TEXT OF INTERVIEW
Kai Ryssdal: Marketplace’s Tess Vigeland has been driving cross-country for the past week or so. She and I and our colleague Amy Scott will meet up in St. Louis for a special broadcast this Friday. Tess, we had you on yesterday from Denver. Where’d we track you down today?
Tess Vigeland: Well, Kai, after an eight-hour drive from Denver I arrived just in time for dinner in Lincoln, Nebraska, at the home of Dave and Melodee Landis. They have a weekly family dinner with their son Matt and their daughter Melissa and their spouses. So, I asked them to introduce themselves and tell me a little bit about what they do, and the granddaughter piped up with a little bit about herself.
Naomi: This is Naomi, I’m 6 years old.
Vigeland: And what do you do for a living?
Naomi: Uh, make friends.
Vigeland: And I try to do that for a living, too, Kai.
Ryssdal: Yeah, nothing like kids at a family dinner. What did they have to say, these folks, about the economy and what’s going on?
Vigeland: Well, it’s more like what they didn’t say. This was one spirited dinner conversation. And I have to say, Kai, that people out here on the road are still taking about the Wall Street rescue package and what it will or won’t do to solve the crisis. Patriarch Dave Landis is in the camp that believes it was a necessary evil. Especially to save small business owners from having to lay off employees because they can’t get financing because of the credit crunch.
Dave Landis: The bailout, if it was just for people who gave bad mortgages or took out bad mortgages, I wouldn’t have much sympathy for and I wouldn’t mind if that went south. But that amount of money taken out of the economy stops legitimate businesses and people that have done nothing wrong from being able to do their lives.
Vigeland: And it was interesting, by the way, to hear the different reactions from Dave and Melodee, who are 60, and their grown kids, who are in their 30s. The stock market is, of course, much more of an immediate worry for the parents so they are more inclined to say, hey, you know, do whatever you need to do to stop the bleeding. Matt and Melissa were looking pretty much more long-term at what all this might mean, you know, 30, 40 years down the road.
Ryssdal: What are they saying, though, Tess about the fact that it’s going to be a while before we even know if the package works?
Vigeland: You know they’re not really paying attention to the nitty-gritty details of the package. But I will say there was concern about whether this package will help change the system. And that’s really what Melissa McKibbin worried about.
Melissa McKibbin: I think that’s my deepest hope. If this is an indication of change that suddenly business is more regulated, if this means more fiscal conservative behavior both on the part of the consumer and on the part of business, and on the part of the government, I think that would be — OK, $700 billion is always going to be a lot of money — but $700 billion that was well spent.
Ryssdal: Tess, I’m guessing we’re pushing up against checkout time at the hotel there. Where are you off to next, and what are you going to do?
Vigeland: Well, tonight I’m off to a small town near Independence, Missouri. And tomorrow morning I’ll be checking in with a high school economics class, to see what lessons they’re learning from this fiscal mess. So, 1,750 miles down, just 450 to go.
Ryssdal: Just 450 to go. Tess Vigeland out there looking for the “Road to Ruin?” Thank you, Tess.
Vigeland: Thanks Kai.