Wealth & Poverty

Ways to Connect

Episode 756: The Bees Go To California

Feb 24, 2017

Every spring convoys of trucks arrive in the almond orchards of central California. They are carrying bees. Millions of them.

They arrive from all over the country, but especially southern states like Louisiana, and they have to get there at just the right time, when the almond trees start to flower so the bees can pollinate hundreds of acres of almond fields.

Episode 654: When The Boats Arrive

Feb 22, 2017

This episode originally ran in 2015.

In 1980, Fidel Castro had a problem. The Cuban economy was in shambles. And there was open dissent in his tightly controlled country. People wanted to leave.

Castro said they didn't 'have revolutionary blood.' So he decided, you know what? If you don't like it here, you can leave. Get on any boat you can find at the port of Mariel, near Havana.

Some of this story may sound familiar. Some of it may sound downright bizarre.

In the late 2000s, Argentina was facing a slew of economic problems. The president was a charismatic populist with bold plans and the will to act. One of the things then-President Cristina Kirchner wanted to tackle: unemployment. So she set out to create manufacturing jobs in Argentina.

She made a rule in 2010 that if a company wanted to sell things in Argentina, they needed to make things in Argentina.

Grant Blankenship / GPB

How will you celebrate when you pay off your house? After 20 years in her home purchased with the help of Macon Area Habitat for Humanity, Lillie Ward burned her mortgage.

Episode 754: I'm So Happy For You!

Feb 13, 2017

Regret. Self-loathing. Jealousy. Love. Happy Valentine's Day! We have it all.

When we're not making podcasts, we're reading and watching and listening to stories on other podcasts and magazines and websites. And when we love something, we always ask, "Why didn't we do that?"

Today on the show, we bring you the little stories that we love so much we wish we had thought of them ourselves.

Our valentines go out to:

Episode 753: Blockchain Gang

Feb 10, 2017

Charlie Shrem had a prison epiphany. Instead of using packets of mackerel to buy and sell things, inmates should use something more like the digital currency Bitcoin. He even came up with a way it could work in prison, never mind that it was Bitcoin that got him arrested in the first place.

A version of this episode originally ran in 2013.

There's a lot about U.S. immigration policy that doesn't add up, that just doesn't make sense. It's much more than who gets to enter and who doesn't and from where. There's a mix of visa types, quotas, preferences and incentives adding up to a messy tangle of laws that make it all so complicated that both political parties have tons to complain about.

Grant Blankenship / GPB

Federal assistance is on the way for people affected by the storms that hit south Georgia on the weekend of January 21.

Governor Nathan Deal’s office says the Federal Emergency Management Agency will help residents of an 11 county area that includes the town of Adel, where a tornado killed seven, and Albany where the second tornado in a month’s time wrecked a large section of the city. This is the second federal disaster designation for Albany this year.

The total list of counties is Baker, Brooks, Calhoun, Clay, Cook, Crisp, Dougherty, Thomas, Turner, Wilcox and Worth. 

Episode 752: Eagles vs. Chickens

Feb 3, 2017

Will Harris took over his family's industrial farm after he graduated from college. Harris was making a profit, just as his dad had. He was also farming just as his dad had: with pesticides in the field, hormone injections for the cattle, and whatever else squeezed more money out of his land.

Updated at 1:30 p.m. ET

The U.S. added 227,000 jobs in January and the unemployment rate rose just slightly, ticking up a tenth of a percentage point to 4.8 percent, according to the monthly report released Friday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The robust jobs number beat most predictions from economists, who had pegged the payroll increase at 175,000, according to NPR's Yuki Noguchi.

America's corporate tax is a mess. Republicans have a plan to fix it. But it will be a tough sell.

The new plan would lower the corporate tax rate, currently one of the highest in the world. And it would change how the tax works on a fundamental level. It's called a border adjustment tax, and it would be a huge tax break to American exporters.

Of course every tax change has winners and losers. The losers under the new tax plan would be any business that imports products. Businesses like Walmart and Target would likely pay more in taxes.

There Aren't Enough Women in Tech. Here's Why.

Jan 30, 2017

There's a problem in Silicon Valley. The problem is diversity. Companies know this. They're trying to work on it.

A couple of our reporters started looking into why gender diversity in the tech industry is so dismal, and their quest took them back to the year 1984.

Episode 750: Retraining Day

Jan 27, 2017

Trade has winners and losers. The winners are American consumers. We all get cheaper goods from abroad. American companies benefit too; they sell more products overseas, even hire extra workers. But there are also people who lose, and those people tend to lose big and lose in big groups. In parts of the country, factories have been closing and jobs have been moving overseas for decades.

Episode 632: The Chicken Tax

Jan 25, 2017

This episode originally ran in 2015.

German families in the 1960s loved tasty, cheap American-raised chicken that was suddenly coming in after the war. At the same time, Americans loved fun, cheap Volkswagen Beetles. This arrangement was too good to last.

Photo courtesy of Blue Seas Catering

There is a renewed effort to revitalize communities in West Atlanta--such as ‘The Bluff,’ or Vine City. In the shadow of the new home of the Falcons, Mercedes-Benz Stadium, the Blue Seas Restaurant provides healthy, affordable food, as well as jobs to folks in the neighborhood. But it’s more than a restaurant. It also unites Christians, Muslims, and community members in one place.

On a frigid winter night, a man wearing two coats shuffles into a brightly lit brick restaurant in downtown Madrid. Staff greet him warmly; he's been here many times. The maître d' stamps his ID card, and the hungry man selects a table with a red tablecloth, under a big brass chandelier.

The man, Luis Gallardo, is homeless — and so are all the diners, every night, at the city's Robin Hood restaurant. Its mission is to charge the rich and feed the poor. Paying customers at breakfast and lunch foot the bill for the restaurant to serve dinner to homeless people, free of charge.

Episode 749: Professor Blackjack

Jan 20, 2017

Ed Thorp was the first 'quant', the first person to make mathematical analysis and statistics the center of his investing. But he only got there because of a card game.

As a young man, Ed Thorp was a mathematician doing pretty much what you'd expect a mathematician to do: teaching, studying, trying to solve hard problems. There was one particular problem that nobody else had been able to solve. He wanted to come up with a mathematical system to beat the casino at blackjack.

Sam Whitehead / GPB

All over Georgia, property is passed down from generation to generation without proper legal paperwork. 

 

It’s known as heirs property, and it creates a host of problems: from the inability to access home equity to the risk of losing your house.

 

And in the small city of Porterdale, about 40 miles east of Atlanta, it’s put one community on the verge of disappearing completely.

Episode 748: Undoing Obama

Jan 18, 2017

There is this race going on right now in Washington D.C. The finish line is Friday at noon--inauguration day. The desperate runners are all the people who work for Barack Obama. They're rushing to do everything they can to cement the legacy of this president before the next one takes office.

The way they are doing this: Rules. Congress may pass the laws, but the president and the agency heads he appoints write the rules. And it is the rules that dictate how laws play out in our daily lives--how strong a regulation will be, and even who gets funding.

Episode 747: The Man Who Sued Iran

Jan 13, 2017

Steve Flatow's daughter, twenty-year-old Alisa Flatow, was studying abroad in Israel. One day she was on a bus in the Gaza Strip, and a suicide bomber blew the bus up. Alisa died in the attack.

The bomber was part of a group called Palestinian Islamic Jihad, which the U.S. State Department believed was funded by Iran. Flatow decided to sue Iran for monetary damages. But under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, U.S. citizens couldn't sue countries.

Episode 577: The Kansas Experiment

Jan 11, 2017

Note: Today's show originally ran in October 2014.

Sam Brownback cut taxes dramatically in Kansas. As a Republican governor of a Republican state, he was going to enact the dream. Taxes on small businesses went down to zero. Personal income taxes went down. The tax rate on the highest income bracket went down about 25 percent. Brownback promised prosperous times for the state once government got out of the way.

The final chapter of the Obama economy drew that much closer to its end on Friday, with the final jobs report of the 44th president's time in office. That report showed the 75th straight month of job growth, with employers adding 156,000 jobs.

Solid, but nothing flashy.

Episode 746: Wall Street Goes To Vegas

Jan 6, 2017

Nevada pretty much has a monopoly on sports betting in the United States, but it is illegal for a casino in Nevada to take bets from out of state. The thing is, there are plenty of gamblers all across the country who want to lay down money on a game.

The U.S. added 156,000 jobs last month and hourly wages rose by 10 cents, according to the monthly jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The unemployment rate was little changed; it ticked up slightly to 4.7 percent, compared to November's 4.6 percent.

Economists had been watching closely to see if the jobs report reflected a rise in wages.

Episode 443: Don't Believe The Hype

Jan 4, 2017

Note: Today's show originally ran in March 2013.

You may have heard about a big milestone coming up for the Dow Jones Industrial Average. It's been all over the news: The Dow is creeping up towards twenty thousand. It's been hovering just below that mark for weeks now. And people are kind of freaking out.

But here's the thing about the Dow: It doesn't matter.

Every year at Planet Money, we take a cue from radio legend Paul Harvey and bring you "The Rest of the Story." It's a show where we check in on some of the episodes that we've done in the past year, and tell you what's changed.

It turns out that 2016 is a hard year to wrap up. A lot of the big economic stories that we covered this year still don't have endings. Puerto Rico is still crushed under massive debt. Venezuela is still collapsing. The United Kingdom hasn't yet pulled the trigger on Brexit. And, of course, Donald Trump won't take office for another few weeks.

Grant Blankenship / GPB

It's a landmark that will soon be moved to a new patch of land. 

The home Little Richard called home as a kid in Macon's Pleasant Hill neighborhood is one of eight slated to be moved out of the way of a massive Georgia Department of Transportation expansion of the Interstate 75/Interstate 16 interchange. About 40 other homes will be demolished. 

Episode 744: The Last Bank Bailout

Dec 27, 2016

Neel Kashkari oversaw the government's bailout of the banks in 2008.

And, he says, the bailout had lasting consequences that go far beyond finance.

"As a society we have a core belief, that's been passed down from generation to generation, in free markets," Kashkari said. "We violated that fundamentally when we bailed out the banks."

Now Kashkari is the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. And he's come up with a plan he says will make future bank bailouts much less likely.

Episode 587: Jubilee! (?)

Dec 23, 2016

There's an idea that dates back at least to biblical times. That there should be a moment when debts are forgiven. Its called a jubilee.

The jubilee has not gotten a lot of traction in the modern world. You may remember after the financial crisis, some of the Occupy Wall Street protesters were calling for a jubilee. But it basically ended there.

Today on the show, we go to a country that tried it to see if it really works out as planned.

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