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Make Me Smart with Kai and Molly

American Public Media

Hosted by Kai Ryssdal and Molly Wood, Make Me Smart With Kai & Molly is now a daily news podcast that breaks down the impact of COVID-19 on the economy and the most complex topics of the week. Together, we make sense of today. Because none of us is as smart as all of us.

Hosted by Kai Ryssdal and Molly Wood, Make Me Smart With Kai & Molly is now a daily news podcast that breaks down the impact of COVID-19 on the economy and the most complex topics of the week. Together, we make sense of today. Because none of us is as smart as all of us.


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Hosted by Kai Ryssdal and Molly Wood, Make Me Smart With Kai & Molly is now a daily news podcast that breaks down the impact of COVID-19 on the economy and the most complex topics of the week. Together, we make sense of today. Because none of us is as smart as all of us.




The weirdest trade secrets

Guest host Scott Tong brought a truly wild story to this grab-bag Friday episode. Coca-Cola is accusing a former employee of stealing trade secrets — not the formula for what goes in the can, but the can itself. We’ll talk about it, some other weird trade secrets and, oh yeah, a 3,000-year-old lost city in Egypt. Plus, another round of our favorite game, “Half Full/Half Empty.” Here’s everything we talked about on the show today: Coca-Cola trade secret theft underscores importance of...


The cost of hygiene theater

You can stop cleaning your groceries now. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention affirmed this week what scientists have known for months: COVID-19 is spread primarily through the air, and everyone can tone it down with the wipes and disinfecting sprays. But what could individuals and businesses have been doing while the CDC waited to let us know? Kimberly Adams and Meghan McCarty Carino talk about it, along with the latest disturbing testimony in Derek Chauvin’s trial. But we’re not...


With so many working from home, why not turn empty offices into homes?

Even before COVID-19, there was a housing crisis in much of this country. Now, cities like San Francisco have millions of square feet of empty office space and a persistent housing shortage. One of our listeners wants to know: Why can’t one problem be the other’s solution? We’ll talk about it. Plus, the economic cost of racism against Asian Americans, the changing cosmetics industry and a whole bunch of TV recs. Here are links to everything we talked about today: Following pandemic,...


What’s driving the humanitarian crisis at the border

Don’t call it a border crisis. What’s happening at the U.S.-Mexico border — a greater number of migrants, especially unaccompanied minors, with an administration unprepared to process and shelter them all — was actually pretty predictable, said “Reveal” immigration reporter Aura Bogado. On today’s show, Kimberly Adams and Andy Uhler talk with Bogado about what’s changed between administrations and what hasn’t, and the larger economic and climate forces driving the migration each...


Let’s talk about the big Amazon labor story. No, the other one.

With your regular hosts on spring break this week, Kimberly Adams is joined by Marketplace workplace culture reporter Meghan McCarty-Carino to talk all things Amazon. The Bessemer, Alabama, union vote isn’t the only labor issue facing the nation’s second-largest private employer. Plus: The changing face of vaccine hesitancy, cicada season and First Contact Day. Here’s everything we talked about today: Amazon’s Clashes With Labor: Days of Conflict and ControlAmazon Illegally Fired...


MLB vs. Georgia Republicans

Yes, it’s the predictable sequel to yesterday’s discussion about corporate America and Georgia lawmakers. This time, we’re talking about Major League Baseball’s decision to move the All-Star Game, the reaction from politicians on both sides of the aisle and MLB’s carveouts from federal law. Plus, we play another round of “Half Full/Half Empty,” with more sports talk and more blockbuster showdowns. Here’s everything we talked about today: Japan’s Kyoto cherry blossoms peak on earliest...


Georgia Republicans vs. Delta

The PR flap over Georgia’s new voting law gives us an interesting look at something we talk about a lot: The promise and peril of corporations acting as a check on the government. Or at least, it’s an object lesson in why companies are not your friend and — news flash — some politicians are hypocrites. Also on the docket today: Is Miami really all that great? Here’s everything we talked about today: What a Pepsi can says about the GOP’s rift with corporate AtlantaGeorgia House...


What you should know about “family offices”

Investment firms managing private wealth don’t have to register with the Securities and Exchange Commission and are responsible for some $6 trillion. The collapse of Archegos Capital has one of our listeners worried about the economic ripple effects. We’ll talk about it. Plus, more listener questions about Modern Monetary Theory and the Suez Canal fallout. Here’s everything we talked about today: Suez Canal reopens after stuck cargo ship is freedWho pays for Suez blockage? Ever Given...


40 years later, is this the end of Reaganomics?

It’s been 40 years since President Ronald Reagan said, “Government is not the solution to the problem, government is the problem.” Now we’re in a new crisis, with plenty of data on the “trickle-up” consequences of trickle-down economics and a $1.9 trillion pandemic relief bill. Reagan had “Morning in America,” Joe Biden has “Infrastructure Week.” On today’s show, we’ll talk with political economist Mark Blyth about how Reaganomics was supposed to work, its ripple effects on Democrats and...


What if the pandemic had ended in June?

With the end of the pandemic maybe (maybe!) in sight, Kai and Molly are contemplating what their work lives have gained and lost in the past year. If COVID-19 had been brought under control in three to six months, would a return to, say, commuting feel as scary? Plus: Now that the Ever Given has been dislodged from the Suez Canal, it’s time to talk about the economic conditions that landed us here. Here are links to everything we talked about today: Remote Work Is Here to Stay....


Are you ready to go back to the office?

Big Tech is. Facebook, Google and other companies armed with the data to look ahead on this pandemic are slowly but surely bringing employees back in. On today’s show, Molly and Kai contemplate sitting in traffic once again. Plus, we go “Half Full/Half Empty” on inflation, movie theaters, “Peepsi” and much more on this Friday grab-bag episode. Here are links to everything we talked about today: Europe warns hospitals at ‘breaking point’ as third Covid wave hitsAmerica’s Obsession With...


Boats are taking the long way around the Suez Canal

What can we say? Like many people, we simply can’t look away from the big honkin’ ship that’s stuck in the Suez Canal. Today, we’ll talk about the scale of that traffic jam, the many container ships that are resorting to taking the long way around Africa and Defector’s children’s book treatment of the story. Plus: Alan Turing on currency, the continued erosion of cash bail in California and some great news about our kids podcast “Million Bazillion.” Here’s everything we talked about...


NFTs are “monetized FOMO”

We already know the “what” of nonfungible tokens: They’re blockchain-backed digital media, bought and sold for a shocking amount of money while pumping an even more shocking amount of carbon into the atmosphere. What one of our listeners wants to know is the “why.” We’ll talk about it. Plus, listener questions about hot chicken, the national debt and the mess at the Suez Canal. Here’s everything we talked about on the show today: Suez Canal blocked by traffic jam after massive...


What’s the tax gap, and how do we close it?

New research shows that the top 1% of Americans underreport their income by more than 20%, and the government could raise trillions more over time by collecting on it. No hikes — just enforcing the tax code as it stands. On today’s show, we’re diving into the tax gap. Samantha Jacoby of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities walks us through how the wealthiest Americans hide their money, the incentive structures that got us to this point and why 2021 is a great year to start addressing...


Vaccine supply and demand are about to flip

With 127 million “jabs” administered in America so far, and more manufacturers on their way to FDA approval, the market for vaccines is about to change very quickly. What happens to the holdouts? We’ll talk about it. But first, a bit of news on Facebook and online privacy. Plus a new tool to get out of your Zoom meetings. Here’s everything we talked about today: U.S. Supreme Court rebuffs Facebook appeal in user tracking lawsuitThe US is about to reach a surprise milestone: too many...


What this country thinks of women

We’ll start out this episode talking about the viral video of the, let’s say, different facilities for men and women inside the March Madness bubble, and quickly take the 30,000 foot view. Plus, the pot crackdown in the Biden White House and another round of Half Full/Half Empty. Here are links to everything we talked about today: “Biden White House Sandbags Staffers, Sidelines Dozens for Pot Use” from Politico “NCAA vows to improve conditions at women’s basketball tournament, as...


It’s been a long year. You deserve a nap.

We’re learning all about “pandemic trauma and stress experience” today, and why it’s a good reason to cancel your plans and rest a bit. But first, we’ll talk about the giant corporations trying to hold one another accountable, and Kai gets a lesson in British phraseology. Here’s a list of what we talked about today: “NBC breaks silence on Golden Globes controversy, acknowledging its role in ‘necessary changes’” from the LA Times “NAACP to NFL: Don’t ‘fund Fox News’ hatred, bigotry,...


Where does the money for stimulus checks come from?

Stimulus payments are hitting bank accounts all over the country. Before they go out and spend that stimmy, one listener is wondering where the money for those $1,400 checks came from. We’ll explain, plus talk about the inflationary implications. Plus: a crash course on Big Tech antitrust and leprechaun traps. Here’s everything we talked about today: U.S. bond auction will test if yields are high enough to attract buyersIf Google’s a monopoly, who is harmed by its market power?Who is...


The changing face of America’s unions

About 10% of the American workforce belonged to a union in 2020. That’s way down from about a third in 1970, but unions are making gains lately — and not where you might expect. Workers in Big Tech, media and other “knowledge workers” are organizing, along with people in jobs that didn’t exist 50 years ago, like Amazon warehouse workers. On today’s show, we’ll talk with Lane Windham, associate director of the Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor at Georgetown University,...


3 feet? 6 feet? Why are COVID rules still changing?

Show of hands: Who’s still cleaning off their groceries? As the COVID-19 pandemic has worn on, experts have developed a better understanding of the disease, the way it spreads and how to treat it. But when the science is fluid and the government response is patchy, a lot can get lost in translation. That’s what we’re talking about today. But first: law enforcement, Big Tech and the Proud Boys. Here’s everything we talked about today: Tech spent years fighting foreign terrorists. Then came...