A different pandemic for parents
Jan 31, 2022
Episode 590

A different pandemic for parents

Just a reminder, folks.

On Monday, the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine received full approval from the Food and Drug Administration for anyone over the age of 18. It’s the second vaccine the FDA has approved for use by adults, but parents seeking official guidance for children under 5 are still left with plenty of questions and not many answers. Then we catch up on the news we missed over the weekend, including Spotify’s response to the Joe Rogan controversy, a racist smear campaign against a presidential nominee for the Federal Reserve Board, and how fashion brands could be edging toward the end of consumer-friendly seasonal sales. Plus, we have serious fun with a couple of interactive projects and a musical Make Me Smile!

Here’s everything we talked about on the show today:

What’s making you smile this week? Let us know. Send a voice memo or give us a call at 508-82-SMART (508-827-6278)

Make Me Smart January 31, 2022 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: Ba bump bump baa. There we go. It’s pretty, it’s pretty good. Hey everybody, I’m Kai Rysddal. Welcome back to Make Me Smart, making today make sense. And oh, by the way, if this is your first time listening to this podcast number one, thank you very much. Number two, where you been? Where you been? I’m just saying.

Marielle Segarra: Good question. I am Marielle Segarra. Thank you for joining us on What Did We Miss Monday, we are going to talk about a news fix. And also some other stories that we’ve been compiling diligently over the weekend that you may have missed.

Kai Ryssdal: Yeah, cuz, you know, the news doesn’t stop on the weekends, by the way, just for the record. Just for the doggone record.

Marielle Segarra: So I feel like the big news for me today was the FDA approval of the Moderna vaccine.

Kai Ryssdal: Yeah, yeah. Yeah. Whole approval, not just emergency use, by the way. That’s the key thing.

Marielle Segarra: Right, exactly. And maybe there’s not a whole ton to say about that. We know Pfizer’s already been fully approved. Now. Moderna has, but it did make me think about the group of people in this country who still are not able to get the vaccine under fives. The FDA still hasn’t approved it for that age group. And I know a lot of parents are sort of waiting on tenterhooks to see when that’s going to happen.

Kai Ryssdal: Yeah, there was a there was a bunch of you know, on social media, like a week or 10 days ago, there was a bunch of activity from parents of under fives, who I can’t even imagine how hard it must be for them going through all this without even the possibility of getting their kids back. It’s just it’s really, really hard. Really hard.

Marielle Segarra: Yeah, it just feels endless. And I think, I think Dr. Fauci said, maybe in February, this could happen, but it keeps getting pushed back. Right. Yeah, I believe so. Yeah. But it’s kind of it’s a different pandemic for them than for people without kids.

Kai Ryssdal: That’s exactly right. That’s exactly right. And, and, you know, so most of us who are vaxxed boosted and wear masks and all that, right. It’s, it’s an inconvenience, but life goes on. And for the parents of under fives or others who cannot get vaccinated for whatever reason, it’s completely different pandemic. And if you think back to how we all felt in like April-ish of 2020. Imagine that for going on three years now. Just brutal. Brutal, brutal. Alright, so let’s hit the news we missed, shall we?

Marielle Segarra: Yeah. Why don’t you go first? I feel you’ve got a lot of really meaty stuff on there.

Kai Ryssdal: Yeah, well, I’m gonna blow through them. Because that’s just the way I roll. Because, you know, people can hear us talk about ’em, and then they can go read them and learn their own stuff. So number one, the whole Spotify thing and Joe Rogan started maybe early last week, or – yeah, early last week, with Neil Young, saying to Spotify, you can have Neil Young or you can have Joe Rogan. Of course, Joe Rogan has a $100 million deal with Spotify for his podcast, the most listened to podcasts on the planet, which also oh, by the way, spout tons and tons of COVID misinformation. So that kicked it off, and other artists and others of note in the society said, “Hey, Spotify, what are you doing?” And I think the interesting part of this for me is the the extremely tepid corporate response from Daniel Ek, the CEO of Spotify, who basically said, “oh, yeah, guidelines for content on our platform. We’re working on that. And we’ll get it to you really soon.” Which, honestly, was just kind of lame.

Marielle Segarra: It really didn’t say much.

Kai Ryssdal: It’s a whole – it didn’t say anything, right? Because they rolled it out basically overnight, because they said, ‘Oh, my goodness, our stock price is getting whacked. And we’re getting all kinds of bad press, we have to have the CEO say something.” And so they did. And that’s what they came up with, which was subpar. It just was.

Marielle Segarra: Yeah. One of those corporate statements, that’s all smoke and mirrors.

Kai Ryssdal: That’s right. That’s right. And now we’ll see what happens. And look, what I really want is an electorate and in a public that is informed enough to lend credence to or not pay attention to things based on their factual information. And that, sadly, is not what we have now. It’s a corporate echo chamber. And that’s just that’s not good for anybody. All right, item two. So there’s some hearings this week for President Biden’s nominees to the Federal Reserve’s Board of Governors. Among them a woman by the name of Lisa Cook, she is an extremely well-regarded economist. She is now I think, in Michigan State has done a lot of work in the labor market and what happens there And the effects of income on labor and just all kinds of things, also, and to the point, she’s a Black woman, and if confirmed, she would be the first Black woman ever to sit on the Federal Reserve’s Board of Governors, which is monumental. And she is now in some quarters being attacked racially. And it is to me and to my mind, simply appalling. It’s appalling and its of a piece with President Biden’s promise to nominate a Black woman to the Supreme Court. It’s just, I saw a great tweet the other day, it was like, you know, if Black men were told if – sorry, if white men were told that for the next 240 years, only Black women would be allowed to be president in the United States. What would they do? Because that, fundamentally, is how it’s been in this country for the past 240 years. And I just, it just, it’s amazing to me, it’s amazing. And I kind of hate it. I kind of hate it.

Marielle Segarra: Yeah. I mean, one of the criticisms, right, is that people say, “Oh, well, she doesn’t have enough monetary policy experience.” But when you think about it, like, I think in the article you share, they point out a few Fed Board of Governors, or a few Fed governors who didn’t have monetary policy experience either when they started, including Obama appointees and Trump appointees. Jay Powell, is one of them. Right? Like that was not his background. And Michelle Bowman is another one. So I mean, it doesn’t, it doesn’t really hold water. But it  made me wonder like, what would you say are the qualifications for a Fed governor? Like what experience do we expect them to have?

Kai Ryssdal: Oh, that’s such a good question. Because everybody’s, it’s a little bit like Supreme Court, right? It’s like, well, you have to have clerked for Supreme Court justice. And it really helps if you’re an appeals court judge yourself and all of this jazz. And what that winds up getting us is a monochromatic set of experiences and monochromatic I guess, pun intended, right? Because you don’t have the full breadth of the American experience represented at the highest levels. Same thing with Federal Reserve, right forever, it’s been academic economists, or people who have practiced in that –  sorry, I gotta let the dog in, come here puppy – who have who have practiced, you know, economics at the highest academic levels. And, but that’s not the way we all live. And so now you have a raft of people who are getting nominated with a different set of life experiences, and then that’s got to be good for the policy that they make, because it’s good for most of the rest of this country. So yeah, that’s fine.

Marielle Segarra: And she is an academic economist, just not with a focus on –

Kai Ryssdal: Not with a traditional mold.  Yeah. All right. Speaking of monetary policy, I just want to throw this one out there. This came out a couple of days ago, Bank of America, the analysts there, they think the Federal Reserve is going to raise interest rates seven times, this year, seven times. That would be amazeballs for a whole lot of reasons, not the least of which is about two weeks ago, the consensus was oh, yeah, the Feds gonna raise three, maybe four times, seven times would be a lot. It would be a lot. And in, especially in the space of just one year, that just to me would be gobsmacking. And I just want to get that little note out there.

Marielle Segarra: Yeah. Yeah, I wonder, where do they come us with these estimates, seven.

Kai Ryssdal: I don’t know. Right? I don’t know. And there’s still, you know, widely respected analysts out there saying, oh, yeah, it’s gonna be three. So I don’t know how you go from three to seven and have anything make sense. You know, I just don’t get that at all.

Marielle Segarra: I think they read between the lines of what Jay Powell is saying they listen to every single word and tally up how many times he said inflation. Then they just throw it into their generator.

Kai Ryssdal:  Right, and they pump it into some algorithm, and then they say, oh, yeah, here we go. And this, the answer is seven. Yes. Okay. Last thing for those of you who are our Wordle fans, of which I am not one, by the way, but it was sold to the New York Times for low seven figures. That announcement came out today. And the article that I read about it in the Time’s said it will be free to current users initially. So the Times is gonna start monetizing Wordle and I just, I don’t know.

Marielle Segarra: There you go. People will probably be over it by then anyway. So

Kai Ryssdal: Right. I mean, you gotta pay for it.

Marielle Segarra: Seems like one of those passing fads. Maybe. I don’t know. I just say that because I don’t do it and I don’t want to have to.

Kai Ryssdal: Neither do I. I don’t do it at all. I’m muted in my Twitter feed. My wife and my daughter play it and one of my sons play it. And I’m like, yeah, I’m out. I haven’t got it in me.

Marielle Segarra: Too many platforms, too many games. I’m overwhelmed.

Kai Ryssdal: Right, right. Exactly. Exactly. Yeah. All right, I’ve been monopolizing things you go.

Marielle Segarra: Alright, so there’s a story in The Wall Street Journal this weekend that I liked, it goes back to my retail roots, because I covered retail for a long time for us. Early on, in the pandemic, we talked about how, basically March 2020, right, retailers had all these clothes sitting in stores, you know, the kind of stuff you’d sell in the spring pastel cardigans, and dresses and stuff, shorts, with floral prints. And everybody was stuck at home, and nobody was buying. And so all these retailers had a glut of clothing leftover that they later had to offload at a discount. And so then they got really conservative about buying inventory, like going into the holidays of 2020. And then even going forward, they said, “We don’t want to take the risk, we have no idea what the economy is going to look like. So we’re just gonna buy less. “And that has persisted. And it’s still the case, they gave the example in the Journal story of H&M, for instance. So inventory is measured as a percentage of sales. And it’s been dropping for H&M by several percentage points. Since last year, it’s also dropped on the whole like over, they show a 20 year span and it’s dropped significantly. It’s at all time lows, or at 20 year lows, I should say. And H&M, executives told investors that they want to reduce their stock levels even more. And so what all this means is, you won’t be seeing and you probably you aren’t seeing the same kinds of end of season sales that you used to, you know, when you used to go into these fast fashion retailers, and you dig through a bucket of clothes and get something for like $1.99 or even like just at a steep discount, you’re not going to see that to the to the same extent anymore. And that’s also been kind of accepted because of inflation, people are getting used to paying higher prices. So just something to keep in mind when you go into stores. That’s what you’re seeing.

Kai Ryssdal: It’s a very big deal for the sale, conscious American consumer. I mean, we love our sales.

Marielle Segarra: Yeah, well, everybody got used to sales after the recession. And then retailers had a really hard time reeling that back in, like when JC Penney tried to change its brand and get away from the 99 cent sales, right. But now, there’s a bit of a reset happening. So we’ll see what happens whether you can still expect to get like 40% off at Banana Republic every time you buy. Something else this weekend I was playing around with there’s a New York Times is really good at data visualizations. And they game called “Can you gerrymander your party to power?” Basically, it is –  we’ve been talking about gerrymandering as states redraw their legislative districts. And I think a lot of people understand that in theory, that the political party that’s in power in the state legislature gets to redraw the district maps in many cases, and does that to their advantage. And this often goes on 10 year increments, I think. But this tool actually lets you gerrymander a fake state called Hexopolis. It’s like there are all these hexagons, each one is a district. And you’re either in the purple party or the yellow party. And you have to draw as many districts in your favor as you can within the given rules. And I can’t say I’m particularly good at it. But it made me think like, I could probably figure this out within an hour or something. And these folks are have so much, you know, strategic help. I mean, I’m sure they’ve got people who’ve done this over and over again, as they redraw district maps. So it just seems like the game is rigged.

Kai Ryssdal: Like – well it kind of is, let me put in a super quick plug here for a similar learning tool from the Washington Post. They picked the like nine most gerrymandered districts in the United States or something like that. And turned them into little miniature golf courses, little putt putt golf courses that you play on your computer. It’s amazing. It’s amazing. Check it out on the Washington Post. We’ll get it on the show page.

Marielle Segarra: That’s cool. I wonder if these – that reminds me of like when two movies come out at the same time that are very similar, like “Ants” and “A Bug’s Life,” like in like the 90s or whatever. And you’re like, Oh, were they both? Like are the reporters working on it at the same time.

Kai Ryssdal: I thought for the longest time they were the same damn movie. My kids were of that age, so um, we bounced back and forth between those movies all the time. And I was like, oh, yeah, no, they’re not the same movie.

Marielle Segarra: Yeah, totally. And I feel like there are a lot of examples of that, but this kind of feels like that, like some editor at both publications was like we need a gerrymandering data viz!

Kai Ryssdal: There we go. Totally, totally.

Marielle Segarra: Okay. And then just a quick note that we talked about this on the show last week I think about COVID and the Olympics. And you’re right. There are already a lot of cases among athletes, I believe it’s 119 COVID cases among athletes and personnel. And so that’s a lot of dashed dreams.

Kai Ryssdal: Incredible.

Marielle Segarra: And these folks are being really careful.

Kai Ryssdal: Yep. Yep. Yep. And you just you feel so bad. You feel so bad.

Marielle Segarra: Yeah. All that hard work.

Kai Ryssdal: Starts what Friday, right? Yeah.  I think so. Think so.  All right, Drew hit it. All right. It’s Monday, which is listener contribution day for make me smiles. Email them to us. If you gotta makemesmart at marketplace dot org. We’ll get them on the pod.

Marielle Segarra: Yeah, but this one actually came from our producer Marissa, and it is a video of a five year old kid named Miles who plays a whole bunch of instruments and he recreates songs. And so I think it is that he plays the guitar, the drums, the ukulele, the bass, some other stuff. He also sings and he recreated Pharcyde,  “Runnin'” by Pharcyde the 1990s hip hop song.

Kai Ryssdal: Which I actually – yeah.

Clip of Miles: Ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh.

Kai Ryssdal: Listen to him. We need to hire him.

Marielle Segarra: Yeah, he also did “Come Together.” He did “Band on the Run,” “Return of the Mack,” a bunch of other songs. He’s really good. That’s cool. We’ll put a link on the show page.

Kai Ryssdal: We will for sure in the meanwhile, that’s it for today back tomorrow. Am I with Kimberly Adams deep dive or deeper dive perhaps on inflation. Oh my goodness. There’s a lot to talk about, actually. And I will try my damnedest not to say the word transitory. How about that? How about that? Where do things go from here with the inflation debate? That’s what we want to know.

Marielle Segarra: Yep. And we always want to hear from you. So if something we said on this show made you smart tell us about it. You can email us a note or send us a voice memo to makemesmart@marketplace.org Or you can call us and leave us a voice message at 508-UB-SMART.

Kai Ryssdal: Mondays in the books peeps. Make Me Smart is produced by Marissa Cabrera with help from Marque Green today’s program was engineered by Drew Jostad.

Marielle Segarra: Our senior producer is Bridget Bonner and the director of on demand is Donna Tam.

Kai Ryssdal: Donna Tam, she’s in charge.

Marielle Segarra: I’m gonna go play this mini golf game.

Kai Ryssdal: It’s really hard wait till you get to that hole that’s like par 33 or something I was truly I was killing it until I got to that hole and it killed me and I bailed at like 40 strokes or something. Yeah, but it’s really interesting. It’s well done.

Marielle Segarra: Yeah, maybe I won’t. I changed my mind.

Kai Ryssdal: Oh man.

None of us is as smart as all of us.

No matter how bananapants your day is, “Make Me Smart” is here to help you through it all— 5 days a week.

It’s never just a one-way conversation. Your questions, reactions, and donations are a vital part of the show. And we’re grateful for every single one.

Donate any amount to become a Marketplace Investor and help make us smarter (and make us smile!) every day.

The team

Marissa Cabrera Producer
Bridget Bodnar Senior producer
Tony Wagner Digital Producer
Marque Greene Associate Producer