Monthly Archives: May 2019

EP 242 The Next American City

It seems as if midsize cities in America are having their moment.  While the nation’s largest metro areas lost residents to smaller ones for the first time since the Great Recession, the new middle is thriving.  And this according to Mick Cornett, the four term mayor of Oklahoma City, who has presided over a virtual renaissance in that city. He’s clear to point out that many other mid metros are using their local assets to create new wealth and opportunity in places that previously had been given up on.  And whether it’s Provo, Des Maoines, Chattanooga or Louisville, as examples, each has a different approach to revitalization. He will explain OKC’s unique approach to taxation for projects which engenders buy in from voters in exchange for tangible results. This podcast explores the big promise of our midsize metros.

EP 241 Junk Food Ads Target Black and Hispanic Kids

 Black and Hispanic children see TV ads for sugary drinks, unhealthy snacks, and fast foods far more than anything else and it’s no accident.  They are targeted by the food companies that know the addictive qualities of their ‘food products’. According to the latest study by the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at the University of Connecticut, 86 percent of the ads on black targeted TV programs and 82 percent of the Spanish language programs were promoting these unhealthful offerings.  Jennifer Harris, of the Rudd Center, joins us to discuss the findings and to explain how this could be so when many of us have read about companies agreeing voluntarily to limit or eliminate such advertising. We are reminded that obesity and diabetes are rampant among these communities and many of our eating habits are formed at an early age. Take a listen and read the report.

EP 240 America’s Baby Bust

Americans are having fewer and fewer babies.  In fact, we are not having enough babies simply to replace ourselves.  The total fertility rate has been declining for seven years and last year represented the biggest drop in recent history. There are so many factors involved–cultural and economic–and we explore them in this podcast.  Perhaps, more important is the impact that these declines have on a nation over time. Lyman Stone, a specialist in population change at the American Enterprise Institute, takes us through causes and effects in a way that will have you thinking about this issue in a new light.  Whether your interest is in the decline in teen pregnancies or why women are waiting so long to have their first child, or the technology involved in the process, this podcast will illuminate these issues for you.

EP 239 How America Helped Crash the World Economy and Then Save It

While this podcast has done a number of episodes on the financial crisis over a decade ago, because its effects are still felt on our politics today, none of our previous episodes explained the crisis in such global terms as the one you will hear today.  Adam Tooze, author of ‘Crashed: How a Decade of Financial Crises Changed the World’, will expand greatly on your understanding of how this meltdown was going on simultaneously throughout a world entangled in its financial covenants and relationships. Shocking to many will be the understanding that it was our Federal Reserve that saved many European banks, including their central banks.  This could have been much worse than the Great Depression. However, because of the extraordinary measures taken by the United States, akin to a military strategy credited to Colin Powell, many of its worst impacts were blunted. Given that Ben Bernancke, head of the Fed at the time, was a scholar of the Depression, perhaps it’s not surprising that he would not allow America to sleepwalk through this crisis as we had in the previous century.

EP 238 American Fix: Inside the Addiction Crisis

The impact of the opioid epidemic in America has twin tentacles in the legal dispensing of prescription painkillers and the the cheap and illegal flow of heroin, as well as synthetics, like fentanyl, into this country.  Underlying the use of these drugs is a country awash in emotional pain, often many years in the making. It’s a sad chapter in American history and it’s compounded by a flawed system that criminalizes addiction, pushes the big bucks agenda of the pharmaceutical companies and leaves many with unenviable choices as to recovery options, if they are available at all.  Ryan Hampton, author of ‘American Fix’, a leading recovery advocate and former White House staffer, with his own personal story of addiction, takes us through this labyrinth in a personal and wrenching way. Given the staggering numbers affected directly or indirectly by the scourge, he believes the millions involved are becoming a major political force in the 2020 election.

EP 237 Can America Keep Social Security and Medicare from Going Broke?

 America, the country, has amassed more debt than any nation in history.  How that reality isn’t cause for screaming front pages headlines daily is something of a mystery, except for the ‘full faith and confidence’ the world has in the creativity of the American economy to grow over time and correct its imbalance.  How else can you explain why other countries continue to buy our debt, when we’re already so debt-ridden? We ponder with budget expert, James Capretta, of the American Enterprise Institute, how long this can go on before all Americans, particularly those receiving entitlement benefits, can expect them to be stable in the face of the growing pressure on the federal budget. The numbers generated by the Congressional Budget Office are staggering and the projections going forward grow more dire with each passing year.  We ring the alarm bell on this episode.

EP 236 False Information Can Travel as Fast As Viruses: Ask the Anti-Vax Movement

 Vaccines have literally erased some diseases from the face of the earth, but in most cases they can reoccur if populations ignore the concept of ‘herd immunity’ and begin to doubt their value.  It turns out that the very success of these immunizations makes it harder to see their value to some–‘what me worry’? And in a year when the outbreak of the measles has been seen in various American communities, the voices questioning vaccines, given their own booster by the viral spread of social media, grow louder.  Karen Ernst, executive director of Voices for Vaccines, joins us to spread the gospel of vaccines and to take on the many myths surrounding their necessity and effectiveness. Inoculate yourself against the voodoo science masquerading as truth in this fact free era in America.

EP 235 Scientific Fact: Pop Songs Have Become Angrier and Sadder and That’s No Accident

As our society has gotten angrier and more frustrated, our music has reflected that as the soundtrack of our discontent.  Researchers have analyzed lyrics in best selling songs from the 1950’s to 2016 and found that expressions of anger and sadness have increased, while words about joy have dropped.  The study analyzed the lyrics of more than 6,000 songs from the Billboard Hot 100 in each year. Study co-author, Lior Shamir, of the Lawrence Technological University in Michigan, tells us that the dour mood conveyed in song reflects more on those of us who consume the music than those who are making it.  We trace music through the years to see what they learned about how what’s going on in society ends us on our car radios and speakers. And what it’s telling us about this moment in time. It’s a pretty sad song, indeed.

EP 234 What’s Wrong With Jury Trials?

The concept of a jury of our peers is one of the most sacrosanct in our American system of justice.  Yet, it’s astonishing how few trials ever get to a jury in the first place. And when they do, you may be rocked by what you learn about the process of deliberation in the jury room–it’s opaque and never revealed.  (And don’t you wonder, what kind of discussion really went on in there?) Drury Sherrod, a co-founder of a jury research firm specializing in trial strategy and jury selection, lifts the veil on the process in this podcast and in his new book, ‘The Jury Crisis’.  Are juries really finders of fact and arbiters of justice or led blindly into jury rooms with reams of complicated testimony delivered by lawyers and judges in a hopeless quest to make sense of it? The verdict will be apparent as you listen.