Hey smarties, we’re back!
Jan 10, 2022
Episode 576

Hey smarties, we’re back!

What did we miss?

Happy (belated) 2022! We’ve returned from our holiday hiatus, and we’re discussing some of the big news stories of the past week or so, including how insurance companies are now going to be required to pay for some COVID tests. Plus, the pope makes a rare appearance in the News Fix, and our beloved former co-host has some smart things to say about schools and omicron. In the make me smile department, we’ll talk about the first Black woman to appear on the U.S. quarter and a video about the special dogs that got us through 2021.

Here’s everything we talked about today: 

What’s making you smile so far in 2022? Let us know. Send a voice memo or give us a call at 508-82-SMART (508-827-6278).

Make Me Smart January 10, 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: Let’s hit it, shall we? Let’s hit it. Here we go. … Hey everybody. I’m Kai Ryssdal, welcome back, welcome back, welcome back to Make Me Smart. Making today make sense on the 10th of January. It’s been. It’s been a while I don’t even know. Um, hi. How are we?

Marielle Segarra: Yeah. Hi, I’m Marielle Segarra. Thanks for joining us, everybody. It’s a first episode of 2022. Have you started writing 2022 yet? Or are you still writing 21? Like, in your checks?

Kai Ryssdal: I’m super proud of myself. First of all, I don’t write checks. Hello, join the 21st century would you Miss Segarra. I have not written 2021 by mistake yet. So I’m pretty proud of that. Actually.

Marielle Segarra: So what do you write the date on? Like, on your scripts or?

Kai Ryssdal: School. Yeah, no forms to the kids’ school and you know, signing various documents this and that. I don’t put put the year date on the script. No, I don’t. So just like random forms and stuff. And I have not written 2021 yet. So now of course, I’m going to do it this afternoon. When I go see the doctor. That’s a whole different thing.

Marielle Segarra: Yeah, I haven’t either. I was surprised myself. I have a journal. Which I like write the date every morning. So I feel pretty good about that.

Kai Ryssdal: You, wait, journal in the morning? How do you know what’s gonna happen during the days isn’t journaling supposed to be about what happened during the day?

Marielle Segarra: I write about how I’m feeling. I write about my intentions for the day. I write about lots of things. Yeah. Yeah,  it’s a new-ish tradition.

Kai Ryssdal: Well look, more power to ya,`whatever, whatever works, whatever gets you through the night. Alright, so this is going to be a little unusual “What did we miss Monday?”  Cuz Honestly, we’re not going to catch up to speed on a month’s worth of stuff. I think we’re just going to bang out a couple of things that are on our minds. And then we’ll do a super quick “Make Me Smile,” and then we’ll get out the way. And that’s what we’re going to do. Tell you what, Marielle, why don’t you go first? I think just by looking at the rundown. It looks like you gave more thought to this than I did. Shocking. I know.

Marielle Segarra: Yeah. Well, okay. I mean, I think like today, in general, the news of today for me was about how the Biden administration said that now insurance companies have to pay for eight at home COVID tests per patient or per person per month.

Kai Ryssdal: Totally agree. Totally agree. Here’s what I want to know, though. What are we supposed to do for all those tests that we had to buy when Omicron was peaking, and we had to see grandma over the holidays, right? We’re out of luck on those which kind of stinks.

Marielle Segarra: Yeah, I bought some from like an online … capsule or whatever. Because, actually, Kristin Schwab was telling everybody like you can buy these tests on Capsule. It’s hard to find them.

Kai Ryssdal: It’s totally hard to find. Sorry. Go ahead.

Marielle Segarra: No, I don’t think you can get like reimbursed for those now. I think it starts on Saturday.

Kai Ryssdal: Yeah. You can’t and let me tell you, you got a family of six home for the holidays. You’re spending a chunk of change COVID tests, man.

Marielle Segarra: And you never even know if they’re working. I mean, to be honest, I was like, Okay, so like, maybe this is accurate or not? I don’t know. But like worth a shot.

Kai Ryssdal: Yeah. All right, what else you got?

Marielle Segarra: Yeah, so. So that’s like news of today. But in terms of like past week or so apparently, the pope gave a speech, never thought I’d be talking about the pope on this show. But he gave a speech about couples who choose to have pets instead of having kids. And he was against that. And setting aside that opinion. It was interesting to me that one of the reasons he said people need to have kids is to support pension plans and pay taxes, which is like –

Kai Ryssdal: Wow, seriously?

Marielle Segarra: Yeah. He actually said that, in that, like, I didn’t even believe that when I read an article about it. And then I looked on the Vatican website, like they have the transcript on it. And he said, like, you know, now who will pay the taxes for my pension if there are no children?

Kai Ryssdal: Wow.

Marielle Segarra: Yeah. And it’s I mean, that is a problem in some countries. I think Italy has has dealt with that an aging population and not enough young people coming up. Sometimes immigration can be a solution to that. But I just thought that was fascinating in a way that like the economy does come up when the Pope talks sometimes, but that was pretty specific.

Kai Ryssdal: I did not have the pope and the economy on my bingo card when I got up this morning. But anyway.

Marielle Segarra: Yeah, I know. Um, okay, so. Oh, yeah. So another one. There was some data out that Politico reported on about how kids have fared in the pandemic, particularly around like their standardized test scores. And standardized tests are a gauge or one gauge of how of performance they’re not everything but, especially math scores, like kids dropped significantly. And especially in schools with predominantly Latino and Black students. They suffered the most according to the data. So that’s really upsetting.

Kai Ryssdal: On like a bunch of levels, but let me just I will interject here and just put one of my little tidbits for the day on there. It’s a tweet by the dear departed Molly Wood, talking about her school and apparently, well, alright, she’s not dead but we know, we all know what I mean. So her kids school – and look, this was a key thing for Molly for two years – was what in the hell is going on with schools and parents and all of this stuff. So apparently, the deal is that her kids school has had to shutdown because they don’t have enough –  for the rest of the week – they don’t have enough well, staff members to come and staff school which parenthetically you might also be a problem in my school district really soon. But the deal is this. So the governor California, last year gave an exemption to school districts or two years ago, so that they didn’t have to have in-person instruction. But last summer, they let that emergency authorization lapse. And so now school districts are not allowed to have virtual instruction at all, if they close, which seems to me to be cray cray, as Molly said in her tweet, which we will put on the show page, in the middle of an Omicron peak of this pandemic. Anyway, so this is still a live issue, as we all know, it’s a live, live issue. And it’s just the idea that we’re still dealing with this two years into this thing, almost three now is just not great.

Marielle Segarra: Why say that you can not have virtual learning? What is the argument for that?

Kai Ryssdal: I don’t know the answer to that. Somebody out there, I’m sure does. It’s makeme smart@marketplace.org. But it’s it’s challenging. And it’s really frustrating, right? Because the kids as we have seen now, like for a year plus kids are really challenged by virtual instruction, especially kids who, you know, come into it disadvantaged in the first place. Yeah, yeah. All right. What else?

Marielle Segarra: I feel like you should keep going. Because I’ve talked.

Kai Ryssdal: Oh, all right. I mean, all right. Well, I’m just I’m gonna I’m gonna crank out a couple here, just these are today’s news. The Internal Revenue Service is going to start processing tax returns for the previous calendar year on the 24th of January, but it says already, it’s going to be a mess. Refunds are going to be delayed. Don’t look for those checks coming out really soon. So if you’re gonna file, file, but don’t bank on that refund coming really soon.  The COVID testing thing we already talked about, I had that one, and the Molly thing I talked about. And then the other thing  that is, is a little bit old news and a little bit new news is that the Vice Chair of the Federal Reserve, Richard Clarida, whose term expires at the end of this month, is leaving instead on Friday, because his name has surfaced again, in that – I don’t want to call it an insider trading scandal. But Mr. Clarida was in a position to know what the Federal Reserve was going to do, intervening in this economy in the early days of this pandemic. And it turns out that he was trading stocks in a way that raises some eyebrows, and that has come to light in the last day or two. And he’s now leaving, not at the end of month, but Friday, and I mentioned that because tomorrow, Jay Powell, the chair of the Fed goes for his renomination hearing to the Senate. And among the many things that Senator Elizabeth Warren is going to beat Chair Powell up about is this, insider trading scandal and and the president of the Dallas Fed and the president the Boston Fed Eric Rosengren and and the guy in Dallas whose name I forget which is embarrassing because I’ve had him on the show like five times. It’s there’s gonna be some fireworks I think at Powell’s renomination hearing he’s gonna  reconfirmed but there’s going to be some fodder coming out there. For those who are opposed to Chair Powell.

Marielle Segarra: Well, thank you for explaining that. I was looking at it earlier. And I was like, I could put this in here. But I don’t know enough. I don’t know if I can explain why this is important.

Kai Ryssdal: It’s a little messy at the Fed. It’s a little messy at the Fed.

Marielle Segarra: Yeah. Yeah.

Kai Ryssdal: Alright, so let us let us move briskly to “Make Me Smile” and then and then we’ll get out the way. Alright, so we’ve got one from from all y’all listeners, and Bridget and Marissa put that in there. And we appreciate it. We’ll get to in a second. But I do want to point this out. A tweet from Janet Yellen, Secretary of the Treasury. She was retweeting the United States Mint talking about the first woman on the new American Women Quarters Program. So the the Mint is going to put out quarters, featuring American women of note and Secretary Yellen said this which I believe in which is really interesting, but doesn’t get enough play when we talk about our money. “Each time we redesign our currency,” Secretary Yellen tweeted, “we have the chance to say something about our country – what we value, and how we have progressed as a society.” And the first woman to be on an American Women’s Quarters Program quarter is Maya Angelou, which I think is really cool.

Marielle Segarra: Awesome.

Kai Ryssdal: I just think that’s neat.

Marielle Segarra: It is cool. I just pulled it up. I’m looking at it here. It’s pretty nice. The design. So is that, she on the back of it and George Washington’s on the front?

Kai Ryssdal: Yeah, she is on the reverse. Right. So it’s George Washington in profile. Standard, dead old white guy. But on the back, you get Maya Angelous, which is, which is kind of awesome.

Marielle Segarra: I think she should be on both sides. That’s just me.

Kai Ryssdal: Oh, totally. Well, so look, because so the question is, when are we going to get Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill? That’s what I want to know.

Marielle Segarra: Yeah, that too.

Kai Ryssdal: Cuz we were talking about that for a long time.

Marielle Segarra: There’s another submission. The other “Make Me Smile” submission is from Thomas in Georgia. And it is a video by the Twitter account, We Rate Dogs, if you’ve heard of it, they post cute dogs. And it’s basically  all the special dogs that got us through 2021. And it’s kind of long. I did watch it. And I laughed out loud, multiple times. It’s very sweet. There’s a part where a little tiny dog is like, awrawr! It’s very cute. I don’t know it’s cuter when I saw it. I’m sure you have  like multiple dogs, right, who got you through 2021?

Kai Ryssdal: I have multiple dogs. My dogs are you know what? Honestly, sometimes dogs are a pain in the butt. I don’t have cute dogs. I just have – eh, I got good dogs.

Marielle Segarra: Wow, I hope they’re not in the room right now.

Kai Ryssdal: They’re not. So look, they got out of practice of me being in the shed doing this podcast.

Marielle Segarra: Oh, right. You’re at the studio again.

Kai Ryssdal: No, no, I’m back in my shed. I’m back in my shed. I’m not in the studio. I’m back in my shed for this. Yeah. All right. So there we go. So that’s dogs. We’ll put that one on the show page. And we are done for this Monday. First day back, I will say feels good.  I’m coming back tomorrow with Kimberly Adams. We are doing the James Webb Space Telescope, which I think is just about the coolest freakin thing that NASA has done, honestly, since we put people on the moon. The tech and the power behind it and what it means not just for the future of NASA, but the fact that we’re doing this kind of science, private sector and space exploration, all of that stuff. And Kimberly and I, space geeks, are going to talk about it.

Marielle Segarra: Yeah, I can’t wait to hear that. It’ll be really fun. Well, we want to hear from you about what has made you smile so far this year. 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.

Kai Ryssdal: Marissa Cabrera had some help from Marque Green today in producing this episode. Today’s program was engineered by Juan Carlos Torrado. Tony Wagner writes our newsletters.

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

Kai Ryssdal: Alright.

Marielle Segarra: There we go.

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The team

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