Esteemed economist, Laurence Kotlikoff, can hold two seemingly contradictory views at one time. While he believes that the fiscal gap of the U.S. federal government–sum of all obligations on our books–is about 15 times the published number of $20 trillion, he’s not shy about trying to help individual Americans ‘Get What’s Yours’ from the complex Social Security system(which is also on the verge of bankruptcy). And while he believes America is now bankrupt, and in a much worse situation than Greece, he’s not beyond trying to help you develop the ‘economist approach’ to saving for retirement by way of his MaxiFi program. He considers it a revolutionary new tool in retirement planning. We try to engage Laurence Kotlikoff on all these subjects so we can improve your micro-finances even if the macro-finances of our society are in tatters.
Dr. Mark W. Hendrickson
Fellow, Economic & Social Policy
Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg, got much attention for his commencement address at Harvard University(you know the place where he dropped out) suggesting that America needed to adopt a ‘universal basic income'(UBI) for its citizens. While the concept is being floated in different parts of the world, the idea of paying citizens a subsistence baseline seems far-fetched in the last Western society to truly come to grips with how to pay for health care. Yet, it’s now on the table here and Mark Hendrickson, of The Center for Vision and Values at Grove City College in Pennsylvania, shares his concerns and engages in an exchange regarding the pro’s and con’s of UBI.
Out of sight, out of mind. Do you give much, if any, thought to the waste stream and how we’re doing as a society to recycle and re-use plastics, glass and other materials as the byproducts of our voracious appetite for consumption? CJ May has given lots of thought to the subject as one who has a Master’s degree from Yale University’s School of Forestry & Environmental Studies. He was also Yale’s recycling coordinator for twenty years and now holds the same position with the City of Waterbury, Connecticut. His opinions on where our recycling efforts are headed are his own–and are very entertaining and informed.
Michael Patrick Lynch suggests that in the sub-title of his book, ‘The Internet of Us’. Now the director of the Humanities at the University of Connecticut and the man who leads the university’s Humility and Conviction in Public Life Project sets about to determine if our society is now capable of finding common reality. He delves into what used to seem so simple and yet today seems so complicated–how do we know information is true. Just because we can Google information does not mean the information is accurate. And even more to the point, he explains how we are not just polarized in our opinions or values, but in the facts we learn as we rest comfortably in our ‘information bubbles’. Where does this isolation lead us? Take a listen and it will begin to makes more sense and require a greater willingness on our part to want to know more than we’re letting in–or letting on.
The concept of American exceptionalism is often associated with a patriotic sense that our country is better than the rest–and politicians on the left and right both throw the term around. Yet there are a number of other interpretations of that phrase. Some say our founding made us destined to be unique among all the world’s nations, built on freedom, justice, equality and liberty. However, there a more recent interpretations of the concept that are not as kind. Could we have great gifts, yes, but be ‘exceptional’ because we are an outlier among Western nation in terms of our approach to many issues, such as guns, mass incarceration, the death penalty and health care as a right? Stanford law professor, Mugambi Jouet, author of ‘Exceptional America’ joins us to discuss this critical examination of American values
Mob historian, Daniel Simone, a prolific author who co-write with Henry Hill ‘The Lufthansa Heist: Behind the Six-Million Dollar Cash Haul That Shook the World’ and, most recently, ‘The Pierre Hotel Affair’, describes the changes in organized crime approaches in the 21st century. They are certainly not gone and will never be forgotten in the annals of America crime history. As a bonus feature in this segment on organized crime is an interview with Joe Pistone, aka ‘Donnie Brasco’ and his time as an undercover FBI agent trying to break one of New York’s most powerful crime families.
In just 45 words, the American people were afforded the opportunity to tell its government what speech was protected from the overreach and restrictions inherent in all forms of government at the time. And still, to this day, we have one of the only written and durable protections of this type in the world, including other democracies. No one understands the words written in the First Amendment, like attorney Floyd Abrams, its most passionate protector. We talked to him about the many issues swirling around the First Amendment including cases he argued before the U.S. Supreme Court, including the Pentagon Papers and Citizens United. His clear explanations should be mandatory in civics classrooms across the country. And his new book, ‘The Soul of the First Amendment’, required reading.
Today, more than seven million men between the ages of 25 and 54 in America are out of the labor force. That can’t be good. In fact, it’s an awful trend. It creates a ripple effect–no jobs means fewer families are formed, fewer homes are purchased and more diseases of despair plague so many. While the problem has been well documented,are there any solutions?
Robert Doar, one of the co-authors of a report by the American Enterprise Institute, called ‘Getting Men Back to Work: Solutions from the Right and Left’, joins us to discuss.
Policy wonks joke that all Americans want from health care reform is unlimited care, from the doctor of their choosing, with no waits for treatment, at no cost. Oh, yes, and that doctors can undo all of the bad decisions we’ve made along the way about diet and exercise. Dr. Elaina George, author of ‘Big Medicine: The Cost of Corporate Control and How Doctors and Patients Working Together Can Rebuild a Better System’, discusses why the current healthcare system is unstustainable and what options we might explore to make it better. A critical inflection point in this debate is here and the future is uncertain as to whether we entrust more of our healthcare to the private sector or the government. Let’s pursue the choices and what they mean to you.
Amy Goldstein is a Pulitzer Prize winning reporter who spent years documenting the aftermath of the economic meltdown in Janesville, Wisconsin in the wake of the closure of its long standing General Motors plant. It’s a familiar story with consequences that seep into every crevice of the community. She tells it through personal story highlighting the ‘cast of characters’ left to pick up the pieces of a broken community. This episode is part of our mini-series, ‘Men Without Work’.