO RECOGNIZE THAT THIS IS NOT SUSTAINABLE. IF YOU GO TO AUSTRALIA, FOR EXAMPLE – AUSTRALIA IS THE FIRST BIG COUNTRY REALLY AFFECTED ADVERSELY BY CLIMATE CHANGE—YOU WILL SEE PASSIONATE DEBATES AMONG LIBERALS AND CONSERVATIVES ABOUT WHAT TO DO. BUT THEY’RE NOT DEBATING WHETHER IT’S REAL OR NOT, THEY’RE DEBATING WHAT’S THE BEST WAY TO DEAL WITH IT BECAUSE THEY’RE LIVING WITH IT. AND IRONICALLY, THE NEXT COUNTRIES, ACCORDING TO THE CLIMATE MODELS, MOST LIKELY TO BE HARD HIT ARE SOME OF THE MOST VULNERABLE COUNTRIES IN THE WORLD, INCLUDING AFGHANISTAN, REPRESENTED HERE. HAITI. MANY OTHER PLACES IN THE CARIBBEAN, WHICH VIRTUALLY EVERY COUNTRY IN THE CARIBBEAN IS REPRESENTED IN THIS GRADUATING CLASS.

SO WHEN I THINK ABOUT THE WORLD, I THINK ABOUT HOW CAN WE BUILD UP THE POSITIVE FORCES OF OUR INTERDEPENDENCE? HOW CAN WE GET MORE PEOPLE ADVANCED EDUCATION USING THIS MODEL? I’LL THINK ABOUT THAT ALL THE WAY HOME TODAY. WHAT CAN WE DO TO DO THIS SOMEWHERE ELSE? HOW COULD WE REACH MORE AFRICANS WITH THIS? HOW COULD WE REACH MORE PEOPLE IN SOUTHEAST ASIA? AND WE HAVE TO REDUCE THE NEGATIVE FORCES. IF YOU BELIEVE THAT THE DEFINITION OF INTERDEPENDENCE IS WE CAN’T ESCAPE EACH OTHER, THEREFORE WE’RE ALL IN THIS FUTURE TOGETHER. SO WHATEVER YOU GOT YOUR DEGREE IN, THE MOST IMPORTANT THING IS WHETHER YOU DECIDE WHEN YOU WALK OUT OF HERE AND YOU EMBRACE YOUR FAMILIES, WHETHER YOU’RE OFF ON YOUR JOURNEY BY YOURSELF OR WHETHER YOU’RE PART OF A LARGER LANDSCAPE OF INTERCONNECTIONS WITH PEOPLE IN YOUR COMMUNITY AND YOUR STATE AND YOUR NATION AND THE WORLD, I BELIEVE WE ARE, BUT WHETHER YOU THINK YOU’RE ON YOUR OWN OR WE’RE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER WILL DETERMINE AN ENORMOUS NUMBER OF THINGS ABOUT WHAT YOU BELIEVE SHOULD BE DONE AND WHAT YOU PERSONALLY SHOULD DO. TO MAKE A WORLD THAT’S LESS UNEQUAL AND MORE FULL OF HOPE FOR PEOPLE TO HAVE MIDDLE CLASS LIFESTYLES. AND TO REDUCE POVERTY. FOR WHAT WE SHOULD DO TO MAKE THE WORLD UNSTABLE ENOUGH FOR CREATIVITY BUT NOT SO UNSTABLE WE ALL JUST SHUT DOWN AND WE’RE AFRAID TO DO ANYTHING. THAT’S PART OF WHAT’S AILING AMERICA RIGHT NOW, WE’RE STILL JUST IN SHOCK OVER WHAT HAPPENED. AND WHETHER WE SEE THE CHALLENGE OF CLIMATE CHANGE AS SOMETHING TO DENY SO WE CAN KEEP ON DOING WHAT WE’VE BEEN DOING OR SOMETHING TO EMBRACE SO WE CAN CREATE A WHOLE NEW 21ST CENTURY ECONOMY.

ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT THINGS TO ME ABOUT THIS WHOLE LAUREATE NETWORK IS ITS COMMITMENT TO THE IDEA THAT CITIZENS DON’T HAVE TO JUST DEPEND ON GOVERNMENT OR BUSINESS OR ANYBODY ELSE TO SOLVE ALL THESE PROBLEMS, THAT ONE OF THE GREAT TRENDS OF THE 21ST CENTURY IS THE EXPLOSION OF PRIVATE CITIZENS DOING PUBLIC GOOD THROUGH NONGOVERNMENTAL ACTIONS. LAUREATE UNIVERSITIES HAVE MADE COMMITMENTS TO HELP HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATES PLAN PRE-COLLEGE APPRENTICESHIPS AROUND THE WORLD WITH GROUPS LIKE CARE, THE PEACE CORPS, U.S.A.I.D. THEY’VE DEVELOPED—LISTEN TO THIS. YOU CAN IDENTIFY WITH THIS BECAUSE OF WHAT HAPPENS AT WALDEN—A VIRTUAL NETWORK OF 10,000 YOUNG PEOPLE LEADING COMMUNITY SERVICE PROJECTS AROUND THE WORLD THAT HAVE ACTUALLY INVOLVED 600,000 PEOPLE IN THE FAR-FLUNG CORNERS OF THE EARTH TO SOLVE PROBLEMS WHERE THEY LIVE. NOW, WHY DO I SAY THAT? BECAUSE SOMETIMES PEOPLE LOOK AT THESE CHALLENGES WE FACE AND THEY SAY, “THEY’RE SO BIG AND I’M JUST ONE PERSON.” THE GREAT THING ABOUT THE CELL PHONE AND THE INTERNET IS THAT ONE PERSON CAN BECOME A MILLION. AND A MILLION ARE MORE POWERFUL THAN ANY ONE SINGLE PERSON ON PLANET EARTH, WHETHER THAT PERSON IS THE LEADER OF A COUNTRY OR A BILLIONAIRE.

LOOK WHAT HAPPENED IN THE ARAB SPRING IN TAHRIR SQUARE IN CAIRO. LOOK WHAT WE NOW KNOW ABOUT IT. THAT FOR TWO LONG YEARS, THE YOUNG PEOPLE THAT WANTED MORE FREEDOM IN CAIRO WERE IN TOUCH WITH THE YOUNG PEOPLE IN TUNISIA WHO WANTED THE SAME THING, AND THEY WERE BOTH IN TOUCH WITH YOUNG PEOPLE IN SERBIA WHO HAD HELPED TO BRING THE FALL OF MR. MILOSEVIC. YOU HAVE MORE POWER THAN ANY GENERATION BEFORE YOU, BOTH AT WORK AND AS A CITIZEN, TO CHANGE THE WORLD FOR THE BETTER. AND...

[APPLAUSE]

THAT’S WHAT...

[APPLAUSE]

SO HERE’S WHAT I WANT YOU TO THINK ABOUT, TWO THINGS. ONE IS, WHEN I WAS IN POLITICS—AND I LOVED IT. GOD FORGIVE ME, I LOVE IT.

[LAUGHTER]

BUT WE SPENT MOST OF OUR TIME DISCUSSING TWO THINGS. AND MOST OF THE DEBATE THAT YOU HEAR ABOUT TODAY IS DISCUSSING TWO THINGS, ISN’T IT? WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO AND HOW MUCH MONEY ARE YOU GOING TO SPEND ON IT? RIGHT? HOW MUCH ARE YOU GOING TO CUT THE DEBT IN THIS LONG-TERM PLAN, AND HOW MUCH ARE YOU GOING TO CUT SPENDING? HOW MUCH ARE YOU GOING TO RAISE TAXES? THERE’S HARDLY ANY DISCUSSION ABOUT WHATEVER YOU PROPOSE TO DO AND HOWEVER MUCH MONEY YOU’RE GOING TO DEVOTE TO IT, HOW DO YOU PROPOSE TO DO IT. SO YOU TURN YOUR GOOD INTENTIONS INTO POSITIVE CHANGES. YOU, BECAUSE OF YOUR EDUCATION, HAVE ACQUIRED A HEAVY RESPONSIBILITY AT WORK AND AS A CITIZEN TO HELP YOUR FELLOW CITIZENS AND ANYBODY YOU WORK WITH AROUND THE WORLD TO THINK MORE ABOUT THAT THIRD QUESTION. THE “HOW” QUESTION MAY BE THE MOST IMPORTANT QUESTION OF THE 21ST CENTURY. I WAS AT THE ROCKEFELLER FOUNDATION THIS WEEK, THEY HAD THESE AWARDS, AND THEY GAVE OUR FOUNDATION AN AWARD BECAUSE THEY SAID WE HAD ANSWERED THAT QUESTION IN TWO IMPORTANT WAYS.

WHEN I LEFT OFFICE, THERE WAS NO GLOBAL FUND ON MALARIA, THERE WAS NO PEPFAR PROGRAM—THE ONE THAT PRESIDENT BUSH STARTED, I THINK HIS FINEST ACHIEVEMENT—TO HELP YOUNG POOR PEOPLE STAY ALIVE FROM AIDS AND MALARIA AROUND THE WORLD. AND GENERIC—EVEN GENERIC DRUGS FOR AIDS COST $500 A PERSON A YEAR AS OPPOSED TO $10,000 WE WERE PAYING IN AMERICA, BUT $500 IS A LOT OF MONEY IN A COUNTRY WITH AN INCOME OF A DOLLAR A DAY OR LESS AND AN INFECTION RATE OF 20%. SO THE PRIME MINISTER IN SAINT KITTS AND NEVIS --I KNOW THERE ARE SOME PEOPLE HERE FROM THERE—DENZIL DOUGLAS ASKED ME TO HELP HIM SOLVE THE AIDS PROBLEM IN THE CARIBBEAN; HE’S A DOCTOR. HE SAID—HE SAID, “WE DON’T HAVE A DENIAL PROBLEM, WE HAVE A MONEY AND ORGANIZATIONAL PROBLEM.” I SAID, “WHAT DO YOU WANT ME TO DO ABOUT IT?” HE SAID, “FIX IT.” I HAD LIKE 12 EMPLOYEES IN MY FOUNDATION AT THE TIME. BUT HERE’S WHAT I FOUND. THIS $500 MEDICINE WAS BEING SOLD IN THE BAHAMAS FOR $3,500. BECAUSE THE MARKET WAS SO DISORGANIZED, THERE WERE TWO INTERMEDIARIES TAKING HUGE CUTS. SO THE FIRST FOUR DAYS WE WERE ON THE JOB, THE BAHAMAS STARTED GETTING THE MEDICINE AT $500 AND THEY COULD TREAT SEVEN TIMES AS MANY PEOPLE. AS A RESULT, NOT A SINGLE H.I.V.-INFECTED MOTHER HAS GIVEN BIRTH TO A CHILD THAT’S H.I.V.-POSITIVE IN THE LAST TWO YEARS THERE.

[APPLAUSE]

THE DEATH RATE HAS BEEN CUT 80%. BUT LOOK, THEN WE DISCOVERED...THAT THESE GENERIC DRUG COMPANIES DIDN’T HAVE ANYWHERE NEAR $500 OF MATERIALS AND LABOR IN THESE PILLS. BUT THEY WERE SELLING THIS MEDICINE AT LOW VOLUME. ONLY 200,000 PEOPLE IN POOR AND RISING INCOME COUNTRIES WERE GETTING THE MEDICINE—ONLY 200,000 PEOPLE OUTSIDE WEALTHY COUNTRIES—AND TWO-THIRDS OF THEM WERE IN BRAZIL WHICH HAD AN INDUSTRY TO MAKE THE DRUGS. SO 70,000 PEOPLE, THERE WAS JUST NO—THE MARKET WAS TINY. SO I WENT TO CANADA AND IRELAND, AND I SAID, “WILL YOU GIVE ME SOME MONEY TO BUY THIS MEDICINE IF I CAN GET THE PRICE DOWN?” THEY SAID, “YES,” AND THEY TOLD ME...THEN I WENT TO THE GUYS IN INDIA AND I SAID, “YOU REALIZE YOU’RE RUNNING THE GLOBAL FIGHT AGAINST AIDS AS IF YOU WERE RUNNING A SMALL JEWELRY STORE IN A MIDDLE-SIZED TOWN?” HE SAID, “WHAT DO YOU MEAN?” I SAID, “LOOK AT YOUR BUSINESS MODEL. THIS IS A LOW-VOLUME, HIGH-PROFIT MARGIN, UNCERTAIN PAYMENT BUSINESS.”

ONE OF MY BEST FRIENDS WHEN I WAS A KID GROWING UP IN ARKANSAS, HIS PARENTS RAN THE LOCAL JEWELRY STORE AND I ALWAYS BOUGHT MY MOTHER A MOTHER’S DAY PRESENT THERE. SO HE HAD TO CARRY THINGS THAT COST A BUCK OR TWO FOR A KID LIKE ME TO BUY, BUT HE HAD NICE WATCHES AND NICE RINGS, BUT IT WAS A MIND-BENDING BUSINESS BECAUSE YOU HAVE TO CARRY A BIG INVENTORY. RIGHT? PEOPLE WANT TO LOOK AROUND, THAT COSTS MONEY. SOMETIMES YOU DON’T GET PAID. I MEAN, SOMETIMES THE ENGAGEMENT GETS BROKEN OFF AND YOU HAVE TO BRING THE RING BACK. IT’S A SCARY BUSINESS. NO WAY TO FIGHT A HEALTH EPIDEMIC. THEY SAID, “WHAT DO YOU WANT TO US DO?” I SAID, “I WANT YOU TO BECOME A GROCERY STORE; I WANT YOU TO HAVE A HUGE-VOLUME, LOW-PROFIT MARGIN, CERTAIN PAYMENT BUSINESS. HERE’S THE MONEY I’LL GIVE YOU, WHAT PRICE WILL YOU GIVE ME?” THEY DROPPED THE PRICE FROM—WITHIN SIX MONTHS FROM $500 TO $145, THEN DOWN TO $90. CHILDREN’S DRUGS FROM $600 TO $60. EIGHT MILLION PEOPLE ARE NOW GETTING DRUGS IN THE DEVELOPING WORLD, NOT 200,000, HALF OF THEM ON THESE CONTRACTS.

[APPLAUSE]

AND...

[APPLAUSE]

BECAUSE IT WAS MORALLY UNACCEPTABLE FOR THEM TO GIVE ME OR OUR FOUNDATION A PRICE—OR THE COUNTRIES WE NEGOTIATED FOR—SO MUCH LOWER THAN EVERYTHING ELSE, EVERYBODY ELSE IN THE WORLD CAN BUY THE DRUGS FOR WITHIN 10 OR 15% OF WHAT WE CAN. THE POINT IS, THERE ARE SOMETIMES SIMPLE THINGS THAT CAN HAVE A HUGE IMPACT. YOU THINK THOSE PEOPLE THAT FIRST STARTED SENDING MESSAGES TO EACH OTHER IN CAIRO AND TUNIS EVER HAD ANY IDEA WHERE THIS ALL WOULD LEAD? THEY STILL DON’T KNOW WHERE IT’S ALL GOING TO LEAD. THAT’S THE OTHER THING I WANT TO TELL YOU, THERE ARE REALLY NO FINAL VICTORIES IN THIS LIFE. YOU JUST HAVE TO SUIT UP AND KEEP ON. BUT...

[APPLAUSE]

BUT...I WANT TO ENCOURAGE YOU BECAUSE YOU KNOW MORE ABOUT WHAT YOU DO THAN VIRTUALLY ANYBODY ELSE ON THE PLANET EARTH, THAT’S WHAT THE DEGREE MEANS, RIGHT? AND YOU HAVE A GIFT. YOU NEED TO SHARE IT BECAUSE YOU CAN’T HAVE A “YOU’RE ON YOUR OWN” ATTITUDE BECAUSE YOU’RE NOT. THE INTERDEPENDENT WORLD MEANS WHETHER YOU LIKE IT OR NOT, YOU’RE GOING TO BE AFFECTED BY THINGS THAT HAPPEN TO OTHER PEOPLE AROUND THE CORNER AND AROUND THE GLOBE. SO I SPENT MY WHOLE LIFE TRYING TO BUILD UP THE POSITIVE AND REDUCE THE NEGATIVE FORCES OF INTERDEPENDENCE. YOU ASK ME WHAT MY POSITION IS ON ANYTHING, FROM THE DEBT SQUABBLE IN WASHINGTON TO WHAT KIND OF CROPS THEY OUGHT TO GROW IN SOUTHERN ETHIOPIA, EVERYTHING I THINK ABOUT NOW I THINK ABOUT, WILL THIS BUILD UP THE POSITIVE OR REDUCE THE NEGATIVE FORCES THAT ARE SHAPING THE FUTURE?

MOST OF MY LIFE HAS BEEN LIVED. I THINK PEOPLE WHO HAVE MORE YESTERDAYS THAN TOMORROWS SHOULD SPEND MORE AND MORE OF THEIR TIME WORRYING ABOUT OTHER PEOPLE’S TOMORROWS. AND I THINK THAT ALL OF YOU, PARTICULARLY THOSE OF YOU WHO ARE GRADUATING HERE WITH CHILDREN, SHOULD UNDERSTAND THAT THE WORLD IS BASICALLY OUT THERE WAITING TO BE REBORN. IN POOR COUNTRIES, YOU HAVE TO BUILD UP THE POSITIVE AND REDUCE THE NEGATIVE FORCES BY BUILDING SYSTEMS THAT WE TAKE FOR GRANTED. THINK OF ALL THE STUFF YOU’RE TAKING FOR GRANTED TODAY. RIGHT HERE. YOU WOULD BE SHOCKED IF THE LIGHTS WENT OUT. IF THE MICROPHONE FAILED. YOU MIGHT BE HAPPY BUT YOU WOULD BE SHOCKED.

[LAUGHTER]

IF THE AIR CONDITIONING WENT OFF AND IN THESE THICK ROBES, YOU STARTED TO SWELTER. I SPENT A LOT OF MY LIFE IN PLACES WHERE PEOPLE TAKE NONE OF THAT FOR GRANTED. THEY NEED SYSTEMS. RICH COUNTRIES HAVE SYSTEMS, THAT’S HOW THEY GOT RICH. BUT SINCE THE DAWN OF TIME, SUCCESS BREEDS COMPLACENCY AND NARROWNESS. WE ALL NEED REFORM BECAUSE PEOPLE TEND TO HOLD ON TO THE PRESENT AND THEIR PRESENT GAINS RATHER THAN TO ADVANCE THE PURPOSE FOR WHICH THE INSTITUTIONS WERE ESTABLISHED IN THE FIRST PLACE. THEY WANT TO KEEP THE POWER THEY HAVE INSTEAD OF PUT SOME OF IT AT RISK TO CREATE A BRIGHTER FUTURE FOR THE NEXT GENERATION. THAT’S AMERICA’S CHALLENGE.

THE LAST POINT I WANT TO MAKE IS, NOBODY IS RIGHT ALL THE TIME. NOBODY HAS THE ABSOLUTE TRUTH. I WAS TELLING SOME OF THE FACULTY MEMBERS BEFORE WE CAME IN, I WAS RECOMMENDING A BOOK I JUST STUMBLED ACROSS A COUPLE DAYS AGO CALLED “BEING WRONG.” AND IT’S A CELEBRATION OF ERROR. SAYS WE’RE ALL MESSED UP IF WE’RE SCARED TO BE WRONG BECAUSE WE’RE GOING TO BE WRONG. AND WHAT WE NEED TO DO IS TO BE OPEN ABOUT IT AND LEARN FROM IT. YOU KNOW, THE...

[APPLAUSE]

ONCE YOU ADMIT THE POSSIBILITY OF ERROR, THEN COMPROMISE IS NOT DIRTY. IT IS NOT IMMORAL; IT IS NOT UNETHICAL AND I CAN TELL YOU THIS, BASED ON MY OWN EXPERIENCE WORKING WITH ECONOMICS AND MY TRAVELS AROUND THE WORLD, CONFLICT IS OFTEN GREAT POLITICS. BUT IT GIVES YOU BAD POLICY. WHAT IS WORKING IN AMERICA AND AROUND THE WORLD TODAY IS COOPERATION. IT—AND SO I ASK YOU, WHEN YOU LEAVE HERE, TO SEE YOURSELF AS PART OF A GLOBAL STREAM OF PEOPLE WHO HAVE MORE POWER THROUGH KNOWLEDGE AND ACCESS TO TECHNOLOGY THAN ANY GENERATION BEFORE YOU, NO MATTER WHAT YOUR INCOME. AND NOT TO BELIEVE THAT YOU CAN NAVIGATE THE FUTURE ON YOUR OWN, ONLY FOR YOURSELF AND YOURS, AND GET THE BEST RESULT.

I THINK IT’S THE MOST EXCITING TIME IN HUMAN HISTORY TO BE ALIVE. AS FRUSTRATED AS I GET BY THE HEADLINES DAY TO DAY, I WOULD REMIND YOU THAT PEOPLE HAVE BEEN BETTING AGAINST THE UNITED STATES AND PREDICTING THE END OF THE WORLD—FOR THOSE OF YOU FROM OTHER COUNTRIES—SINCE THE DAWN OF TIME. AND SO FAR EVERYBODY’S DONE IT’S LOST MONEY. BECAUSE EVENTUALLY WE WIND UP BREAKING THROUGH THE BARRIERS, INCLUDING THE MENTAL AND EMOTIONAL BARRIERS THAT KEEP US FROM CREATING A BIGGER, BROADER REALITY. THAT’S WHAT I WANT YOU TO DO. AND BELIEVE IT OR NOT, EVERY TIME YOU HELP SOMEBODY ELSE TO KNOW WHAT YOU KNOW, EVERY TIME SOMEONE SEES YOU CARING FOR SOMEONE WHO DOESN’T LOOK LIKE YOU, EVERY TIME POLITICS TAKES A BACK SEAT TO SOMEBODY’S HEALTHCARE OR SOMEBODY’S EDUCATION OR SOMEBODY’S OPPORTUNITY, OR SOME KID’S FEARS BEING OVERCOME, YOU DO MAKE A CONTRIBUTION TO THAT TOMORROW.

[APPLAUSE]

THE WORLD IS IN A RACE BETWEEN THE POSITIVE AND THE NEGATIVE FORCES OF OUR INTERDEPENDENCE. GETTING OUT OF EACH OTHER IS NOT AN OPTION. THE ONLY OPTION IS VICTORY FOR THE POSITIVE FORCES. AND NONE OF US CAN DO THAT ALONE. SO JOIN THE FIGHT. AND GOOD LUCK.

THANK YOU.