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Make Me Smart with Kai and Molly

American Public Media

Each weekday, Marketplace’s Kai Ryssdal and Molly Wood make today make sense. Along with our supersmart listeners, we break down happenings in tech, the economy and culture. Every Tuesday we bring on a guest to dive deeper into one important topic. Because none of us is as smart as all of us.

Each weekday, Marketplace’s Kai Ryssdal and Molly Wood make today make sense. Along with our supersmart listeners, we break down happenings in tech, the economy and culture. Every Tuesday we bring on a guest to dive deeper into one important topic. Because none of us is as smart as all of us.


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Each weekday, Marketplace’s Kai Ryssdal and Molly Wood make today make sense. Along with our supersmart listeners, we break down happenings in tech, the economy and culture. Every Tuesday we bring on a guest to dive deeper into one important topic. Because none of us is as smart as all of us.




Critical race theory has been around for decades — why’s it a powder keg now?

If you’ve been tuned in to the culture war at all in the last six to 12 months, you’ve probably heard a lot about “critical race theory.” You’ve probably heard less about what it actually is. On today’s show, we’ll go deep with an actual critical race theorist on the nuances of what CRT is and isn’t, and what the recent controversy about CRT in schools has to do with the voting restrictions we talked about last week. For links to all the articles we talked about on today’s show, check out...


We’re still learning about the COVID-19 pandemic

It might feel like the COVID-19 pandemic is wrapping up in some parts of the United States, but there’s still new variants along with fresh revelations about the government’s response to the crisis. We’ll talk a bit about both on today’s show, plus the Supreme Court ruling on the NCAA and the West Coast perspective on New York’s mayoral race. For links to everything we talked about on the show today, check out!


Why Jeff Bezos needs to come back from space

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is headed to space on a suborbital flight run by his company Blue Origin. As of this taping, more than 16,000 people have signed a petition telling him to stay there. (There’s also a petition for him to buy and eat the “Mona Lisa,” but we’ll leave that alone). On today’s show, Kimberly Adams rounds out her guest-hosting stint with a surprisingly thoughtful answer for why Bezos needs to come back down to Earth. But first, we have to talk about the drought...


The Fed is changing how it thinks about this economy

We’re going to get a little wonkier than usual today, because there’s a complex but important change happening in the way the Federal Reserve seems to think about the labor market and this economy more broadly. Plus: An update on that couple who waved guns at Black Lives Matter protesters and the nuances of America’s newest federal holiday. Here’s everything we talked about today: St. Louis gun-waving couple plead guilty to misdemeanor chargesBeyond The Phillips Curve: A Dynamic...


When does a political donation become a bribe?

Kimberly Adams is still filling in for us from Washington, D.C., just in time for a big but surprisingly nuanced question about campaign finance reform. One listener wants to know about political action committees, dark money and the philosophical framework ostensibly making sure those contributions are on the right side of the law. Plus, more of your questions about career changes, gas prices and “The Expanse.” Here’s everything we talked about today (if you can’t open these links on...


Voting has always been hard for some Americans, and it’s getting harder

For as long as we’ve had a democracy in this country, we’ve fought about who gets to vote and how. But this longstanding fight has taken on a new intensity since the 2020 election: At least 14 states have passed more than 20 laws so far this year restricting voting, and money is pouring in both to fight and enact them. On today’s show, the Brennan Center’s Daniel Weiner gives us the lay of the land and tells us why there’s reason to be hopeful about the state of voting in this...


The pandemic’s knock-on effects

American corporations were already borrowing a lot before the COVID-19 pandemic. Then, with the economy all but ground to a halt and money even cheaper, they took on even more debt. On today’s show, we’ll talk about what that means, along with another unexpected dimension of this economy reopening: National Parks packed to the … hills. Here’s everything we talked about today (if these links aren’t showing up for you: Pandemic Hangover: $11 Trillion in Corporate DebtVaccines Offer...


And just like that, we have a Big Tech antitrust bill

Five of them, actually! We have to eat a little crow here. We’ve been saying for days, months, years that Congress can’t agree on anything much less regulate tech giants like Google, Apple and Facebook. But today lawmakers introduced five bills aimed at reining in Big Tech, and they’re bipartisan. We’ll talk about them, and the likelihood of anything passing, over drinks for today’s Economics on Tap. Plus: Pulitzers, lithium mines and another round of our favorite game, Half Full/Half...


Remember MoviePass? The FTC does

The deal was too good to be true, because it was: A few years ago, MoviePass started offering users unlimited movie tickets for $10 per month. It was an unworkable, growth-focused business model even more extreme than most startups subsidizing post-recession online life, and MoviePass knew it. A Federal Trade Commission investigation found all sorts of shady tactics the company used to keep its most movie-addicted viewers from getting tickets. We’ll talk about it, plus electric trucks, game...


Should you be worried about ransomware?

We spent a lot of time on yesterday’s show talking about ransomware attacks against companies, institutions and critical infrastructure. They’re on the rise, but one listener wants to know: what about individuals? Should we be worried about an attack? On today’s show, we’ll tell you not to reuse your password and other helpful answers. Plus, more listener questions about tariffs, vaccine lotteries and day drinking. Here’s everything we talked about today: Yesterday’s show on ransomware...


Ransomware attacks are “death by a 1,000 cuts”

There was a successful ransomware attack every eight minutes last year, according to one cybersecurity firm. This year’s high-profile attacks — the ones we know about, that is — have disrupted critical infrastructure and had knock-on effects on consumers. On today’s show, we’ll talk with Robert Latiff, author of “Future War,” about the worst-case scenario, why the U.S. is particularly vulnerable and what the federal government needs to do before it’s too late. Here’s everything we talked...


Jeff Bezos is going to space

After putting up the money for his own space company, Blue Origin, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos announced today he’ll be on board its first manned mission. His brother will too. We’ll talk about it, plus more headlines from the future: cryptocurrency ransom, new treatments for Alzheimer’s and a prophetic Prince album. Here’s everything we talked about today: Supreme Court Won’t Hear Case on Limiting Military Draft to MenU.S. Retrieves Millions in Ransom Paid to Colonial Pipeline...


Facebook made its bed and wants Congress to lie in it

You probably saw the big news from Facebook’s Oversight Board today, upholding former President Donald Trump’s suspension from the platform for two more years at least. But Mark Zuckerberg has more than Trump to deal with today, including antitrust probes from overseas. The company is still begging Congress for regulation which, we gotta say, is pretty rich. Plus, life at AMC after its meme stonk run and another round of our favorite game Half Full/Half Empty. Here’s everything we talked...


Wait, the NFL was doing *what*?

It’s the first week of summer — culturally, if not meteorologically. Changing of the seasons is a great time to start anew on some things, like redistributing vaccines for example; and to stop doing other things, like Facebook’s policy carve outs for politicians or the NFL’s shocking “race-norming” practice. We’ll talk about all of it, plus a whale vomit jackpot. Here’s everything we talked about today: Biden admin reveals plans for first 25 million donated vaccine dosesNFL to halt...


How Amazon Sidewalk works (and how to opt out)

A few years ago, it might have been an intriguing idea: All the smart speakers, cameras and so on in your home networking with nearby smart home devices in your neighborhood, forming a mesh network so they all work better. But this is 2021 and Amazon is turning on the feature by default. You’d be right to have some questions. Ahead of Amazon Sidewalk’s launch this month, we’ll tell you about the privacy implications and how to opt out. Plus, more listener questions about destroyed currency...


Corporate tax doesn’t have to be a “race to the bottom”

You might remember our episode on the tax gap, the billions unpaid by some of the richest Americans. Better enforcement of the existing tax law could yield big returns, but that’s just for individuals. Corporations pay taxes too — that is, when they aren’t parking their money in overseas tax havens. To stave off a “race to the bottom” and fund its infrastructure plan, the Biden administration is pushing for a global corporate tax minimum of around 15%. On today’s show, Urban-Brookings Tax...


Microsoft says Russian group is responsible for latest cyberattack

Always double-check before you click. Over 150 organizations worldwide were targeted in the attack, according to a blog post from Microsoft this week. The company believes the Russian group behind the attack, Nobelium, was also responsible for last year’s massive SolarWinds hack. Microsoft said that at least a quarter of the organizations targeted are involved in international humanitarian and human rights work. This comes three weeks before a scheduled meeting between President Joe Biden...


States offer the unvaccinated a shot at glory

Earlier today, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced California would be joining the slew of states that are offering incentives to encourage vaccinations, which have been steadily declining. Folks who have already gotten their shots are also eligible for the prizes, which range from a $50 grocery card to a grand prize of $1.5 million. Plus, a big boost in crypto, big moves in the Indy 500, and AMC to the mooooon! Here’s everything we talked about on today’s show: California launches incentive...


All we want for Christmas is supply chain relief

Winter is coming — eventually. Hopefully there’ll be plenty of cheer, but what about discount electronics? We answer one listener’s question about how the chip shortage will affect the holiday shopping season. Plus, Florida takes on tech, and the return of the dual voice memo! Here’s everything we talked about on the show today: “Chip shortage hitting just about anything with a plug or battery”How the global chip shortage could ruin Black FridayFlorida Fines Social Media Companies for...


A look at the history — and future — of police funding

How do we reduce crime, especially amid calls to defund the police? While many point to rising crime rates as an indicator that more funding is needed, studies show almost no link between crime and money spent. So what’s the answer? “We know what’s required,” said Elizabeth Hinton, a professor of history and African American studies at Yale University and author of the new book “America on Fire: The Untold History of Police Violence and Black Rebellion Since the 1960s.” On today’s show,...