Episodes
When insulin was discovered in 1923, the scientists sold the patent for only a dollar, hoping to make it accessible to those who need it. At the time, one of the discoverers said, “Insulin is for the world.” Fast-forward over 100 years, and some diabetics are rationing the lifesaving drug because the price is so high. Why does insulin cost so much, and what does that cost tell us about the American health care system? Host Jonquilyn Hill talks with Vox Senior Correspondent Dylan Scott about...
Published 01/24/23
Published 01/24/23
Buckle up for another trip in the Weeds Time Machine! Today, we are going back in time to 1965 to talk about one of the most significant pieces of civil rights legislation in American history: the Voting Rights Act. Once again, its fate is in the hands of the Supreme Court. Professor Atiba R. Ellis walks us through the legislative and judicial history of this landmark policy. References: Atiba Ellis  Brief amici curiae of Boston University Center for Antiracist Research & Professor Atiba...
Published 01/17/23
Gerrymandering shapes our political maps, which in turn shape our policies. While there are concerns about how hyperpartisan voting maps are becoming, there’s one state where grassroots organizers have changed the system. On today’s episode of The Weeds, we pass the mike to one of you and answer your burning questions about redistricting in this polarized era.  References: Where Did the Term “Gerrymander” Come From? | History| Smithsonian Magazine Opinion: Gerrymandering on steroids is the...
Published 01/10/23
(Originally aired May 2022) Dylan Matthews and Dara Lind are joined by Annie Lowrey (@annielowrey), a staff writer at the Atlantic, to talk about why it’s so hard for people to get government benefits. Frequently called the “time tax,” the administrative burden of applying for and distributing government benefits leads to thousands of people not getting the aid they qualify for.  References: Annie Lowrey on Code America’s efforts to fight the Time Tax Pamela Herd and Don Moynihan's book on...
Published 12/27/22
In 2022, we saw a lot of climate change news. Europe hit record-high temperatures, Pakistan was devastated by flooding, and in the United States, the Environmental Protection Agency got a little less powerful. While those are major causes for concern, there is a bright spot on the climate change policy landscape: 2023. Vox’s Rebecca Leber (@rebleber) tells us what to look forward to next year.  References: The next frontier for climate action is the great indoors  The mystery of methane gone...
Published 12/20/22
Last month, New York City Mayor Eric Adams announced a new mental health policy that lowers the threshold for involuntary commitments for psychiatric care. While the Adams administration argues this shift is a solution for growing crime and homelessness numbers, critics argue it’s a step in the wrong direction. What’s the history behind involuntary holds, and what does it say about mental health policy in America? References: 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline  SAMHSA  Introducing the "Designed...
Published 12/13/22
With the 2022 midterm elections mostly over, members of Congress are back on the Hill to wrap up loose legislative ends. One of the bipartisan bills floating through the lame-duck session is the Electoral Count Reform Act, a bill that would add protections to the presidential transfer of power. So, what exactly does this legislation do to protect elections, and is it enough?  Hosts: Jonquilyn Hill (@jonquilynhill) Credits: Sofi LaLonde, producer Cristian Ayala, engineer Libby Nelson,...
Published 12/06/22
(Originally aired August 2022) Vox senior correspondent Dylan Matthews sits down with Felicia Wong (@FeliciaWongRI), president and CEO of the Roosevelt Institute, to talk about a new era of industrial policy. They discuss the theory of modern supply-side economics, the passage of the Inflation Reduction and CHIPS acts, and how much common ground exists between the political left and the right. Hosts: Dylan Matthews (@dylanmatt), senior correspondent, Vox Credits: Sofi LaLonde, producer and...
Published 11/29/22
The world of cryptocurrency is infamously unregulated, but what happens when a major crypto exchange crashes, uprooting almost the entire crypto ecosystem, and there’s no regulatory body in charge? You have the FTX crash of 2022. And it’s hard to ignore the elephant in the room: why don’t we have a regulation framework for crypto? It seems like an obvious solution, but as The Verge’s Liz Lopatto (@mslopatto) and financial regulation expert Yesha Yadav explain, it’s not as simple as it...
Published 11/22/22
Let’s be blunt: Weed policy is complicated. As with many elections in the past decade, recreational marijuana was on the ballot again during the 2022 midterm elections. After Colorado and Washington voted to legalize recreational use in 2012, more and more states have decided to ride the green wave. And recent moves by the Biden administration signal the federal government may finally come around to decriminalizing marijuana. But do these policies have any power?  References: Marijuana...
Published 11/15/22
We did it, y’all – we made it to Election Day! And if you’re like us, tonight you’ll be glued to your TV and constantly refreshing Vox.com waiting for the returns to come in. We’re pretty used to knowing the winner that same night, but in 2020, we had to wait days before a winner was announced. So this got us thinking: How do news networks know when to make a call? And how has that changed through the years? We talked to three experts to find out. References: The 2022 midterm elections,...
Published 11/08/22
With only a week to go until the US midterm elections, inflation is the issue at the top of most voters’ minds. As Democrats and Republicans make their cases for who can get prices to come down, one thing remains true: High prices are not going to go away overnight. Economists Mike Konczal (@rortybomb) of the Roosevelt Institute and Michael Strain (@MichaelRStrain) of the American Enterprise Institute discuss how we got here and the least painful way out of this. References: Is the cure for...
Published 11/01/22
Midterm elections are around the corner, and while voters are concerned about the economy, inflation, and abortion, there’s one other issue jumping to the top of the list: crime. Rising crime comes up in campaigns like clockwork, but during this election season, it's making a particular mark on two key Senate races: Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. Vox’s Nicole Narea (@nicolenarea) and Li Zhou (@liszhou) explain. References: The 2022 midterm elections, explained 2021 crime rates are a big...
Published 10/25/22
The midterm elections are three weeks away, and candidates aren’t the only ones on the ballot. Voters across the country will decide new laws and policy through ballot initiatives, which can include proposals like legalizing recreational marijuana, funding in-state college tuition, and raising taxes to fight climate change. But how do these issues get on the ballot in the first place, and will they stay there? Vox policy editor Libby Nelson (@libbyanelson) explains. References: The 2022...
Published 10/18/22
The midterm elections are four weeks away. Senate control is on the line, and races in battleground states are tightening. Few things say “close election” like an October surprise. The one getting the latest buzz this election cycle comes from Georgia, courtesy of Republican senatorial candidate Herschel Walker. Vox politics reporter Li Zhou (@liszhou) explains the race, and Rutgers professor David Greenberg (@republicofspin) tells us the origin of the October surprise. References: Herschel...
Published 10/11/22
Pollsters are starting to panic. There’s headline after headline after headline ahead of the midterms on whether this election cycle’s polling is accurate or not. How does polling actually work? Is it really representative of how voters are feeling and what the outcome will be on Election Day? And when it comes to Democrats, why is polling so wrong? Amy Walter, publisher and editor-in-chief of the Cook Political Report, explains why polls are complicated, lessons to learn from past elections,...
Published 10/04/22
US immigration policy is complicated. And when Republican Govs. Greg Abbott and Ron DeSantis chartered buses and planes to relocate migrants to “blue cities,” it raised a ton of legal questions. But it also ignited the age-old question about our immigration system: Why is it so complicated? Weeds veteran Dara Lind (@DLind) explains. References: Why Ron DeSantis is baiting Biden on the border  Opinion | Ron DeSantis Is Making an Asylum Crisis of His Own Host: Jonquilyn Hill (@jonquilynhill),...
Published 09/27/22
For the September issue of The Highlight, the Vox politics team examined the fastest growing voting bloc in the country: Latino voters. But the 32 million voters that make up the Latino electorate are not a monolithic group. In today’s episode, we’ll look at the intricacies and nuances of the Latino voting bloc and what might happen in the 2022 midterm elections. References: Ruben Gallego's ready for a fight — even if the Democratic Party isn't  Yes, most Latinos are Christian. No, that...
Published 09/20/22
How do we make life better for future generations? Who gets to make those decisions? These are tough questions, and today’s guest, philosopher William MacAskill (@willmacaskill), tries to help us answer them. References:  What We Owe the Future by William MacAskill Effective altruism's most controversial idea  How effective altruism went from a niche movement to a billion-dollar force Effective altruism’s longtermist goals for the future don’t hurt people in the present  Hosts: Bryan Walsh...
Published 09/13/22
Today on The Weeds, we are sharing an episode of another Vox podcast, Unexplainable, that originally aired in June 2022.  Millions of Americans take dietary supplements — everything from vitamins and minerals to weight-loss pills and probiotics. But because supplements are loosely regulated in the US, their makers don't have to prove that they work, or even that they are safe. Full transcript available here. Want to support The Weeds? Please consider making a donation to Vox:...
Published 09/06/22
Join editor Libby Nelson (@libbyanelson) and reporters Rachel Cohen (@rmc031) and Madeleine Ngo (@maddiengo) for a summer policy wrap-up. Inflation, the economy, and gas prices were on everyone’s minds, but we have even more policy news to talk about. Both Congress and the Biden administration made one last late-summer policy push with the Inflation Reduction Act and student loan cancellation. What does this all mean for you? Listen to find out! References: School vaccine mandates for...
Published 08/30/22
Vox senior correspondent Dylan Matthews sits down with Felicia Wong (@FeliciaWongRI), president and CEO of the Roosevelt Institute, to talk about a new era of industrial policy. They discuss the theory of modern supply-side economics, the passage of the Inflation Reduction and CHIPS acts, and how much common ground exists between the political left and the right. Hosts: Dylan Matthews (@dylanmatt), senior correspondent, Vox Credits: Sofi LaLonde, producer and engineer A.M. Hall, editorial...
Published 08/23/22
Vox senior correspondent Zack Beauchamp and Vox senior foreign writer Jonathan Guyer discuss the killing of al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, one of the organizers behind the September 11, 2001, attacks on the US. His death marks a turning point in the “war on terror” and US foreign policy, but what kind of turning point? Can we say the war on terror is over, or is it just entering a new stage? References: What Ayman Zawahiri’s death tells us about terrorism and US foreign policy Ayman...
Published 08/16/22
In a surprise to many, last week Kansas overwhelmingly voted down an anti-abortion ballot initiative. If abortion rights can win in a deep-red state, what does that mean for the midterms this fall? Join Vox policy editor Libby Nelson (@libbyanelson), Vox senior policy reporter Rachel Cohen (@rmc031), and Vox politics reporter Nicole Narea (@nicolenarea) for a conversation about the new state of abortion politics. References: Abortion was on the ballot in Kansas. Access won.  Why the Kansas...
Published 08/09/22