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  • So, basically we have public leaders,

  • public officials who are out of control;

  • they are writing bills that are unintelligible,

  • and out of these bills are going to come

  • maybe 40,000 pages of regulations, total complexity,

  • which has a dramatically negative impact on our life.

  • If you're a veteran coming back from Iraq or Vietnam

  • you face a blizzard of paperwork to get your benefits;

  • if you're trying to get a small business loan,

  • you face a blizzard of paperwork.

  • What are we going to do about it? I define simplicity

  • as a means to achieving clarity,

  • transparency and empathy,

  • building humanity into communications.

  • I've been simplifying things for 30 years.

  • I come out of the advertising and design business.

  • My focus is understanding you people,

  • and how you interact with the government

  • to get your benefits,

  • how you interact with corporations to decide whom you're going to do business with,

  • and how you view brands.

  • So, very quickly, when President Obama said,

  • "I don't see why we can't

  • have a one-page, plain English consumer credit agreement."

  • So, I locked myself in a room,

  • figured out the content,

  • organized the document, and wrote it in plain English.

  • I've had this checked by the two top

  • consumer credit lawyers in the country.

  • This is a real thing.

  • Now, I went one step further and said,

  • "Why do we have to stick with the stodgy lawyers

  • and just have a paper document? Let's go online."

  • And many people

  • might need help in computation.

  • Working with the Harvard Business School,

  • you'll see this example when you talk about minimum payment:

  • If you spent 62 dollars for a meal,

  • the longer you take to pay out that loan,

  • you see, over a period of time using the minimum payment

  • it's 99 dollars and 17 cents.

  • How about that? Do you think your bank is going to show that to people?

  • But it's going to work. It's more effective

  • than just computational aids.

  • And what about terms like

  • "over the limit"?

  • Perhaps a stealth thing.

  • Define it in context. Tell people what it means.

  • When you put it in plain English,

  • you almost force the institution

  • to give the people a way, a default out of that,

  • and not put themselves at risk.

  • Plain English is about

  • changing the content.

  • And one of the things I'm most proud of

  • is this agreement for IBM.

  • It's a grid, it's a calendar.

  • At such and such a date, IBM has responsibilities,

  • you have responsibilities.

  • Received very favorably by business.

  • And there is some good news to report today.

  • Each year, one in 10 taxpayers

  • receives a notice from the IRS.

  • There are 200 million letters that go out.

  • Running through this typical letter that they had,

  • I ran it through my simplicity lab,

  • it's pretty unintelligible.

  • All the parts of the document in red are not intelligible.

  • We looked at doing over 1,000 letters that cover

  • 70 percent of their transactions in plain English.

  • They have been tested in the laboratory.

  • When I run it through my lab,

  • this heat-mapping shows everything

  • is intelligible.

  • And the IRS has introduced the program.

  • (Applause)

  • There are a couple of things going on right now

  • that I want to bring to your attention.

  • There is a lot of discussion now

  • about a consumer financial protection agency,

  • how to mandate simplicity.

  • We see all this complexity.

  • It's incumbent upon us,

  • and this organization, I believe,

  • to make clarity, transparency

  • and empathy a national priority.

  • There is no way that we should allow government

  • to communicate the way they communicate.

  • There is no way we should do business

  • with companies that have agreements

  • with stealth provisions and that are unintelligible.

  • So, how are we going to change the world?

  • Make clarity, transparency and simplicity a national priority.

  • I thank you.

  • (Applause)

So, basically we have public leaders,

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