"He said, 'You know, John, you guys have way more capital than you need ... (but) ... if you don't take TARP, you're in really serious trouble, because we make all the rules on how you run your bank.' So we ended up taking TARP. ... And it was a rip-off for healthy banks, because we didn't need the money. ... And we paid a huge interest rate."
Allison also defended individual freedom and private property by refusing to lend money to developers who acquired land through government confiscation called eminent domain.
"When the (Supreme Court's) Kelo decision was passed and basically there was carte blanche for the government to take somebody's property and give it to some other private individual, we said we wouldn't make loans to developers that did that. Interestingly enough, we lost some public entity accounts ... but we had thousands of people move their checking accounts to BB&T. ... We're proud that a business would actually act on principle ... ."
Allison became outspoken about freedom after reading Ayn Rand's "Capitalism, the Unknown Ideal."
Steve Forbes is another businessman eager to explain that when people are free to practice capitalism, it's good for the world.
"The purpose of business is not to pile up money," he told me, "but to create happiness -- giving people a chance to discover their talents. ... It's the best poverty-fighter in the world.
We certainly need more champions of freedom like these.