For many in America they are at different stages of the ‘woke’ process. Recognizing the social changes afoot, they are sympathetic to them, but don’t want to become totally removed from the places from which they come. Yet, those places may seem lost in time. Debra Gwartney, like our last guest, Darrell West, struggle with the question of where she belongs. She explores the challenge women, in particular, can sense of up rootedness and yearning for a deep and authentic connection to a home that now feels so distant and unwelcoming. In her memoir, ‘I Am a Stranger Here Myself’, she does a remarkable job of painting a picture of the pioneer women who preceded her in the American West, and her situation growing up in 1950’s Idaho and going home today. Join Debra in seeking answers to the question of how you can hold on to your beliefs and still go home to places you love.
This episode, along with the next we will post, examine how hard it is to go home when the politics of the times are as rancorous as they are. Given the transient American culture, many of one generation leave home both physically and culturally. Returning to that place can be unsettling and dissonant, as American politics has turned into a blood sport. Darrell West, author of ‘Divided Politics, Divided Nation ‘ tries to bridge the gap as one who left a conservative dairy farm upbringing for the halls of academe in the East. He writes a heartfelt account of the tribes we have entered into and how we might try to find some common ground. He explores how we have reached this boiling point and how we might turn some of the noise down in the best interests of the nation.
Let that headline sink in for just a moment. Differences in the performance on math, reading and science tests between disadvantaged and advantaged U.S. students have remained essentially unchanged for nearly half a century. And in that time period, we established a federal Department of Education, saw funding changes meant to address the problem throughout the country, developed early childhood education and remedial initiatives and tried new models of schooling, including magnets, charters and others. The study which documents this sad fact is a joint effort of Harvard and Stanford University, two of our nation’s most prestigious higher education institutions. Presenting the findings and methodology is one of the co-authors, Eric Hanushek, of the Hoover Institution at Stanford. It’s one of the most important topics we will report on to you this entire year. Please listen.
Just as millions of baby boomers are reaching their golden years, the state of retirement for many in America is something of a disaster. The pension process has collapsed, union protections for most in the private sector have evaporated, the Pension Benefits Guaranty Corporation, set up to protect benefits hard earned, is itself in financial jeopardy and Social Security is on the clock as to when it will run short of resources to assure current benefits. What’s left is the overworked 401K which was never set up to be the only avenue for savings, but rather a supplement. And, yet, still some observers say there is no crisis. Katherine Newman, author of ‘Downhill From Here’ provides stark data and heartbreaking stories to make the case that the crisis is real and imminent. She discusses how retirement insecurity is the twin of the vast inequality that’s eating away at America’s social fabric. She is a remarkable sociologist and this episode demands your attention as the problem affects more than just the baby boomers.
History has given us a guide to removing unpopular, unable or unfit chief executives. And, despite all the chatter about impeachment, it’s only one method. And come to think of it, it’s never been successfully carried out to its final conclusion–that being a conviction in the U.S. Senate and removal of the sitting President from office. The one case where the threat of impeachment led to removal was Richard Nixon in 1974, when he resigned in lieu of facing the true likelihood of a conviction for crimes committed during Watergate. David Priess, author of ‘How To Get Rid of a President’, offers many examples throughout our history as to how presidents have been removed or diminished while in office. They may not have occurred to you so I know that this episode will be a learning experience and a fun way to impress your friends. During the interview, I referred to it as 50 ways to lose your leader. It’s fascinating and I assure you you’ve not thought about this question in the way you will after giving David a listen.
Imagine a day when you will be outlawed from driving. According to Samuel Schwartz, also known as ‘Gridlock Sam’, when he was New York City’s Traffic Commissioner, it would be for your own good. The carnage we have left on the roads as drivers is startling when you compare it to world wars and other forms of human destruction. In his book, ‘No One at the Wheel: Driverless Cars and the Road of the Future’, Schwartz says that autonomous vehicles offer great financial rewards and societal benefits, not the least of which being our own survival. He thinks the social change they will usher in is even greater than the onset of the automobile itself. Talk to someone about this and you will sense a great deal of skepticism as to whether this will ever happen. Unless hundreds of companies–tech and automakers alike– are in the business of throwing away money, you can bet on it. Take a listen to ‘Gridlock Sam’ on this episode. Then convince your friends.
“Dear Machine” writes Greg Kieser, author of the book of the same name and founder of Supersystemic.ly, ‘we know you’re coming so can we just get along’. These super aware/intelligent machines(SAIMs) may seem like science fiction but as they get closer to reality the question is how will humans respond when, or if, we are not the smartest beings on earth. There are fears from some that they will think for themselves, run amok and be put to malevolent purposes. Others hope that they make life much easier and better for humans. Finally, there’s another camp of skeptics who believe that they will never come to do more than tasks humans program them to do. Who really knows? Mr. Kieser is using this book to encourage humans to prepare for the emergence of SAIMs and explores what this might mean for all of us.
It’s on its way. The fifth generation of wireless technology, called 5G, promises to grow the world’s economic output, add millions of new jobs and create breakthroughs in driver less cars, smart homes and even remote surgery sure to change our lives in ways we cannot yet fully imagine. Can you fathom speeds that are 100 or more times that which we have today with the latest iteration of 4G? Yet so many questions persist about who will be the first to implement the technology. Many are concerned that there’s a 5G gap and that the United States may be third behind China and South Korea. Roslyn Layton, of the American Enterprise Institute, joins us to discuss the range of issues that government and private industry are grappling with on the way to the brave new world of 5G. It will get you thinking.