Growing pains toward a clean energy economy?
Aug 22, 2022
Episode 736

Growing pains toward a clean energy economy?

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We'll discuss the changes at Ford.

Ford announced it’s slashing 3,000 white-collar jobs as part of its transition to electric vehicles. We’ll discuss what the layoffs reveal about our changing economy. Plus, could a free tax filing system finally be coming to the IRS? Then, want to hear what outer space sounds like? Listen till the end to find out.

Here’s everything we talked about today:

We want to hear from you. Write us at makemesmart@marketplace.org or leave a voice message at 508-U-B-SMART. 

Make Me Smart August 22, 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: Oh, we really have to start.

 

Kimberly Adams: Yeah, we’re running late.

 

Kai Ryssdal: Here we go. Interesting starts. Hey everybody, I’m Kai Ryssdal. Welcome back to Make Me Smart, where we make today make sense.

 

Kimberly Adams: I know. And I’m Kimberly Adams, thank you for joining us this Monday, we are going to do the news, and then share a couple of makes – make me smiles. And we will start. First though with the news fix, although I do want to identify that I am in LA alone in the studio.

 

Kai Ryssdal: Oh man. You’re just calling me out.

 

Kimberly Adams: Yes. It’s all to throw you under the bus.

 

Kai Ryssdal: Yes. I mean, you know, I’ll be there at some point. Whatever, whatever. So should I go first?

 

Kimberly Adams: Yes. Why don’t you go first? Because I just threw you under the bus.

 

Kai Ryssdal: Alright. I try, as I think I’ve said before on this podcast, not to repeat content from Marketplace and on this podcast, just because you know, why do that. But I had a very quick item at the end of the show, the radio show today that I think deserves maybe like 60 seconds. So Ford Motor Company announced this morning that it’s going to lay off 3,000 white collar workers. Now, that is some really small fraction of its total white-collar workforce. But the reason, said the CEO of Ford Motor Company and Chairman of the Board also William Ford, they said look, we need to right size, we need to trim down our internal combustion engine division, as we transition to electric. This will make me know friends, but this is what is supposed to happen. As economies change, as industries change, as we have what Schumpeter called Creative Destruction, this is what has to happen, right? The industries and the people who work in those parts of the industries that are no longer being used by society. And look, we all love our internal combustion engine cars or motorcycles or what have you. But they’re not the future, right? The futures are the electric Ford F-150 truck, the Mach-E Ford Mustang, those are the future for the Ford Motor Company. And yes, they’re laying off 3,000 white collar workers today, I promise you that they’re gonna hire 10,000 white collar workers to make the electrics work, to 15,000 white collar workers to make the electric work, as that company transitions. And it’s just an important sort of marker when you have an old-line industrial company saying, you know what, we got to do this now so we’re gonna be better later. I mean, it’s gonna sound heartless, but that’s what it is.

 

Kimberly Adams: I would really love to read a piece – and I’m sure it exists somewhere, and I’m sure people will send it to me – about what the transition was like, after the invention of the tractor. Because I feel like we’re in that kind of moment, where one of the fundamental things that underpins the economy is changing, and how, what that adjustment looked like, in people’s lives. Because when a huge chunk of the workforce used to be dedicated to like, just maintaining fields, and we still have plenty of farm workers, but a lot fewer than we used to. And I know a lot of that was enslaved labor. But, you know, like, at some point, there was a shift, where all the people who were doing one thing had to start doing another thing, right?

 

Kai Ryssdal: And look, it’s amazingly disruptive, and those 3,000 people have lost their jobs, and we can’t lose sight of that. But this is what it means when an economy changes. Yeah. Anyway.

 

Kimberly Adams: Well, speaking of big changes, there’s so much in the Inflation Reduction Act that I imagine we’re going to be unpacking little inserts and nuances for some time to come. But one thing that’s in it that I hadn’t noticed until I saw this piece in The Hill, but ProPublica has been covering it quite a bit, is that the Inflation Reduction Act requires the IRS, of the big bucket of money that it gets in the Inflation Reduction Act, to spend 15 million of the 80 billion it’s getting, to deliver a report on free government-run tax E-filing system that people have been pushing for the longest. And we’ve covered this a bit on the tech show and on Marketplace Morning Report and your show and everything, about how the government basically made a deal with the tax filing companies, basically promising not to compete with them. And that ended up getting rolled back later. But the tradeoff was that these tax filing companies were supposed to provide free E-filing services for people under certain income levels, right. The people who need a really simple tax returns and don’t make that much money should be able to file their taxes for free. But hardly anybody takes advantage of that program. Because the E-filing companies made it so hard to navigate to the websites where you could do it and made it really confusing. And so most people pay to file their taxes, even though they don’t have to. And so this would require the IRS to, you know, at least study how the US can join most of the rest of the developed world and have a free way for people to file taxes, if people have to file taxes at all. In some countries, you don’t have to file a return. They just say like we’ve collected your taxes, here’s a rundown of what you paid us. And you know, if there are any discrepancies, here you go. Now granted, we have this convoluted system of like tax credits and deductions and all these other things. So for some people it makes sense, but there are a lot of people where the tax return is kind of like this extra step. So the IRS is about to spend $15 million to look into it.

 

Kai Ryssdal: I would sign up for a government-issued tax return in a bleeping heartbeat. Honest to Pete, honest to Pete, I really would.

 

Kimberly Adams: Yeah. And I mean, it would just save people so much stress, you know? So like, I did my taxes, I paid to use one of the services. And I still somehow messed up on something. And I got this letter from the IRS, which is like, you did this wrong, and your duction doesn’t match up with this such and such, and you need to send us back these forms corrected, you know, in this amount of time. And I was just like, I don’t understand what I’ve done wrong. And then I just was confused. And then I had anxiety about it, and I just kind of ignored it. And then – so they delayed my refund, they’re like, we’re not going to give you your refund until you fix this. And so I kind of ignored it for a couple of months. And then like, I got my refund, and it was less than I thought it was going to be. But I guess they solved the problem themselves. And I was like, bet. I’m sure it’s fine. I hope it’s fine. But I would much rather than have fixed it on there and without me sending in the documentation, than, you know, like, whatever it is I was supposed to do. You know, but I imagine a lot of people are like that, because the government probably has a lot more information on my taxes than I do.

 

Kai Ryssdal: Yes, yeah. That’s the thing! The government knows, the government knows. And look, you and I are, I would imagine – I certainly am, and I imagine you are too – one of those run-of-the-mill taxpayers. And there are many people in this country in the upper upper reaches, who have extremely convoluted tax returns. But for most Americans, I’m sure the government knows exactly how much they make, exactly how much the credit ought to be, exactly how much X, Y and Z are. And oh my goodness. And I’ll bet your compliance would be higher too if somebody just mailed me a freaking tax form and said, here you go, this is what we figure and let us know something’s wrong. Right. Right. Right. So I didn’t get back, you know, cmpliance would probably go way up.

 

Kimberly Adams: I’m sure it would.

 

Kai Ryssdal: Shut into the wind.

 

Kimberly Adams: All right, good time to smile.

 

Kai Ryssdal: Okay, the James Webb Space Telescope is back. And it’s got more cool pictures. So there’s a picture of Jupiter, which the James Webb Space Telescope has taken. And let’s remember that thing went a million miles, not the other way, but certainly outside the solar system and turn around and point his camera back at Jupiter. And oh my lord, you can see the aurora borealis on Jupiter and the aurora australis – I don’t know, the Southern Lights, anyway. And some rings around Jupiter and some of its tiny moons. Super cool picture, and we’re gonna put on the Show page. And it’s amazing. It’s crazy.

 

Kimberly Adams: The scale of space always stuns me. And one of the – Oh, that’s the other story that I have in here.

 

Kai Ryssdal: That’s cool actually. That’s super cool.

 

Kimberly Adams: Yes yes yes yes. Okay. So this is the other space story, which is that NASA has also shared the sound of a black hole. Because you know, there’s the thing in space, no one can hear you scream and whatever and all that stuff. But there is still sound in space. It just can’t go anywhere like because – let me just read what NASA Exoplanets Twitter account says. “The misconception that there is no sound in space originates because most of space is a vacuum, providing no way for sound waves to travel. A galaxy cluster has so much gas that we’ve picked up an actual sound. Here it is, amplified and mixed with other data to hear a black hole. So one more time.

 

Kai Ryssdal: That’s so cool. That’s so cool.

 

Kimberly Adams: It’s so cool, right? This idea that like most of space is silence, but there is sound there. And I just thought that was so amazing to hear it. So you know, NASA is just like on a little tier, isn’t it? All their cool, cool stuff they’re doing.

 

Kai Ryssdal: Artemis stuff going on, too. Yeah, all that stuff.

 

Kimberly Adams: But back to the Jupiter thing. Like one detail of that is just so amazing to me. So there’s a really good picture of the Great Red Spot in, in this image, sorry, within the image you can really see it. It shows up as white just because of the way that the sunlight is reflecting. But the Great Red Spot, you know, it’s got this – it’s a massive storm, right? And it’s got winds of more than like 250 miles an hour. But just that storm is 1.3 times the diameter of Earth. So think about it. It’s a planet size storm. Think about the scale of that. Anyway, that’s just super cool. Also, although you know, scary. And then my last make me smile is something courtesy of the discord community where somebody shared this, which is a Twitter account that posted a video of the guy who played Biff, Biff Tannen on Back to the Future, right? And he’s written a song about answering the same fan questions for 30 years. And he sings this questions that he gets, and he answers them, and he’s like, you can stop asking me these questions. It’s really funny. quite entertaining. I recommend that you listen to him sing it. And also if you want to see what Tom Wilson who played Biff Tannen looks like now, there you go.

 

Kai Ryssdal: That’s great. Good stuff. All right. And on that note, we’re out here. We’re doing money in this midterm election cycle, what we know so far, we’re gonna talk about that a little bit. The election is something less than 90 days away. So join us, please.

 

Kimberly Adams: Yeah, and if you have questions about sort of money and in politics – well money in elections specifically, send those to us. If you have comments, please keep them as clear of profanity as you can when talking about money in politics. You can send those to us. Our email is makemesmart@marketplace.org. Or you can call and leave us a voice message. 508-U-B-SMART. As Amy pointed out, it’s the letter U and the leather B.

 

Kai Ryssdal: I know I know. She told me that. Make Me Smart is produced by Marissa Cabrera. Today’s program is engineered by Juan Carlos Torrado.

 

Kimberly Adams: Our Senior Producer is Bridget Bodnar, and the director of on demand is Donna Tam. Got to meet Juan Carlos for the first time today. In real life, that is. Hi Juan Carlos. He’s waving at me. Hi. I’d wave at you too if you were here.

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