“Make Me Smart,” NYC-style
Dec 6, 2021
Episode 572

“Make Me Smart,” NYC-style

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From vaccine mandates to cream cheese shortages.

On the show today, Marielle Segarra joins the pod from New York to discuss a few NYC-centric stories. First, the mayor there, Bill de Blasio, announced a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for all private-sector employees following the emergence of the omicron coronavirus variant. Then, bagel lovers are going bananas over a cream cheese shortage. Plus, Plowy McPlowface? Jennifer Snowpez? Kids got creative naming snowplows, and it’s making us smile. 

Here’s everything we talked about today:

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Make Me Smart December 6, 2021 transcript

Note: Marketplace podcasts are meant to be heard, with emphasis, tone and audio elements a transcript can’t capture. Transcripts are generated using a combination of automated software and human transcribers, and may contain errors. Please check the corresponding audio before quoting it.

Kai Ryssdal: Alright, well, I guess we’ll see what, we’ll see what happens when the music starts.

Marielle Segarra: Oh, boy. Wow.

Kai Ryssdal: I don’t even know who’s in charge today. But that was pretty damn funny.

Marielle Segarra: It’s only 29 minutes past the hour! What happened?

Kai Ryssdal: I know, right? Hey, everybody, I’m Kai Ryssdal, welcome back to Make Me Smart, even if it is a minute early. Making today make sense is what we do.

Marielle Segarra: I am Marielle Segarra. Thanks for joining us. It’s Monday, also known as what did we miss Monday, where we talk about one big news fix of the day along with other stories that you or we might have missed over the weekend.

Kai Ryssdal: So just because–and I don’t know how much of that preshow chatter you’re going to hear when Bridget finally makes the edit to the, to the rough of this pod–we were talking, Marielle and I were, about what is actually the big news item of the day. And she said, I don’t know, maybe these, and I said, I don’t know, those sound good. And I’m just gonna read you what’s in the rundown. It says–and here’s the deal–I wrote, I don’t know, kind of a map, big news day. And then Marielle said, well, maybe this, in which she talked about the New York City mandates for private businesses, which is indeed a big deal. And then she said maybe this, another story. So we’re gonna go, we’re gonna go with the New York City mandates because one of us is in New York City and it’s a big deal. So go ahead.

Marielle Segarra: Yes. Yeah, actually, I feel like there’s gonna be a little bit of a New York City theme here to this show. But, um, so they’re, New York City, the Mayor, Bill DeBlasio, who’s still the Mayor, I think for another month?

Kai Ryssdal: Yes.

Marielle Segarra: Yes. And then Eric Adams takes office, but the Mayor just put into effect a mandate that all private employers, or probably private employers of a certain size, I don’t know what the exact limits are, have to require their employees to be vaccinated. And a lot of the really big companies that operate here already have a requirement like that, like the big multinational corporations that have offices here, but some, like I think it’s JPMorgan Chase, also allows its employees to get tested twice a week instead. So now it’ll have to require vaccines for people who come in and I wonder if that’ll be like, okay, if you don’t want to get vaccinated, you’re just working from home forever, or are they actually gonna fire people?

Kai Ryssdal: Yeah. Yeah, totally. I don’t know. I don’t know, it’s a really good question. And then the whole working from home forever thing just has all kinds of ramifications. I did an interview today on the show about the mommy track and hybrid work and how it’s bad for women because women are the ones who almost always want to do the hybrid thing, even though the men go, it’s just, it’s all kinds of just, hybrid is not great and, and who knows what the future of work is in this economy, and that was a little sideways, but that’s all sort of related to get a shot. Get a shot, get a vaccine, get your booster, get a shot.

Marielle Segarra: Yeah, it’s time. Just got my booster actually.

Kai Ryssdal: Did you? How’d you do, how’d you do the day after?

Marielle Segarra: It was fine. The second time, the second shot, I was out for 36 hours, like high fever, chills, etc. So I was scared this time, but it was just a sore arm.

Kai Ryssdal: Hmm. Interesting.

Marielle Segarra: Yeah.

Kai Ryssdal: I lost, I lost a day of my life. It was, it was great.

Marielle Segarra: The third, with the booster?

Kai Ryssdal: With the booster and with the second shot. Yeah, first shot, nothing. Second and third shots, ouch. So, you know.

Marielle Segarra: Yeah. I like, appealed to my mom’s guilt and told her like, I’m really worried I’m gonna get sick. Like, will you come into Brooklyn and hang out with me and like, just in case and but, but we ended up having a really nice day because I didn’t get sick at all. And instead of like, her buying me wonton soup and stuff like, and doing my laundry, we just, you know, hung out. I have a good mom.

Kai Ryssdal: You do have a good mom. Maybe I should call her next time I need some help. Alright, anyway. Yeah. So we will go into some other news that we might have missed over the weekend. And then we’ll do some listener supplied make me smiles. I was caught up by two things this morning, not necessarily over the weekend. But they came out this morning. The first of which was in a newsletter from Kelly Evans at CNBC, which was just totally fascinating. She quoted a guy who we have on Marketplace every now and then, his name is Eswar Prasad. He does International Economics at Cornell and he did a book not too long ago about digital currencies, and he says–Prasad does–and we talked a little bit about defi on the pod, me and Molly have, and about ethereum and crypto and all that stuff. He says bitcoin is just going to fade because it’s not nimble enough, it’s too clunky, it’s too volatile, and you can’t do enough with it. Whereas, you know, if you listened to us last Tuesday, ether and ethereum are much more nimble. So I thought it’s interesting that this guy who has written a book on digital currencies is talking about Bitcoin maybe going away, so that’s item number one. Item number two is that over the weekend, oh by the way, Bitcoin, which was at like $65,000 per Bitcoin not more than 10 days, two weeks ago, was at like, well, maybe a month ago, was at $46,000, so it was down, you know, 20 grand in the space of like, three days. So once again, if you’re a Bitcoin enthusiast, let me just ask you, would you take your paycheck in Bitcoin? That’s what I want to know. That’s what I want to know. So those, that was a pair of my items. I don’t know, would you take your paycheck in Bitcoin? I would not.

Marielle Segarra: I would not. As we, I think we talked about this last time, that the New York City Mayor is doing that, at least his first paycheck.

Kai Ryssdal: Yes. Yes.

Marielle Segarra: Which is kind of wild.

Kai Ryssdal: Yeah.

Marielle Segarra: But something you, you were talking about there with the first story, it reminds me of like, often, I feel like the first adopter of a technology or the first, the first company out there doing it ends up fading away, like I’m thinking about–and I don’t know if it was exactly the first one–thinking of like, Ask Jeeves, right. Like, wasn’t that around before Google? It popularized the, the technology or the–yeah. And then, and then it gets bested. I feel like that’s a common story.

Kai Ryssdal: Totally. I mean, think about Yahoo. Whatever happened to Yahoo, right? Yahoo was early, early, early. Right, like ‘90, ‘91, ‘92. And where are they now? They’re, God, what’s the name of them? Oh, right. Isn’t that the name of the company that became, right?

Marielle Segarra: I forgot about that entirely.

Kai Ryssdal: There you go. A couple more quickies from me. A really interesting story in The New York Times about New York City unearthing, that is, bringing back to the surface, a brook, a little stream that it buried a century ago. And why is it doing it? Because Tibbetts Brook in the Bronx is contributing on the order of like, billions and billions of gallons of water, is contributing to the overload of the New York City sewer system when there are heavy rains, most recently at the remnants of Hurricane Ida. And it’s cray cray that all these decisions made 100 years ago are now coming back to bite New York City in the tuchus. And they’re trying to take care of it and do it better. So I thought that was really interesting, just as a civil engineering project, as a climate change project, and as just an urban thing story. And the last thing, and then I’ll shut up, I’m not a huge Formula One racing fan. But the Saudi Grand Prix yesterday in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia was nuts, not least of which is because it wound up with the number one and number two guys tied going into the last race. And you can think Formula One is crazy and it’s a plaything for the rich and it’s a stupid use of environmental resources and all that stuff. But it was a good race. And it was interesting to watch. And now it’s set up a really good final race of the season. And that’s it. That’s it. That’s what I got.

Marielle Segarra: Yeah, it must have been exciting to watch.

Kai Ryssdal: It was, actually.

Marielle Segarra: I feel like I’m not a big sports fan, but I do a lot of tuning in to the final few minutes of like, championship games or races like, for that exciting moment. I don’t think it’s quite as good as if you’ve had the buildup and you know the sport and you’ve like, been waiting for them to win for however long, but it’s still pretty fun, even to watch those few minutes.

Kai Ryssdal: Yeah, totally agree. Totally agree. Cool. What do you got?

Marielle Segarra: So there’s a story I read in The 19th this weekend, which is a nonprofit newsroom that reports on gender and policy, about federal assistance for people with disabilities. And it’s interesting, like they, they talk about how often people with disabilities have access to Medicaid, Medicaid will pay for them to have a personal care assistant come to their house and help them with daily activities, but that doesn’t cover any tasks having to do with parenting, like the, the personal care assistants are prohibited from doing anything like that. So if they’re throwing in your clothes into the washing machine, they can’t throw in your kids’ clothes, too. If they make you a sandwich, they can’t make your kid a sandwich. But it stands to reason, right, if someone needs help with these particular activities, they would also need help with doing those things for their child. And so this is a pretty big problem for some people. And there’s even an anecdote in there about like, someone who with the parent who gets one sandwich made, the personal care assistant leaves, and then the parent gives a sandwich to their kid, you know, they’re skipping lunch just so that their kid has something. And it is not something that there’s any movement on, on the federal level to change, but some states are trying to change it and there is a, was a pilot program that they talked about in Minnesota that is trying to address this. It just made me think of the many cracks in our system and, you know, and it, particularly the way that that affects families, like I’m doing, I’m working on something for This Is Uncomfortable, Reema’s show, about paid family leave and the fact that, you know, on the federal level, there is no requirement that companies offer paid family leave if you, for instance, have a child, so it’s unpaid. And that’s just not enough for a lot of people, like they can’t afford it. There are just so many flaws in the way that we support families and people in this country.

Kai Ryssdal: It’s funny, we call it a social safety net, but it’s not.

Marielle Segarra: It’s not really a net. There are many, many holes in it. And so the other story I brought is a little, a little lighter, but still serious. There have been, there is a shortage of cream cheese that is ravaging New York City. So yeah, I mean, cream cheese. There are shortages of everything right now for lots of different reasons. The cream cheese problem has to do with a labor shortage, the fact that there aren’t enough truck drivers and not enough packaging for the cream cheese. And so this is affecting, as you might imagine in New York, bagel shops everywhere, because, I mean, I’m going to be honest, I’m a butter gal myself, but there are–

Kai Ryssdal: No, no, no, no, no, no. What is that butter on a bagel? No!

Marielle Segarra: I can’t, cream cheese grosses me out.

Kai Ryssdal: Are you even from New York?

Marielle Segarra: Yes, I’m from here.

Kai Ryssdal: Not really! Clearly, you’re not. You probably eat pizza with a knife and a fork, don’t you?

Marielle Segarra: No, I fold it. I fold it and walk with it. But yes, sesame bagel with butter. But there are a lot of people who, who rely on, I mean, you’ve probably seen in the bagel places in New York, they have like, every kind of cream cheese you could imagine. Like, like salmon cream cheese and chocolate chip cream cheese and, I don’t know, there’s even pumpkin cream cheese. I know you hate that. But they have everything. And now they’re like, actually having to tell people they don’t have it in stock or they’re running out. And that’s also a problem not just for bagel places, but they use cream cheese to make cheesecake, right? So bakeries. The holidays are coming up, that is potentially going to be a big issue.

Kai Ryssdal: It’s gonna be a huge issue.

Marielle Segarra: Yeah, it’s just like the supply chain stuff. What’d you say?

Kai Ryssdal: I can’t believe you do butter on your bagels. I don’t even know what that’s about.

Marielle Segarra: You know what else I do on a bagel since I was a kid? Sesame bagel with tuna salad.

Kai Ryssdal: I’m okay with that. I’m okay with that. I’m okay with that.

Marielle Segarra: Yeah, it’s pretty good.

Kai Ryssdal: Tuna salad on a sesame bagel. I’m good with that. Yeah, I don’t know about you, but this is a food thing. Alright, let us, let us move to the make me smiles and then a super quick note on the way out and then we’ll get out of here. All y’all know the Mondays are listener generated make me smile ideas just because sometimes you guys have better ones than we do. Today’s comes from Leah in Massachusetts, sent us a local news story from the Boston Globe, in which it turns out that if you let school kids pick the names of your snowplows as the Vermont transportation agency did, they kill it. Here you go. Some, some kid generated snowplow names from the state of Vermont. Baby Snowda, snow day Crusher, William Scrapespear, I blew it, William Scrapespear, Plowey McPlow Face. For those of you who get the reference, we will have them all on our show page. There’s a whole bunch of them. No snow, by the way, in the Vermont forecast this week. Maybe next, I don’t know. We’ll see.

Marielle Segarra: You forgot the best one.

Kai Ryssdal: Which one? What?

Marielle Segarra: Jennifer Snowpez. That’s pretty good. I like it. I don’t get Plowey McPlow Face, but I’ll have to look that one up.

Kai Ryssdal: Oh, yeah. It’s about that boat from like, four or five years ago? Yeah, totally. Boaty McBoatface. Do you ever hear that?

Marielle Segarra: Maybe. I don’t know what it means though.

Kai Ryssdal: Boaty McBoatface. Plow, it’s just, it’s just stupid. You know, if you ask Twitter to name something, they will come up with the most inane name and it was Boaty McBoatface for like, some icebreaker or something. Anyway, that’ll be on the show page too. Alright, super quick before we go, we are doing a new investors week. Those of you who have given already, thank you, those of you who haven’t, the investors challenge fund, which we have talked about before on this pod, is doing a $1 for $1 match for all new and rejoining investors. We had a bunch of new investors at the beginning of the pandemic, numbers have been slipping a little bit, so if you could, if you feel like it, if you’ve got the money to spare, and if you value what we do here at this podcast, on the other podcast, and on the radio shows that we do, Make Me Smart, no, Marketplace.org/GIVESMART, or Marissa is gonna put the link in the show notes and, and you can hook us up. And again, we appreciate it because otherwise we could not do what we do. Full stop. Full stop.

Marielle Segarra: Yeah. Thank you all.

Kai Ryssdal: Okay, I’m back tomorrow with Kimberly for a deep dive on the economics of mental health, which are not favorable, shall we say. Direct and indirect costs and what some states are doing about it. So that’s going to be on the Tuesday show tomorrow.

Marielle Segarra: And we want to hear from you about what’s made you smile this year. So let us know, we’re at makemesmart@marketplace.org. Or you can call us and leave us a voice message. Our number is 508-827-6278 or 508-UB-SMART. Who came up with that number? That was so cute.

Kai Ryssdal: I believe it was one Bridget Bodnar. She worked the system to get that. Make Me Smart is produced by Marissa Cabrera with help from Marque Greene. Today’s program was engineered by Brian Allison. Tony Wagner writes our newsletters.

Marielle Segarra: Our senior producer is Bridget UB-SMART Bodnar, and the director of on demand is Donna Tam. Hope you like your new nickname, Bridget.

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