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"Cracking the Code" on Why Countries Succeed and Fail -- and What We Need to Do Next!

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Thanks to my friends at the Gallup Organization, our partner around the new Gallup-Operation HOPE Financial Literacy Index, I now have the data-backed evidence to "make the case" for the power of innovation and ideas in the success of nations; here in America and around the world.

Based on verifiable data, from 1963 through 2009, there were 4.5 million total patents granted globally, with more than 2.6 million of those patents originating here in the United States, or almost 2/3rd's of all world patents. News flash: The U.S. also happens to be the largest economy in the world. Now stay with me here.

Within the United States, California has more than 450,000 total patents, or 20% of all U.S. patents and fully 10% of the world's patents. California is also the 10th or 11th largest economy in the world.

And then there is New York, with more than 223,000 patents, and together with California these two states have the most patents of any other group of states in the United States. What are the two largest economies in the United States? California and New York, of course.

Now, follow me a bit further, as what comes next is even more amazing and inspiring.

Of the remaining patents outside of the United States, Japan has approximately 761,000, Germany has 322,000, the United Kingdom more than 132,000, France 120,000 plus, Canada more than 87,000, and Taiwan and South Korea more than 77,000 and 66,000 respectively. These just happen to be amongst the largest economies in the world, correlating very closely with global GDP growth numbers amongst leading nations.

And in Africa, of 54 nations on the African continent, it is South Africa with the most patents in Africa, or more than 4,000 patents. South Africa is also the largest economy in all of Africa.

Stay with me here, as now it's time to really give us all something to think about:

Venezuela - 704 total patents
Saudi Arabia - 332 total patents
Egypt - 116 total patents
Cuba - 88 total patents
Iran - 73 total patents
Zimbabwe - 59 total patents
Nigeria - 43 total patents
Haiti - 28 total patents
Iraq - 10 total patents
Sudan - 7 total patents
North Korea -1 total patent

Of course, everyone should be asking, "where's China?" China has more than 6800 total patents, placing it in the top 20 patent producing countries in the world. Now, this particular statistic could be taken down one road or another, so I choose not to get into a China debate in this particular post, but this I can say with absolute confidence:

Innovation and the power of ideas drives economic growth and the prosperity of nations.

Where there is education, the rule of law, a sense of individual freedom and creativity, democratic principals, relative stability, a respect for individual property rights and a basic commitment to free enterprise and capitalism, there exists an environment where ideas also take flight, and patents are born.

The problem with rogue countries such as Iraq, Iran, Egypt and Sudan, is not that they are amongst the so-called developing nations of the world. The facts are that 20 years ago the likes of China and India, and even Singapore (all top 25 world patent markets today I might add), and all so-called developing countries at one point, were not taken seriously in the world. Look at them today.

The problem with these rogue countries is that innovation, basic freedoms, creativity and the arts, and the power of entrepreneurial ideas are not alive and well in these countries, and then the ache of poverty sets in the bones of the nation, frustrating the hopes, dreams and aspirations of millions.

Recommendation number one from me in this RESET world, in every country around the world, is for financial literacy, or what I call "the language of money," to become the new civil rights issue and the first silver rights empowerment tool for a new generation.

Teaching financial literacy empowerment for all, and promoting "capitalism for all people" would help "spark" a personal sense of "what's possible," and the power of ideas in the eyes of the millions of individuals that simply want a life better for them and their children.

The initial commitment from Operation HOPE here is the Wikia-HOPE Global Money Initiative, our first international, commons license, financial literacy curriculum, available to all people, at no charge.

Cracking the code, means empowering real people with the culture and the environment, and then the tools, to take their lives back. Or as we say at Operation HOPE, "from civil rights to silver rights empowerment."

Onward with HOPE.

John Hope Bryant is founder, chairman and CEO of Operation HOPE, bestselling author of LOVE LEADERSHIP: The New Way to Lead in a Fear-Based World (Jossey-Bass), and a member of the U.S. President's Advisory Council on Financial Capability for President Barack Obama.