Wealth & Poverty

Ways to Connect

Episode 785: The Starbury

Jul 21, 2017

When Stephon Marbury was eight years old, the Nike Air Jordan sneakers came out. Kids everywhere wanted to fly like Michael Jordan on the basketball court, and they wanted to wear the sneakers with his name on them too. But they were pricey. Stephon couldn't afford them. Lots of kids couldn't. For years, he wondered if there was a different way.

Note: This episode originally ran in 2014. Another version was also part of This American Life's Episode 543: Wake Up Now.

Keizers

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed promised a comprehensive new plan to address homelessness in his State of the City address in February. The mayor promised a new $50 million program, co-funded by the city and United Way. Yesterday, Atlanta’s city council approved its share of the funding as Reed’s office released details on the expansive plan.

In 1996, Bill Browder went to Russia to try to make a fortune. He made his money, but he also found himself in a fight with Russian oligarchs over money and power. And he lost. It cost him not just his companies, but the life of friend.

Episode 783: New Jersey Bails Out

Jul 12, 2017

Mustafa Willis was arrested for a crime he didn't commit. He was offered bail, but, because he couldn't afford to pay, he stayed locked up for months, punished for a crime he had only been accused of.

Bail has been around for centuries. It's supposed to protect the rights of defendants like Mustafa who haven't been convicted of anything yet. At the same time, bail gives courts an extra guarantee that people are going to show up for their trials. But can a system built on money ever be fair to the poor?

On today's show, we are going to explain every dollar the federal government spent last year — nearly $4 trillion — in 10 minutes.

And to get a real feel for how the money is divided up, we're going to divide up our 10 minutes exactly the way the government divided up the money last year. The more money a program gets from the government, the more time it gets from us.

We dig into social security's origin story, find a nice thing lobbyists do, and write a haiku about infrastructure. Experience the budget in real time.

Money & Relationships

Jul 7, 2017

This month, hosts Matt Goren and Michael Thomas get into the often uncomfortable topic of managing money issues with your significant other.

An estimated 222,000 jobs were added to the U.S. economy in June, according to the monthly employment report released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics Friday.

"The job gains were better than expected — most economists had predicted a gain of 180,000 jobs," NPR's Chris Arnold reports for our Newscast unit.

The unemployment rate rose slightly to 4.4 percent from 4.3 percent — a 16-year low that was hit in May.

Note: This episode originally ran in 2014.

We tend to get obsessed with things that get more expensive over time — college tuition, say, or health care. But lots of things have actually gotten cheaper in real terms. Things made by machines. Things like consumer electronics.

When your life savings gets torched in a house fire or put through a shredder, there is a roomful of people who may be able to help: a team of specialists with the legal authority and technical skills to say whether messed up money lives or dies. They are the people of the Mutilated Currency Division.

On this episode, we go inside the Mutilated Currency Division. We find stories of a cow with an appetite for currency, a hundred thousand dollars stuffed into a mailbox, and a court battle between the government and millions of dollars in mutilated money

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