Monthly Archives: July 2021

EP 468 Why Passionate Sports Fans May Be Happier Than the Rest of Us

Are you a sports fan who has been told that you’re wasting your time watching your favorite team night in and night out?  Recent studies suggest that this devotion may pay off in making you happier and healthier than those who have no interest.  With the onset of fantasy sports, not a single team focus, there are cognitive benefits because of the analytics you must apply to the competition.  Even rooting for a losing team involves a certain level of bonding with others, with whom you might agree on little else, to form community and connection.  During the pandemic, we have seen what the absence of a live crowd of fans does to the feel of the game itself, thus reminding us of the role we play in bringing excitement to these contests.  And certain sports, like the Olympics, often encourage spectators to try their hand at various of the competitions.  In his book, ‘Fans: How Watching Sports Makes Us Happier, Healthier and More Understanding’, Larry Olmsted presents a game-changing look into why being a fan is good for us both as individuals and a society.  We will debunk the myth that watching sports is a waste of time and that while fan is short hand for fanatic, it rarely leads to excessive behaviors that are harmful and, in fact, more often does just the opposite.  

EP 467 Madame Speaker Wields Strong Gavel

Nancy Pelosi is the most powerful member of Congress–again.  She is Speaker of the House for a second time and wielding tremendous power with a Democrat in the White House. While misunderstood and maligned by many, she is, perhaps, the most effective person in that role since Sam Rayburn.  Her Republican predecessors, John Boehner and Paul Ryan, look like amateurs when it comes to understanding how the U.S. House of Representatives works and getting bills through.  Her centrality to virtually all of the key legislation passed in the 21st century is clear.  In her book, ‘Pelosi’,TIME journalist Molly Ball describes how she came to be a master of the legislative process and the intracacies of the process.  Her knowledge of the needs of each member of her caucus and their districts is key to knowing which legislation gets to the House floor.  These are traditional skills, honed by party bosses of old, yet many mischaracterize her as a wide-eyed San Francisco liberal when her Baltimore roots, at the knee of her father who was Mayor and Congressman, better reflects her approach.

EP 466 Americans Love Money But Understand So Little About It

I am certain you’ve discussed money matters with a friend or relative and been shocked at how little they know about the subject.  It’s obvious by knowing the terrible decisions that they have made over time.  Or, perhaps, you’re that person. Money is the universal language of America and yet only six states require that it be taught in public schools.  A majority of us do not have a budget, half of us do not have enough saved for a $400 emergency and a third of adults have nothing tucked away for retirement.  Our guest, Cindy Couyoumjian, a certified financial planner, has a new book titled ‘Redefining Financial Literacy’.  In it she encourages us to know the basics of our own financial situation but she adds to the standard jargon in suggesting that we pay more attention to the overall economy and its impact on our finances.  She goes on to take a jab at conventional wisdom about the 60/40 rule and that our holdings should all be in stocks and bonds. Hear her out about more asset classes to invest in and Modern Portfolio Theory.  

EP 465 Has the Time Come for the Rich to Pay Their Fair Share in Taxes?

It’s hard to look at America and not recognize that money will have to be spent in the period ahead on a range of emerging priorities, including addressing income inequality, infrastructure, day care, health coverage and the long tail of the pandemic.  The question is where do you get the money to address these issues?  If past is a prologue to the future, much of it will be printed, borrowed and, reluctantly, taxed into existence.  Which taxes and on whom?  President Biden has said that no one making under $400,000 a year will see their federal taxes go up.  Under consideration are a host of ideas to squeeze more revenue out of sources, like large corporations, who have helped write the current tax code which favors them.  Giving back will involve a complicated political dance.  Fred McKinney, the Carlton Highsmith Chair for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and director of the People’s United Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Quinnipiac University, join me to introduce you to new ideas like a ‘1009 New’ to capture more business revenue, a proposal to raise capital gains taxes to a level comparable to wages and a global corporate tax, among others.

EP 464 Drug Cartels and Guns: A Deadly Combination

While we often think of the epidemic of gun violence as happening on the streets of America, it is even worse in the countries south of us in the Americas.  The source of the supply is the same, primarily United States gun manufacturers. How those guns start as legal products and become entwined with drug cartels and illegal sales is a fascinating, and little understood, story.  Yet it has an impact on illegal drug sales throughout the United States and often results in crises at the U.S-Mexico border.  Ioan Grillo chronicles the flow of firearms from the United States into Mexico for use by the gangs and cartels in his book ‘Blood Gun Money’.  He writes “America’s “iron river” of guns, millions of weapons that flow from the legal industry to the black market, feeding criminals across the nation and drug cartels across the continent…At the heart of the iron river is the relationship between guns and drugs’.  It is that disturbing relationship we explore with him on this podcast. You must hear what he tells us separates what happens on our streets in the U.S. from what happens south of the border, where over 2 million people have died in this gun infested, drug fueled environment since the beginning of the century.  

EP 463 America’s Complicated Relationship with Guns

America’s Second Amendment is summed up in just a few words and yet massive amounts of ink have been spilled trying to explain it, massive amounts of blood spilled in defense of it and massive sums spent on legal efforts to try and curtail it and still gunfire rings out across our land like never before.  This controversial subject divides the members of our two political parties, already fractured, like no other issue, including abortion.  Instead of turning to a partisan in the debate, we chose to reach out to a legal scholar on the subject.  Joseph Blocher is a professor at the Duke University Law School and co-director of the Center for Firearms Law at the university.  Our conversation runs the gamut examining what the Second Amendment means, the importance of the Heller vs. D.C. opinion by the U.S. Supreme Court, state and federal laws applicable to guns and what the early efforts of the Biden Administration signal as to the direction of the debate.  In fact, America may be at an inflection point regarding guns as pro-gun groups, like the NRA, face new challenges and groups wanting more controls gain strength and public support.  And then there’s the matter of turning on the news each night to learn of a new mass shooting, which the President reminds us is an ‘international embarrassment’.  This week we will focus on guns in two separate podcasts with two remarkable presenters.

EP 462 New York: America’s Indispensable City

  Neither terrorist attack, financial meltdown, devastating hurricane or a pandemic can shake New York City from its perch as America’s most unique and vital city.  While some say it’s teetering now in the wake of COVID-19 it is hard to bet against this city because of the resilience and strength of its people.  And it’s the people of New York, in all five boroughs, who author Craig Taylor talked to to amass his great book, ‘New Yorkers: A City and Its People in Our Time’.  These are everyday New Yorkers, not celebrated ones, who go about their day trying to negotiate their lives in the toughest testing ground of all.  No matter your pursuit or career, you have got to perform it well to do it on the biggest stage in America.  In this podcast, Craig and I discuss what makes New Yorkers so different and how navigating its many challenges itself can be viewed as a great accomplishment.  The New York experience is unmatched and we will take a vicarious trip into the city today on the podcast.

EP 461 Spy Vs. Spy: The U.S. Fight Against Soviet, Now Russian, Aggression

It’s the same old song as the Russian spy machine keeps rolling along.  Who would know better than Jack Devine who formerly served as acting director and associate director at the CIA  and was in charge of the CIA’s largest and most successful covert action operation, which drove the Russians out of Afghanistan? In his new book, ‘Spymaster’s Prism’, he describes how Russian interference in the 2016 election actually was a step up in boldness as the Russians had a carefully planned assault on our internal politics.  In the lexicon of what he calls ‘Moscow Rules’, this effort represents a step beyond what has commonly been practiced by both  the U.S. and Russia. Tampering with the conduct of our democratic process could be viewed as a hostile act testing the limits of what each country can tolerate in an espionage racket which has retained certain norms.  He provides a series of guideposts in evaluating what Vladimir Putin has done to  achieve his objective of restoring Russian to its domination in its sphere of influence.  Devine sees Putin as a high stakes gambler and a formidable opponent.  You will be fascinated by his insights.