EP 534 The Great Resignation aka Take This Job and Shove It



 

 

Americans have been leaving their jobs in record numbers as the pandemic has rolled on. While this fact in and of itself is interesting, perhaps more intriguing is ‘why’. Our guest Kristin Schuchman, a certified business coach and author of the book ‘Jump Start: How to redirect a career that has stalled, lost direction or reached a crossroads’ has seen too much in her career consulting practice to ascribe any one factor as the key reason. Some people felt overworked and vulnerable in their front line positions at restaurants and in hospitality during the surges of the pandemic, while others gained new insights into how they defined ‘work-life balance’ given what they had been through. Still others were dissatisfied with their workplace before the pandemic and the company response hastened their decision. Little discussed reasons are touched upon in this podcast, including the record number of baby boomers who were on the verge of retirement who took this opportunity to take the plunge, given rising housing values and stock market gains. It’s clearly a trend and an interesting one which we explore in depth on this podcast.


EP 533 Global Enduring Disorder Exists: What’s the Cure?



 

For centuries, the downfall of one global empire has been followed by the rise of another.  America was top dog when the Soviet Union fell apart, but our guest argues that is no longer its position.  We are now in what he terms ‘The Enduring Disorder’.  Yes, the institutions we established after World War to keep order around the globe are still in place, but our willingness, and that of our Allies, to act in concert to enforce these rules has waned.  That fact, according to Jason Pack, a senior analyst at the NATO Foundation, played itself out on the world stage in microcosm in post-Qadhafi Libya, thus the title of his book ‘Libya and the Global Enduring Disorder’.  As I write this description of our conversation, while President Biden has worked hard to get the old band back together, it was too late to convince Vladimir Putin of the West’s resolve to protect an international system built on the notion that sovereign borders could not be changed by force.  Mr. Pack shares much original thinking about how we have reached this point and the dangers inherent in its continuation.  Be attentive, as I say, Mr. Pack unpacks a lot of political theory and practical examples of the unstable world which we now inhabit.


EP 532 Americans Desire for Medical Free Will



 

 

Throughout our history, state and federal legislators have limited the scope of medical treatments available to us. In the spirit of our prized individualism, Americans have often opposed this and pursued their own therapies, which may fall outside the bounds of that which the medical establishment might prescribe. During the pandemic that demand to go our own way has found people rejecting clear and indisputable evidence of the life savings capabilities of vaccines. It’s all part of an American tradition. In his book, ‘Choose Your Medicine’, American University Professor of History and Law, Lewis Grossman, presents a compelling look at how persistent notions of the right to therapeutic choice play out in modern day debates about cannabis, abortion and physician assisted suicide, among other hot button medical topics.


EP 531 What Steps Are Needed to Save Our Democracy?



 

Mourning in America might better describe the mood of the American people in early 2022 than what Ronald Reagan had in mind in the 1980’s.  President Biden just held a summit on democracy trying to encourage those countries that still fly that banner to hang in there and that this form of government can still work.  Who would have imagined?  Our guest, Thomas Geoghegan, author of ‘The History of Democracy Has Yet To Be Written’, actually thinks democracies around the world are doing all right, yet he has concerns which he enumerates in the book about the state of democracy here in America.  His concerns primarily center on the failings of Congress, the Article One branch of our government, for a host of good reasons which he describes.  He espouses some bold initiatives around the filibuster, gerrymandering and the role of the citizen in our democracy.  You’ll want to hear them on this podcast.


EP 530 How to Become a True Influencer



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How many people do you engage with every day?  If you don’t count your ‘friends’ on Facebook, it’s likely to be a small number of real and direct human interactions.  As a result most of us are not ‘socially integrated’.  Having done a number of podcasts about the effects iof social isolation, in this podcast we turn the equation around and look for the positive effects of developing deep, meaningful relationships and loose associations.  This can mean spending time with friends, going to local shops and exchanging ideas with others in your community.  In combination, this all adds up to living a long and enjoyable life. Jon Levy is many things but chief among them for our purposes he is a behavioral scientist who has written the book, ‘You’re Invited: The Art and Science of Cultivating Influence’.  In our conversation we will introduce you to the IKEA Effect in which taking on a project with an acquaintance allows for a vulnerability loop and that expression of vulnerability provides the opportunity to establish trust.  Many interesting concepts like that are explored in this podcast.


EP 529 How Did America Leave the Miss America Competition Behind?



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In its heyday, the Miss America pageant could attract nearly three quarters of those watching television at that time.  It was considered the first reality show and had become the focal point of community life for many young girls entering competitions in places far and wide in hopes of having a chance to compete on the stage in Atlantic City.  Today, as the brand fades, it is worth looking back to find out what happened in the context of the changing role of women, reality programs on television and in the culture itself.  In her deeply reported book, ‘There She Was: The Secret History of Miss America’, Amy Argetsinger, an editor for the Washington Post Style section, brings a true pageant enthusiast’s eye to the subject, while at the same time critically examining the convulsive changes in our society around gender, race, feminism and beauty that now confront the sisterhood of Miss America in its struggle to survive.  If you wonder what happened and how it was ever a true cultural phenomenon for such an uncharacteristically long sweep of time, this podcast describes the complexities surrounding this American institution.


Special Edition13 War: Leading Scholar Brings Context to Russian Invasion of Ukraine



 

Is war the locomotive of history?  While that is a hard question to answer we seem never to escape its grip, whether we are talking about minor skirmishes, infra-state disputes, ethnic purges and major cataclysms.  And while the latter category has not touched the world in most of our lifetimes, it’s not hard to imagine that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has the possibility of drawing NATO and China in by virtue of one miscalculation or a madman’s intent.  Just days ago, we spoke to Jeremy Black, an emeritus professor of history at Exeter University and author of ‘A Short History of War’ among so many other titles about conflict. In fact, he is recognized as the most prolific historian in the English language.  His knowledge about war and military history make him the per-eminent source on the subject.  His first thoughts about Ukraine in the context of his vast knowledge of conflicts from antiquity to this day will be showcased on this podcast.  Listen carefully.


EP 528 Will Problem Gambling Grow in America: You Can Bet On It



 

The days of having to find a bookie to make a bet are long over.  Today, many states will oblige with a host of state lottery options, relationships with Native American casinos and legalized sports book in person and on-line. In addition to the range of choices, greater proximity and ability to gamble on your phone, the boredom and isolation of the pandemic exacerbated the tendency for many.  The rivalry of Fan Duel and DraftKings for dominance in this new arena of legalized sports betting has added a marketing presence which makes it both mainstream and alluring.  Against this backdrop, we see headlines warning of a ‘ticking time bomb’ which will go off in the coming years as people get in over their heads, despite guardrails that have been put in place to limit their financial exposure.  Some experts see the impulse for profit far outstripping the safeguards and the meager resources put into addiction programs for those who are caught up in a more invisible form of undertow than drugs or alcohol.  Keith Whyte, our guest on the podcast, is the executive director of the National Council on Problem Gambling and he has a lot to offer.  By the way, the National Problem Gambling Helpline number is 1-800-522-4700.


EP 527 America’s Commitment to Public Lands: Something All Americans Can Agree on?



 

 

 

America’s public lands encompass more than 600 million acres of forests, plains, mountains, wetlands, deserts and shorelines, comprising about thirty percent of the nation’s land mass.  In a country built on the concept of private property rights it is remarkable that for the last century and half there has been so little debate about the necessity for this set aside.  Both parties have generally supported more conservation with their actions, even if time the rhetoric has suggested that some of these lands should be opened up for private exploitation.  John Leshy, a former solicitor for the U.S. Department of Interior and author of ‘Our Common Ground: A History of America’s Public Lands’ has written a political history of these lands which Americans own and manage through their national government.  Matters relating to these parks are inherently political and the inclusion of formerly excluded populations, like Native Americans, in their use is one of the many trends we discuss with him on this podcast.  Today these lands offer Americans refuge for recreation, education and conservation of biodiversity and cultural resources.  The National Parks are a crown jewel, but there is so much more as you will learn.


EP 526 The American Dream of Home Ownership Slipping Away From Many



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While much of what’s been written recently about housing in America are the exploding costs and great value of ownership, between 2010 and 2019, the number of renters in the country grew twice as fast as the homeowner population.  In fact, renters now make up a majority of residents in large American cities.  The cost of owning a home has been eating up household budgets and eclipsing the standard of thirty percent as the basis for what you should spending on housing a month.  A hidden factor in all of this is how much housing stock was gobbled up after the housing bubble of 2008 by banks, private equity firms, speculators and overseas money.  Their goal has been to maximize profit by renting or selling properties at inflated prices.  Our guest, Andrew Ross, author of ‘Sunset Blues’ lays out the conditions that have made the housing market so problematic for so many and why the American Dream is becoming unaffordable in many places. His book focuses on a particular area of central Florida to make his point, but our conversation discusses the failure of the housing market throughout urban and rural locales throughout the country.