Make Me Smart

By Marketplace

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Subscribers: 3329
Reviews: 14

Brianne
 Nov 14, 2020
They keep me sane while delivering education about current topics.


 Sep 24, 2020

Alex
 Sep 19, 2020
Love this show!

A Podcast Republic user
 Aug 14, 2020

Aman
 May 29, 2020
This is incredibly essential podcast, coronavirus or not. Kai, Molly and the crew are a joy and cut through the partisan bs straight to the facts.

Description

Each weekday, Marketplace’s Kai Ryssdal and Kimberly Adams make today make sense. Along with our supersmart listeners, we break down happenings in tech, the economy and culture. Every Tuesday we bring on a guest to dive deeper into one important topic. Because none of us is as smart as all of us.

Episode Date
It’s not partisan to call out white supremacy
00:20:11

This Monday, we talk about the racist mass shooting in Buffalo, New York, over the weekend. It’s devastated the town’s predominantly Black community in multiple ways, including its central food supply. As the nation processes the tragedy, it’s critical to call it what is: a white supremacist act. We also discuss the baby formula shortage and the consequences of a Supreme Court ruling on campaign finance laws.

Here’s everything we talked about today:

Your donation powers the journalism you rely on. Give today to support “Make Me Smart.”

Have a question or comment about something you heard on the show? Email us at makemesmart@marketplace.org or leave us a voice message at 508-827-6278, or 508-U-B-SMART.

May 17, 2022
Political campaigns are secretly talking to PACs
00:24:00

For today’s Economics on Tap, we talk about a sneaky way campaigns are communicating with super PACS. Coordination between these big-time political action committees and campaigns is illegal, but a new practice called redboxing seems like a loophole. We’ll talk about it. Plus, we discuss the debate about facial recognition technology and follow up on a conversation we had yesterday about the news on sudden infant death syndrome. Before we leave, we’ll play a round of Half Full/Half Empty, featuring a piece of portable music history.

Here’s everything we talked about today:

Tell us what you think about today’s show. Email us at makemesmart@marketplace.org or leave us a voice message at 508-827-6278, or 508-U-B-SMART.

Your donation powers the journalism you rely on. Give today to support “Make Me Smart.”

May 14, 2022
We learn (some of) what Jerome Powell is thinking
00:12:48

Today, instead of guessing what Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell is thinking, we asked. Our hosts talk about the newsiest and funniest parts of Kai’s interview with the Fed chairman. Plus, a scientific revelation about sudden infant death syndrome may provide some peace for parents. And, speaking of incredible science, we marvel at mind-blowing new pictures of the black hole at the center of the Milky Way.

Here’s everything we talked about today:

Your donation powers the journalism you rely on. Give today to support “Make Me Smart.”

Join us Friday for Economics on Tap. We’ll be livestreaming on YouTube starting at 3:30 p.m. Pacific time, 6:30 p.m. Eastern.

May 12, 2022
Where do electric car batteries go when they die?
00:16:39

It’s Wednesday again, and we’re answering your questions about the labor market — like why we don’t aim for 100% employment. We’ll also give some extra context around the idea of a “skills gap” in our economy. And Kai Ryssdal and Kimberly Adams dig into a bunch of questions from one listener related to the logistics of owning an electric vehicle.

Here’s everything we talked about on the show today:

Do you have a question for Whaddya Wanna Know Wednesday? Send a voice memo or email to makemesmart@marketplace.org, or leave us a voicemail at 508-U-B-SMART (508-827-6278).


Your donation powers the journalism you rely on. Give today to support “Make Me Smart.”

May 11, 2022
What we need to know about Title 42
00:31:36

As we often say on the show, immigration is a labor market story. Since last month, when the Joe Biden administration announced plans to lift Title 42, it’s been the immigration story of the moment. On today’s show, Denise Gilman, director of the immigration clinic and law professor at the University of Texas at Austin, explains how Title 42 was used at the start of the pandemic and what’s next for it.

May 10, 2022
Is crypto ready for mom and pop investors?
00:22:44

Today we talk about a potential win for privacy advocates, as facial recognition company Clearview AI reaches a settlement with the American Civil Liberties Union. But we still have questions. Another new story with a lot of questions? Crypto, of course. We’re still skeptical about the stability of cryptocurrency, but that hasn’t stopped investors and others from jumping right in. We’ll discuss what has us … a little nervous.

Here’s everything we talked about on the show today:

Your donation powers the journalism you rely on. Give today to support “Make Me Smart.”

Have a question or comment about something you heard on the show? Email us at makemesmart@marketplace.org or leave us a voice message at 508-827-6278, or 508-U-B-SMART.

May 09, 2022
We won’t make you wait for the book
00:21:19

Today during Economics on Tap, we’re low-key celebrating this weekend’s Kentucky Derby and venting a little about the journalists and political figures who withheld critical information and news, only to finally reveal it in their books. For profit. Former Secretary of Defense Mark Esper revealed in his soon-to-be-released memoir that, two years ago, then-President Donald Trump considered launching missiles into Mexico. In surprisingly less scary news, “Little Shop of Horrors” is celebrating its Broadway revival with festivities. Before we head into Kentucky Derby weekend, we go Half Full/Half Empty on coin collecting, children at work and more.

Tell us what you think about today’s show. Email us at makemesmart@marketplace.org or leave us a voice message at 508-827-6278, or 508-U-B-SMART.

Your donation powers the journalism you rely on. Give today to support “Make Me Smart.”

May 06, 2022
*Looks at stock market* Everyone, take a deep breath.
00:19:16

We’ll start today’s show with a little pep talk about what you should and shouldn’t do if you caught a glance at the stock market today. Then we move on to one of the big business stories of the day, the news that Boeing is moving its headquarters from Chicago to the D.C. area. To understand why, you just gotta follow the money. Plus, the U.S. says it’ll give Sweden support as that country looks to join NATO. Finally, free child care and a beautiful canoe make us smile. To celebrate the upcoming Kentucky Derby, bring your mint juleps and fanciest hats to Economics on Tap tomorrow.

Your donation powers the journalism you rely on. Give today to support Make Me Smart.

Join us Friday for Economics on Tap. We’ll be livestreaming on YouTube starting at 3:30 p.m. Pacific time, 6:30 p.m. Eastern.

May 06, 2022
If inflation has peaked, why are we still raising interest rates?
00:19:10

It’s the day we answer your questions and to start, one listener wants to know why Federal Reserve Chair Jay Powell is still raising interest rates if inflation has peaked. We’ll also answer an urgent question about the blockchain and supply chains from a listener with a term paper deadline looming. Plus, a question about Airbnb and rents, and why doesn’t the U.S. electrify its railways? Finally, we end with a sci-fi recommendation on this Star Wars Day. May the fourth be with you.

Here’s everything we talked about on the show today:

Do you have a question for Whaddya Wanna Know Wednesday? Send a voice memo or email to makemesmart@marketplace.org, or leave us a voicemail at 508-U-B-SMART (508-827-6278).

May 04, 2022
What happened to the Federal Reserve’s inclusive employment goal?
00:32:27

If you’re a regular listener to this program, you’ve probably heard of the Federal Reserve’s dual mandate: price stability and maximum employment.

But in the summer of 2020, the Fed made a little tweak. It added the words “broad-based” and “inclusive” to the employment part of the mandate, acknowledging the benefits a strong economy brings to low- and moderate-income communities. This is significant because for decades the Black unemployment rate has been double the rate for white workers in this country.

So, the Fed started “running the economy hot” longer to try to close that gap. But the central bank has begun a campaign of raising interest rates to cool the economy because inflation is here. What now?

On the show today, William Spriggs, a professor of economics at Howard University and chief economist at the AFL-CIO, explains why the Fed’s approach to closing the unemployment gap hasn’t worked and what can really be done to fix it.

Then, the hosts will talk about the big story of the day: the draft Roe v. Wade decision and what overturning the 1973 ruling might mean for the health and economics of women, especially poor women, in this country.

Here’s everything we talked about today:

We’re looking for your answer to the Make Me Smart question: What is something you thought you knew that you later found out you were wrong about? Leave us a voice message at 508-827-6278 or 508-U-B-SMART or email us at makemesmart@marketplace.org.

May 04, 2022
Immigration is (still) a labor market story
00:15:54

In today’s show, we flag one economic benchmark investors are watching, then dive into some recent stories that highlight the unequal ways the U.S. grants immigrant and refugee status. Don’t forget, what happens at the border impacts our labor force. Speaking of work, employees nationwide are voting on unionization. Finally, a new study validates dog owners’ premonitions about their special pups and makes us smile.

Here’s everything we talked about today:

  • “10-Year Treasury Yield Hits 3% for First Time Since 2018” from The Wall Street Journal
  • “Amazon Workers Reject Union in New York After Labor Victory at Separate Facility” from The Wall Street Journal
  • “Biden to comply with forthcoming order to keep Covid border restrictions in place” from Politico
  • “Afghans subject to stricter rules than Ukrainian refugees, advocates say” from NBC News
  • “Your dog’s personality may have little to do with its breed” from AP News

Have a question or comment about something you heard on the show? Email us at makemesmart@marketplace.org or leave us a voice message at 508-827-6278, or 508-U-B-SMART.

May 02, 2022
Elon Musk is ponying up Tesla stock to buy Twitter
00:23:24

We’re keeping an eye on Tesla after Elon Musk reached a deal to buy Twitter earlier this week. Musk has sold roughly $8.5 billion worth of Tesla shares in the last couple of days. We’ll get a little into the weeds about the dynamics playing out as the Twitter deal closes. Plus, the fallout after the Jan. 6 insurrection continues — we’ll update you on what’s happening in the courts. And a COVID-19 vaccine for young kids may be on the way. Then, the hosts play a round of Half Full/Half Empty. Finally, a big thank you to producer Marque Greene for all his hard work as he wraps up his stint on “Make Me Smart.” But don’t worry, he’s not going far.

Here’s everything we talked about today:

Tell us what you think about today’s show. Email us at makemesmart@marketplace.org or leave us a voice message at 508-827-6278, or 508-U-B-SMART.

Apr 30, 2022
Wait, the Russians are making MORE money on oil?
00:16:45

Some days the news can really throw you for a loop, and this Thursday is one of them. President Joe Biden has asked Congress for an additional $33 billion to help Ukraine. The call for more funds comes as reports that Russia’s revenue from energy sales has almost doubled since it launched the war on its neighbor. We’ll look at why Russia continues to benefit despite the numerous sanctions levied against it. There’s also a hard conversation about the measures climate activists have taken in hopes of speeding up our response to the global climate crisis. And we do our best to bring you back up as we end things with a couple of Make Me Smiles.

If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts, anxiety or depression, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text the Crisis Text Line at 741741.

Here’s everything we talked about on the show today:

Join us Friday for Economics on Tap. We’ll be livestreaming on YouTube starting at 3:30 p.m. Pacific time, 6:30 p.m. Eastern.

Apr 29, 2022
What your grocery store is telling us about supply chains
00:17:25

This Whaddya Wanna Know Wednesday, Kai and Kimberly are tackling your questions about the supply chain — from how we could look at shortages and backlogs as pandemic indicators to why it seems like processed foods are less likely to sell out at the grocery store. And we’ll make you smart fast on Elon Musk’s plan to purchase Twitter.

Here’s everything we talked about on the show today:

Do you have a question for Whaddya Wanna Know Wednesday? Send a voice memo or email to makemesmart@marketplace.org, or leave us a voicemail at 508-U-B-SMART (508-827-6278).

Apr 28, 2022
The American (rental) dream?
00:26:41

If you drive around suburbia these days, you might come across entire communities of newly constructed homes with all the amenities of an apartment. But these aren’t your average tract homes. These are subdivisions made exclusively for renters instead of homeowners.

It’s all part of the build-to-rent trend, one of the fastest growing sectors in the housing industry.

On today’s show, we’ll talk about the build-to-rent trend and what it means for the housing market, homeownership and building generational wealth in this country.

For today’s Newsfix, we’re sticking with the housing theme. Amy Scott, our housing correspondent, talks about her biggest takeaways from the latest S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price Index. It’s wild! Plus, what the heck is going on with Twitter’s stock?

Then, we’ll hear from listeners about taxes, Taco Bell and dinosaurs!

Here’s everything we talked about today:

We’re still taking questions for Whaddya Wanna Know Wednesday. You can submit yours at makemesmart@marketplace.org or (508) 827-6278, also conveniently known as 508-UB-SMART.

Apr 27, 2022
I guess Elon wasn’t joking about Twitter
00:15:27

Plenty of things to make us go huh on this Monday edition of Make Me Smart. Of course, there’s the news surrounding billionaire Elon Musk, who’s very real offer to purchase Twitter was accepted by the company’s board of directors today. We’ll get to that after we talk about a dip in global oil demand following the wave of lockdowns across China as that country deals with new COVID-19 outbreaks. We’ll end the show with a couple of Make Me Smiles, including one about a small town jumping through hoops for recognition.

Here’s everything we talked about on the show today:

Have a question or comment about something you heard on the show?  Email us at makemesmart@marketplace.org or leave us a voice message at 508-827-6278 or 508-U-B-SMART.

Apr 26, 2022
Pfizer’s COVID-19 pill could soon be easier to find
00:23:43

Today on Economics on Tap, we’re talking about the Biden administration’s plan to make Paxlovid, Pfizer’s COVID-19 antiviral pill, available in pharmacies across the United States. It might be easier said than done. Plus, Iran has tolerated economic sanctions for decades. Will the same hold true for Russia? We’ll also discuss the speedy demise of CNN+ and Google’s time-lapsed images showing the effects of climate change. We end with a round of Half Full/Half Empty. Today’s categories: Netflix (with ads!), a slowed-down U.S. Postal Service, Earth Day, national parks reservation systems and the return of Taco Bell’s Mexican pizza.

Here’s everything we talked about on the show today:

Tell us what you think about today’s show. Email us at makemesmart@marketplace.org or leave us a voice message at 508-827-6278, or 508-U-B-SMART.

Apr 23, 2022
Corporations are doing just fine, thank you
00:19:13

Some publicly traded corporations reported strong earnings today, despite inflation and supply chain shortages. This left consumers to foot the bill for rising prices. Meanwhile, the Federal Reserve is walking a fine line during a critical time. We talk about a key indicator we’ll be watching to gauge the economy’s health. We’ll leave you with some wicked humor from Capitalism herself and fictional pairings we’d like to see (Hamlet, meet the Ghost Busters).

Join us Friday for Economics on Tap. We’ll be livestreaming on YouTube starting at 3:30 p.m. Pacific time, 6:30 p.m. Eastern.

Apr 22, 2022
The Federal Reserve isn’t setting your mortgage rate
00:14:22

It’s Whaddya Wanna Know Wednesday, that time of the week when our hosts answer your questions! We’ll start with a couple of questions about the Fed’s interest rate policy. One listener asks why a jump in mortgage rates doesn’t seem to be in line with the central bank’s single rate hike, and another wonders why banks and credit card companies don’t raise their own interest rates instead of waiting for the Fed. We’ll also follow up with yesterday’s guest for a question about refugee placement in the United States, and explain how Elon Musk made it to the top rank of the world’s richest people.

Here’s everything we talked about on the show today:

Apr 21, 2022
The economic case for taking in refugees
00:28:27

The U.S. has a long history of resettling refugees who are fleeing war and persecution. The current program goes back to the ’80s, after the Vietnam War.

Today, as the Joe Biden administration prepares to welcome 100,000 refugees from Ukraine, we’re wondering what happens to an economy when refugees become part of it.

On the show today: the costs associated with refugee resettlement along with the  contributions refugees make to our economy and why arguments about their being a drag on the labor force are overblown.

In the News Fix, we’ll talk about why investment firm Blackstone is betting on student housing, even after a couple of years of remote learning. Plus, the story behind right-wing social media account Libs of TikTok.

And later, a rooster makes a cameo on the show (see if you can spot it), and Kai and Amy give a listener career advice. </p>

Apr 20, 2022
Treasury Department issues “cry for help”
00:15:54

Today is Tax Day, the deadline for filing taxes (or an extension, gulp). To mark the occasion, the Treasury Department called on Congress to relieve some of the pressure on an underfunded, understaffed and ill-equipped IRS. Tens of millions of Americans are waiting for their tax returns to be processed … from the last year. We’ll also discuss speculation about how big the Federal Reserve’s next interest rate hike might be. And a gentle reminder following a federal judge’s ruling striking down the CDC’s public transportation mask mandate: Don’t be a jerk. We wrap up with some Make Me Smiles about accessing banned books and a story about an interstellar visitor.

Here’s everything we talked about on the show today:

Do you have a story about a delayed return from the IRS? Email us at makemesmart@marketplace.org or leave us a voice message at 508-827-6278, or 508-U-B-SMART.

Apr 19, 2022
Layoffs reach record lows, and other thoughts
00:22:48

One side effect of the current labor market: Workers are less likely to get laid off. That might not be so great for those of us with toxic bosses and co-workers. Speaking of toxic, Twitter launched a “poison pill” strategy to fend off Elon Musk’s bid to buy the company. We also talk about filing taxes and four-day workweeks. We close out today’s Economics on Tap with a round of Half Full/Half Empty.

Here’s everything we talked about today:

Got a question for the hosts? Email us at makemesmart@marketplace.org or leave us a voice message at 508-827-6278, or 508-U-B-SMART.

Apr 16, 2022
EU looks to break from Russian energy
00:16:18

The European Union is trying to end its dependence on Russian oil — but that may be costly and complicated. This Thursday, we talk about how Western countries are pressing Russia to terminate its war in Ukraine while minding their own energy supplies. Plus, China is watching. And earlier this week, we mused that Twitter-famous billionaire Elon Musk could probably just buy the company if he wanted to. He revealed today that he made an offer. Does Musk listen to “Make Me Smart”? Finally, we share signs of spring that made us smile.

Here’s everything we talked about today:

Join us Friday for Economics on Tap. We’ll be livestreaming on YouTube starting at 3:30 p.m. Pacific time, 6:30 p.m. Eastern.

Apr 14, 2022
Russia’s ruble is strong … for now.
00:17:39

The strength of Russia’s ruble even in the face of sanctions from the West has surprised some. This Whaddya Wanna Know Wednesday, we’ll get into some of the ways Russia’s worked to prop up its currency, and how long those actions might work. We’ll also tackle your questions about shift work and health, the worker shortage and taxes.

Here’s everything we talked about on the show today:

Do you have a question for Whaddya Wanna Know Wednesday? Send a voice memo or email to makemesmart@marketplace.org, or leave us a voicemail at 508-U-B-SMART (508-827-6278).

Apr 14, 2022
Cities are chasing crypto. But why?
00:22:27

Government leaders all over the world are taking a hard look at cryptocurrencies.

El Salvador made bitcoin a national currency last year. Cryptocurrency investors continue to move to Puerto Rico for its tax incentives. And Miami and New York are in a race to become the nation’s crypto capital.

Supporters believe crypto could be a way to drive economic growth and address income inequality and a host of other issues. But how likely is that?

“Right now, there are far better technology or even policy solutions to address the issues local leaders claim to want to address,” said Tonantzin Carmona, a fellow at The Brookings Institution. “Lawmakers do not, for example, need cryptocurrencies to address issues of financial inclusion, equity or wealth inequality. They need political will.”

Carmona is skeptical that cryptocurrencies could solve a city’s problems.

On an abbreviated show today (sorry, technical difficulties!), we’ll discuss why that is and the lessons we can learn from places that have already laid out the welcome mat for crypto business ventures.

Plus, the Joe Biden administration announced plans today to suspend a ban on selling higher-ethanol E15 gas between June 1 and Sept. 15 in an effort to bring down gas prices. We’ll explain why the move might be shortsighted and what it’s doing to corn futures. Also, the subway shooting in Brooklyn is making our fill-in host rethink plans to go back to the office.

Here’s everything we talked about today:

We want your answers to the Make Me Smart question. Send us an email at makemesmart@marketplace.org or leave us a voice message at 508-827-6278, or 508-U-B-SMART.

Apr 13, 2022
Don’t put your mask away yet
00:13:43

A month after lifting its mask mandate, Philadelphia is reinstating indoor mask requirements beginning next week as COVID-19 cases there rise. It will be the first major U.S. city to bring back a mask mandate. Other cities might not be far behind. Then, Elon Musk won’t be joining Twitter’s board of directors after all. We’ll discuss what it means for him to stay on the outside of the the social media platform. Plus, a group of Etsy sellers are going on strike to protest a fee hike. It sparks a discussion about the struggles of being a small business owner. To wrap things up, we’ll take you under the sea for a couple of Make Me Smiles.

Here’s everything we talked about on the show today:

Have a story or an article you’d like to recommend to your fellow “Make Me Smart” listeners and newsletter readers? Share it with us via email at makemesmart@marketplace.org.

Apr 12, 2022
The wave of anti-transgender legislation is an economic story
00:22:30

Alabama’s governor signed two bills into law on Friday: One criminalizes providing gender-affirming care for transgender youth, and the other requires students to use restrooms according to the gender on their birth certificate. We’ll discuss the business and economic consequences of new anti-transgender legislation across the nation. Plus, we catch up on the work behind the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection. Then we’ll send you off into the weekend with a round of This or That!

Here’s everything we talked about today:

Got a question for the hosts? Email us at makemesmart@marketplace.org or leave us a voice message at 508-827-6278 or 508-U-B-SMART.

Apr 09, 2022
Buying a house? In this economy?
00:18:59

Yesterday a listener asked about the real estate market, and we’ve still got housing on our minds. We’ll talk about fresh data that shows homes are less affordable across the country. Plus, the devastation of one Ukrainian city shows the brutality of Russian forces. Then, Ketanji Brown Jackson became the first Black woman to sit on the Supreme Court today. Could this moment inspire change in the corporate world? Finally, some music news that made us smile.

Here’s everything we talked about today:

Join us Friday for Economics on Tap. We’ll be livestreaming on YouTube starting at 3:30 p.m. Pacific time, 6:30 p.m. Eastern.

Apr 08, 2022
More money, more problems?
00:16:30

Do you have a question for Whaddya Wanna Know Wednesday? Share it with us and it could be answered on the show! Send us a voice memo or email to makemesmart@marketplace.org, or leave us a voicemail at 508-U-B-SMART (508-827-6278)!

Apr 07, 2022
How the Fugitive Slave acts and new “bounty hunter” bills are alike
00:30:17

It’s been more than six months since Texas’ anti-abortion law went into effect. SB8 lets private citizens sue anyone who helped a pregnant person get an abortion after the six-week ban, which could come with a $10,000 payout.

Idaho just passed similar legislation, and other states are considering copycat laws, too. Some experts refer to these kinds of measures as “bounty hunter” bills, and they say there are aspects of them that are similar to the Fugitive Slave laws that required civilians help capture enslaved people and led to the Civil War.

“It’s not unconstitutional to create ways in which private citizens can enforce the law. What does start to offend the Constitution is when you are encouraging people to act as bounty hunters when other folks are exercising a constitutional right. That’s going to be a problem for us,” said Kim Mutcherson, co-dean and professor at Rutgers Law School in Camden, New Jersey.

Mutcherson said these laws allow private citizens to line their pockets while undermining constitutional rights, which is outside the mainstream of lawmaking in this country.

On the show today: the parallels between Fugitive Slave laws and civilian enforcement laws of today.

Later, we’ll talk about the cost of owning a home versus renting, and a revealing study about racial disparities and COVID-19.

Then we’ll hear from listeners about long COVID-19 and a twisted answer to the Make Me Smart question.

Here’s everything we talked about today:

Apr 05, 2022
Everything comes back to politics
00:14:31

The Senate approved an agreement for a new round of COVID-related funding today. The $10 billion package includes money for COVID testing and treatment as well as vaccine distribution, but without additional funds for foreign aid. We’ll see what happens when the House gets its turn to vote on the deal. There’s also a new report from the United Nations’ climate science agency suggesting that only drastic  emissions cuts will save us from some of the worst effects of climate change, and most countries lack the political will to do anything about it. Finally, we’ll end on a Make Me Smile that might count as good public relations for pop singer Rick Astley.

Here’s everything we talked about today:

Got a question for the hosts? Saw something interesting you want to share? Email us at makemesmart@marketplace.org or leave a message at 508-U-B-SMART(508-827-6278).

Apr 05, 2022
Amazon workers vote to unionize in Staten Island
00:24:30

Happy Friday, Smarties! Workers at an Amazon warehouse in Staten Island, New York, elected to unionize today. That’s a historic win, and we’ll talk more about what the road to a contract could look like during Economics on Tap. There’s also plenty to discuss about the new jobs report, but one area to focus on is construction. Plus, a look at the impact the Biden administration’s immigration plans could have on the  midterm elections and the worker shortage. And we’ve got a round of our old favorite, Half Full/Half Empty! Our hosts weigh in on April Fools marketing, streaming wins at the Oscars, rounding up for charity, the House vote on legalizing marijuana and Dunkin’ donuts makeup!

Here’s everything we talked about on the show today:

Have a question for our hosts, or thoughts on something you heard on the show? Send us a voice memo or an email to makemesmart@marketplace.org or leave us a message at 508-U-B-SMART (508-827-6278).

Apr 02, 2022
The lowdown on our backup oil
00:15:54

As energy prices soar due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the U.S. is drawing on government petroleum reserves. But getting the oil flowing and to market isn’t easy. We’ll explain the realities of tapping the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. Plus, an hourslong gap in former President Donald Trump’s phone log on Jan. 6, 2021, is drawing scrutiny from Democrats in Congress. In Texas, parents of transgender kids are weighing the costs of staying or leaving the state, given new anti-trans orders. And finally, some very clever basketball-loving law students in North Carolina made us smile.

Here’s everything we talked about today:

Got a question for the hosts? Saw something interesting you want to share? Email us at makemesmart@marketplace.org or leave us a message at 508-U-B-SMART(508-827-6278).

Apr 01, 2022
The reason inflation is so hard to solve this time
00:18:45

This week on Whaddya Wanna Know Wednesday, we answer your questions about why everything is so expensive and who’s going to fix it. So first, does the Federal Reserve need help solving inflation? Can someone please explain why the Jones Act is still around? Plus, what the heck is crypto mining and when are we getting good public transportation? Finally, Kai Ryssdal and Kimberly Adams share their competing theories on headphone wearing.

Here’s everything we talked about today:

Mar 31, 2022
Is our economy ready for long COVID?
00:24:52

At the start of the pandemic, there was an overwhelming sense that once there were vaccines, you’d be less likely to die from COVID-19 and the risk would all but go away. Then came long COVID.

According to one estimate, between 7 million and 23 million people in the United States have developed long COVID. That means that weeks or even months after an initial infection, they’re still suffering from a wide range of debilitating symptoms including shortness of breath, brain fog and heart palpitations.

And, in some cases, symptoms are so severe, people have left their jobs. So is our economy prepared?

“If you think about the way that our country manages disability, probably no,” said Jessica Malaty Rivera, an epidemiologist and senior adviser at the Rockefeller Foundation’s Pandemic Prevention Institute. “We can barely get our disability to work for people who are pregnant and having children. So I can’t imagine that it’s going to be very accommodating to those who are experiencing long COVID.”

On the show today, we’ll talk with Malaty Rivera about the health and socioeconomic effects of long COVID.

In the Newsfix, we’ve got a quick and dirty explainer on the bond yield curve and why it’s all over the news today. Plus, we’ll hear from listeners about the Farmers’ Almanac’s weather predictions and the Oscars, and a veterinarian shares a surprising answer to the Make Me Smart question.

Here’s everything we talked about today:

Mar 30, 2022
Biden is not hiding his opinion of Putin
00:21:34
Mar 29, 2022
The “don’t sleep on this news” edition
00:20:03

An ice shelf in Antarctica the size of New York City collapsed after a warm spell in that part of the globe, in case you needed a reminder that climate change is still happening. The trend toward globalization could be on the decline, though, as the world continues to watch the war in Ukraine and understand its greater significance for the global economy. And some shocking news out of Washington, D.C. We’ll talk about that and more for this special edition of Economics on Tap. It’s also the first-ever Make Me Smart Cherry Blossom Party. Trust us, you’re going to love it.

Here’s everything we talked about on the show today:

Got a question for the hosts? Saw something interesting you want to share? Send it to us at makemesmart@marketplace.org or leave us a message at 508-U-B-SMART(508-827-6278).

Mar 26, 2022
Uber riders may be seeing yellow (cabs)
00:12:02

If you’re in New York City, don’t be surprised if the next time you request an Uber you get picked up in a yellow taxi — Uber has announced plans to team up with cab companies there. We’ll talk about what this might mean for the taxi industry. Plus, you know the housing market is red hot when a Federal Reserve governor is having trouble buying a home. And a staggering new report highlights the rise in alcohol abuse amid the pandemic. Finally, our hosts share some much-needed Make Me Smiles.

Here’s everything we talked about today:

Got a question for the hosts? Saw something interesting you want to share? Send it to us at makemesmart@marketplace.org or leave us a message at 508-U-B-SMART(508-827-6278).

Mar 25, 2022
The not-so-easy thing about taming inflation
00:16:47

A week after the Federal Reserve raised interest rates, some of us still have questions. Like, why did the stock market respond so positively? And how is making money more expensive really going to slow inflation? Plus, non-fungible tokens and disinformation, and who really owns the data collected by smart vehicles?

And thank you! We’ve already hit our goal of $100,000 for this fundraising drive. We couldn’t have done it without you! Your support means we’ll be able to continue the journalism we do every day. There’s still time to give if you haven’t already — and to get one of those Marketplace pen sets!

Here’s everything we talked about on the show today:

Mar 24, 2022
There’s still money to be made in Russia
00:15:55

Potato chips. Razors. Air fresheners. These are just a few of the items some of the world’s biggest brands are still selling in Russia after they said they’d suspend sales of nonessential products. But what’s classified as “essential” seems to be in the eye of the beholder, and some of the companies say they’re sticking around to support their employees.

On an abbreviated show today (scheduling snafus happen to the best of us), we talk over the decision some companies have made to keep doing business in Russia even though pressure to cut ties has been mounting since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Plus, are Democrats really considering moving on from Iowa?

Help us keep independent journalism going strong! We’re $28,000 away from our $100,000 goal, and our deadline is Wednesday! Give today to support Make Me Smart. And thank you!

Later, listeners call in with their hot takes on plug-in hybrid minivans and “The NeverEnding Story.” And, we end the show with a musical answer to the Make Me Smart question.

Here’s everything we talked about on the show today:

Mar 22, 2022
The White House is prepared for long-term inflation and supply chain issues
00:17:38

Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo says the Biden administration is “prepared for the worst” when it comes to inflation and supply chain issues as global events continue to bring economic upheaval. We’ll also look at an eye-opening graphic that gives context to just how much the U.S. federal judiciary has been dominated by white men (we know we’re a podcast, but trust us, it’s worth your eyes). And we’ll talk about a harrowing story of Ukrainian journalists escaping the country as Russian forces closed in. That’s a lot of heavy news, but we’ll end with some Make Me Smiles.

Here’s everything we talked about on the show today:

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Mar 22, 2022
One eye on the commodity markets, folks
00:20:32

Today we’ll preview a story we think we’ll be talking about more soon, including on next week’s evening broadcast at “Marketplace.” There’s been increasing tumult in multiple commodity markets since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The markets for wheat, oil and various metals are being stretched to their limits as officials try to navigate both the war and prolonged supply chain issues. For Economics on Tap, our hosts discuss why getting things under control won’t be an easy fix. Then, the government is running out of the funding it uses to cover COVID costs, including tests, vaccines and treatments — the tools we need to bring life back to normal. And we’ll highlight another example of our totally skewed housing market and its implications. It’s a heavy news day, but we’ll finish things off with a round of Half Full/Half Empty!

Here’s everything we talked about on the show today:

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Mar 19, 2022
States move to limit telehealth options for women seeking abortion pills
00:15:25

Since the beginning of the year, lawmakers in over 20 states have proposed bills limiting access to abortion pills by mail. The Food and Drug Administration had, in December, nixed a rule requiring that patients pick up their pills in person. There’s also an update on the continued detention of basketball star Brittney Griner in Russia and an insider look at how the Senate’s daylight saving time vote came to pass. After we wrap up the news, our hosts share a couple of technological marvels as Make Me Smiles!

Here’s everything we talked about on the show today:

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Mar 18, 2022
A big day for the Federal Reserve
00:15:09

The Federal Reserve raised interest rates today for the first time in three years, and for Whaddya Wanna Know Wednesday, we’re answering your questions about it. Plus, why gas prices are volatile, and how to avoid misinformation and disinformation coming out of Ukraine.

Here’s everything we talked about on the show today:

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Mar 17, 2022
Consolidation is messing with the economy
00:26:10

Corporate consolidation has been getting a lot of attention lately. But it isn’t a new phenomenon. It’s been on the rise since the ’80s, and it’s led to just a handful of companies controlling entire industries and fewer companies out there to deliver goods and services.

“One really good example would be health care — this is a pretty concentrated sector in the U.S. economy,” said Kate Bahn, director of labor market policy and chief economist at the Washington Center for Equitable Growth. “[Consolidation] is when there’s hospital mergers … maybe one big management company overarching a whole sort of sector in one location.”

But it means a lot more than companies just getting bigger. Corporate consolidation has a big impact on the way our economy is shaped.

On today’s show: How corporate consolidation influences wages and consumer prices — and why it calls into question the success of capitalism.

In the News Fix, we’ll discuss how a spike in global food prices could trigger unrest around the world and the fate of Sarah Bloom Raskin’s nomination to the Federal Reserve board. (We taped today’s episode before she withdrew her nomination.)

Also, listeners celebrate Kimberly’s official spot in the host chair and a debate over who is more introverted!

Here’s everything we talked about today:

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Mar 15, 2022
“We’re not done yet”
00:16:04

With everything else going on in the world, it can start to feel like the pandemic is pretty much over. But for What’d We Miss Monday, our hosts highlight new data that suggests COVID-19 could be back on the rise. We’ll have more on that, plus what kind of an announcement we can expect from the Federal Reserve this week. There are also updates on NASA’s latest mission, how the battle over the 2020 election altered local election offices around the country, and what we can learn from key moments throughout the pandemic. Finally, we’ll share a couple of Make Me Smiles from our audience to brighten up the day!

Here’s everything we talked about on the show today:

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Mar 15, 2022
Anti-LGBTQ measures draw the ire of big business
00:26:29

Kimberly Adams is officially a co-host, and it’s only right we pour a glass and celebrate with some Economics on Tap! First, we discuss businesses joining the political battle against anti-LGBTQ moves in Florida and Texas. But is it too little too late? Then, Stoli Vodka sets the record straight. And, it wouldn’t be Friday if we didn’t end the show with a round of Half Full/Half Empty!

This week, we’ve got a special edition of the Make Me Smart question: What is something you thought you knew that you later found out you were wrong about regarding the pandemic? Send your answers or anything else on that’s on your mind at makemesmart@marketplace.org! Or leave us a voicemail at 508-UB-SMART (508-827-6278)!

Here’s everything we talked about today:

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Mar 12, 2022
How many chips come in a bag of chips?
00:16:02

There’s a lot of news to cover today, so pull up a seat. We’ll talk about some of the recent state legislation in Florida and Texas targeting LGBTQ families and the European Union’s plan to end its reliance on Russian gas. Also, inflation is coming for your bag of chips, but not the way you might think. And dear listener, make sure you listen to today’s Make Me Smile for a big announcement we’re excited to share!

Here is everything we talked about on the show today:

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Mar 11, 2022
Oligarchs and taxes and bonds, oh my!
00:16:50

Today we’re answering questions that get at those knock-on economic effects of Russia’s war with Ukraine we’ve been talking about recently on the show. One listener wonders about gas tax revenue. Another wants to know: What is an oligarch, and why should I care? We’ll tell you that, plus dig into some specifics about the bond market and provide clarification about Fed chief Jay Powell’s magic keyboard.

If you’ve got a question you want us to answer next time, send a voice memo or give us a call at 508-82-SMART (508-827-6278).

Here’s everything we talked about on the show today:

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Mar 10, 2022
There’s an information war going on, too
00:29:02

There are no winners in the war in Ukraine. Civilian casualties are mounting as Ukrainians resist Russian invaders. But on social media, things are playing out differently. Laura Edelson, a misinformation researcher and co-director of the Cybersecurity for Democracy project at NYU, says Ukraine is winning the information war. On today’s show, she makes us smart on why that is, where platforms have fallen short in protecting users and what regular folks can do to protect themselves instead. Plus: rising gas prices, eggcorns and a festive answer to the Make Me Smart question.

Here’s everything we talked about today:

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Mar 09, 2022
Calls continue to stop buying Russian oil
00:14:17

It’s Monday, and we’re getting caught up on the Russian invasion of Ukraine, COVID-19 here at home and more. As Russia’s invasion of Ukraine reaches its second week, political pressure is mounting in the United States to stop the purchase of Russian oil. Another Russia-related story about a WNBA player detained in that country highlights pay disparities in the U.S. Plus, another round of COVID tests are available for home delivery, and a White House report on how consolidation has affected wages. Finally, before we let you go, we’ve got a Make Me Smile that’s simply eel-ectric!

Here’s everything we talked about on the show today:

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Mar 08, 2022
Demand for dollars is stable for now
00:17:50

It’s the end of the week, and we’re settling in for Economics on Tap! We’ll close the loop on some questions we raised earlier about the Federal Reserve and swap lines and explore a story on a group of hospitals teaming up to bring affordable insulin to patients. And of course, a round of the game we’re all here for — Half Full/Half Empty! Our hosts offer their thoughts on the State of the Union speech, dynamic pricing for “The Batman,” Hollywood’s silver screen obsession with Uber and Theranos, and a “Reading Rainbow” reboot!

Here’s everything we talked about on the show today:

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Mar 05, 2022
We’re still buying Russian oil, but why?
00:13:36

It’s Hollowed-Out Shell Thursday, and while we’re not feeling totally empty, we’re a little confused about the state of the energy market in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Russia faces sanctions from the West in everything from retail to sports, but the United States says it has no plans to stop buying Russian crude oil. The Biden administration wants to limit disruptions to the global energy supply, but we still have questions. Next, we examine whether this moment of energy uncertainty will accelerate a global shift to clean energy. To wrap things up, our hosts share a welcome Make Me Smile, and a crafty one!

Have a question for our hosts? Did you see something that made you smile? Share it with us! Email or send a voice memo to makemesmart@marketplace.org. Or leave us a voice message at 508-827-6278 (508-U-B-SMART)!

Here’s everything we talked about on the show today:

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Mar 04, 2022
Modern war and the globalized economy
00:16:26

For Whaddya Wanna Know Wednesday, we asked for all your economic and tech questions about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. One listener wonders if we should be worried about cyberattacks becoming a large part of Russia’s strategy. Or will the country try to pivot to crypto (can they even do that?)? Then, our hosts help us figure out what exactly SWIFT is, following the global financial system’s removal of certain Russian banks. And we’ll find out what China’s role in all of this could be.

Here’s everything we talked about on the show today:

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Mar 03, 2022
Let’s talk about Ukraine
00:27:57

There’s only one story we wanted to do a deep dive into this week: Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The conflict has escalated in recent days. It’s a humanitarian story, an economic story and a story of history.

Someone who is well familiar with that history is Francis Fukuyama, a political scientist at Stanford University. Fukuyama is known for his 1992 book, “The End of History,” in which he argued that the great ideological battles between East and West are effectively over.

On the show today, we check in with Fukuyama about that concept, given today’s context and the significance of a land war on the European continent.

“One of the reasons that people have paid special attention to Ukraine is that it sets an important precedent for what will happen in East Asia,” he said. “Ukraine may be kind of a dry run for how much resistance there’s going to be to what’s happening in that theater. The biggest challenge to current world order actually is not Russia, but it’s China, simply because Chinese power is much more multidimensional than Russian power.”

In the News Fix, we discuss Western media coverage of the conflict in Ukraine and how it compares to coverage of conflicts in the Middle East and Africa. Plus, the U.S. is the world’s top oil producer, so why does it still import oil from Russia? We’ll explain.

Later, we hear from a listener who paid a big price for a cheap app. And we get an answer to the Make Me Smart question that has us wondering about a linguistic phenomenon. (Hopefully you can help us.)

Here’s everything we talked about today:

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Mar 01, 2022
Everyone’s going to be looking for dollars
00:15:53

This What’d We Miss Monday, we catch up on the conflict in Ukraine, including the ugly reality that economic sanctions against Russia hurt its individual citizens. And that’s the point. The West is betting economic collapse will turn those citizens against Vladimir Putin. Also today: what’s next from the Federal Reserve, and a new report that warns humanity and nature are running out of time to adapt to climate change. Ready for a Make Me Smile? We’ve got one that’s appropriately banana pants.

Here’s everything we talked about on the show:

If you haven’t signed up for the Make Me Smart newsletter, now is the time! Sign up for it (or any other from Marketplace) by today, and you’ll be entered to win a Vintage Kai T-shirt, signed by Kai.

Did you see something that made you smile? Share it with us! Email or send a voice memo to makemesmart@marketplace.org. Or leave us a voice message. We’re at 508-827-6278 (508-U-B-SMART)!

Mar 01, 2022
Americans are ready to pay for sanctions on Russia
00:19:26

Today, there’s still really only one story, and that’s Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. For a hint about American attitudes toward the conflict, we look to a fresh Washington Post-ABC poll that found that two-thirds of Americans support imposing economic sanctions on Russia for its actions. About half say they would support sanctions even if they result in higher energy prices in the United States. Plus, Kimberly shares some of her thoughts on the future of American jurisprudence following the historic nomination of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court. And, of course, it wouldn’t be Economics on Tap without a round of our favorite game, Half Full/Half Empty! We discuss the end of 3G, the return of “Law & Order,” Kai not getting “The Office” and pandemic updates.

If you haven’t signed up for the Make Me Smart newsletter, now is the time! Sign up for that excellent missive (or any other from Marketplace) by Monday, and you’ll be entered to win a Vintage Kai T-shirt, signed by Kai himself!

Here’s everything we talked about on the show today:

Feb 26, 2022
On Russia, “don’t assume a rational actor”
00:14:35

Things are pretty hollow on this Hollowed-Out Shell Thursday. After weeks of posturing, Russian forces invaded Ukraine on Wednesday night. We can’t predict what’s going to happen next, but we can guess on the probable economic ripples. We’ll end with a surprisingly divisive Make Me Smile.

Sign up for the Make Me Smart newsletter (or any other Marketplace newsletter) by Feb. 28 and be entered to win a signed Vintage Kai T-shirt.

Here’s everything we talked about today:

Feb 25, 2022
So whaddya wanna know about inflation?
00:14:21

It’s Whaddya Wanna Know Wednesday, and Kai’s flying solo today, focusing on your inflation questions. Like which grocery store items are used to calculate inflation numbers? Could lifting the tariffs on China lower prices at the cash register? Is what we’re seeing really inflation or plain old corporate greed?

Have a question you want answered next week? Email or send a voice memo to makemesmart@marketplace.org. Or leave us a voice message. We’re at 508-827-6278 (508-U-B-SMART)!

Sign up for the Make Me Smart newsletter (or any other Marketplace newsletter) by Feb. 28 and be entered to win a signed Vintage Kai T-shirt.

Here’s everything we talked about on the show today:

Feb 24, 2022
How do we fix our credit scoring system?
00:27:21

Credit scores are supposed to indicate how likely it is that someone will pay back money they borrowed. And credit scores matter — a lot. If you want to participate fully in this economy, you’ll probably need credit to buy a car or get housing and, in some cases, even to get a job. And yet, the current credit scoring system leaves lots of people out in the cold. About 26 million Americans are considered “credit invisible,” meaning they have no credit history.

“Anything that starts with good intentions, but that doesn’t have a whole lot of public accountability around it, will go off the rails,” said Frederick Wherry, professor of sociology at Princeton and director of the Dignity and Debt Network. Today’s credit scores were designed to make lending more fair by using data to determine who should have access to credit. But there’s still lots of inequity baked into the system.

On the show today, we delve into the mystery behind credit scoring and why some people think it’s time to rethink how we measure creditworthiness.

Share how your credit score has affected you with our sister show, “Marketplace Tech.”

And, there’s still time: Sign up for the “Make Me Smart” newsletter (or any other Marketplace newsletter) by Feb. 28 and be entered to win a signed “Vintage Kai” T-shirt.

Here’s everything we talked about today:

Feb 23, 2022
Classified documents were where now?
00:23:39

Grab your drinks and settle in, folks. It’s time for a little Economics on Tap! On today’s show, we’ll discuss the National Archives revealing that classified materials were recovered from former President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago property. Then, Kai and Kimberly dive into the troubling reactions to an ice skating final at the Winter Olympics, and the latest on a potential land war in Europe. Then things get a little musical during a round of our game Half Full/Half Empty (with a surprise host!).

Sign up for the Make Me Smart newsletter (or any other Marketplace newsletter) by Feb. 28 and be entered to win a signed Vintage Kai T-shirt.

Here’s everything we talked about on the show today:

Got any questions, comments or concerns? An answer to the Make Me Smart question? Email it to us: makemesmart@marketplace.org. Or leave us a voice message. We’re at 508-827-6278 (508-U-B-SMART)!

Feb 19, 2022
“The virus is no longer in charge of the economy”
00:11:36

Earlier today, California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a “next phase” pandemic plan that includes easing restrictions and focusing on prevention and readiness for any future COVID-19 surges. Plus, a couple of shell-shaking climate updates and some auto-related Make Me Smiles to wrap up this Hollowed Out Shell Thursday.

Sign up for the Make Me Smart newsletter (or any other Marketplace newsletter) by February 28th and be entered to win a signed Vintage Kai T-shirt.

Here’s everything we talked about on the show today:

Feb 18, 2022
Do economic sanctions work in a crypto world?
00:15:28

On this Whaddya Wanna Know Wednesday, we’ve got a listener question about how effective U.S. economic sanctions are when cryptocurrency can be used to evade them. Then we look at what’s causing the nursing shortage — COVID-19 isn’t the only reason. Plus, Kai Ryssdal fields a question about his career in the foreign service.

Do you have a question you want us to answer? You can send us a voice memo or call us at 508-UB-SMART (508-827-6278). You can also email us at makemesmart@marketplace.org!

Here’s everything we talked about on the show today:

Feb 17, 2022
The moral hazard of solar geoengineering
00:26:26

As the threat of climate change grows, expect to hear more about solar geoengineering.

It came up during our recent episode with sci-fi author Neal Stephenson, and it involves spraying tiny particles into the stratosphere to deflect the sun’s rays away from the Earth and cool the planet.

“It’s a pretty old idea and it has run into such opposition, in terms of research, that we have yet to have any rigorous tests of whether it is even, you know, remotely possible,” said Elizabeth Kolbert, a climate journalist and author of “Under a White Sky: The Nature of the Future.”

Critics still believe the risks outweigh potential benefits, but that hasn’t stopped others from supporting the idea as a potential solution to our climate woes.

On the show today, the promise and peril of solar geoengineering.

In the News Fix, we’ll discuss a historic settlement between Sandy Hook families and gun manufacturer Remington Arms. Also, we’ll explain why billionaire philanthropists are a social policy issue.

Then we’ll hear from listeners about last week’s episode on the NFL racial discrimination lawsuit, and we’ll have an answer to the Make Me Smart question that will teach you something about weather forecasting!

Here’s everything we talked about today:

 

Feb 16, 2022
Oil markets eye Russia-Ukraine tensions
00:16:21

Things could get weird in the world of oil if Russia follows through on an invasion of Ukraine, analysts warn. Our hosts discuss how the market might react. Plus, we’ve got plenty of updates on the Winter Olympics and the Freedom Convoy at the Canadian border, and we’ll check into the rocket headed for the moon. Stay to the end to catch our Make Me Smiles.

Here’s everything we talked about on the show today:

Got a question for Whaddya Wanna Know Wednesday? You can email a note or send a voice memo to makemesmart@marketplace.org. Or, you can call and leave a voice message at (508)-827-6278 (508-UB-SMART)!

Feb 15, 2022
Millions of parents, a collective scream
00:23:08

On this edition of Economics on Tap, we’ll get into the whiplash that some parents experienced today after the Food and Drug Administration reversed course on when it might authorize Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for kids under 5. Plus, more news from the border of Ukraine as President Joe Biden advises Americans in the area to leave as soon as possible. And to kick off the weekend, we’ve got a round of our favorite game, Half Full/Half Empty, featuring electric trucks, members of Congress trading stocks and a puzzling choice over augmented snacks.

Here’s everything we talked about on the show today:

If anything makes you smile over the weekend, or if you have questions or comments, email us at makemesmart@marketplace.org. Or leave us a voice message. We’re at 508-827-6278 (508-UB-SMART. )

Feb 12, 2022
An important next step for #MeToo
00:15:58

Today we’ll talk about some big news on the #MeToo front — Congress approved a new bill that guarantees legal recourse in courts to employees who have experienced sexual harassment at work. We’ll also talk about the latest in the fight for student athlete rights and how rising rents play into inflation. We’ll end with some Make Me Smiles, including zoo fundraisers and an update on our favorite Zoom cat-astrophe!

Here’s everything we talked about on the show today:

Feb 11, 2022
Why do CEOs get paid so much?
00:12:50

In 1965, the ratio of CEO-to-average-worker compensation was 21:1. In 2020, that number had skyrocketed to 351:1. One listener wondered: “How has that gap grown so wide?” We answer that, plus why gas prices list the tenth of a cent and if unlimited vacation is all it’s cracked up to be on this Whaddya Wanna Know Wednesday.

Here’s everything we talked about on the show today:

Feb 10, 2022
The Rooney Rule didn’t save the NFL
00:35:50

Super Bowl weekend is almost here, and while the National Football League would probably like us to talk about the big game, we’re discussing its hiring practices.

Last week, the recently fired head coach of the Miami Dolphins, Brian Flores, filed a lawsuit against the NFL alleging, among other things, that it discriminates against Black coaches. Currently, there’s one Black head coach in the league.

The Rooney Rule was supposed to increase diversity within coaching staffs by requiring teams to interview at least one minority job candidate. But not much has changed in the two decades since that rule has been in place.

“People in other industries brought the Rooney Rule to their industries because they saw it in the NFL. And so if you have the place where the rule was essentially born falling down in the job with respect to implementing the rule, then there’s going to be less confidence in the rule elsewhere,” said N. Jeremi Duru, professor of sports law at American University and author of the book “Advancing the Ball: Race, Reformation, and the Quest for Equal Coaching Opportunity in the NFL.”

In the News Fix, we’ll stick with today’s sporty theme and talk about Olympic gold medalist skier Eileen Gu and how she’s managed to walk a political tightrope amid tensions between the U.S. and China. Also, we’re keeping an eye on the U.S.-Canadian border.

Later, a shoutout to Kimberly’s hometown and a special announcement about our Economics on Tap YouTube livestream.

Here’s everything we talked about today:

Feb 09, 2022
Base salaries boom for Amazon’s corporate, tech workers
00:17:52

On Monday, Amazon increased the base pay cap for some of its employees. Tech and corporate workers will see their base salaries rise from $160,000 to $350,000. In an internal memo, the company announced it hopes to offer more competitive compensation compared to other big tech companies. With Amazon being one of the world’s largest employers, we wonder what effect it could have on wages throughout the tech industry as well as for the rest of its own employees. We’ll also catch you up on the weekend’s news, including a White House update on Russia. Plus, a Make Me Smile that’s just our type!

Here’s everything we talked about on the show today:

Feb 08, 2022
The untold story behind January’s jobs report
00:20:41

January’s employment report was released Friday morning, and it showed the U.S. economy added 467,000 jobs last month. The headline numbers were a pleasant surprise, but a closer look revealed troubling statistics for women hoping to return to the workforce. We discuss that and other takeaways over a nice adult beverage for Economics on Tap. Plus, a round of our Friday favorite, Half Full/Half Empty!

Here’s everything we talked about on the show today:

If anything makes you smile over the weekend, or if you have questions or comments, email us at makemesmart@marketplace.org. Or leave us a voice message. We’re at 508-827-6278 (508-UB-SMART).

Feb 05, 2022
Why this year’s Super Bowl ads might hit different
00:13:36

With the big game just around the corner, the broadcast world’s attention turns to the commercials. Advertisers are looking for a return to the upbeat tone of years past. We’ll guess about the efforts to stand out from the pack that we might expect during this year’s gridiron epic. Plus, we hollow out our shells while discussing the White House’s handling of the media and hard data on the national debt. We’ll end the show with two Make Me Smiles — one from Down Under, and one that’s out of this world.

Here’s everything we talked about on the show today:

Don’t forget, our newsletter drops every Friday. Sign up at Marketplace.org/newsletters.

Feb 04, 2022
Where do our donated clothes end up?
00:17:13

Every year, Americans donate millions of pounds of clothing to Goodwill, including one of our listeners, who wondered, “When I drop stuff off at Goodwill, where does it go?” We’ve got an answer for that one, as well as more listener questions about  economic sanctions and a predictable story about a common and increasingly pricey cooking ingredient.

Here’s a look at everything we talked about on the show today:

Do you have a question you want us to answer next? Share it with us! You can send us a voice memo or call us at 508-UB-SMART (508-827-6278). You can also email us— just send it to makemesmart@marketplace.org!

Feb 03, 2022
What you need to know now about inflation
00:32:43

The last time we took a longer look at inflation, economists were still trying to figure out if rising prices would be temporary or whether they’d be sticking around for a while.

Well, inflation is here. It’s now at a 40-year high, and the Federal Reserve is getting ready to raise interest rates to curb demand and — in theory — prices. So what now?

“Service sector inflation, it’s looming,” said Betsey Stevenson, a professor of public policy and economics at the University of Michigan and member of the Council of Economic Advisers under President Barack Obama.

Stevenson said while inflation in the goods sector will likely work itself out, what scares her the most is inflation in the service sector of the economy, an area where prices haven’t risen that much.

On today’s show, we’ll talk about what’s driving inflation, the long-term effects it could have on our economy and what policymakers can do to get it under control.

In the News Fix, we’ll talk about what inflation looks like in the rental market and why former President Donald Trump continues to have a grip on the Republican Party.

Then, we’ll hear from listeners about the metaverse, tips on where to use the loo when you’re road tripping across America and an answer to the Make Me Smart question that puts a really fine point on our look at inflation and the supply chain.

Here’s everything we talked about today:

Feb 02, 2022
A different pandemic for parents
00:18:36

On Monday, the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine received full approval from the Food and Drug Administration for anyone over the age of 18. It’s the second vaccine the FDA has approved for use by adults, but parents seeking official guidance for children under 5 are still left with plenty of questions and not many answers. Then we catch up on the news we missed over the weekend, including Spotify’s response to the Joe Rogan controversy, a racist smear campaign against a presidential nominee for the Federal Reserve Board and how fashion brands could be edging toward the end of consumer-friendly seasonal sales. Plus, we have serious fun with a couple of interactive projects and a musical Make Me Smile!

Here’s everything we talked about on the show today:

What’s making you smile this week? Let us know. Send a voice memo or give us a call at 508-82-SMART (508-827-6278)

Feb 01, 2022
Has this economy changed how you shop?
00:22:50

It’s Friday, which means it’s time for some Economics on Tap! Today we’re wondering if all the talk about supply chain problems six months ago changed our shopping habits and pondering the growing popularity of circus performers on TikTok. Plus, a round of our favorite game, Half Full/Half Empty!

Here’s everything we talked about on the show today:

Have thoughts on today’s show? Questions, comments, concerns? Send us an email at makemesmart@marketplace.org or give us a call at 508-827-6278 (or 508-U-B-SMART) and leave a message!

Jan 29, 2022
The economy’s growing, but the pandemic’s still here
00:15:12

Apple announced it had a great quarter, and GDP grew last year, too. But these numbers don’t tell the whole story. Gross domestic product has its limitations, and Kai talks about what he looks for when he wants to know how our economy is doing. Plus, our shells are feeling a little hollow following a grim reminder of the pandemic’s impact heading into year three. So to end the show, we’ve got a Make Me Smile that will hopefully make you dance!

Here’s everything we talked about on the show today:

Don’t forget, our newsletter drops every Friday. Sign up at Marketplace.org/newsletters.

Jan 28, 2022
New year, new supply chain?
00:20:25

The Lunar New Year is next week, and one listener wonders whether the traditional break that Chinese workers take might help our supply chain struggles. Then, we’ll answer some of your questions about the Free Filing program from the IRS and explore the growing anti-work movement. And Marielle finally shares that cauliflower smoothie recipe!

Here’s everything we talked about on the show today:

Got a question? Send us a voice memo. Or call us at 508-82-SMART (508-827-6278).

Jan 27, 2022
Let’s get smart about the metaverse
00:28:05

Last week, we spoke with sci-fi writer Neal Stephenson. He’s the guy who coined the term “metaverse” in 1992 to describe a 3D virtual world where people interact through avatars.

Today, the term is being thrown around a lot by tech and gaming companies that say they’re building the real metaverse. You probably noticed Facebook even changed its name to Meta and has really doubled down on this concept. And cue Microsoft, announcing its deal with Activision last week, saying it will provide the building blocks for the metaverse.

But what is the metaverse, and how real is it?

“The conceptual idea is a shared 3D world that uses [virtual reality] and [augmented reality] and has tens of thousands of people, and it’s all interoperable. But right now, the best definition of the metaverse is that it’s kind of a catch-all marketing term that a lot of different companies are using to convey the value they see in their potential future products,” said Eric Ravenscraft, product writer and reviewer at Wired.

On the show today, we’ll cut through some of the noise about the metaverse and break down what’s real, what’s hypothetical and what might remain science fiction.

In the News Fix: We’re running really, really low on semiconductors. We’ll talk about a new survey that shows U.S. manufacturers are about five days away from running out of chips and what that means for the supply chain. Also, we’ll dig into a report that reveals the effects of not treating mental health the same as physical health.

Later, a listener calls us with her hot take on the West Elm Caleb drama. And, if you think you know what bald eagles sound like, you’ll be surprised after you hear this week’s answer to the Make Me Smart question.

Here is everything we talked about today:

Jan 25, 2022
We’re talking about Bruno…
00:15:47

Welcome back from the weekend, folks! It’s What’d We Miss Monday, where we discuss some of the stories we missed over the last few days. Today, we discussed Encanto taking over the charts (and our hearts!), Olympians going to great lengths to avoid COVID and an update on the Webb Space Telescope! Plus, updates from abroad and a sweet Make Me Smile!

Here’s everything we talked about on the show today:

What’s making you smile this week? Let us know. Send a voice memo or give us a call at 508-82-SMART (508-827-6278).

Jan 25, 2022
West Elm Caleb saga is a story about online privacy
00:26:04

If you haven’t heard about Caleb from West Elm, get ready for a mini-deep dive. His story is all over TikTok and Twitter, and it’s raising serious questions about internet culture and a person’s reasonable expectation of privacy. We’ll break it down. Plus, who knew what, when? That’s what House Democrats are asking of fossil fuel companies regarding climate change. Then, a round of our favorite game, Half Full/Half Empty!

Here’s everything we talked about today:

Have thoughts about the West Elm Caleb saga or any other story we mentioned today? Hit us up at makemesmart@marketplace.org or leave us a voice message at 508-827-6278 (or 508-U-B-SMART).

Jan 22, 2022
Texas deep freeze Part 2?
00:22:16

Temperatures in Texas are tumbling this week, and occasional host Andy Uhler is getting flashbacks from last year’s deep freeze. We’ll talk about what Texas has and hasn’t done to prevent another disaster. Plus, we’re feeling a little hollowed out after we learned what some college students think the average American earns. To lighten the mood, we jump on the Worldle bandwagon!

Here is everything we talked about today:

Don’t forget, our newsletter drops every Friday. Sign up at Marketplace.org/newsletters.

Jan 21, 2022
What’s so great about 5G?
00:24:49

AT&T and Verizon rolled out their expanded 5G services today. One listener wonders: What’s 5G anyway, and why do we need it? We’ll explain why it’s been a long time coming. Plus, our fill-in hosts answer more listener questions about wage theft, the Great Resignation and the climate implications of wood stoves versus electric space heaters.

Here’s everything we talked about today:

Got a question? Send us a voice memo. Or call us at 508-82-SMART (508-827-6278).

Jan 20, 2022
How sci-fi can make us smart
00:28:58

On Make Me Smart, we often turn to economists, professors and policy wonks to make us smart about some big topics that need explaining. Today, we’re turning to a different kind of expert, sci-fi writer Neal Stephenson.

His latest book, “Termination Shock,” is about climate change, geoengineering and what happens when a billionaire decides to take matters into his own hands.

“I’m past trying to convince people that climate change is real. What I was more interested in was, for an audience that believes that climate change is real, what are some outcomes that we might see, in the near future, as different people in different countries begin to try to come to grips with that problem, because opinions differ as to what the right approach might be. And whenever you get differing opinions, you’ve got conflict, and whenever you’ve got conflict, you have the potential for a good story,” Stephenson said.

We’ll talk with Stephenson about how he thinks about big, complex issues like climate change and what this genre can teach us about the future and solving problems in the real world. Speaking of the future, Stephenson, who coined the word “metaverse” in 1992, weighs in on all the hullaballoo over the metaverse today.

In the News Fix, what’s behind all the news, or lack thereof, that we’re not getting from Tonga after this weekend’s volcano eruption. Also, you can get your free rapid COVID-19 test now.

Then, a listener drops some facts on the James Webb Space Telescope and what a former Google researcher was really wrong about.

Here’s everything we talked about today:

Jan 18, 2022
Free rapid tests could still take some time
00:20:11

Grab your drinks people. Economics on Tap is back (and we’re starting strong)! In our first Friday show of the new year, our hosts take a look at the anticipated response to a new rule that says private insurers will have to cover the cost of at-home rapid COVID-19 tests. With insurers not quite ready to implement the changes, we take a look at what you can do to get those costs covered when the rule goes into effect this weekend. Then, we’ll discuss the impact of a major settlement against the NFL. And as always, we’ll end the show with a another round of our favorite game, Half-Full/Half-Empty!

Here’s everything we talked about on the show today:

Jan 15, 2022
Omicron hits small business
00:13:24

It’s our first Hollowed Out Shell of a Thursday of 2022. Let’s dive in. Today we talk about how small business has fared during this wave of the coronavirus omicron variant. We also discuss the Supreme Court’s response to President Joe Biden’s vaccine mandate for large employers and what it means. Plus, an update on the situation at the Ukraine-Russia border and new charges against some of the Jan. 6 Capitol rioters. And some fishy Make Me Smiles. Stay tuned to the end because Kai finally gives us his most played songs of 2021.

Here’s everything we talked about on the show:

Jan 14, 2022
Is 5G cleared for takeoff?
00:16:12

Verizon and AT&T hoped to expand their 5G networks this week, but safety concerns from the Federal Aviation Administration have pushed that rollout back. We answer a listener question about how real those concerns are. Plus, answers to your questions about bonds, the difference between the Dow and the Nasdaq, and job listings that are hiding some important information!

Here’s everything we talked about today:

If you have a question you’d like us to answer in a future episode, email us at makemesmart@marketplace.org or leave us a voice message at 508-827-6278 or 508-U-B-SMART.

Jan 13, 2022
The James Webb Space Telescope is out of this world
00:37:14

For the first deep dive of 2022, we’re going to space! OK, not really. But we’re talking about the most powerful space telescope ever. The James Webb Space Telescope cost $10 billion, a lot of tech went into developing it and we can’t stop obsessing over it. Neither can our guest.

“I cannot contain my excitement. It’s been a wild roller coaster getting to this point. And to have this telescope now launched in space, it’s just so thrilling for astronomers everywhere,” said Caitlin Casey, professor of astronomy at the University of Texas at Austin, who will be leading the biggest project on the JWST.

The telescope is expected to help researchers discover some of the most distant galaxies and study the atmosphere of planets outside our solar system to see if they’re habitable.

On the show today: what the JWST tells us about the future of public and private investment in space exploration.

Casey will also highlight the technological developments created by the JWST and its predecessor, Hubble, and how they’ve impacted industries from medical equipment to GPS technology.

In the News Fix, some companies have stopped predicting when they’ll be back in the office. Plus, an in-depth investigation into the House and Senate members who enslaved Black people. Later, we’ll discuss why some people want to tone down our use of the term “deep dive” and an answer to the Make Me Smart Question from the 2011 Nobel Prize winner in physics.

Here’s everything we talked about today:

Jan 12, 2022
Hey smarties, we’re back!
00:13:20

Happy (belated) 2022! We’ve returned from our holiday hiatus, and we’re discussing some of the big news stories of the past week or so, including how insurance companies are now going to be required to pay for some COVID tests. Plus, the pope makes a rare appearance in the News Fix, and our beloved former co-host has some smart things to say about schools and omicron. In the make me smile department, we’ll talk about the first Black woman to appear on the U.S. quarter and a video about the special dogs that got us through 2021.

Here’s everything we talked about today:

What’s making you smile so far in 2022? Let us know. Send a voice memo or give us a call at 508-82-SMART (508-827-6278).

Jan 11, 2022
Let’s do the numbers on a $15 minimum wage (rerun)
00:34:59

Hey smarties! We’re on a break for the holidays and revisiting some favorite episodes from 2021. We want to say a big thank-you for being part of the “Make Me Smart” family this year — every voicemail, question and donation made a huge difference. None of us is as smart as all of us, and we couldn’t do this show without you. There’s still time to help Marketplace reach its end-of-year fundraising goal. If you can, please donate here. Thanks, happy holidays and we’ll see you in the new year.

Why is it so hard to raise the minimum wage? Even the leading expert on the topic isn’t quite sure.

“It’s actually really popular to raise the minimum wage in the United States, it’s popular across the partisan divide,” said Arindrajit Dube, an economist with the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. “It just becomes very embroiled in politics…. But then you put it actually as a ballot initiative, it pretty much always passes — including in red states, blue states, purple states.”

After the wage has spent more than a decade at $7.25 an hour, Dube said resistance to a hike is softening among industries like fast food and retail, which used to be hard-liners. Democrats have been trying to tie a new federal minimum wage to the COVID relief bill, but they’ve hit procedural and partisan snags.

Monday the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office added a wrinkle. Its analysis said that raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2025 would lift almost a million people out of poverty and raise wages for 17 million more — but it would cost the economy 1.4 million jobs.

So today on the show we’ll go deeper into the issue with Dube, who calls the CBO projection “a bit too pessimistic.” He’ll also tell us how this conversation plays out overseas, how minimum wage hikes affect spending and gross domestic product, and why a country as big and diverse as the U.S. needs a federal minimum wage at all.

Later in the show, listeners call in with their experiences teaching in-person classes and getting the vaccine. Plus the rapper Dessa — recently behind this Janet Yellen banger — answers the Make Me Smart question.

Finally, if you’re interested in minimum wage and other labor issues in the U.S., you’ll want to check out the latest season of “The Uncertain Hour,” which is all about how the typical American job has been gigged, temped and subcontracted away.

Here are links to everything we talked about on the show today:

Jan 04, 2022
Our mental “surge capacity” is maxed out (rerun)
00:33:32

Hey smarties! We’re on a break for the holidays and revisiting some favorite episodes from 2021. We want to say a big thank-you for being part of the “Make Me Smart” family this year — every voicemail, question and donation made a huge difference. None of us is as smart as all of us, and we couldn’t do this show without you. There’s still time to help Marketplace reach its end-of-year fundraising goal. If you can, please donate here. Thanks, happy holidays and we’ll see you in the new year.

For some, life is starting to resemble something like normal. Kids are going back to school, some offices are welcoming back workers … so why are we still feeling stressed?

Social psychologist Amy Cuddy says there are a couple reasons. For one, the pandemic has gone on for so long, our coping system known as “surge capacity” is depleted.

“We then move into this regression phase where we withdraw, we get sad, agitated, we don’t want to hang out with people, we’re done with Zoom meetings. So it’s not surprising that we don’t have the capacity to feel intense positive emotions right now when we go out to that live concert,” Cuddy said.

And when you throw the coronavirus delta variant into the mix, things get even harder. Cuddy says right now it’s common for people to experience spikes in anxiety, depression and have a desire to escape. She refers to this as “pandemic flux syndrome.” That’s not actually a clinical term. But it is real.

On today’s show, Cuddy explains the role employers can play to help workers through this chapter of the pandemic.

Later in the show, we’ll discuss how Facebook is dealing with the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan and MacKenzie Scott reshaping the nonprofit world. Plus, a longtime listener calls in with an update on paying for his twin sons’ college education.

Here’s everything we talked about today:

Dec 28, 2021
Critical race theory has been around for decades — why’s it a powder keg now? (rerun)
00:35:02

Hey smarties! We’re on a break for the holidays and revisiting some favorite episodes from 2021. We want to say a big thank-you for being part of the “Make Me Smart” family this year — every voicemail, question and donation made a huge difference. None of us is as smart as all of us, and we couldn’t do this show without you. There’s still time to help Marketplace reach its end-of-year fundraising goal. If you can, please donate here. Thanks, happy holidays and we’ll see you in the new year.

If you’ve been tuned in to the culture war at all in the last six to 12 months, you’ve probably heard a lot about “critical race theory.” You’ve probably heard less about what it actually is. We asked a critical race theorist.

“We had social inequality of serious dimensions … even after the victories of the civil rights movement in the embrace of a so-called colorblind society,” said law professor Cheryl Harris of the University of California, Los Angeles. “And we wanted to ask, what is the role of law in that? Is this an enforcement problem?”

CRT, as it’s sometimes called, posits that racism is not just perpetuated by individuals, it’s embedded into our institutions. But Harris said  recent Republican efforts to ban CRT from schools aren’t really about those decades-old discussions, but an effort to create a political “boogeyman.” Some conservative thinkers have said as much.

On today’s show, we’ll go deep with Harris on the nuances of what CRT is and isn’t, and what the recent controversy around systemic racism in schools has to do with the voting restrictions we talked about last week.

Later in the show, we’ll talk about California’s new rental-assistance program, Juneteenth commercialization and the economic conditions that would cause the rich not to get richer. (Spoiler alert: There really aren’t any.) Plus we’ll hear from a listener who is celebrating becoming debt-free.

Here’s everything we talked about today:

Dec 21, 2021
40 years later, is this the end of Reaganomics? (rerun)
00:33:54

Hey smarties! We’re on a break for the holidays and revisiting some favorite episodes from 2021. We want to say a big thank-you for being part of the “Make Me Smart” family this year — every voicemail, question and donation made a huge difference. None of us is as smart as all of us, and we couldn’t do this show without you. There’s still time to help Marketplace reach its end-of-year fundraising goal. If you can, please donate here. Thanks, happy holidays and we’ll see you in the new year.

It’s been just over 40 years since newly elected President Ronald Reagan declared, “In this present crisis, government is not the solution to the problem, government is the problem.”

We’re about 39 years and four months away from the legislative manifestation of that idea, the Economic Recovery Tax Act, which codified “Reaganomics,” supply-side economics, trickle-down economics, whatever you want to call it.

All these decades later, we’re still talking a lot about this policy because Reagan was so good at promoting it. People could understand the metaphor of government spending as a household budget in need of a cutback, said Brown University political economist Mark Blyth.

“That rather ignores the fact that I don’t get to issue my own currency, there’s no such thing as a Kai Ryssdal bond market,” Blyth said. “But because all that stuff accords with common sense, it’s an easy sell.”

Now we’re in a new financial crisis, with plenty of data on the “trickle-up” consequences of trickle-down and a $1.9 trillion pandemic relief bill. Reagan had “Morning in America,” Joe Biden has “Infrastructure Week.” On today’s show, we’ll talk with Blyth about how Reaganomics was supposed to work, its ripple effects on Democrats and whether the era of “The era of big government is over” is … over.

Later in the show, we’ll track more big firms getting rid of their offices, wade into crypto just a bit and learn about code breaker Elizebeth Smith Friedman. Plus, a correction from a 2-year-old listener.

Here are links to everything we talked about on the show today:

Dec 14, 2021
A cheesy close to 2021
00:23:16

On the final show of the year, we’re talking cheese. Specifically, the supply and demand of cream cheese in America. Plus, one of the hosts gives us their hot take on formaggio. On a more serious note, we’ll review a congressional report card on prescription drug prices and end the show with a holiday-themed round of our favorite game, Half Full/Half Empty.

And hey, thank you for joining us for our last show of 2021. We’ll be back with a new episode on Jan. 10. In the meantime, look out for some of our favorite episodes of the year in your podcast feed. Happy holidays from the “Make Me Smart” team!

Here’s everything we talked about:

New Investors Week: Your first donation to Marketplace goes TWICE as far with a dollar-for-dollar match from the Investors Challenge Fund! If you can, please give now.

Dec 11, 2021
Labor is having a moment
00:13:22

Starbucks workers at a store in Buffalo, New York, have voted to form the company’s first U.S. trade union. The move could pave the way for baristas across the country to do the same. We’ll talk about what this means for today’s labor movement and workers everywhere. Plus, a quick sprint through the news, including an update on boosters for teens and China’s Evergrande. Then, in the make me smile department, we’ll hear about an Ikea-inspired tourism campaign — and a rap song about the debt ceiling?

Here’s everything we talked about today:

Join us on YouTube on Friday at 3:30 p.m. Pacific/6:30 p.m. Eastern for our final live happy hour episode of 2021! Subscribe to our channel and sign up for notifications so you don’t miss it.

Dec 10, 2021
What “made in the USA” really means
00:11:17

It’s the holiday season, and Americans are focused on shopping. One listener wonders what consumer spending looks like after a year of supply chain issues. We’ll also answer your questions about inflation and what qualifies as “made in America” on our last Whaddya Wanna Know Wednesday of the year!

Here’s everything we talked about on the show today:

New Investors Week: Your first donation to Marketplace goes TWICE as far with a dollar-for-dollar match from the Investors Challenge Fund! Give Now!

Dec 09, 2021
The economics of mental illness
00:24:57

We are approaching our second winter of the COVID-19 pandemic, and we have a lot more awareness about how our mental health affects our work and how we function in society.

In the spring of 2020, adults in the U.S. were three times as likely to suffer depression or anxiety as they were the year before. While getting treatment can be expensive, the costs of untreated mental illness are often higher.

“Untreated or undertreated mental health conditions related to increased absenteeism in the workplace, what they call presenteeism, which is being present, but lower productivity, and also higher turnover rates — business should be concerned about this because it does affect their bottom line,” said Judy Bass, associate professor in the department of mental health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Bass said that pre-pandemic, those costs were pegged at $2 billion annually.

On the show today, we’ll discuss the economic costs of mental illness and the benefits of investing more in mental health care.

In the News Fix, we highlight a new report that warns of an emerging mental health crisis among young people in America.

Then we’ll hear from a listener who makes us smart about the pronunciation of “omicron,” and YouTube’s CEO answers the “Make Me Smart” question.

Here’s everything we talked about today:

If you or someone you know may be considering suicide, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24/7 at 1-800-237-8255.

 

Dec 08, 2021
“Make Me Smart,” NYC-style
00:16:09

On the show today, Marielle Segarra joins the pod from New York to discuss a few NYC-centric stories. First, the mayor there, Bill de Blasio, announced a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for all private-sector employees following the emergence of the omicron variant. Plus, bagel lovers are going bananas over a cream cheese shortage. Then, Plowy McPlowface? Jennifer Snowpez? Kids got creative naming snowplows, and it’s making us smile.

Here’s everything we talked about today:

Also, it’s Investors Week! If you haven’t donated to Marketplace’s “Make Me Smart” before, we’re offering a dollar-for-dollar match to all new and rejoining investors. If you’re in a position to give, please consider making a donation here. And, as always, thank you for listening and supporting the show.

 

Dec 07, 2021
Bring on the at-home rapid COVID tests
00:21:08

The U.S. lags behind other countries when it comes to making rapid at-home COVID-19 tests easily available and inexpensive. And we’re going to need to get better at it as omicron variant concerns increase and we see more indoor gatherings. Then we’ll look at the staffing shortages many schools have faced and what that’s meant for those who’ve stayed. And it’s Friday, so we’ll wrap up with a round of everyone’s favorite game, Half Full/Half Empty!

Here’s everything we talked about on the show today:

Support economic news and information for ALL by making a year-end donation today at Marketplace.org/givesmart. And thank you for your generosity.

Dec 04, 2021
Let’s talk about ‘share of stomach’
00:14:49

Almost two years into COVID-19, there are some parts of the pandemic that don’t seem to be going away. Yes, variants. But also the way we spend our money. We’ll talk about why grocery stores are still capturing the majority share of stomach and what that means in the days of omicron. Plus, a successful spacewalk, and we nerd out over today’s date.

Here’s everything we talked about:

Join us on YouTube Fridays at 3:30 p.m. Pacific/6:30 p.m. Eastern for our live happy hour episode! Subscribe to our channel and sign up for notifications so you don’t miss it.

 

 

Dec 03, 2021
What’s the deal with stadium naming rights?
00:18:57

Staples Center, home of the Los Angeles Lakers, will be renamed Crypto.com Arena this month. The news made quite a splash for the cryptocurrency exchange. And it left one listener wondering how naming rights work. We look at the history of these deals and how they happen. Plus, we answer your questions about the cost of switching from gas to electric appliances, why people want to abolish the Federal Reserve and if the two-week notice is really necessary.

And finally, we’ll take some time at the end to say farewell our friend and co-host, Molly Wood.

Here’s everything we talked about today:

Join Marketplace’s mission to make everyone smarter about the economy. Make your year-end gift today!

Dec 02, 2021
Ethereum 101
00:37:44

It’s time to talk about bitcoin’s digital cousin: ethereum. This is a type of blockchain operating system that allows you to trade the cryptocurrency called ether. But it does much more, including things called smart contracts that are changing the way people do business.

“What it really does is allows for the possibility that the middleman gets eliminated from the equation … if you have a good idea in blockchain and in ethereum, you can kind of go directly to users or investors to raise the money you want to start your business,” said Matt Leising, co-founder of DeCential Media, which covers the world of crypto, decentralized finance and the blockchain.

On the show today, we’ll get a lesson in how ethereum works, the advantages and disadvantages and why supporters believe it’s not going away. So regulators should catch up quick!

In the News Fix, we’ll hear positive news about boosters for teens and hear a warning about how omicron may mess with inflation. Plus, regulators are cracking down on Facebook, but they’re not the ones you’re thinking about.

Then, listeners say farewell to Molly and a bananas answer to the Make Me Smart question.

Here’s everything we talked about today:

Finally, it’s Giving Tuesday. Give now to help us reach $100,000 in donations and unlock another $100,000 from the Investors Challenge Fund. To donate, go to Marketplace.org/givesmart. And thank you for your generosity.

Dec 01, 2021
OMG omicron
00:16:02

Over the holiday break, epidemiologists around the world did a simultaneous face palm after news about a new COVID-19 “variant of concern.” We’ll catch you up on the omicron variant and what it might mean for the global economy. Plus, Jack Dorsey is out as CEO at Twitter and Amazon workers in Alabama get ready to vote (again.)

Here’s everything we talked about today:

Read the transcript here.

Giving Tuesday challenge: Give now to help us reach $100,000 in donations and unlock another $100,000 from the Investors Challenge Fund. https://support.marketplace.org/smart-sn

Nov 30, 2021
The Fed, explained
00:32:53

By now, you’ve probably heard that Jerome Powell has been nominated to serve another four years as chair of the Federal Reserve, our nation’s central bank. As we talked about on the show Monday, the decision boiled down to a political calculus. But what does the Fed do anyway? And why do we need it?

“The main reason why the Fed itself was created was because in the lead-up to 1913, which is when it was created, there were a bunch of bank runs. It was sort of every bank for itself back then, where banks would issue their own money. There wasn’t a central source of money printing. And so, if one bank maybe ran into trouble, people would run and pull their money out,” said Victoria Guida, who covers the Federal Reserve for Politico.

So basically, the Fed is supposed to be there when things go wrong to maintain the health of our economy. But the Fed does a lot of other things, like control borrowing costs and regulate banks.

On the show today, Guida explains the evolution of the Fed and how it touches the life of every person in this economy and may be making wealth inequality worse.

In the News Fix, we stick with the theme of the day and highlight a story about why presidents shouldn’t mess with the independence of the central bank. Also, inflation is coming to a dollar store near you.

Later, we’ll hear from a listener who is changing up his holiday shopping habits this year and talk Thanksgiving turducken-inspired cocktails!

Here’s everything we talked about today:

Read the transcript here.

We will be off the rest of the week for the holiday break. We are so grateful for our listeners and wish you a happy Thanksgiving!

Nov 23, 2021
Why Biden picked Powell
00:16:21

President Joe Biden says he wants to reappoint Jerome Powell to serve as chair of the Federal Reserve for a second term. It’s a big deal, but it wasn’t unexpected. We’ll explain the political calculus behind the decision. Plus, we’ll highlight a few long reads you may have missed over the weekend, including one about how China is winning the clean energy contest. And a “Turducken”-inspired Thanksgiving dessert, plus we ask listeners to share their version of a “Turducken” Thanksgiving cocktail.

Here’s everything we talked about today:

Read the transcript here.

Tomorrow, we’re doing a deep dive into the Federal Reserve. If you have a question about the central bank and how it works, send a voice memo or give us a call at 508-82-SMART (508-827-6278).

Nov 23, 2021
What will Covid-19 cases in America look like this winter?
00:29:02

Austria is getting ready for another round of COVID-19 lockdowns. With vaccine mandates hitting a roadblock in the United States and the fully vaccinated rate under 60%, we discuss the likelihood of another winter wave in America. Plus, we follow the drama over the auctioning of a rare copy of the U.S. Constitution. And, the hosts play our favorite game, Half Full/Half Empty.

Here’s everything we talked about today:

Read the transcript here.

Thank you for everyone who joined us on YouTube today. We’re live Fridays at 3:30 p.m. Pacific/6:30 p.m. Eastern for happy hour! Subscribe to our channel and sign up for notifications so you don’t miss it.

Nov 20, 2021
Crypto lovers go all in on the Constitution
00:16:41

Crypto enthusiasts came through. They’ve raised $40 million to buy a rare copy of the U.S. Constitution that’s up for auction to put it back in “the hands of the people.” We’ll explain how this all ties into what’s happening in the crypto space. Plus, why inflation is hitting some parts of the United States harder than others and the problem with Biden’s plan to open ports 24/7. Oh, and smiling quokkas!

Here’s everything we talked about today:

Read the transcript here.

Join us on YouTube Fridays at 3:30 p.m. Pacific/6:30 p.m. Eastern for our live happy hour episode! Subscribe to our channel and sign up for notifications so you don’t miss it.

Nov 19, 2021
Can we divert container ships in California to other ports?
00:14:29

Texas is throwing a bit of shade at California. In a recent ad, it says Texas ports are open and ready to solve the nation’s supply chain problems. But can ships really be diverted from the Port of Los Angeles to Houston? It’s not as easy as it sounds. Plus, we’ll answer your questions about why skyscrapers keep lights on at night, ESG investing and the origin story behind a piece of Marketplace merch.

Here’s everything we talked about today:

Read the transcript here.

Thanks to those of you who sent us questions this week. If you have a question you’d like our hosts to answer in a future episode, call us at 508-82-SMART (508-827-6278) or send a voice memo.

Nov 18, 2021
Debunking the onshoring narrative
00:32:14

At the start of the pandemic, and even a little before (remember the U.S.-China trade war?), some folks wondered if we were about to see the end of offshoring and whether U.S. companies would start to bring factories and jobs back from overseas.

The process is known as onshoring, and the idea was that everything from personal protective equipment to semiconductors would soon be made in the USA, driven mostly by Donald Trump’s tariffs and the pandemic’s supply chain shortages.

So that got us wondering, are we doing that? Is onshoring happening?

“You got me. I think we economists have been intellectually dishonest and just putting this narrative out. But nobody’s actually gone to check to see what’s really happening,” said Megan Greene, an economist and senior fellow at Harvard’s Kennedy School.

Greene said there’s not a ton of good data out there, but the data we do have shows onshoring is just not a thing right now.

On the show today, Greene does some myth busting about why companies aren’t rushing to bring production back to the United States. She also explains why globalization isn’t over and what the future of global supply chains might look like.

In the News Fix, an awesome tech story about NBA star Stephen Curry followed by a bizarre crypto-themed one. Plus, space junk is a growing problem. Then, we hear from listeners who are part of the Great Resignation movement. And a listener calls in with thoughts on that newborn baby smell.

Here’s everything we talked about on the show today:

Read the transcript here.

Nov 17, 2021
We were prepared to fight the previous economic crisis …
00:16:42

We often look to history to stop us from making the same mistakes we’ve made in the past. But as American policymakers mounted their economic response to the COVID-19 pandemic, they looked to the Great Recession, and they may have overcorrected a bit. We’ll discuss how the crises compare and why it may explain a lot about where we find ourselves today. Plus, Wall Street is worried about the “antiwork” movement, and a listener sent us a story about a lost teddy bear with a happy ending. It’s making us smile.

Here’s everything we talked about today:

Read the transcript here.

If there’s something making you smile on this Monday, let us know. Send a voice memo or give us a call at 508-82-SMART (508-827-6278).

 

Nov 16, 2021
Climate, climate, climate
00:24:48

The United Nations COP26 climate summit is going into overtime because there’s still a lot of work left to do. We’ll explain why the meeting has been a disappointment both in terms of results and in terms of what it’s meant for the spread of climate misinformation. Plus, good news on the vaccine beat. Mandates work! Also, happy birthday, Molly’s mom. And … we have Make Me Smart T-shirts and sweatshirts! You can get yours at Marketplace.org/shop.

Here’s everything we talked about today:

Read the transcript here.

Thanks to everyone who joined us live on YouTube for this episode! We’re live Fridays at 3:30 p.m. Pacific/6:30 p.m. Eastern for happy hour! Subscribe to our channel and sign up for notifications so you don’t miss it.

Nov 13, 2021
Making sense of Rivian’s valuation
00:16:12

Electric truck startup Rivian made its debut in the public markets. It’s sold less than 200 vehicles, so how could the company be valued at $86 billion, more than Ford and almost the same amount at GM? We’ll explain what’s really going on in the EV market. Plus, a true hollowed-out shell of story about our climate and why COP26, the United Nations conference, probably won’t help much. Also, Iceland trolls Mark Zuckerberg, and we’re here for it!

Here’s everything we talked about today:

Read the transcript here.

Join us on YouTube Fridays at 3:30 p.m. Pacific/6:30 p.m. Eastern for our live happy hour episode! Subscribe to our channel and sign up for notifications so you don’t miss it.

Nov 12, 2021
Are trade tariffs affecting inflation?
00:14:28

We’re inflating! Today, we got word that consumer prices jumped the highest they ever have in the last 30 years. One listener wants to know how much of that has to do with former President Donald Trump’s trade tariffs. The answer? Not as much as you’d think. Plus, we’re fielding your questions about who is or isn’t keeping governments and businesses accountable on climate action, and the origin of “bananapants.”

Here is everything we talked about today:

Read the transcript here.

Thanks to all of you who submitted a question. If you’d like the hosts to answer a question in an upcoming episode, call us at 508-82-SMART (508-827-6278) or send a voice memo.

Nov 11, 2021
“Work will never love you back”
00:34:51

Listeners, it’s time to talk about the Great Resignation.

That’s the name used to describe this moment in time as a large number of American workers quit their jobs at unprecedented rates.

“I also like a lot of other great R-words. I use the Great Reshuffling to talk about the uptick in migration and business formation. I talk about the Great Rudeness when it comes to the fact that a lot of people have been sort of locked in their houses for the last year or at least going out less, or, you know, being rather jerkish to flight attendants and waitstaff. And I also call it the Great Reset, because … I think a lot of people are not only rethinking what exactly they want to do for eight hours a day in their next job, they’re also thinking about rethinking about their relationship with work,” said Derek Thompson, who has been writing about this phenomenon for The Atlantic.

According to the Labor Department, 4.3 million workers left their jobs in August. The quits rate, as it’s called, is up to 2.9%, the highest since the department started keeping track. We usually look at the quits rate as an indicator about how optimistic workers are feeling about their ability to find another job.

On the show today, we’ll talk about the reasons driving people to leave their jobs right now, why it might actually be a good thing for the American workforce and what it means for our complicated relationship with work.

In the News Fix: a portrait of some of the underrepresented voices in our economy and what happened when they banded together. Plus, we’ll highlight a couple of the less talked about parts of the infrastructure package.

Also, after one of our hosts (it was Kai) reveals his dislike for the Great Resignation moniker, some listeners call with their own suggestions. And what a pup taught a “Make Me Smart” listener about her love for dogs.

When you’re done listening, tell your Echo device to “make me smart” for our daily explainers. This week we’re doing the numbers on health insurance and explaining HIPPA and the problems with being underinsured. Also, don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter! You can find the latest issue here.

Here’s everything we talked about today:

Read the transcript here.

Nov 09, 2021
The infrastructure bill is an “unqualified huge deal”
00:19:38

After years and years of trying, Congress finally came through with a bipartisan infrastructure bill. On the show today, we’ll discuss what’s actually in the bill and what it means for the economy. Plus, you may have noticed more and more businesses are pulling back on what they offer their customers without reducing their prices. Well, it’s not your imagination, it’s a thing dubbed “skimpflation.” And, finally, we end the show on a literal smile!

Here’s everything we talked about today:

Read the transcript here.

Don’t miss tomorrow’s deep dive into the Great Resignation. If you’ve quit your job during the pandemic, we want to hear from you. Send a voice memo or give us a call at 508-82-SMART (508-827-6278).

Nov 09, 2021
Reading the bond market tea leaves
00:26:42

The stock market might not be the best way to understand how the economy’s doing, but the bond market is a different story. On the show today, Kai gives us his read on the bond market and the clues to our economic future it can provide. Plus, we discuss a big labor and sports story: NFL star Aaron Rodgers tested positive for COVID-19. And we wrap up the week with our favorite game, Half Full/Half Empty.

Read the transcript here.

Thanks to everyone who joined us live on YouTube for this episode! We’re live Fridays at 3:30 p.m. Pacific/6:30 p.m. Eastern for happy hour! Subscribe to our channel and sign up for notifications so you don’t miss it.

Nov 06, 2021
Climate change is coming for Exxon’s assets
00:13:45

In a new securities filing, Exxon says some of its oil and gas reserves may face impairment, which means they will likely have to stay in the ground because of climate change. On the show today, we’ll discuss why this is big deal. Plus, the incoming New York City mayor wants to get paid in bitcoin, Hawaii is welcoming back tourists and tacos in space!

Here’s everything we talked about today:

Read the transcript here.

Join us on YouTube Fridays at 3:30 p.m. Pacific/6:30 p.m. Eastern for our live happy hour episode! Subscribe to our channel and sign up for notifications so you don’t miss it.

Nov 05, 2021
How do companies make money from selling stock?
00:18:03

Gas prices are up, and one listener wanted to know who is and who isn’t to blame. On the show today, we do a little fact-checking on who’s really responsible for the high price at the pump. Plus, we’ll answer a lingering question about the carbon tax and explain how companies make money from the stock market. And Molly shares some important news about a big change she’s making.

Here’s everything we talked about today:

Read the transcript here.

Keep sending your questions. Call us at 508-82-SMART (508-827-6278) or send a voice memo.

 

Nov 03, 2021
What’s up with the field of economics?
00:36:46

Economics is a social science. It involves theories and models and lots of math. So why is it so hard for economists to agree? And why is there often a disconnect between what economists say will happen and what actually happens in the real economy? That’s something Molly has been wondering about. So we turned it into a show and called in some help.

Colin Camerer, the Robert Kirby professor of behavioral economics at the California Institute of Technology, says there’s a big divide between microeconomics and macroeconomics.

“It’s a little bit like geology, where we understand a lot about about rocks and mountains and how old they are, that’s micro, and earthquake forecasting, in which we know that there will be a big quake … but we don’t know if it’s gonna be next year, five years, 10 years … that’s kind of like macro.”

On the show today, Camerer explains the role economists play in society and how we should be thinking about what they tell us, especially since their findings sometimes drive public policy debates.

In the news fix, America is in a AI battle with China, and it’s not looking great for team USA. Plus, who is really benefiting from Zillow’s failed plan to flip thousands of homes?

We’ll also hear from listeners who have mixed feelings about the outcome of the COP26 climate summit and an answer to the Make Me Smart question that has us wondering whether anything we know is true anymore.

Here’s everything we talked about today:

Read the transcript here.

Nov 02, 2021
What will COP26 climate conference accomplish?
00:18:14

The big story from the weekend is the start of the United Nations COP26 climate conference. And even though we’re watching it, we’re wondering if the meeting will lead to any major changes to get a deal done. We’ll discuss the meeting’s potential. Plus, an update on New York City workers and COVID-19 vaccine mandates, and the Halloween supply chain.

Here’s everything we talked about:

Read the transcript here.

Finally: We need your voice memos! Tell us what you think of the show or ask a question for Kai Ryssdal and Molly Wood to answer! Here’s how to do it.

Nov 02, 2021
VCs are getting into crypto. Here’s why that should worry you.
00:21:25

Even if you don’t know the name Marc Andreessen, you’ve probably interacted with one of his companies. He’s the man behind some of the very first web browsers, Mosaic and Netscape, a Facebook board member and a venture capitalist with investments Twitter, Lyft, Roblox, Airbnb, Stripe and more. He’s also getting into crypto, and that makes us nervous. On today’s show, Kai talks about it with guest co-host Marielle Segarra. Plus: the Starbucks’ unions, new vaccine approvals and another round of our favorite game, Half Full/Half Empty.

Here’s everything we talked about today:

Read the transcript here.

Thanks to everyone who joined us live on YouTube for this episode! We’re live Fridays at 3:30 p.m. Pacific/6:30 p.m. Eastern for happy hour! Subscribe to our channel and sign up for notifications so you don’t miss it.

Oct 30, 2021
New name, same Zuck
00:12:32

Earlier today, Mark Zuckerberg announced he’d be heading Facebook’s new parent company, Meta. It will also cover WhatsApp, Instagram and any future properties, including the virtual reality “metaverse” that inspired the company’s name. We’ll also talk about more infrastructure bill struggles and a new universal basic income effort in Los Angeles on this not-so-grim Hollowed-Out-Shell Thursday.

Here’s everything we talked about on the show today:

Join us on YouTube Fridays at 3:30 p.m. Pacific/6:30 p.m. Eastern for our live happy hour episode! Subscribe to our channel and sign up for notifications so you don’t miss it.

Oct 29, 2021
We’re still trying to wrap our brains around DeFi
00:12:25

Last week, we took a deep dive into the world of decentralized finance, or DeFi. And y’all had some follow-up questions! Today we’re answering a few from listeners about possible uses of DeFi, possible risks and how regulation might work.

Here’s everything we talked about on the show:

Read the transcript here.

Our show needs your voice! Tell us what you think of the show or ask a question for our hosts to answer! Send a voice memo or give us a call at 508-82-SMART (508-827-6278).

Oct 28, 2021
The case for a carbon tax
00:33:38

How big is your carbon footprint? Do you really know? If it was taxed, you’d find out one way or another. Maybe the cost of carbon gets added on like a sales tax, or maybe the producer gets hit with additional taxes and passes the cost onto you, like a tariff. Either way, you’ll learn something. It’s an idea some Democrats have been kicking around. So has the European Union. Ahead of the United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP26, which starts this weekend in Glasgow, we’re going to step back and explain the carbon tax. Joining us to help with that is economist Shi-Ling Hsu, a professor at Florida State University College of Law and author of “The Case for a Carbon Tax.”

Here’s everything we talked about today:

Read the transcript here.

Finally: We need your voice memos! Tell us what you think of the show or ask a question for Kai Ryssdal and Molly Wood to answer! Here’s how to do it.

Oct 27, 2021
What you need to know about the Facebook Papers
00:16:32

The whistleblower-driven “Facebook Files” investigation at The Wall Street Journal has expanded to include a whole consortium of journalists and a flood of reporting. Oh, and it’s called “The Facebook Papers” now. We’ll talk about the high-level stuff and the company’s response at today’s blockbuster earnings call. Later on, we’ll talk about a disappointing update to the family leave proposal from the White House and hear a spooky song from a listener.

Here’s everything we talked about today:

Read the transcript here.

Finally: We need your voice memos! Tell us what you think of the show or ask a question for Kai Ryssdal and Molly Wood to answer! Here’s how to do it.

Oct 26, 2021
The Alec Baldwin on-set shooting is a labor story
00:25:50

We’ve been gripped today by the tragic accident on the set of the Western movie “Rust.” Star Alec Baldwin’s prop gun discharged while shooting Thursday, killing cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and wounding Joel Souza, the film’s director. The investigation is ongoing, but the reporting that’s come out of the New Mexico set so far indicates this is a much more complicated story about labor unions and workplace safety. We’ll talk about it today, plus Facebook’s rebranding and the merits of closed captioning. And, of course, we’ll play our favorite game, Half Full/Half Empty.

Here’s everything we talked about today:

Read the transcript here.

Oct 23, 2021
The climate crisis is the only story because it touches everything
00:19:38

We’re talking about twin reports from the federal government today, focused on the risks climate change poses to the American economy and global security. It’s, uh, not good. We’ll talk about what’s in each, why the White House wants that information out now and the Joe Manchin of it all. Plus, Big Tech earnings, Jerome Powell’s next moves and a little WeWork news on this grab bag of a Hollowed-Out Shell Thursday.

Here’s everything we talked about on the show today:

Read the transcript here.

Join us on YouTube Fridays at 3:30 p.m. Pacific/6:30 p.m. Eastern for our live happy hour episode! Subscribe to our channel and sign up for notifications so you don’t miss it.

Oct 22, 2021
All Hands on Deck!
00:13:57

When President Joe Biden announced last week that the Port of Los Angeles would begin operating 24 hours a day, it left one of our listeners asking why the port wasn’t doing that already. We answer that, and ponder future supply chain relief. Plus, we answer some additional questions about the Great Resignation, Zoom’s carbon footprint and banana pants!

Here’s everything we talked about on the show today:

Read the transcript here.

Our show needs your voice! Tell us what you think of the show or ask a question for our hosts to answer! Send a voice memo or give us a call at 508-82-SMART (508-827-6278).

Oct 21, 2021
DeFi: What you need to know about decentralized finance
00:24:55

Imagine what it would be like if you didn’t have to wait days for your paycheck to be processed by the bank. Or getting a loan without having to go through a bank loan officer.

That’s finance, decentralized. Fans of decentralized finance believe DeFi has the potential to make our current financial system more efficient, accessible and affordable by getting rid of intermediaries like banks, brokers and exchanges.

“The goal of DeFi is to make financial services more democratic,” says Linda Jeng, a visiting scholar of financial technology and adjunct professor at Georgetown Law. “That means more open access. Anyone should be able to use it. It’s about empowering the customer. So users get to decide the rules of the game.”

There’s a lot of hype around DeFi. It’s gone from $1 billion industry in 2018 to $90 billion in 2021. But there’s not a lot of regulation.

On the show today, we’ll talk about the risks and rewards of decentralized finance.

In the newsfix, we’ll stay on the DeFi theme and discuss a new Securities and Exchange Commission report on the GameStop brouhaha and explain why coal-fired power is on the rise in America. Plus, a “Make Me Smart” listener weighs in on the difference between sailing and yachting.

When you’re done listening, tell your Echo device to “make me smart” for our daily explainers. This week we’ll explain the business behind Halloween candy and haunted houses. Also, don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter! You can find the latest issue here.

Here’s everything we talked about today:

Read the transcript here.

Oct 20, 2021
U.S. climate goals on the line
00:17:19

Here’s a sign that we need action on climate change. Water levels in one of the world’s most iconic lakes, Lake Tahoe, have plummeted. That’s not good. Federal climate legislation could help, but basically the entire GOP and Democrat Joe Manchin are opposed. We’ll discuss what means for our climate priorities at home and abroad. Plus, the superrich are getting richer, and a poetic Make Me Smile moment.

Here’s everything we talked about today:

Read the transcript here.

What’s making you smile these days? Let us know. Send a voice memo or give us a call at 508-82-SMART (508-827-6278).

Oct 19, 2021
Work just ain’t cutting it anymore
00:25:43

This week, Apple and Netflix fired employees who also happened to be involved in speaking out against their respective employers. What does this all mean for how we think about work? We’ll discuss it. Plus, it turns out Americans want smaller government and we end the week with a round of our favorite game, Half Full/Half Empty.

Here’s everything we talked about today:

Read the transcript here.

Our show needs your voice! Tell us what you think of the show or ask a question for our hosts to answer! Send a voice memo or give us a call at 508-82-SMART (508-827-6278).

Oct 16, 2021
The fight over the debt limit: round two
00:16:51

We’re barely getting out of one fight over the debt ceiling and we’re already looking down the road to the next one. Will the GOP come around before the December deadline? We’ll discuss why this game of chicken might not end well. Plus, China says RIP to LinkedIn, and Nokia is dropping a new brick phone!

Here’s everything we talked about today:

Read the transcript here.

If you or someone you care for is in distress, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (en Español: 1-888-628-9454; deaf and hard of hearing: 1-800-799-4889) or the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741.

 

Oct 14, 2021
Why do we even have a debt ceiling?
00:18:36

The House of Representatives might’ve voted on a short-term spending solution on the debt ceiling, but one of our listeners is still wondering where the debt limit came from and why it’s a thing. We’ll get into the history, which goes back to World War I. Plus, we’ll answer your questions about retirement, carbon capture and the landscape services industry.

Here’s everything we talked about today:

Read the transcript here.

Our show needs your voice! Tell us what you think of the show or ask a question for our hosts to answer! Send a voice memo or give us a call at 508-82-SMART (508-827-6278).

Oct 14, 2021
Batteries are “the glue of the clean-energy economy”
00:34:11

We’ve gone from lead-acid batteries in our cars to the lithium-ion batteries that power our phones and devices in a relatively short amount of time.

The next generation of batteries will need to be big enough to power homes, cities and our electrical grid because experts believe that’ll be key to our transition away from fossil fuels.

“Batteries have really been called the glue of the clean-energy economy because … the wind doesn’t always blow, the sun doesn’t always shine … and so we need to have not only enough storage for the few minutes or the few hours between uses, but we need to be able to provide that super-high-reliability storage for hours, days, weeks and seasons,” said Dan Kammen, an energy professor at the University of California, Berkeley, and adviser for innovative energy solutions at the U.S. Agency for International Development.

Our current go-to battery technology is lithium ion. But there are so many other technologies coming online that will become the core of our clean energy economy.

On today’s show: one of the most hopeful climate-related deep dives we’ve had in a while. We’ll talk with Kammen about some of the latest battery technology and what it’s going to take to make it cheaper, greener and accessible to all.

Side note: Molly Wood is doing a whole podcast on lithium batteries called “How We Survive.” Don’t forget to subscribe!

In the news fix, we get hard numbers on how climate change is affecting people all over the world and explain the latest fight over vaccine mandates in Texas.

Plus, a listener gives us a firsthand account of the oil spill off the coast of Southern California, and an answer to the Make Me Smart question that will get you thinking about your toothbrush.

When you’re done listening, tell your Echo device to “make me smart” for our daily explainers. This week we’ll explain the global supply chain mess, a new form of advertising in the NBA, and the cult success of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.” Also, don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter! You can find the latest issue here.

Here’s everything we talked about today:

Read the transcript here.

Oct 12, 2021
What the Dave Chappelle backlash says about workplace power struggles
00:17:59

Netflix suspended a trans employee who took to Twitter to criticize Dave Chappelle’s special over transphobic comments. It’s not the only example of workers flexing their power. Meanwhile, companies are struggling to figure out how to deal with it. Plus, Apple is still having trouble in the health care space. And, we’re celebrating Indigenous Peoples Day!

Here’s everything we talked about today:

Read the transcript here.
Our show needs your voice! Tell us what you think of the show or ask a question for our hosts to answer! Send a voice memo or give us a call at 508-82-SMART (508-827-6278).

 

Oct 12, 2021
Women are still losing jobs
00:22:44

If you take away anything from the October jobs report, it should be this: More than a year and a half into the pandemic, women keep losing jobs. And it’s probably because we still haven’t figured out child care. Today, we’ll talk about some of the possible long-term effects of women leaving the workforce. Plus, Google and YouTube take big steps against climate deniers, and the “Bad Art Friend” drama is really all about Facebook. Then, a special guest surprises the hosts on Half Full/Half Empty.

Here’s everything we talked about today:

Read the transcript here.

Our show needs your voice! Tell us what you think of the show or ask a question for our hosts to answer! Send a voice memo or give us a call at 508-82-SMART (508-827-6278).

Oct 09, 2021
As dark place as it gets
00:15:22

On this hollowed-out shell Thursday, we waste no time getting to the dark place. The Biden administration released reports today detailing just how big of an impact climate change will have on our lives, from more traffic, to higher rates of depression and anxiety, and even more bugs. We’ll talk about those challenges. Plus, other stories of note, including a big win for Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen. Then, a beef over Bruce Springsteen lyrics has finally been put to bed.

Here’s everything we talked about today:

Read the transcript here.

Join us on YouTube Fridays at 3:30 p.m. Pacific/6:30 p.m. Eastern for our live happy hour episode! Subscribe to our channel and sign up for notifications so you don’t miss it.

Oct 08, 2021
What’s a digital dollar?
00:18:08

You’ve heard about bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, but how are they different from a digital dollar? On this Whaddya Wanna Know Wednesday, we’ll discuss the benefits and drawbacks of a digital dollar as the Federal Reserve ponders making its own digital currency. Plus, we’ll explain the economics behind robocalls and vaccine mandates. And we get an email from a listener and her cats who want to know what’s up with pet food shortages.

Here’s everything we talked about today:

Read the transcript here.

Our show needs your voice! Tell us what you think of the show or ask a question for our hosts to answer! Send a voice memo or give us a call at 508-82-SMART (508-827-6278).

Oct 07, 2021
Big money is behind the fight over the Indian Child Welfare Act
00:38:59

What do corporate lawyers, political operatives, and right-wing groups have to do with the Indian Child Welfare Act? A whole lot.

ICWA has been around for almost 40 years. It provides protections for Native American kids who are up for foster care or adoption and it says Native kids should be placed with extended family or stay with native communities whenever possible.

It doesn’t seem terribly controversial on the face of it. But the child custody law has drawn the attention of groups who see the chance to undo ICWA as the first step into doing away with a whole chain of legislation around Native sovereignty, with huge implications for land use, water rights and gaming rights. In short, a successful legal challenge to this one law, which has now reached the steps of the Supreme Court, could mean a lot of money for a whole lot of non-Native people.

“I always say that federal Indian law is the canary in the coal mine, like what the courts are willing to do to tribes. I think everyone should be concerned about and this case for this term, I think will be will be an important one to watch,” said Rebecca Nagle, independent journalist and host of the podcast “This Land,” which focuses on ICWA in its latest season.

On today’s show, we’ll dig into the fight over ICWA, the players involved and who stands to benefit if it’s found unconstitutional on the basis of race.

In the news fix, we’ll talk about Facebook whistleblower testimony, COVID’s two-month cycle and the cost of living in flood zones — speaking of the effects of climate change, Molly’s super secret project, the “How We Survive” podcast, launches tomorrow.

Plus, the birds of “Make Me Smart.”

When you’re done listening, tell your Echo device to “make me smart” for our daily explainers. This week we’ll explain the history behind historically Black colleges and universities, how pumpkin-spice beer became a thing and why Sherlock Holmes continues to be one of the most popular fictional detectives of all time. Also, don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter! You can find the latest issue here.

Here’s everything we talked about today:

Read the transcript here.

Oct 05, 2021
Facebook goes down. What timing!
00:17:30

Facebook went down for six hours today. The outage happened a day after a former employee went on national television saying the company has put profits above, well, everything else. We’ll talk about how this could’ve happened and what it meant for global commerce. Plus, the federal debt limit debate is at DEFCON 2, and New Zealand gives up on its yearlong, zero-COVID strategy. And, it’s Fat Bear Week!

Here’s everything we talked about today:

Read the transcript here.

Our show needs your voice! Tell us what you think of the show or ask a question for our hosts to answer! Send a voice memo or give us a call at 508-82-SMART (508-827-6278).

Oct 05, 2021
Mint the coin?
00:23:15

With the debt ceiling crisis still pending, a popular old idea has sprung up: a trillion-dollar coin. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has said it’s a no-go, but how come? We talk about what the trillion-dollar coin is and why it isn’t the best (or worst) idea. We also discuss Google backing out of the finance game and share some interesting sound from Disneyworld’s 50th anniversary. Finally, a round of everybody’s favorite game, Half Full/Half Empty!

Here’s everything we talked about on the show today:

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Our show needs your voice! Tell us what you think of the show or ask a question for our hosts to answer! Send a voice memo or give us a call at 508-82-SMART (508-827-6278).

Oct 02, 2021
Facebook is spinning
00:18:15

Let’s talk about the results of Facebook investigating itself. TLDR: The company says the research it did — on its apps having a negative effect on young people — isn’t what we think it is. Plus, Sen. Joe Manchin is “feeling his oats,” and get ready for slower mail delivery.

Here’s everything we talked about today:

Join us on YouTube Fridays at 3:30 p.m. Pacific/6:30 p.m. Eastern for our live happy hour episode! Subscribe to our channel and sign up for notifications so you don’t miss it.

Oct 01, 2021
What the debt ceiling drama means for you
00:16:28

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen says if the debt ceiling isn’t raised, there could be “catastrophic economic consequences.” But what does that mean for the average American? We’ll get to the bottom of this listener question. Plus, we’ll do the numbers on the high cost of child care and the defense budget. Then, bird watching anyone? We break down what “hawks” and “doves” have to do with monetary policy.

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Our show needs your voice! Tell us what you think of the show or ask a question for our hosts to answer! Send a voice memo or give us a call at 508-82-SMART (508-827-6278).

 

Sep 30, 2021
The “dysfunctional” U.S. refugee system
00:24:52

The U.S. in the middle of resettling tens of thousands of Afghan citizens around the country. At the same time, it’s turning away Haitians and Central Americans at the U.S.-Mexico border. What gives?

“The reasons why they may be migrating are very similar, in terms of fleeing persecution, war, violence; the difference is where they seek that legal relief,” said Krish O’Mara Vignarajah, the president and CEO of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, a nonprofit organization that’s helped resettle refugees for decades.

On the show today, we’ll dig into the U.S. refugee system, how it got to be this way and how we can rebuild a system that is more just.

We’ll also talk about a major victory for garment workers in California and what that might mean for their counterparts nationwide. Plus, we’ll get an update on the debt troubles of China’s Evergrande and hear from listeners about their parent-child “Make Me Smart” listening teams.

When you’re done listening, tell your Echo device to “make me smart” for our daily explainers. This week we’ll explain why Costco hot dogs are so cheap, the fight over Apple’s app store and the economic consequences of hurricanes. Also, don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter! You can find the latest issue here.

Here’s everything we talked about today:

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Sep 28, 2021
Resignations at the Fed
00:14:49

You know it’s a big deal when people retire early from jobs where people never retire early. Two Federal Reserve presidents stepped down after making controversial trades in the financial markets the Fed was actively trying to stabilize in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. We’ll discuss why the resignations matter. Plus, a few other stories you might’ve missed over the weekend, including one about dentists fighting a plan to add dental coverage to Medicare. And a Make Me Smile moment from a fellow listener.

Here’s everything we talked about today:

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Our show needs your voice! Tell us what you think of the show or ask a question for our hosts to answer! Send a voice memo or give us a call at 508-82-SMART (508-827-6278).

Sep 28, 2021
The cryptocurrency future is not here
00:24:47

China is making big crypto moves. Today, it made all financial transactions involving cryptocurrencies illegal. It also banned crypto mining. At the same time, it’s launching its own digital currency. We’ll dig into what it might mean for crypto’s future. Plus, one thing that hasn’t got better during the pandemic: Mothers are still having a hard time returning to work. And now it’s because of a shortage of child care workers. Also, we nerd out about copyright law and wrap up the week with a round of our favorite game, “Half Full/Half Empty.”

Here’s everything we talked about today:

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Our show needs your voice! Tell us what you think of the show or ask a question for our hosts to answer! Send a voice memo or give us a call at 508-82-SMART (508-827-6278).

Sep 25, 2021
No more debt ceiling?
00:16:18

It’s tradition. Every couple of years, Democrats and Republicans fight over raising the federal debt ceiling, or the limit of how much money the government can borrow to pay its bills. Right now is one of those times. Should this tradition be broken? We’ll discuss. Plus, Boris Johnson takes aim at Kermit the frog and Brandi Carlile’s upcoming SNL appearance has us grinning. And we’re taking your make me smile submissions.

Here’s everything we talked about today:

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Join us on YouTube Fridays at 3:30 p.m. Pacific/6:30 p.m. Eastern for our live happy hour episode! Subscribe to our channel and sign up for notifications so you don’t miss it.

Sep 24, 2021
How Jerome Powell happened
00:19:11

Progressive Democrats are pressuring President Joe Biden to replace Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell. But how did a non-economist even come to head the Fed anyway? That’s one of the listener questions we answer on this Whaddya Wanna Know Wednesday. We’ll also talk about mismatching in the labor market and who the United States is borrowing money from. Plus, Molly reveals her super-secret project!

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Our show needs your voice! Tell us what you think of the show or ask a question for our hosts to answer! Send a voice memo or give us a call at 508-82-SMART (508-827-6278).

Sep 23, 2021
The social safety net explained
00:30:05

Congressional Democrats are working on a $3.5 trillion bill that would vastly expand the social safety net. But what exactly is this thing we call the social safety net?

“We’re talking about things like the earned income tax credit, child tax credits, a cash transfer program called TANF, or Temporary Assistance [for] Needy Families … but if you think about how long it might take you to get on your feet, it is a relatively meager and challenging system to subsist on,” said Tina Sacks, associate professor of social welfare at the University of California, Berkeley.

The idea that the government should help catch Americans if they fall on hard times started during the Great Depression, for obvious reasons. But Sacks says today that net doesn’t work as well as it should. There are a lot of gaps in the system, and at the end of the day our programs are pretty meager compared to those in other developed nations.

On the show today, Sacks walks us through the ins and outs of the social safety net. What it looks like in practice and whether the Democrats’ plan could make a real difference.

Later, we’ll talk about the next legal fight over reproductive rights, hear from a listener who makes us smart about toaster ovens and a callout for all your Duo voice memos!

When you’re done listening, tell your Echo device to “make me smart” for our daily explainers. This week we’ll explain so-called name, image and likeness compensation deals and how they’re changing the game for student athletes, along with the origin of potato chips. Also, don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter! You can find the latest issue here.

Here’s everything we talked about today:

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Sep 21, 2021
The U.S. isn’t the only one that can break the global economy
00:19:08

A massive real estate company is freaking out the global markets. The Evergrande Group is sitting on tons of debt, and investors worry it could go broke and send ripple effects throughout China and beyond. We’ll explain the Evergrande crisis. Plus, you’re awesome! A big shoutout to all the “Make Me Smart” listeners who helped us beat our fundraising goal. And please send photos of you in your banana pants!

Here’s everything we talked about today:

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Sep 21, 2021
1 shot, 2 shots … 3 shots? 4?
00:22:53

Today, a group of advisers to the Food and Drug Administration voted to reject a plan from the White House to approve vaccine boosters for most Americans. That was followed up by a vote to approve boosters for people who are at serious risk of coronavirus disease or over the age of 65. We’ll talk about what makes the discussion around boosters so complicated. We’ll also talk about the Pentagon’s acknowledgment of a drone strike gone very wrong. Finally, we wrap up the show with a round of our favorite game, Half Full/Half Empty.

Give now to support the show you love and to get the “Make Me Smart” banana pants and ringtones! Marketplace.org/givesmart.

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Sep 18, 2021
More about Facebook’s cost of doing business
00:14:10

Today we get hallowed out from more revelations from The Wall Street Journal’s ongoing reporting of what goes on behind the scenes at Facebook and the tradeoffs the tech giant makes in order to stay a tech giant. We also take a look at the Federal Reserve’s review of its ethics rules. And a Make Me Smile courtesy of listeners like you.

Here’s everything we talked about on today’s show:

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Sep 17, 2021
What if the minimum wage was raised like Social Security?
00:14:16

A lot of things are affected by inflation. How come minimum wage isn’t one of them?

On today’s show, we get to the bottom of one listener’s question about minimum wage, but we can’t promise the answer is logical. Plus, we explain the big deal with TikTok and check out some weird beers!

Here’s everything we talked about on the show today:

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Sep 16, 2021
Occupy Wall Street, 10 years later
00:27:03

Ten years ago this week, a group of activists pitched tents in New York’s Zuccotti Park. They said they were protesting against economic inequality and the gap between the people who hold the top 1% of wealth in this country and the rest of us.

Soon, people in cities all over the globe launched their own Occupy Wall Street protests, and while police broke up the original protest in New York two months later, Occupy Wall Street went a lot longer and a lot further than many expected.

“There were experts, people in the social sciences who had been studying inequality, and were very well aware of its explosive growth in the period since the 1970s. But it wasn’t really on the radar of the general population until Occupy. I think that was one of the major impacts,” said Ruth Milkman, a sociology professor at the City University of New York Graduate Center, who has studied the Occupy Wall Street movement.

Milkman said while Occupy Wall Street may not have done much to close the growing income inequality gap in this country, it made the issue part of the national political conversation. She also draws lines between Occupy, the Fight for $15, the rise of Bernie Sanders and other social movements that followed, including Black Lives Matter.

On today’s show, we’ll talk with Milkman about the legacy of Occupy Wall Street.

In the newsfix, we’ll talk about Facebook and a new project from The Wall Street Journal that reveals troubling information about what’s happening inside company. Plus, we’ll hear from one of our favorite listeners and one of best low-key answers to the Make Me Smart question we’ve received in a while.

Read the transcript here.

When you’re done listening, tell your Echo device to “make me smart” for our daily explainers. This week we’ll explain why hit songs are getting shorter, why child care is so expensive and how drive-in movie theaters made a comeback. Also, don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter! You can find the latest issue here.

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Sep 15, 2021
Apple says update your devices now
00:21:57

Apple’s security impermeability has been shattered to pieces. Today, Apple issued an emergency software update for its products after researchers discovered devices could be infected with the highly invasive Pegasus software without a single click. We’ll explain what that means for your security. Plus, “Shipageddon” will be with us until 2022, and we discuss a few science-related stories you might’ve missed, including one about baby cows being potty-trained. And finally, one of the fashion industry’s biggest parties is making us smile (#metgala).

Here’s everything we talked about today:

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Sep 14, 2021
The problem with politicians owning and trading stocks
00:26:40

Whether the United States moves on climate change may come down to one person — Sen. Joe Manchin. Will his personal financial investments in the energy industry stand in the way? We’ll discuss the ethics around policymakers profiting from industries they’re supposed to be writing the rules for. Plus, we check in on U.S.-China trade relations and Epic v. Apple legal battle. Finally, we close this short/long week, with a round of our favorite game, Half Full/Half Empty.

Here’s everything we talked about today:

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Sep 11, 2021
All y’all need to get vaccinated
00:19:45

The White House isn’t messing around. Now that the COVID-19 vaccines have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration, the Joe Biden administration has ordered two-thirds of the American workforce to get the jab. We’ll discuss the latest round of vaccine mandates. Plus, an update on the abortion ban in Texas and the buy now, pay later boom — what can possibly go wrong? Finally, we fill our hollowed-out shells with Blue’s Clues and some fun facts about rats!

Here’s everything we talked about today:

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Our show needs your voice! Tell us what you think of the show or ask a question for our hosts to answer! Send a voice memo or give us a call at 508-82-SMART (508-827-6278).

Sep 10, 2021
Social Security is not going broke
00:16:08

We often hear Social Security is running out of money, but what does that actually mean?

On today’s show, we answer a listener’s question about the future of Social Security. TLDR, recipients won’t stop getting Social Security checks, but their payments might shrink. Plus, we’ll explain why semiconductors are so hard to make, what’s the deal with returnless refunds, and hollowed-out shell Thursday vs. hollowed-out shell of a Thursday.

Here’s everything we talked about today:

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Our show needs your voice! Tell us what you think of the show or ask a question for our hosts to answer! Send a voice memo or give us a call at 508-82-SMART (508-827-6278).

Sep 09, 2021
Reproductive rights are economic rights
00:36:57

It might not be talked about much, but reproductive rights are an economic issue.

There’s a growing body of research suggesting a link between access to abortion and women’s economic stability.

“We have evidence that for women who delayed becoming mothers, because they had access to abortion, those women were much more likely to attend college, to graduate college, to obtain occupations that are kind of professional in nature. And they had higher wages by as much as about 10%. And they were about half as likely to live in poverty as adults,” said Caitlin Myers, an economics professor at Middlebury College who studies the effects of reproductive policies.

Myers also pointed to evidence that women who encounter obstacles to obtaining an abortion and are ultimately unable to have one are much more likely to face bankruptcy proceedings, see their credit status decline and suffer financial distress.

In the aftermath of Texas’ abortion ban, we’ll discuss reproductive rights as an issue of economic justice and why those rights are rarely seen through an economic lens.

In the news fix, we discuss Afghanistan’s new government and what it might mean for the country’s economy. Later, a listener shares his favorite Ikea hack, and the fart joke that keeps on giving.

When you’re done listening, tell your Echo device to “make me smart” for our daily explainers. This week, we’re explaining China’s massive tutoring business, how Hollywood stars get paid and hard seltzer. You can hear them all here. And don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter! You can find the latest issue here.

Here’s everything we talked about today:

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Sep 07, 2021
The end of a long week
00:25:38

The destruction left by Hurricane Ida has sharpened the focus on infrastructure and climate resilience in the United States. We discuss the importance of the Senate-approved infrastructure bill in speeding up the fight against climate change. We also talk about the emerging corporate responses to the Texas abortion law and some worrying statistics in the latest jobs report. And finally, join us for another round of our Friday game, Half Full/Half Empty!

Here’s everything we talked about on the show today:

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Sep 04, 2021
Climate change action: it’s now or never
00:15:45

We know everyone is talking about Texas’s new restrictive abortion law. We’re saving our in-depth conversation about that for Tuesday, when we’ll dive into the economic story behind reproductive rights. Today, we’re talking about other stories that have our shells feeling pretty hollowed out, including the flooding from Hurricane Ida. Can this be a George Floyd moment for climate change? Plus, a bunch of billionaires are paying up. And a plethora of make-you-smile moments — from a swimming rat living his best life in flood waters to ABBA!

Here’s everything we talked about today:

Read the transcript here.

Join us on YouTube Fridays at 3:30 p.m. Pacific/6:30 p.m. Eastern for our live happy hour episode! Subscribe to our channel and sign up for notifications so you don’t miss it.

Sep 02, 2021
Should I get my booster?
00:17:11

Soon, all Americans will be eligible to get a COVID-19 booster shot. One of our listeners is wondering whether getting her booster means taking one from somebody in a developing country. We’ll explain why the vaccine supply chain makes that unlikely. Plus, we’ll check in on Kai’s January 2021 prediction about the 10-year Treasury note and answer a couple of questions about recycling and meal kits.

Here’s everything we talked about today:

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Our show needs your voice! Tell us what you think of the show or ask a question for our hosts to answer! Send a voice memo or give us a call at 508-82-SMART (508-827-6278).

Sep 01, 2021
What’s the deal with the creator economy?
00:30:44

By now you’ve heard the phrase creator economy. It includes everyone from TikTok stars to Twitch streamers and adult-content creators on sites like OnlyFans.

According to one report, more than 50 million people around the world consider themselves creators, and it’s become the fastest-growing type of small business.

“The influencer marketing industry is projected to be over a $20 billion business in the next couple years,” said Taylor Lorenz, who covers tech culture and online creators for the New York Times. She’s also the author of the forthcoming book “Extremely Online: The Rise of the Online Creator and Creation of a New American Dream.” 

“For so long, it was really, really, really hard to build tech products for influencers or creators … because tech executives and tech investors really thought of it as a niche market, right? Now, obviously, there’s so many creators, the pandemic kind of pushed everyone online and the industry is, you know, reaches a sort of a maturation point where it makes a lot of money. And so you see the Silicon Valley investors kind of rushing in.”

Today, we’re doing the numbers on the creator economy and discuss how it’s not only changing the business world, but also changing how people think about democracy, misinformation, the anti-vaccination movement and, ultimately, whom people trust.

In the news fix, we’ll commiserate over airline customer service wait times, and is Kai a psychic? His “Jeopardy!” prediction comes true. Plus, we’ll hear from a listener who is the boss of multitasking, and another one calls in with a life update.

When you’re done listening, tell your Echo device to “make me smart” for our daily explainers. This week, we’re explaining libraries, vaccines and Dolly Parton. You can hear all our explainers here. And don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter! You can find the latest issue here.

Here’s everything we talked about today:

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Sep 01, 2021
Humanity can’t get a win
00:18:48

It’s been a somber news day. Hurricane Ida hit New Orleans on the 16th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. This time, the city’s $14.5 billion system of levees seemed to have held up, but the storm knocked out power for 1 million people. We’ll talk about what this extreme weather tells us about climate adaptation. Plus, it’s the end of an era in Afghanistan as the last American troops pull out of Kabul and we’ll share a few stories you might’ve missed over the weekend. Finally, an Al Roker clap back you didn’t know you needed.

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Our show needs your voice! Tell us what you think of the show or ask a question for our hosts to answer! Send a voice memo or give us a call at 508-82-SMART (508-827-6278).

Aug 31, 2021
What’s Elon up to?
00:20:01

He sells electric cars. He wants to go to Mars. Now he wants to sell … electricity? Yup, Elon Musk wants Tesla to get into the energy business in Texas. We’ll discuss what it all means and how Tesla is making money these days. Plus, a bananas story about misinformation on the internet. And the hosts take a stand on the latest round of our favorite game, Half Full/Half Empty.

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Our show needs your voice! Tell us what you think of the show or ask a question for our hosts to answer! Send a voice memo or give us a call at 508-82-SMART (508-827-6278).

Aug 28, 2021
Raging against the patriarchy
00:16:40

Today, we blame our hollowed-out-ness on the patriarchy! First, one of the leaders of the Time’s Up organization, which is supposed to support women, resigned after helping former New York governor Andrew Cuomo with his sexual harassment scandal. But that’s not all. Over at “Jeopardy!” Mike Richards is getting to keep his executive producer job despite the backlash over his treatment of women. We’ll dig into both stories and talk about what it all means for women in the workplace. Plus, why isn’t California’s gubernatorial recall election getting more attention? And a heartfelt farewell made of sheep bring us to the happy place.

Here’s everything we talked about today:

Read the transcript here.

Join us on YouTube Fridays at 3:30 p.m. Pacific/6:30 p.m. Eastern for our live happy hour episode! Subscribe to our channel and sign up for notifications so you don’t miss it.

Aug 27, 2021
How to prove your vaccine status
00:14:52

From restaurants to bars and gyms, more and more businesses are requiring customers to be vaccinated. Our listener Leila wants to know what exactly you need to show those businesses to get through the door. On today’s episode, we’ll dig into some of the options and do a little show and tell. Plus, we’ll answer one of the nerdiest questions we’ve received about taxes, along with others about no-needle vaccines and the history the Federal Reserve’s annual meeting in Jackson Hole.

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Our show needs your voice! Tell us what you think of the show or ask a question for our hosts to answer! Send a voice memo or give us a call at 508-82-SMART (508-827-6278).

Aug 26, 2021
Can capitalists save the planet?
00:36:21

We’ve seen plenty of companies make pledges to reduce emissions and increase investments in climate solutions. How real are these commitments?

Someone who has been thinking — and acting — on this topic is Michael O’Leary, managing director at Engine No. 1, the activist investment firm that won three seats on the board of Exxon Mobile.

“I think if we had made a purely environmental argument, kind of a save-the-polar-bears argument on why we need a new leadership at Exxon, I don’t think we’ve been successful. We had to make the economic argument, the argument that this is what what was best for the long term of the company,” O’Leary said.

On the show today, we’ll discuss the role of corporate America in the fight against climate change and what it really means to have environmental social governance goals incorporated into business strategies.

O’Leary, who is also the co-author of “Accountable: The Rise of Citizen Capitalism,” said there was a way to build an economy better prepared for climate change.

“Ultimately, our economy has transformed before it can transform again. But given the sort of capitalist society we live in, it’s going to require capitalists to require shareholders to be part of that movement, if not leading it.”

We’ll also discuss more dire news about how climate change threatens our food supply, and another sign that “capitalism doesn’t care if you live or die.”

Plus, listeners react to last week’s episode with social psychologist Amy Cuddy on “pandemic flux syndrome” and an answer to the “Make Me Smart” question that’s giving us all the feels.

When you’re done listening, tell your Echo device to “make me smart” for our daily explainers. This week, we’re explaining food deserts, bicycle commuting and the possible end of open office workspaces. You can hear all our explainers here. And don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter! You can find the latest issue here.

Here’s everything we talked about:

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Aug 25, 2021
Should Fed chief Powell stay or go?
00:16:39

Today, we’ve got Jerome Powell on the brain. As he prepares to make a major speech at the virtual Jackson Hole summit this week, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, a Democrat, has indicated that she’d like Powell, a Republican, to keep his job as Federal Reserve chair after his current term ends in February. Some Dems aren’t on board, and that’s causing a rift in the party. We’ll explain why. Plus, we’ll discuss what a California ruling could mean for ride-hailing companies like Uber and Lyft and close this Whaddya Miss Monday with a COVID-19 roundup.

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Our show needs your voice! Tell us what you think of the show or ask a question for our hosts to answer! Send a voice memo or give us a call at 508-82-SMART (508-827-6278).

Aug 24, 2021
Where are all the COVID tests?
00:23:25

As the delta variant spreads, Americans are once again in need of COVID tests. We’ll talk about one frustrating reason some of those tests are so hard to find. Plus, we can’t stop talking about Afghanistan, regarding the “Jeopardy!” host scandal, don’t say we didn’t tell you so! Then, we end this episode of Economics on Tap with a round of “Half Full/Half Empty.”

Here’s everything we talked about today:

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Our show needs your voice! Tell us what you think of the show or ask a question for our hosts to answer! Send a voice memo or give us a call at 508-82-SMART (508-827-6278).

Aug 21, 2021
Is Israel a sign of what’s to come?
00:16:15

For our 500th episode, we’re doing a little rinse and repeat. In the news fix, we get March 2020 vibes as we discuss developments from Israel, which has one of the world’s highest vaccination rates, raising concerns that the coronavirus vaccines’ protection may wane over time. Plus, the Federal Trade Commission is re-upping its antitrust lawsuit against Facebook, and the controversy over the new “Jeopardy!” host escalates. Then, a special edition of our favorite game, “Half Full/Half Empty.”

Here’s everything we talked about:

Read the transcript here.

Join us on YouTube Fridays at 3:30 p.m. Pacific/6:30 p.m. Eastern for our live happy hour episode! Subscribe to our channel and sign up for notifications so you don’t miss it.

Aug 20, 2021
The downsides of SPACs
00:17:04

SPACs have been all the hotness on Wall Street this year. These special purpose acquisition companies help businesses sell shares to the public faster than the traditional IPO process and bypass some of the regulatory hurdles. But one listener wants to know, what can go wrong when you “SPAC it”? We’ll explain the upsides and downsides of SPACs. Plus, we’ll answer your questions about who’s making money on disinformation, China verus Big Tech and why canning lids are so hard to find right now.

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Our show needs your voice! Tell us what you think of the show or ask a question for our hosts to answer. Send a voice memo or give us a call at 508-82-SMART (508-827-6278).

Aug 19, 2021
Our mental “surge capacity” is maxed out
00:33:43

For some, life is starting to resemble something like normal. Kids are going back to school, some offices are welcoming back workers… so why are we still feeling stressed?

Social psychologist Amy Cuddy says there are a couple reasons. For one, the pandemic has gone on for so long, our coping system known as “surge capacity” is now depleted.

“We then move into this regression phase where we withdraw, we get sad, agitated, we don’t want to hang out with people, we’re done with Zoom meetings. So it’s not surprising that we don’t have the capacity to feel intense positive emotions right now when we go out to that live concert,” Cuddy said.

And when you throw the coronavirus delta variant into the mix, things get even harder. Cuddy says right now it’s common for people to experience spikes in anxiety, depression and have a desire to escape. She refers to this as “pandemic flux syndrome.” That’s not a clinical term. But it is real.

On today’s show, Cuddy explains the role employers can play to help workers through this chapter of the pandemic.

Later in the show, we’ll discuss how Facebook is dealing with the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan and MacKenzie Scott reshaping the nonprofit world. Plus, a longtime listener calls in with an update on paying for his twin sons’ college education.

Here’s everything we talked about today:

Read the transcript here.

When you’re done listening, tell your Echo device to “make me smart” for our daily explainers. This week, we’re explaining 747 jumbo jets, the Social Security System and Rosie the Riveter! You can hear all our explainers here. And don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter! You can find the latest issue here.

Our show needs your voice! Tell us what you think of the show or ask a question for our hosts to answer. Send a voice memo or give us a call at 508-82-SMART (508-827-6278).

Aug 17, 2021
It’s time to start worrying about water
00:16:36

The United Nations report on the climate crisis may have fallen out of the headlines, but we’re still taking about it on the show. Today, we’ll dig into how the climate is behind a historic water shortage in the West affecting millions of residents and businesses. We’re also obsessing over today’s other big story: the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan and the rise of the Taliban. Plus, yay for reducing child hunger in America and congrats to USWNT legend Carli Lloyd on her retirement.

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Aug 17, 2021
The COVID-19 endemic?
00:22:11

The delta variant might have some of us feeling like we’re reliving March 2020, but a new piece in The Atlantic is making us smart on how the COVID-19 pandemic might end. We’ll discuss what it’ll mean when the virus becomes endemic and blends into the background of our lives. Plus, people are getting vaccine boosters under the table, and it’s getting ‘hot in herre’: Earth just went though the hottest month on record! Then, we end Friday like we usually do, with a round of Half Full/Half-Empty.

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Aug 14, 2021
America has been diverse. We just weren’t counting right.
00:17:47

The latest data from the U.S. Census Bureau might create the impression that America just became more diverse, but we may have been that way all along. We’ll break down some of the census numbers. Also, guest host Meghan McCarty Carino, who’s feeling a little less hollowed out today, discusses what we can learn from Native Americans’ high COVID-19 vaccination rates. Then, the hosts get all smiley and talk about LeVar Burton’s future post-“Jeopardy!” and what happened when a celebrity spotted a bear inside a grocery store.

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Aug 13, 2021
The money behind the infrastructure bill
00:17:05

Senators have been referring to the bipartisan infrastructure deal as a $1.2 trillion package. They say $500 billion is considered new spending. So where does the other $500 billion come from? On this “Whaddya Wanna Know Wednesday,” we’ll also answer your questions about who is picking up the tab for unvaccinated Americans’ weekly COVID-19 tests. Plus, we’ll explain why so many Olympic athletes are broke.

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Aug 12, 2021
Vaccine mandates are a sticky issue
00:39:22

A growing list of huge companies, from Google to Walmart and Tyson Foods to United Airlines, have announced they’ll require shots for employees, customers or both. Restaurants and other small businesses are, too. But making a mandate is one thing; figuring out the enforcement, the caveats and the impact is another. On today’s show, MIT Technology Review reporter Mia Sato walks us through how these mandates happened, who gets left out from them and whether corporate America can actually save “hot vax summer” from the surge in delta variant cases.

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Aug 10, 2021
What’d we miss? Nothing good, apparently.
00:20:56

We have two routes to the dark place today: That harrowing U.N. report on the climate crisis and the 2021 redo of all the COVID superspreader angst we went through last year. We’ll talk about both before getting into some of the stories we missed over the weekend. Plus: Who do you have on your Nickelodeon character bracket?

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Aug 10, 2021
Pandemic moves are complicating the climate crisis
00:24:00

We’re picking up some of the apocalyptic themes from yesterday to talk about the drought and wildfires throughout the Western U.S., and how the folks who left the cities in the pandemic are dealing with them. Oh, and the climate threats to the gulf stream. The dark place sting does make an appearance. It’s not all bad though: There’s a new moon and a meteor shower next week, and we get to play another round of our favorite game, Half Full/Half Empty.

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Aug 07, 2021
Chill out and wear a mask
00:16:15

Feeling a little hollowed out this Thursday? Some in the media are downright apocalyptic. On today’s show, we’ll unpack some of the coverage around COVID-19 variants and what you should (and shouldn’t) be worried about. It does get a little dark though. Later on, guest hosts Kimberly Adams and Meghan McCarty Carino cheer each other up with their favorite Olympic moments.

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Join us on YouTube Fridays at 3:30 p.m. Pacific/6:30 p.m. Eastern for our live happy hour episode! Subscribe to our channel and sign up for notifications so you don’t miss it.

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Aug 06, 2021
Pandemic pups have an economic effect
00:18:00

Like so many people hanging out at home in this pandemic, our listener Joel got a dog. He wants to know if enough people got new pets to make an economic impact. On today’s show, we’ll do the numbers and answer more of your questions about wildfires and vaccines, plus get an update from Kimberly’s Uncle Davids.

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Aug 05, 2021
The debt ceiling debate is more about politics than economics
00:31:00

The debt ceiling debate is full of contradictions. It’s real but it’s not real. It’s a problem but it’s not a problem. Congress missed the deadline to raise the federal borrowing limit before it went back into effect at over the weekend. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has moved some money around as a short-term fix, but Congress needs to raise the limit, and soon. But America’s debt isn’t like other kinds of debt, or even other countries’ debts. On today’s show, Harvard economist Megan Greene explains it all as we prepare for that perennial partisan fight. Plus: “spiritual opium,” “Pokémon Go” and, oh yeah, that infrastructure spending bill.

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Aug 04, 2021
The eviction moratorium blame game
00:15:00

The federal eviction moratorium expired at the end of July, meaning potentially millions of struggling renters could lose their homes. On today’s show, we’ll pick apart the finger pointing between the White House and congressional leadership over who let the moratorium lapse, and what’s next for renters and landlords. Plus: The Ozarks, wolf turns and mysterious jetpack pilots.

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Aug 03, 2021
Let’s do the numbers on those breakthrough COVID cases
00:18:43

A tiny fraction of 1% of vaccinated Americans have tested positive for COVID-19. But if you don’t read beyond the headlines, you might not know that. On this punchy happy hour episode, we’ll talk about why the media need to do better reporting on the delta variant. And speaking of failure … Congress went on summer break without extending the eviction moratorium. We’ll talk about it and play another round of our favorite game, “Half Full/Half Empty.”

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Jul 31, 2021
A different kind of Hollywood superhero fight
00:15:21

It was bound to happen at some point. Scarlett Johansson, who’s played Black Widow in Marvel movies for a decade now, is suing Disney for breach of contract. After delaying it a year for the COVID-19 pandemic, the company released the “Black Widow” movie on Disney+ the same day it hit theaters. We’ll talk about the suit and what it says about the state of the movie industry. Plus: some vaccination history, the Steak-umm Twitter and a few technical difficulties, because why not?

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Jul 30, 2021
You can’t hide from Facebook
00:16:48

Facebook earnings are out, and one our listeners is looking for a little clarity in how exactly the company keeps beating expectations and bringing in tens of billions every quarter. We’ll get into the nuances of ad targeting, locking down your profile and how we create our own filter bubbles. Plus, more answers to your questions about the Congressional Budget Office, Navy planes and unemployment benefits.

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Jul 29, 2021
WeWork’s whole bananapants story
00:29:15

Was WeWork a tech company? A trillion-dollar business? A way of life? With the benefit of hindsight it’s easy to say, emphatically, “No.” But looking back at the lofty goals and investor enthusiasm that propelled the We Co. to a $47 billion valuation, we’re left wondering if the people involved have learned anything. Here to talk with us about it is Wall Street Journal reporter Maureen Farrell, who co-wrote the new book “The Cult of We: WeWork, Adam Neumann and the Great Startup Delusion.” Plus: Simone Biles, the Food and Drug Administration and polyamory pedantics.

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Jul 27, 2021
We need to think about the unvaccinated differently
00:17:03

There are limits to personal freedom and responsibility — it runs out when you put others at risk. You can’t drive drunk, for example. But are people who aren’t vaccinated for COVID-19 as brazen as a drunk driver? Or are they victims, scammed by bad information? Sociology professor Brooke Harrington has a great thread trying to reconcile all this, and we’re going to unpack it a bit on today’s show. Plus: Olympics highs and lows, the Frito-Lay strike and a sneak peek of tomorrow’s bananapants episode.

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Jul 27, 2021
Make Me Sports
00:20:24

We started out this episode talking about the folks who are still unvaccinated for COVID-19, but quickly turned to the way the NFL switched from carrot to stick in response to the delta variant. That’s just one of a few big stories we have to talk about on this oddly sports-centric show. We’ll also talk about why HIPAA doesn’t mean what many people think it means, and play another round of Half Full/Half Empty.

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Jul 24, 2021
Let’s talk about loneliness
00:16:44