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Don’t put your mask away yet
Apr 11, 2022
Episode 639

Don’t put your mask away yet

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Plus, Elon Musk, Etsy and Kmart.

A month after lifting its mask mandate, Philadelphia is reinstating indoor mask requirements beginning next week as COVID-19 cases there rise. It will be the first major U.S. city to bring back a mask mandate. Other cities might not be far behind. Then, Elon Musk won’t be joining Twitter’s board of directors after all. We’ll discuss what it means for him to stay on the outside of the the social media platform. Plus, a group of Etsy sellers are going on strike to protest a fee hike. It sparks a discussion about the struggles of being a small business owner. To wrap things up, we’ll take you under the sea for a couple of Make Me Smiles.

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

Have a story or an article you’d like to recommend to your fellow “Make Me Smart” listeners and newsletter readers? Share it with us via email at makemesmart@marketplace.org.

Make Me Smart April 11, 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: All right, well, here we go on a Monday. Hey, everybody, I’m Kai Rysddal. Welcome back to Make Me Smart. I am back. It is good to be back making today make sense is what we do on this podcast.

Marielle Segarra: Yeah and I’m Marielle Segarra. It’s exciting to be here again, and welcome back, Kai from vacation.

Kai Ryssdal: Yeah, it was. I was away we went – well, we went to Spain. Barcelona, Madrid had a fabulous time went to FC Barcelona game. Really enjoyed it. I did catch a little cold though. You could probably hear that. But it was really good. It was really good. It was good to be away. Good to be back as always. Alright, so what’s the news? You go first, You got a couple. I got a couple. You go first.

Marielle Segarra: Okay, so I saw this piece about Etsy, the platform where individuals, small retailers, they sell things like purses and candles and stuff like that. A bunch of Etsy sellers are going on strike, at least that’s what they’re calling it, because they don’t exactly work for Etsy, right. But they, but they’re calling it a strike, it’s about 14,000 of them out of 5.3 million. And they say that they’re not okay with Etsy raising its transaction fees. The company says that it needs the money so that it can market the sellers’ products. But these retailers are like, “Actually, you know, we don’t need more marketing, because we’re – I’m just an individual, you know, candle maker, and I can have all the business I can handle maybe so I don’t like that you’re taking the money, taking money away from me and diverting it towards marketing.” And I think what is really interesting about this is the value of a platform like this, if you’re a small retailer, you kind of have to play with the big companies, like whether it’s Amazon or Facebook, or you know, Etsy. And it’s like you own your own business, but you’re really not totally independent. Because when on a whim, or maybe not, maybe that’s unfair, maybe not on a whim. But when one of these big companies decides to make a change, it can have a huge impact on your business. And that’s just part of the game.

Kai Ryssdal:  Yeah, I think that’s absolutely true. And it’s, you know, small, small business people somehow always get screwed, and the platforms have all the power. And it’ll be interesting to see how this one turns out.

Marielle Segarra: Yeah. And I don’t know if it’s really going to, like I said, 14,000 out of 5.3 million, I’m not sure that it’s going to change any minds at Etsy. But there might be out of those 14,000 some of those sellers might just say, you know, this isn’t worth it anymore. And I’ve heard from retailers like that before who they get enough. They get enough attention or enough sales on Etsy that ultimately then they say, Hey, I’m going to run my own website, and their customers follow them. So that could happen.

Kai Ryssdal: Yeah, no, totally could. Alright, that’s item one. You’re all retail today. Go ahead. Go to the next one.

Marielle Segarra: Yeah, so Kmart it – I just saw a story that reminded people that there are only three Kmart stores left now.

Kai Ryssdal: Wow, is that right? That’s crazy.

Marielle Segarra: Unbelievable. Yeah. Yeah. And there were at one time about I think 2000 store Kmart’s it just made me think about how my brother used to work at Kmart when we were in high school stocking shelves or whatever was one of his first jobs. And a lot of us have memories of these retailers. They became a part of our lives in some way we have either nice memories of them or annoying memories of them. Like when I worked at Hollister and what had to deal with that awful music and the the perfume that that was just like, completely unbearable and gave me a headache. And it was always dark in there, you know? But it’s you have these really distinct memories and then the companies are just gone like that.

Kai Ryssdal: Yeah, yeah. Got three stores. That’s kind of wild. That’s like sort of they’re on Blockbuster watch now right. And in three years, there’s gonna be some story about the only Kmart left on the planet and it’s gonna be in some small town in like North Dakota.

Marielle Segarra: I know. It’ll probably be like a tourist attraction at that point.

Kai Ryssdal: That’s right. That’s right. That’s right. As is I think that that Blockbuster that used to be in Oregon, the last one, I don’t even know if it closed might even still be open. I don’t even know. Okay, so I’ve got two one of which is a quickie. But it’s – it’s a sign of virus to come. So Philadelphia is going to reinstate its mask – indoor mask mandate effective next week. And I just think we all having been enjoying now a number of months of being able to not have to you can if you choose, right I do choose to wear my mask in the grocery store and stuff. But you don’t have to if you don’t want to and now Philadelphia’s saying you kind of have to and I think we all just need to be ready for that because it will be an attitude adjustment for a whole lot of people. You know, and obviously we’re going to see it a lot of blue states, probably not in as many red states. But I think people are going to have some adjusting to do and so that’s that’s my one quickie news item. My number two news item today. It fits under the heading of “Elon Musk really is a jerk” and I think I’ve said that before on this podcast. I know I’ve said it to Molly on marketplace but definitely on this podcast. So we learned last week that Elon Musk now owns 9.2% of the company and the company being not really stupid, right? The CEO Parag Agarwal, and the board of directors said holy cow, Elon Musk, the richest man in the world owns 10% of our company 9.3%. We need to get him inside the tent as it were because Mr. Musk has a history of just lobbing grenades at Twitter, especially recently. And they figure look, let’s have him on board and helping to run the company, rather than just taking potshots. And they said, “we’re gonna invite him to join the board.” And as far as we knew, that’s what was going to happen last week. And then this morning. Parag Agarwal writes a note to Twitter staff that he then puts out on the internet that says, and this is this is just the amazing part. It says: “Elon Musk is not going to be joining our board.” And then he says, “The board felt that it would be better to have Mr. Musk as a fiduciary to the company,” that is to say, having a responsibility to the company and all of its shareholders a fiduciary responsibility, “that would be the best for all concerned.” And, and the reading between the lines, it doesn’t take you very much to be able to decide that Elon Musk, who could buy Twitter and have $150 billion dollars left over he could buy Twitter with cash tomorrow, it’s worth $37 billion. And Elon Musk has has a personal net worth of $200 billion. Elon Musk could buy Twitter tomorrow and do whatever he wants to do with it. But now he’s going to stay on the outside, he’s not going to take this board seat, he’s not going to limit his stock purchases, he’s not going to be responsible to the company and all of its shareholders. And he’s just gonna keep lobbing grenades. And I think it is super interesting example of what happens what’s the politest way to put this? Having a lot of money doesn’t make you necessarily a good guy or smart. How about that? How about that? Yeah. And that Elon Musk is a jerk.

Marielle Segarra: I just feel like there are so many controversies with Elon Musk that I end up so confused about. Yeah, it’s one of those things where you log on to Twitter or whatever. And you’re like, “Oh, God, what happened now? What now?”

Kai Ryssdal: Yeah. And look, Musk has a history specifically with his his being the CEO of Tesla, right. So he runs two big companies, while he runs three companies, right? He runs Tesla, he runs SpaceX, and then he runs the Boring Company, which is that tunneling super –super fast, you know, transit company. Anyway, he’s gotten into a lot of trouble for his shenanigans having to do with Tesla. And I think he has just decided specifically on Twitter, and I think he’s just decided, screw it. I don’t care what the FCC says. I don’t care what the Twitter board says. I’m just gonna have a good, good old time, because I am the richest man in the world. And that’s his mindset. And so I think I think that’s kind of where he’s going with that. I think that’s what he’s all about. 100%. All I’m saying.

Marielle Segarra: Must be good to be rich.

Kai Ryssdal: He’s the richest man in the world, but it doesn’t make you not a jerk. That’s what I think. Anyway, that’s enough of my rant. That’s enough of my rant. Charlton, what do you got? All right.

Marielle Segarra: Okay. So I saw this video on Instagram or friend shared with me of there’s a woman she goes to a set of rock formation, I think in Mexico, and she’s laying facedown on the rocks, her arms are holding her up kind of in. They call that upward dog position in yoga. And then the, the water comes up right behind her and splashes and just the perfect way. And what she’s doing is recreating this iconic scene from The Little Mermaid. Yep. And the music is in the background. It’s pretty perfect. But it just reminded me of being a kid and having these really iconic scenes, especially in Disney movies and trying to recreate them at home. Like this woman got to live the dream. I’m thinking she’s probably around my age was a kid in the 90s. And this was like a wish fulfillment for her. But there was I mean, I when I was a kid, I used to pretend I was Belle from Beauty and the Beast anytime I was in the library, or I would – I would, well one time I jumped off my dresser and pretended I could fly and –

Kai Ryssdal: Noooo. Did you really?

Marielle Segarra: And flap my wings, flap my arms like wings, because then maybe I’d be able to fly like in, like in Peter Pan.

Kai Ryssdal: I’m sure we’ve all done that.

Marielle Segarra: Yeah. Yeah. And I was not injured by the grace of God.

Kai Ryssdal: Good.

Marielle Segarra: But I I thought this was kind of amazing. And I wanted to find the rock formation myself and make this happen.

Kai Ryssdal: We’ll put that one on the Show page because it’s quite the shot. It’s quite the shot. All right. So mine came to me, so I was off Twitter for a week. So I found mine this morning waiting for me in my Twitter feed. It’s a tweet from a guy who follows me his name is David Edwards. And look, if you follow me on Twitter, you know, I tweeted about two things food wise. One is beer. And the other one is do not cook fish in the microwave at work. In fact, don’t cook fish in the microwave anywhere ever. But David Edwards sent this one to me. And it’s it’s a song written guy by the name written by a guy by the name of Tom McGovern. And it starts off with just because you can’t really hear it. We’re gonna play like 30 seconds of it. It starts off. Oh, there it is. Hang on a minute. Hang on a minute. There you go. All right, hang on. So it starts with him saying “I’m in my studio apartment just because you sort of can’t understand it.” So here it goes. Charlton hit it.

Tim McGovern on Tik Tok:  I’m in my studio apartment. (It’s time for dinner.) I’ve got some salmon I can make. (Omega-3s). But not long after I get started (about 15 minutes.) I know that I’ve made a mistake. Now everything smells like salmon, my shirts, my couch my seats. If I had a couple of 100 more square feet. I imagined that this would not happen. Everything smells like salmon, straight up salmon smelling from the bed to the door. When you live that’s not much more than a cabin. Well, sometimes this happens. Everything smells like salmon.

Marielle Segarra: That’s a bop.

Kai Ryssdal: Isn’t that a bop? I kind of liked the tune, frankly. Points to this guy for being creative and finding things that can rhyme with salmon. Anyway, his name is Tom McGovern. That was on my Twitter feed today. Thank you David Edwards. I really appreciate you sending that because it just made me laugh. Don’t don’t microwave or cook salmon. Anywhere in a small apartment. That’s all I’m saying.

Marielle Segarra: I was saying to Reema the other day she was in the office in LA and she brought in like eggs in a in a Ziploc bag.

Kai Ryssdal: Yeah. Oh I got yelled at for doing that one I got yelled at for doing that one.

Marielle Segarra: It was just kind of gross. And I was like do not let Kai see you doing that. Especially if you microwave them.

Kai Ryssdal: That’s so funny. All right. So look. So true confession and then we’ll get out of here because I gotta go take a kid to a doctor’s appointment about – oh god, it’s got to be like six or eight years ago, I went through a pure protein phase with my diet. And so I was eating all hard boiled egg whites for lunches every day. So I brought like, I brought like six eggs in a Ziploc bag. And I opened them up and people were like yelling and screaming at me because the whole office – Bridget probably remembers – whole office smelled like boiled eggs. And so I don’t do that anymore.

Marielle Segarra: Yeah, it’s nasty.

Kai Ryssdal: Anyway. So that’s enough. That’s enough at – Oh, Bridget’s slacking now. “I don’t remember this.” Yeah, it was bad. I got a lot of feedback, shall we say? Shall we say anyway, that’s it for us today. We’re back tomorrow, me and Marielle deep dive into oh, man. So we’re gonna do Bitcoin and crypto and rich people and the rest of us and a lot – a lot of crypto coming tomorrow because I just think it’s so interesting, and it’s the wave of the future. But spoiler alert, I don’t think it’s ready yet. I don’t think we’re ready for it. And I don’t think crypto is ready for us. That’s what  I think.

Marielle Segarra:  Yeah. And specifically like what it means for cities that are trying to attract crypto wealth. Yep. Yeah.

Kai Ryssdal: Miami, New York.

Marielle Segarra: Puerto Rico and San Juan.

Kai Ryssdal: Oh, yeah, Puerto Rico. For sure. Yes.

Marielle Segarra:  Yeah, so tell us what you thought about today’s show. You can send us a voice memo or email to makemesmart@marketplace.org or you can call and leave a voice message 508-UB-SMART.

Kai Ryssdal: All right, first day back at work in the can Make Me Smart is produced by Marissa Cabrera with help from Marque Greene. Our intern’s Tiffany Bui. Today’s program was engineered by Charlton Thorpe.

Marielle Segarra: Our senior producer is Bridget Bodnar and the director of On Demand is Donna Tam.

Kai Ryssdal: Here we go. Boom.

Marielle Segarra: We gotta get you some cough syrup or something.

Kai Ryssdal: Well, I’ve got I’ve got 12 hour cough syrup, although I am kind of at the end of it because I was up super early this morning cuz I was jet lagged. But I had a glass of water. I don’t even know. I don’t even know

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The team

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