Monthly Archives: September 2019

EP 277 Young People Say It’s Up To Us to Grapple With the National Debt

  Honesty requires that I admit to what a bloody mess mess my
generation, the baby boomers, is leaving the many generations that
follow.  As if a despoiled and roiling planet isn’t enough, add to their
burdens a swelling, and unsustainable, level of national debt.  And,
yet, mum’s the word.  Nobody talks about the $20 trillion public debt or
the $200 trillion dollar fiscal gap.  The enormity of the numbers are a
paralytic to any meaningful conversation.  So we just change the
subject and focus on the outrage of the day.  A group of millennials and
generation Z leaders have caught up with the implications of the
problem and are determined to sound the alarm for others in their cohort
as part of Up To Us.  Through this conversation with Hilary Allen,
community manager of a competition this group runs, you will find out
what’s on their minds and how they want to make this issue a part of the
national conversation–finally.

1 SPECIAL EDITION Whistleblowers

Image result for Allison Stanger's book 'Whistleblowers

  The concept of a whistleblower is a unique American innovation, meant
to check corrupt power and help us give protection and sanctity to our
ideals in practice, not just in theory.  Whistleblowing is a cousin to
civil disobedience, but is done within the system through long
established tradition and laws.  We’re all getting a lesson in the
protections and reprisals that await a whistleblower as we are now
subsumed in, perhaps, the most significant episode of whistleblowing in
American history, in that it involves the President. While you often
hear that whistleblowers, particularly in the public sector, are truth
tellers, it may be surprising to find that often their complaints are
dismissed and they face reprisal for coming forward.  We are in a period
with more reported cases of whistleblowing as power is concentrated in
fewer hands.  However, the treatment of the whistleblower’s concerns in
the national political crisis we now face may determine the willingness
of others to come forward in the future.  This timely podcast emerges
along with the recent release of Allison Stanger’s book ‘Whistleblowers:
Honesty in America From Washington to Trump’.  We will pay particular
attention to the special circumstances surrounding whistleblowing in the
context of national security and intelligence.              

EP 276 An Emergency In Rural America

Image result for Mark Holmes, PhD, a professor at the University of North  Carolina

  Healthcare delivery and cost concerns are top of mind in our political
debate.  Nowhere is that concern greater than in rural America. If you
live in remote places in the heartland and the South, the likelihood
that the hospital closest to your home may be shuttered or downsized is
growing greater each year.  Twenty one percent of rural hospitals are at
a high risk of closing, according to one report.  That equates to 430
hospitals across 43 states that employ nearly 150,000 people.  These
places attend to emergencies when a local farmer, let’s say, has a heart
attack and rapid response time is critical.  They also represent the
heartbeat of many communities as the largest employer, supporter of
local organizations and driver of economic activity.  And many in rural
America have significant chronic health problems, such as diabetes and
obesity.  Mark Holmes, PhD, a professor at the University of North
Carolina and director of the Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services
Research, joins us to explain how this all came about and some possible
ways forward in dealing with a healthcare crisis.

EP 275 How Does a Society Dislodge Entrenched Interests?

 In a democratic society, like ours, how easy or hard is it to upend
power and economic disparities, when those who have the most to lose
also have the most power?  It’s a tricky question which Professor Paul
Starr, a Pulitzer Prize winning author, attempts to answer in his new
book, ‘Entrenchment’.  Let’s be honest, it’s not easy and can literally
take centuries.  In America, the results of The Civil War were
remarkable, but still leave behind a legacy of injustice against black
people in our society which are persistent and pernicious.  So, we ask
our guest whether the process of change or turning over the old order
was envisioned by the framers to be a difficult process, given how
daunting a task it is to amend the Constitution.  Hint: we haven’t had
an amendment in a long time.  And when we do look to right wrongs or
address imbalances and bend them in a more just way, while hard won, are
they forever?  This notion of entrenchment will get you thinking about
change and the forces that often stand in the way.

EP 274 Where Have All the Good Jobs Gone?

Image result for david blanchflower not working

  If you listen to President Trump this is the best economy in years,
perhaps, ever. We have low unemployment numbers and a great uptick on
Wall Street.  If that’s the case, why does he keep pressuring the
Federal Reserve to lower interest rates in what the Fed Chairman, Jerome
Powell, says is not such a hot jobs market. David Blanchflower, a labor
economics professor at Dartmouth University and author of ‘Not
Working’, joins us to explain what the discrepancy is between what we
are told by officials and what we see and sense from our own lives.  He
says that economists, policy makers and bankers need to practice the
‘economics of walking about’.  By that he means, look at real lives and
make a judgment as to how things are going, because the published
unemployment rate today is an unreliable measure of the economy’s
performance.  Perhaps, the participation rate is a better indicator.  Or
the quality of the jobs available or ‘labor market slack’.  Whether you
like economics, or consider it the dismal science, Professor
Blanchflower explains it all in very understandable terms and helps
guide you to becoming your own economist as you sift through the ways
politicians will use the numbers to convince you of their positions in
2020.  Become better prepared, as well as entertained, on this episode.

EP273 Where Will We Get Our News Going Forward?

There are alarming reports from all over the country about the demise
of local newspapers and the sprouting up of local ‘news deserts’, where
finding out about what’s going on in your town or city is becoming
increasingly more difficult.  With it comes a lack of accountability on
the part of local officials as there’s no one watching(even taxes
increases may occur more easily without the media watchman in place). 
So, we turned to Dan Kennedy, a journalism professor from Northeastern
University, and author of two books on the the state of play for
journalism, to help us sort things out.  It’s a round discussion that
touches on many factors changing how and where we get our news.  Will
the on-line alternatives fill the breach, many of which operate because
of the generosity of community foundations?  Are daily newspapers
figuring out ways to monetize their on-line content?  Can TV news be an
adequate substitute for a local newspaper?  And what about weekly
papers? For old-timers, reading the newspaper every day is as natural as
taking their next breath, and as necessary, while most young people
have never had that attachment.  So where do we go from here?  Listen in
to find out.

EP 272 The Death Of Politics

Frustrated and feeling betrayed, Americans have come to loathe politics–assuring more disastrous results. In his well researched book, ‘The Death of Politics’, Peter Wehner reminds us that politics can, and should, be about the noble pursuit of justice. To give up on politics means giving up on making America a more just society. The sense of the importance of politics in a democratic society requires a healthy respect for opposing opinions and an ability to find common ground. That foundation is crumbling in America and Donald Trump’s presidency is an outsized, and virulent, manifestation of this trend. As a devout Christian and conservative, Mr. Wehner is appalled at what co-religionists and former political allies have done to abandon their principles to serve the interests of this president. Having served in three previous Republican administrations, he has thought long and hard about where our politics is going and is troubled. His articulate expression of concern is something worth listening to given his unique vantage point. Since he ended the book on a cautious note of hope based upon the premise that the people will make a course correction, I ask him what he would say if the country signed on for four more years of this. You will find his answer quite interesting.

EP 271 Are We Becoming Less Human?

  Humans have the capacity to be caring and show empathy toward total
strangers, even risk our lives on their behalf, yet, in contrast, we
also have the ability to dehumanize others thus opening the door to
shocking aggression and brutality.  Since our podcast likes to look at
trajectory, we were curious in what direction the pendulum was
swinging.  We turned to Adam Waytz, author of ‘The Power of Human’, for
the answer.  In a world of increasing pace, speed and human connection
of a secondary nature, by way of social media, we explore the impacts of
growing research on loneliness and social isolation, as major
contributors to declining health for many in our society.  We are in the
midst of a ‘dehumanizing shift’ and we’re growing less interested in
entering into meaningful relationships and conversations.  So, the next
time you’re across from someone at a table, rather than better dealing
them by looking for an ‘outer ring’ friend to connect with on line, pay
them some real attention.  Our society will be better for it.

EP 270 How Baby Boomers Stole the Millennials’ Economic Future

 There may not be a clash of generations with the newly adult Millennial’s squaring off against their baby boomer parents, but when(and if)they wake up to many decisions that the older set has made, there will be some ‘esplaining to do’.  By all accounts, Millennials’ must contend with the harsh reality of a tough job market, expensive housing in desirable urban areas(where the jobs are)and piles of college debt. Joseph Sternberg, born in 1986 and a millennial, lowers the boom on the boomers for many of the decisions made in the follow up to the great recession in 2008 in his book, ‘The Theft of the Decade’.  He tells us that the jobs ladder effectively collapsed for Millennials’ after the near crash and older folks haven’t even had the courtesy to get out of a rapidly changing workforce in order to make way for their kids. Whatever generation you are, this podcast will get you thinking about the future for a huge generation of young people whose fate is being determined at this moment in time.

EP 269 Can America Hang on to Its Greatest Invention?

 Religious freedom. Separation of church and state.  Constitutional protections to practice your faith as you wish.  We take these precepts for granted, even as we still debate the founder’s intent in 21st century America. Yet those notions were radically different from what was practiced around the globe at the time these practices were memorialized in the Constitution. Our model of religious freedom is in many ways counter-intuitive.  The underlying principle: leave it alone and it will flourish.  Well, whose idea was that?  We find out thanks to Steven Waldman, author of the new book, ‘Sacred Liberty’s and the co-founder of Belief net, the award-multi faith website. The history we discuss informs the present and ways in which religion and politics cross over in our politics.  This podcast will have you thinking, no matter what religion you are and where you stand on the political spectrum.