Episodes
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: “Pay or delay: Importers caught in shipping backup face limited options” from...
Published 10/21/21
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...
Published 10/20/21
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: “Joe Manchin reportedly opposes key Biden...
Published 10/19/21
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: “Opinion | Americans want smaller government, Gallup has found. Democrats should heed the message and revise their...
Published 10/16/21
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: “White House banking on another McConnell retreat over the debt ceiling” from Politico Grey Horse newsletter on the mental and emotional effects of...
Published 10/14/21
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: “U.S. House votes for short-term debt ceiling fix, averting default” from Reuters The...
Published 10/14/21
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...
Published 10/12/21
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: “Netflix suspends trans employee who tweeted about Dave Chappelle special” from The...
Published 10/12/21
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...
Published 10/09/21
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...
Published 10/08/21
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: “What...
Published 10/07/21
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...
Published 10/05/21
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: “Gone in Minutes, Out for Hours: Outage...
Published 10/05/21
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...
Published 10/02/21
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: “Facebook grilled by Senate over company’s impact on kids” from CNN Facebook’s research  “Covid is killing rural Americans at twice the rate of people in urban areas” from...
Published 10/01/21
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. Here’s everything we talked about today: “Here’s what the debt limit standoff means for...
Published 09/30/21
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...
Published 09/28/21
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...
Published 09/28/21
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...
Published 09/25/21
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: A tweet on Nancy...
Published 09/24/21
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! Here’s everything we talked about: “The long and twisting story of how Jay Powell became...
Published 09/23/21
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,...
Published 09/21/21
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: “Evergrande Blowup Ensnares Stocks With...
Published 09/21/21
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...
Published 09/18/21
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: “Facebook Employees Flag Drug Cartels and Human Traffickers. The Company’s Response Is Weak,...
Published 09/17/21