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Make Me Smart with Kai and Molly

Episode 123: Why even have a debt ceiling?

Jul 23, 2019

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Deal or no deal

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Marketplace Morning Report
Fallout: The Financial Crisis

Letters: Housing crisis, banks, gadgets

Marketplace Staff Feb 24, 2009
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Kai Ryssdal: Stories about the housing crisis always seem to get big debates going on our Web site. And our interview with New York Times ethicist Randy Cohen was no different. Talking about President Obama’s plan for the real estate market, Cohen said mortgage holders deserve a helping hand from the government and that irresponsible bankers ought to get the blame for the moral lapse here. John Mullins from Riverdale, Md.,wrote to say no way!

JOHN MULLINS: If someone made a bad decision because they lacked financial sophistication, or if they fell genuinely on hard times, forgiveness is all well and good. On the other hand, if they simply decided that inadequate income should not be an impediment to owning a house with a two-story foyer and a spa bathroom, then they are just as morally wrong as the banker is.

Yesterday commentator Ben Barber took a stab at a different kind of bailout idea. He suggested the government ought to give banks vouchers as a way to guarantee lending. Like a lot of you, Curt Frederikson from Renton, Wash., thinks that’s a great idea.

BEN BARBER: Usually I’m wordy and analytical but in this case… Cool. What’s not to love? When can it start?

Talk of banks often leads to talk of money. Lots and lots of money. Trillions of dollars. Commentator K.C. Cole took on the task of quantifying that humongous number, and that sparked more computations from listener Henry Koch of Columbia, S.C.

HENRY KOCH: To wait for one trillion seconds to pass, you’ll need to get very comfortable. It’s going to take 31,709 years, 289 days, one hour, 46 minutes, 47 seconds. That’s a bit more than 317 centuries.

From centuries to seconds now, we spoke to our gadget expert Kevin Pereira last week. He brought in a camera that can snap a photo and upload it to the web in just a few seconds flat. A very private Gary Book from Port Washington, N.Y., was amazed — and a little scared.

GARY BOOK : Within seconds, any event now can be placed on the web for all to see; so much for privacy. JD Salinger and Thomas Pynchon would have been ruined, as would Saint Paul the Hermit.

Finally a note on our story a couple of weeks ago about the lack of cash in the Palestinian territories, and how that’s holding up reconstruction after recent Israeli air strikes. I set up the piece by saying lives were lost on both sides. That is what you call a false equivalence. Some context would have helped there. International health groups say about 1,300 Gazans and 13 Israelis died over the course of the current fighting.

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