Monthly Archives: May 2021

EP 451 Where Is My Office?

 The pandemic has upended much about American life, including where we work.  The concept of ‘one person, one desk’ in a large office building may never be the norm again.  With the rise of agile working, third space working and new technological innovations, the traditional office space may no longer be the place where the greatest creativity and efficiency can be achieved.  Who better to imagine the possibilities than Chris Kane, the man who re-designed the property holdings of the Walt Disney Company and the BBC.  As the author of ‘Where Is My Office:  Reimagining the Workplace for the 21st Century’, he describes how form, in the manifestation of commercial real estate, must yield to the ways that the knowledge workers best perform.  The changes are fast emerging and continue to take shape in these disruptive times.

EP 450 Why Would a Doctor Talk to a Patient About Money?

  In medicine it is said that you only find what you’re looking for.  If you do not dig deep to find out whether, say, drinking was at the root of a medical condition, you may never know.  And the problem goes unsolved.  Money is the same way.  In a society where safety nets are scarce, startling numbers live in conditions you and I would find intolerable and trade-offs often result in short cutting better health outcomes, few doctors ever raise the issue of money with their patients.  Yet it is the cause of much stress, sleeplessness, poor diets and the delaying of necessary medical interventions.  Dr. Michael Stein is an exception.  As a primary care physician and professor of health law, policy and management, he makes it a point to find out what role money might play in his patients’ lives.  In his readable book, ‘Broke’, he lets his patients tell you what limitations their budget places on their health choices, while he reminds us that ‘America is money.  America is an invoice’.  If you cannot pay it, well you may end up sick out of luck.  He’ll explain.

EP 449 Healing America Will Require Government to Work Again

American government is broken and has been so for a long time.  In some periods of history we muddle through and use our natural advantages, like remote location from adversaries, to give us time to figure things out.  At other points, like after The Great Depression, we needed a whole new toolkit of government ideas to begin to pull us out of the morass.  Given our yawning divisions and deep mistrust of our government and each other in the wake of the pandemic and the 2020 election/insurrection, we need a moment of government effectiveness, once again, to deal with overlapping crises.  The question is whether we are constitutionally constructed to make radical change?  Checks and balances by three branches of government was a great idea in the 1700’s, but does it serve us well in the moment?  In their book, ‘Presidents, Populism and the Crisis of Democracy’, Professors William Howell and Terry Moe argue that structural changes will be needed to unlock the problem-solving capacity of a moribund government.  And those changes need to happen swiftly.  Terry Moe joins us to discuss.

EP 448 Informed Medical Consent Bypassed by the Medical System

The topic we are bringing you on this podcast startled me.  My concept was that we, the medical consumer, gain protections year after year.  In fact, Harriet Washington’s chilling expose, ‘Carte Blanche: The Erosion of Medical Consent’, reveals just the opposite.  It is becoming harder to avoid being part of risky medical research as the matter of consent is often not sought.  Medical consent is a right you and I take for granted, but rather than being enhanced it has been eroding over the last twenty five years.  How can this be?  Ms. Washington makes disturbing comparisons between practices in present day United States to some egregious abuses by the Nazis in WWII. It’s a comparison she was reluctant to make but felt the parallels demanded she do so.  She will explain her thinking and ways to reform a broken system of medical research overreach.

EP 447 QAnon: A Political Movement or a Gathering of Lost Souls?

Much of the attention drawn to QAnon of late has common from the mainstream media and not the dark corners of the internet.  The election of an adherent to Congress and a rebuke of her utterances has also shone light on a movement with some very unusual beliefs and indeterminate motives and goals.  According to a study by political scientists, Joseph Uscinski and Adam Enders, while QAnon supporters are extreme they are not so in the ideological sense.  QAnon support is best explained by conspiratorial world views, dark triad personality traits and a predisposition toward other anti-social behavior.  In this podcast, Professor Enders summarizes their findings and takes a trip with me down the rabbit hole of conspiracy theories and discusses the type of people drawn to them.  

EP 446 Vaccine Diplomacy in a Time of Anti-Science

It is a head scratcher to many of us that the anti-vaccination movement has taken hold in the way that it has in the 21st century given the unassailable fact that vaccines have saved hundreds of millions of lives.  The achievements are astounding. Vaccines have eradicated small pox, virtually eliminated polio, brought measles transmission down by 90 percent and basically wiped meningitis off the books.  And the new technology vaccines against COVID-19, the scourge of this era, show remarkable early results turning a killer disease into a mildly annoying one for those who are stricken. And yet anti-science and other social and political factors are aiding previously conquered afflications to rise again.  In his book, ‘Preventing the Next Pandemic’. Dr. Peter Hotez, a mainstay authority on cable news throughout the pandemic, describes the forces allied to make medical and vaccine diplomacy a must in the period ahead. It’s a critical topic to discuss as the world struggles with challenges that weaken public health in this moment of crisis.

EP 445 Twice for Obama and Twice for Trump: Who Are These Voters?

  For many of us we still scratch our heads as to how Donald Trump made it to the White House in the first place.  We have all had our theories which range from the wrong candidate opposing him, a strong reaction to the Obama presidency from disgruntled white voters in rural communities and those in the economic despair or Russian interference, or, perhaps, some combination of all the three.  Little dicussed are the large number of towns, cities and counties that flipped from twice Obama voters to Trump voters.  What is that about?  Political scientist Jon Shields and historian Stephanie Muravchik did not feel that the answers had been clear enough about that trend because no one spent the time on the ground to really study the reasons.  They did and put their findings in a book titled ‘Trump’s Democrats’, an ethnographic study of the factors involved.  Surprisingly, Trump won in those communities not primarily for reasons often put forward, but because he looked and sounded much like the Democratic party bosses who have served their local communities well for decades.  It’s a fascinating argument put forward by Ms. Muravchik in this podcast.  It’s likely this is the first time you have heard much of what she is about to say.

EP 444 Political Polling: Is it Reliable or Necessary?

Presidential races are covered more like a horse race than a contest of ideas.  What impact does that have both on crowding out more important news about the candidates, like positions on issues, and on how we feel about the race depending on how our preferred candidate is doing?  Then there’s the growing concern that depending on the representativeness of the sample, whether the respondent will actually vote and the technology used to reach them, that the results may not mean much.  After all, we are reminded it is not a prediction, but rather a snapshot in time.  Polling and surveys have more value to our diverse society when used to determine what our fellow Americans think about a range of issues, according to our guest, Daniel Cox, a research fellow in polling and public opinion for the American Enterprise Institute.  He also is the director of their Survey Center on American Life.

EP 443 The U.S. Senate Where Legislation Goes to Die

While the title to this episode is not original, it does state something that has become more real year in and year out.  The U.S. Senate’s deliberative nature has become sclerotic and impediments to popular legislation never see the light of day.  Senator Mitch McConnell, a master of Senate rules, in the Trump years recognized that it would be easier to get judicial appointments through the process than legislation, because the filibuster was not standing in the way for appointments to the lower federal courts.  McConnell then expanded former Democratic Senator Harry Reid’s removal of the filibuster from judicial appintments to include the U.S. Supreme Court. It was his master stroke and a large part of President Trump’s legacy. Adam Jentleson, a former deputy chief of staff to Sen. Reid and author of ‘Killswitch: The Rise of the Modern Senate and the Crippling of American Democracy’ opines in his book that the end of the filibuster, barely a Senate rule, more a procedure, will be critical to passing major legislation once again.  His book meticulously details the history of the filibuster, which started as a tool of Southern senators upholding slavery and then later became a device to block civil rights legislation.  Today, it makes legislating near impossible.  Find out how and why.