Make Me Smart

Marketplace

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.
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What happens if the U.S. defaults on its debt?
5d ago
What happens if the U.S. defaults on its debt?
As Kai Ryssdal puts it, the United States is like House Lannister from “Game of Thrones”: It always pays its debt. But if Congress isn’t able to increase the debt limit, the government won’t have enough money to pay all its bills later this year. A listener called in to ask how that would affect regular Americans. We’ll get into it and answer more of your questions about the economic consequences of exclusionary zoning, how tariffs work and how households of different income levels are affected by rising inflation. Plus, is Kai an electric vehicle convert? Here’s everything we talked about today: “Secretary of the Treasury Janet L. Yellen Sends Letter to Congressional Leadership on the Debt Limit” from the U.S. Department of the Treasury “Debt Limit Brinkmanship (Again)” from Moody’s Analytics “America’s racist housing rules really can be fixed” from Vox “Understanding Exclusionary Zoning and Its Impact on Concentrated Poverty” from The Century Foundation “What Is A Tariff And Who Pays It?” from The Tax Policy Center “Congress Should Take Back Its Authority Over Tariffs” from Foreign Policy “The Truth About Tariffs” from the Council on Foreign Relations “For Black and Latino families, inflation can hit even harder” from Marketplace “Inflation Disparities by Race and Income Narrow” from Liberty Street Economics “EV Consumer Survey Report” from Plug In America If you’ve got a question about business, tech and the economy, give us a shout. We’re at 508-U-B-SMART or email us at makemesmart@marketplace.org.
What’s behind the climate culture wars?
5d ago
What’s behind the climate culture wars?
With all the rage tweets about gas stoves, it may be hard to believe, but climate change wasn’t always so polarizing. Studies show that public opinion on the topic started to splinter in the 1990s, when governments and corporations had to reckon with the threat of a warming planet. “Prior to 1997, it was a conversation among a bunch of scientists, but once the Kyoto treaty came, it became an issue that affected powerful political and economic interests,” said Andrew Hoffman, professor of sustainable enterprise at the University of Michigan and author of “How Culture Shapes the Climate Change Debate.” On the show today: Hoffman explains how climate change became a partisan issue, the financial and economic interests that got us to where we are today, and what might get us back to some common ground. In the News Fix, guest host Amy Scott tells us about an ad campaign bringing attention to gender bias in internet search results. Plus, we’ll explain why classified documents in surprising places is more common than you might expect. And stick around for the TL;DR on Elon Musk’s trial over what he said about Tesla on Twitter (the social media platform he now owns). Later, we’ll hear from a listener who did the math on the cost-effectiveness of fueling up with diesel vs. gas, and a loyal listener makes us smarter about our own theme music! Here’s everything we talked about today: “Climate Science as Culture War” from the Stanford Social Innovation Review A widening gap: Republican and Democratic views on climate change from Environment: Science and Policy for Sustainable Development “For Earth Day, key facts about Americans’ views of climate change and renewable energy” from Pew Research Center “Politics & Global Warming, March 2018” from Yale Program on Climate Communication “How the humble gas stove became the latest flash point in the culture wars” from The Washington Post “Wyoming lawmaker behind electric-vehicle ban says he didn’t mean it” from The Washington Post “The business opportunity that is climate change” from Marketplace “Correct The Internet & DDB NZ on a mission to highlight bias against women’s sport” from The Drum “Global ‘Correct the Internet’ campaign launches to make sportswomen more visible via DDB NZ” from Campaign Brief “Classified Documents Found at Mike Pence’s Home” from The Wall Street Journal “Elon Musk Securities-Fraud Trial” from Bloomberg It’s a new year, and we’re looking for new answers to the Make Me Smart question. Leave us a voice message at 508-U-B-SMART and your submission may be featured in a future episode.
Is hybrid work worth it for companies?
Jan 19 2023
Is hybrid work worth it for companies?
Disney is calling employees back to the office four days a week. One listener called in to ask about the advantages and disadvantages of hybrid work. We’ll talk about how businesses are making the choice. And guest hosts Amy Scott and Samantha Fields answer more of your questions about the death of starter homes and the stubbornly high price of diesel. Plus, are states ready to dole out unemployment benefits for the next recession? Here’s everything we talked about today: “Disney will soon require workers to be in-office four days a week” from Marketplace “Whatever Happened to the Starter Home?” from The New York Times “New Single-Family Homes are Getting Smaller” from the National Association of Home Builders “Homebuilders may finally be turning a corner as inflation stabilizes and lower mortgage rates bring buyers back into the market” from Business Insider “Top Fed official warns US unemployment could hit 5% next year” from Financial Times “America’s unemployment insurance system is still broken as a recession looms” from Vox “Price of Diesel, Which Powers the Economy, Is Still Climbing” from The New York Times “U.S. Gasoline and Diesel Retail Prices” from the U.S. Energy Information Administration “How a massive refinery shortage is contributing to high gas prices” from NPR If you’ve got a question about business, tech and the economy, give us a shout. We’re at 508-U-B-SMART or email us at makemesmart@marketplace.org.
WT … Oh no!
Jan 18 2023
WT … Oh no!
Today we’re talking about a key player in international trade: the World Trade Organization. The WTO is responsible for setting and enforcing the rules of global trade between 164 member countries. While the United States once supported the idea of a rules-based system, lately the country hasn’t been a big fan of the rules. Among other things, the Trump administration’s decision to impose steel and aluminum taxes in violation of WTO policies sent the organization’s ability to govern into freefall. What would it take for the WTO to get back on its feet? “It’s clear that we need new trade rules on things like digital trade, e-commerce, and privacy data. There’s a whole series of areas that are completely unregulated by the WTO, and we need rules. It needs to get back to becoming that forum in which you can negotiate rules,” said Jennifer Hillman, Georgetown law professor and former member of the WTO appellate body. On the show today: the ins and outs of the WTO, why the organization isn’t running like it’s supposed to, and what that could mean for the future of global trade. In the News Fix: Despite the ongoing trade war, imports and exports between the United States and China are higher than ever. We’ll discuss how this fits into the shifting landscape of globalization. Plus, we’ll look at the effects a 20-year-long drought is having in one community outside of Scottsdale, Arizona. Later, climate scientist and author Kimberly Nicholas shares what she got wrong about a popular climate a statistic. Here’s everything we talked about today: “What’s Next for the WTO?” from the Council on Foreign Relations “Australia and China team up to protest WTO blockages caused by US vetoes on appeal body” from The Guardian “Trump, China, and Steel Tariffs: The Day the WTO Died” from the Council on Foreign Relations “WTO says Trump’s steel tariffs violated global trade rules” from Politico “US-China Trade is Close to a Record, Defying Talk of Decoupling” from Bloomberg “Davos summit is starting. What’s on the agenda?” from Marketplace “Skipped Showers, Paper Plates: An Arizona Suburb’s Water Is Cut Off” from The New York Times It’s a new year, and we’re looking for new answers to the Make Me Smart question. Leave us a voice message at 508-U-B-SMART and your submission may be featured in a future episode.
Exxon Mobil’s decadeslong climate hoax
Jan 14 2023
Exxon Mobil’s decadeslong climate hoax
New research shows Exxon Mobil understood the dire consequences of burning fossil fuels decades ago — with scary accuracy. Yet, the company continued to mislead the public about the effects of climate change. We’ll discuss the billions in damages attributed to more frequent extreme weather events. And, a dungeon masters’ revolt! Dungeons & Dragons players united to preserve the spirit of the game. Plus, we’ll play a round of Half Full/Half Empty. Here’s everything we talked about today: “Assessing ExxonMobil’s global warming projections” from Science “Billion-Dollar Weather and Climate Disasters” from the National Centers for Environmental Information “The Dungeons & Dragons’ OGL 1.1 Tightens Grip On Competition” from Gizmodo “‘People are leaving the game’: Dungeons & Dragons fans revolt against new restrictions” from The Guardian “Amid widespread backlash, D&D maker scales back ‘open’ license changes” from Ars Technica Tweet from @ttjourneys “CNET Has Been Quietly Publishing AI-Written Articles for Months” from Gizmodo Get smart on “Spare” from the Make Me Smart newsletter “Spare review: The weirdest book ever written by a royal” from BBC News “Thousands of Airline Passengers Affected by FAA System Outage” from The New York Times “Disney will soon require workers to be in-office four days a week” from Marketplace We can’t do this show without you. Keep sending your comments and questions to makemesmart@marketplace.org or leave a voice message at 508-U-B-SMART.
Keeping up with Congress
Jan 13 2023
Keeping up with Congress
Today, the voice of American business had one message for Congress: Get it together! The U.S. Chamber of Commerce says political gridlock is making it harder for businesses to function. We’ll explain what’s ahead for the 118th Congress and why you’re about to hear a lot more about a big fight over the national debt. Plus, are you seeing bizarre flying objects in the sky? You’re not alone. And SBF is defending his innocence, again. This time on Substack? Here’s everything we talked about today: “Sam Bankman-Fried Resurfaces With Fresh Defense of FTX Collapse on Substack” from The Wall Street Journal “U.S. Deficit Fell to $1.4 Trillion in 2022” from The New York Times “First look: Chamber of Commerce says business is “fed up” with Washington” from Axios “U.S. Chamber Calls on Lawmakers to Reject Gridlock and Pursue ‘Agenda for American Strength’” from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce “House Republicans plan crypto panel in first move to oversee troubled industry” from Politico “More than 360 new UFO cases have been reported to U.S. intelligence agencies since March 2021” from CNBC “2022 Annual Report on Unidentified Aerial Phenomena” from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence “New lawmaker sworn in with ‘Superman’ No. 1 comic pays it a visit at Library of Congress” from The Hill Tweet from U.S. Rep Robert Garcia displaying “Superman” No. 1 comic We can’t do this show without you. Keep sending your comments and questions to makemesmart@marketplace.org or leave a voice message at 508-U-B-SMART.
The lasting implications of Jan. 6
Jan 11 2023
The lasting implications of Jan. 6
A lot has happened since the attack on our Capitol two years ago. We’ve had congressional hearings, impeachments, investigations. And through it all the country has remained deeply polarized. In the past 40 years, the United States has polarized a lot faster than other wealthy democracies like Canada or Germany. Why is the U.S. so different? “Right now, our [political] system makes it extremely difficult to break out of this kind of rigid binary, the two-party system that we have,” said Jennifer McCoy, a political science professor at Georgia State University. On the show today, McCoy breaks down the state of our democracy post-Jan. 6, why the U.S. can’t seem to bridge its extreme political divide and what that could mean for the health of our economy and our democracy. Plus, some signs that all hope is not lost. In the News Fix, we’ll go further into the far-right insurrection in Brazil over the weekend. Supporters of former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro stormed the country’s main government buildings in a strikingly similar fashion to the Jan. 6 attacks on the U.S. Capitol. We’ll discuss what connects the two and what kind of influence the U.S. may have had in Brazil. Later, we’ll hear from a listener about keeping New Year’s resolutions, and a writer shares how her own research proved her wrong about creating lasting habits. Here’s everything we talked about today: “How Can American Democracy Be Saved?” from Jennifer McCoy “Polls show Americans are divided on the significance of January 6” from The Brookings Institution “U.S. is polarizing faster than other democracies, study finds” from Brown University “Videos of Brazil attack show striking similarities to Jan. 6” from The Washington Post “How Trump’s allies stoked Brazil Congress attack” from BBC News Got a question for our hosts? Email us at makemesmart@marketplace.org. Or leave us a voice message at 508 U-B-SMART, or 508-827-6278.
This is not your grandpa’s union (rerun)
Jan 4 2023
This is not your grandpa’s union (rerun)
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. Labor organizing looks a lot different today. The workplaces are different compared to decades ago. Think less industrial factories with thousands of workers and more Starbucks, REI and Trader Joe’s with bargaining units of a couple of dozen employees, all organizing one location at a time. “On one hand, it could be easier because you’ve got a smaller group of people to be making the demands. But then you have this challenge of power … it’s hard when you’re looking at a massive corporation, but you’re organizing it piece by piece,” said Sarah Jaffe, labor journalist and co-host of the podcast “Belabored.” The AFL-CIO’s goal is to unionize 1 million workers in the next decade. Could organizing smaller workplaces be the path toward reversing decades of declining union membership? On the show today, what labor organizing looks like in the modern economy, why it’s different from what we saw in the past and what it means for the workplace of 2022 and beyond. In the News Fix, the wild story of an Olympic athlete and what it says about modern-day slavery. Plus, we’ll tell you about an airport to avoid if you’re traveling this summer. Later, we’ll hear from listeners about deep sighs and coupons, and we’ll make you smart about flapjacks! Here’s everything we talked about today: “How do workers take on a national chain like Starbucks? One store at a time” from Fast Company “Americans have lost confidence in everything from organized religion to Congress, but their faith in unions is staying strong” from Business Insider “Union Election Petitions Increase 57% In First Half of Fiscal Year 2022” from the National Labor Relations Board Jan. 6 hearing live updates: Panel to explore how Trump summoned extremist groups to Washington from The Washington Post “British Runner Mo Farah Says He Was Trafficked as a Child” from The New York Times “London’s Heathrow Airport Will Limit Passengers for the Summer” from The New York Times Got a question for our hosts? Email us at makemesmart@marketplace.org. Or leave us a voice message at (508) 827-6278 or (508) U-B-SMART.
The moral hazard of solar geoengineering (rerun)
Dec 21 2022
The moral hazard of solar geoengineering (rerun)
Hey smarties! We’re on a break for the holidays and revisiting some favorite episodes from 2022. 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. 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: “Should We Block the Sun? Scientists Say the Time Has Come to Study It.” from The New York Times “Why a landmark experiment into dimming the sun got canceled” from Grist Plaintiffs say they have a settlement agreement with the maker of the gun used in the Sandy Hook shooting from Connecticut Public Radio “U.S. Producer-Price Inflation Stays Hot, Reinforcing Fed’s Plan to Start Raising Rates” from Bloomberg “Elon Musk Gave $5.7 Billion of Tesla Shares to Charity Last Year” from The Wall Street Journal How to Become a National Weather Service Storm Spotter
How sci-fi can make us smart (rerun)
Dec 14 2022
How sci-fi can make us smart (rerun)
Hey smarties! We’re on a break for the holidays and revisiting some favorite episodes from 2022. 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. 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: “‘Termination Shock,’ by Neal Stephenson: An Excerpt” from The New York Times Neal Stephenson on “Termination Shock,” geoengineering, metaverse from CNBC “Neal Stephenson Thinks Greed Might Be the Thing That Saves Us” from The New York Times “Undersea cable fault could cut off Tonga from rest of the world for weeks” from Yahoo Finance “California surpasses 7 million coronavirus cases” from The Los Angeles Times U.S. stocks fall sharply as 10-year yield tops 1.80%, Goldman earnings disappoint from MarketWatch “Mum admits to being mystery Netflix user who’s watched Bee Movie 357 times in a YEAR” from The Sun
Our holiday party episode
Dec 10 2022
Our holiday party episode
For our final episode of 2022, we’re throwing a holiday party with music, Santa hats, drinks and our favorite game, Half-Full/Half-Empty. But can’t forget about the News Fix. Today, we’re talking about a surge in COVID cases amid the holiday travel season. Also, the struggle to find housing in D.C. is real. We’ll explain what happened to a soon-to-be congressman when he went apartment hunting. Plus, we want to hear about your New Year’s resolutions! Here’s everything we talked about today: “WTO says Trump’s steel tariffs violated global trade rules” from Politico “Maxwell Frost, future Gen Z congressman, denied D.C. apartment over bad credit” from The Washington Post “BofA Chief Moynihan Says He Likes His Job, Hasn’t Focused on Yellen’s” from Bloomberg Los Angeles County COVID Case Tracker from The New York Times “Hellmann’s Wants You to Put Mayo in Your Eggnog This Holiday Season” from Food & Wine “Mayonnaise eggnog? Here’s why brands still gamble on wacky food promotions” from Marketplace “Who Is—and Isn’t—Getting a Holiday Bonus This Year” from The Wall Street Journal Holiday Gift Guides from Wirecutter “The jazzy ‘Charlie Brown Christmas’ soundtrack swings on after 57 years” from NPR “‘Metaverse’ lost the word of the year contest to ‘goblin mode'” from Business Insider We’ll be back with new shows Jan. 9! Until then, we’re dropping some of our top episodes of the year in your feeds. If you’d like to share your New Year’s resolutions, leave us a voicemail at (508) U-B-SMART or email makemesmart@marketplace.org.