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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.




What you need to know about Apple’s new tracking update

If you have an iPhone or iPad and your software is up to date, you may have seen a prompt pop up in Instagram, Facebook or other apps. It asks if you want to allow the apps to track you, and it’s a little confusing. On today’s show, we’ll try and help a listener clear it up. Plus, immersive travel, jobs numbers and Kai Ryssdal’s “Top Gun” days. Here’s everything we talked about today: Apple releases privacy update that clamps down on data trackingDisney announces Star Wars: Galactic...


Back to school won’t mean back to normal

This economy won’t reopen until schools reopen, full stop. So how are we doing on that? More than half of schools teaching up to eighth grade have reopened for in-person instruction, and a large majority of teachers and other relevant workers are vaccinated. But most students are still learning at least partly online and, of course, it’s nearly summer break. No one seems to know what fall will bring. Today, Washington Post education reporter Valerie Strauss walks us through the uncertainty...


Your COVID-19 vaccine was likely free — what about the booster?

President Joe Biden loosened intellectual property restrictions on COVID-19 vaccines last week in an effort to slow the pandemic — which, reminder, is very much still going on. On today’s show, we’ll follow on that news a bit and talk about where the real money is made from those vaccines. Plus: The Food and Drug Administration says yes to vaccines for more teens, attorneys aeneral say no to an Instagram for kids, and America says “well … OK” to the return of Bennifer. Here’s everything...


The economy gained 266K jobs — but they didn’t go to women

In a typical month, 266,000 new jobs would be amazing. But April (and the 12 months before that) was not a typical month. Economists expected about a million, the labor market’s still in a deep hole and on balance, we expected women to get some of them. On today’s show we’ll take you behind the numbers, plus a little on Elon Musk’s autopilot problem and another round of our favorite game, Half Full/Half Empty. Tesla says totally self-driving cars likely aren’t happening in 2021Five...


The chip shortage could mess up your summer vacation

As the COVID-19 pandemic wears on, there’s been something of a global chip-demic brewing. And like the pandemic, a semiconductor shortage has knock-on effects you might not expect — like not enough rental cars to go around. How will this affect the pent-up demand for post-vaccination travel this summer? We’ll talk about it. Plus: Berkshire Hathaway gets Y2K’d, the Fed talks about “meme stocks” and condors make a mess. Here’s everything we talked about today: Rental Companies Buy Up...


What’s the difference between misinformation and plain ol’ lies?

We got that question from a listener and today, as Facebook’s own Oversight Board handed down a decision on banning Donald Trump, seemed like the right day to pick it apart. Along with the lexicon of dishonesty, we’ll answer your questions about record-high lumber prices and “green hydrogen.” Here’s everything we talked about today: Facebook’s Oversight Board upholds ban on Trump. At least for now.How to report responsibly on hacks and disinformationWhat part of a new house costs 4...


There’s more to the baby bust than COVID-19

A baby represents an investment in the future. Looking back at the last 15 months, you could understand why some people may not feel great about having one right now. But the causes and effects of a record-low birthrate stretch much further than the pandemic. On today’s show, Notre Dame economics professor Kasey Buckles will help us put the birthrate in context and unpack the immigration, climate and economic implications. Later in the show, listeners weigh in the death of the mall and the...


Is meat over?

The plant-based “meat” industry has been growing for a while — we did an episode about it in 2019. But now tastemaking websites and restaurants are starting to turn away from meat and seafood, and companies who have made their name in meat are embracing alternatives. Is the sun setting on the burger kingdom? We’ll talk about it. Plus: “The Fed” hits the small screen, Trump might be back on Facebook and the Gates marriage comes to an end. Here’s everything we talked about...


You can’t stop being you at work

You might not care about the company Basecamp or use its software, but you might care about the dust-up there. Employees are leaving en masse after the company banned “societal and political discussions” in the workplace. Today, we’ll wade into the controversy and try to come out smarter. Plus, another round of our favorite Friday game, Half-Full/Half-Empty. Here’s everything we talked about today: Google’s Plan for the Future of Work: Privacy Robots and Balloon WallsBreaking...


Feeling hollowed out? Us too.

Molly calls it fight-or-flight wearing off. Kai calls it rubber-band syndrome. It’s that special kind of burnout where you’ve been working so hard for so long, keeping it all together, that the second you take a breath, you’re instantly knocked on your butt. We know we’re not the only ones feeling that way — CVS is offering in-store therapy now! — and it might get worse before it gets better, so today we’re gonna talk about it. Plus: Amazon’s “oil company money,” Rice Krispies Treats and...


Do we really need a Real ID?

Homeland Security extended the real ID deadline this week, and one listener asked why this kind of identification is even a thing. Molly and Kai discuss. Plus: Will companies start requiring their employees to get vaccinations? And explainers about the financial press’ interest in company earnings and what the “Overton window” has to do with reparations. What we talked about today: The latest pandemic fault line: bills to ban employers from requiring vaccinationCalifornia’s massive UC...


The pandemic all but killed privacy. It’s not too late to bring it back.

For more than a year we’ve been ensconced in our homes, but that doesn’t mean we have a lot of privacy. In fact, the COVID-19 pandemic has entrenched the yearslong erosion of our privacy, according to Harvard professor emeritus Shoshana Zuboff. Powerful tech companies were already doing big business with our data. Now they’re providing the tools essential for school, work, even getting the vaccine. But Zuboff says there’s a reason to hopeful: Living online has sharply increased public...


Should we ban cryptocurrencies?

Twitter is full of conversation starters. Most of them are bad, but today we hit on a thread that really did make us think. It’s all about the why, if not the how, of banning cryptocurrency for the sake of the environment. On today’s show, we’ll pick it apart a bit. Plus: Facebook vs. Apple and Apple vs. podcasters. Oh, and some vaccine news to start us off. Here’s everything we talked about on the show today: U.S. to Share AstraZeneca Covid-19 Vaccine Doses With WorldU.S. Population...


Everyone calm down about the capital gains tax

Look at a well-heeled publication like the Financial Times today and you’ll see that investors are in “uproar” about President Joe Biden’s proposed capital gains tax hike on the superrich. Today we kindly — eh, maybe not-so-kindly — ask everyone to pump the brakes a bit. Plus: vaccine nationalism, D.C. statehood and much more on this jam-packed happy hour episode. Here’s everything we talked about today: U.S. defends restrictions on export of COVID-19 vaccine raw materials amid India’s...


Climate change won’t just trash the Earth — it’ll hurt the economy, too

Climate change is an existential risk to so much life on on this planet, but sometimes the bottom-line risks are more compelling to the people making the decisions. We hate to be so mercenary about this, but let’s talk about it. Plus, a reminder that the pandemic isn’t over, why you don’t humanize robots and the politicking around infrastructure and the debt. Here’s everything we talked about today: Climate Change Could Cut World Economy by $23 Trillion in 2050, Insurance Giant WarnsThis...


How to turn real coins (sort of) into bitcoins

One of our listeners noticed that the Coinstar machine at her local grocery store is dealing in bitcoins now, and she’s wondering how that works. We’ll talk about the how and the why of bitcoin ATMs on this Whadda Ya Wanna Know Wednesday. Plus, more listener questions and comments about the restaurant business, cicadas and good ol’ fashioned stocks. Here’s everything we talked about today: As Diners Return, Restaurants Face a New Hurdle: Finding WorkersA labor shortage is forcing...


We are finally talking about reparations

For nearly a decade, the Black Lives Matter movement has called attention to the everyday injustices Black Americans endure, helping to build understanding around issues from systemic racism in the criminal justice system to the racial wealth gap. Now Congress is starting to act. Today on “Make Me Smart,” we spoke with William A. Darity Jr. and A. Kirsten Mullen, co-authors of the book “From Here to Equality: Reparations for Black Americans in the Twenty-First Century,” about the federal...


Guaranteed basic income is taking hold

The city of Oakland, California, announced a guaranteed income pilot program back in March, and now Mayor Eric Garcetti is proposing a similar plan in Los Angeles to combat poverty and aid the economic recovery. The idea of providing people living in poverty some level of basic income has been around for decades. If adopted, Los Angeles would be the biggest U.S. city to try out the policy. Plus, California is buying hotels to house the homeless, and NASA flew a helicopter on Mars! Here’s...


The Biden administration’s first big faux pas

The White House is walking back its plan to keep the cap on refugees at the historic low set by the Trump administration. President Joe Biden had previously indicated he wanted to raise the limit from 15,000 to several times that, and after much backlash his press secretary now says a final number will be announced next month. On today’s show, we’ll talk about that policy and the administration’s first big stumble. Plus: Kai Ryssdal’s piping hot take on the boba shortage and another round of...


The system is broken

When you do the numbers on how many people police killed in nonviolent incidents just last year — to say nothing of the video and testimony coming out of multiple American cities this week alone — you can’t come to any other conclusion. This is a broken system. Also on the docket today, with guest host Marielle Segarra: A third vaccine, dating in the pandemic, the U.S. Postal Service and the “denim cycle.” Here’s everything we talked about on the show today: hereU.S. Economy Ramps Up...