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Episode 356
Jan 26, 2021

The state of the union is … not great

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On today's show, author and MIT economist Daron Acemoglu on how the health of our democracy affects the economy, and vice versa.

This country’s been through a lot since we started this podcast four years ago.

Hell, we’ve been through a lot in just the past three Wednesdays: an insurrection, a (second!) impeachment and an inauguration. Coming off this not-so-peaceful transition of power and months of election conspiracies, President Joe Biden declared in his inauguration speech, “Democracy has prevailed.”

Has it, though? Sure, the insurrection failed, but that doesn’t mean our democracy is in particularly good shape after these four years or even the past 40 years.

“The task of rebuilding U.S. institutions is far from trivial. The way that I see it is that the deep problems, economic and cultural, that brought [Donald] Trump to power are still there,” said MIT economist Daron Acemoglu. “And I fear Trump will not be the last American populist, and the next one may be smarter and more damaging.”

We’ll talk with Acemoglu, who wrote the book “Why Nations Fail,” about the state of our democracy, the health of our economy, how one affects the other and how we might start to heal what ails us.

Later in the show, Kai goes full sneakerhead and we talk about why it should be “climate changed.” Plus we’ll look back to our first episode, and listeners tell us what they want the “other side” to know about them.

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Here’s everything we talked about today:

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The team

Molly Wood Host
Donna Tam Interim Senior Producer
Tony Wagner Digital Producer
Marissa Cabrera Producer
Bridget Bodnar Senior producer