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Retail theft and capitalism today
Sep 11, 2023
Episode 1001

Retail theft and capitalism today

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What's really going on?

There’s been a lot of reporting lately about a rise in retail theft and a growing shoplifting problem. But a closer look at those claims and the relevant data seems to suggest a different story. We also revisit the attack on the World Trade Center and consider how American unity and perceptions have changed in the past 22 years. We end with some smiles about Mother Nature and a significant discovery that could be a big deal for the clean energy economy.

ICYMI: To mark our 1,000th episode, we’re giving away a free Make Me Smart bingo card to every newsletter subscriber. Sign up at marketplace.org/newsletters.

Make Me Smart September 11, 2023 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 

Jayk, you’re in charge. You’re in charge, Jayk. And if you’re ready to go, I believe we should go. That’s all I’m saying.

Kimberly Adams 

And it looks like it works.

Kai Ryssdal 

He’s like the strong silent type down there. Hey, everybody, I’m Kai Ryssdal. Welcome back to Make Me Smart, where we make the day make sense.

Kimberly Adams 

And I’m Kimberly Adams. Thank you, everyone, for joining us on this Monday. I hope you all had a glorious weekend. And it is September 11, 22 years, man.

Kai Ryssdal 

Crazy, crazy. So we’ll do some news, of which the date is relevant to mine anyway. And then we’ll do some smiles. Kimberly Adams, what do you got?

Kimberly Adams 

I guess today is going to be the Kai Ryssdal show because I’m going to point to two things related directly to you. So first of all, the interview that you had today, which isn’t up on the website yet, but I’m sure we’ll include a link on the show notes with the woman from the Marshall Project about retail theft. So interesting. We talked about this on the show, because I was talking about how on all these earnings calls, they were saying they being major retailers were saying how retail theft was cutting into their bottom line and all these different things that they were putting into place to try to reduce theft. And you know, all these retailers calling for harsher penalties. And as I learned today, some of them seem to be making it up. And, you know, I definitely heard from folks on in my DMs and things like that about how, you know, we should spend some time talking about the systemic issues that are leading people to need to steal food, which has a lot to do with what’s going on in the economy right now. And inflation. And also, you know, just late stage capitalism, I guess, in terms of people just taking stuff. But there’s a lot of evidence according to the wonderful person that you spoke to. But it’s not as bad as these retailers are making it out to be. And this rhetoric around, you know, the supposed rise in retail theft is being used to paper over quite a few things.

Kai Ryssdal 

Yeah, I think the upshot of that interview, which which I said right at the end, which is kind of amazing. It took me four and a half minutes to realize this. We just don’t know how bad or how not bad the retail theft problem is. Because while there are certainly headlines talking about it, and while there are scary images on TV of the very rare it has to be said flash mob and all of that that we’ve had out here in Los Angeles, systemically, we don’t actually have the data. And that’s kind of a problem.

Kimberly Adams 

Right, because it’s not pulled out in the way that I and apparently you also thought that it was. So I highly recommend that folks go listen to that. And also listen to full disclosure, my friend Noel King’s show “Today Explained,” because last Friday, she started off this series on capitalism, and it’s called “Blame Capitalism.” And it features a cameo by one and only Kai Rysdall in the first episode. But so interesting to look at how we ended up with the system that we have. It’s, its discontents. And you know, I’m very excited to see where she goes with it in terms of actually questioning the system that people just seem to assume is fine to be the default.

Kai Ryssdal 

Right, right. Noel is a superstar, and you should listen to it. Full stop. You just should, you just should. It’s super interesting, very thought provoking even even without the bit about me. It’s very, yes. Maybe especially maybe, maybe, especially the bits without me.

Kimberly Adams 

Yeah, that was interesting. Actually. No, I’m gonna say your part was very fascinating, because I think listeners will get to hear a part of your academic experience that we don’t often hear about as it relates to your military experience, which I thought was really fascinating.

Kai Ryssdal 

Interesting, interesting. All right. Well, okay, now I have to go back.

Kimberly Adams

You’re like “Oh god, what did I say?”

Kai Ryssdal

I’m so bad about myself. I’m very unsettled for it but that’s a whole different podcast. Okay. So here’s mine. Today is, as we noted up the top September 11, and I am not one for odd random anniversaries, the 16th anniversary of whatever the you know, 11th anniversary of XYZ, the 22nd anniversary of September 11. I just, you know, I mark the biggies and I paid attention to them. The off years, I kind of don’t for whatever reason, and you know, your mileage may vary. But I was struck today, just thinking about, I was thinking about it when I was running this morning and a thing that I saw, I guess when it happened, but also a number of years afterward. So Jon Stewart, then the host of The Daily Show, obviously all those shows went off the air after September 11 because news coverage and it wasn’t appropriate, and you know all of this stuff. On the 20th of September, 2001, Jon Stewart brought The Daily Show back. And he had an eight or 10 ish minute opening monologue, which I found gripping. And if you’re in the mood to think about what the mood was like back then and I certainly understand it if you’re not because it was not great. Jon was was thoughtful as he always is, right. And look, Jon has become an icon, and there’s, you know, a certain amount of hagiography around him, but this was Jon Stewart in his prime, and if you’re a Jon Stuart fan you should listen to it, so that’s not number one, about September 11. And here’s another thought about September 11, which is a little more distressing. So the thing that happened that day, and for weeks and months, and maybe years afterward, was that there was an amazing sense of national unity, right. Some of it was was from overseas. Some of it was domestic, but it was it was real, and it lasted. And I kind of have to wonder now, given where we are as a country, and what the last 22 years have brought, you know, insert your own variables here. I wonder what would happen today, if something like that happened again? And I don’t know.

Kimberly Adams 

I mean, we kind of know to an extent, because during the pandemic, we had a 9/11 worth deaths every day. Yeah, granted, it wasn’t so violence and visual, as 9/11 was, and it didn’t necessarily have somebody you could blame in the same way, although lots people tried to blame China. I think unfortunately, we we kind of know the answer to that question. People would not believe what was going on. And the national unity thing is, is interesting. I was working in local news. I was a freshman in college actually working at a local TV station in the college town that I was in. And when 9/11 happened, and right across the street from the Missouri School of Journalism in Columbia, Missouri, there was this lovely little cafe, often frequented by journalism students, and it had like the comfy couches and the fireplace is very much like university collegial coffee shop, the vibe. And it was called Osama’s. And what people did to that poor man’s shop after 9/11 was disgraceful. And it ended up reopening under a different name. And I think that the national unity went only so far. If you were a Muslim in America, you definitely did not feel like you were part of that national unity after 9/11. I think, and, but your point is taken, but I also think that there’s that part of it too.

Kai Ryssdal 

Yep. All right, Jayk, let’s go. Pretty good. You’ve got two smiles.

Kimberly Adams 

I got two smiles. Although they both have caveats. Which I know that’s kind of defeats the purpose of a smile. But in the interest that we need all of the solutions to climate change, there’s some really interesting news coming out about an ancient supervolcano in the United States that according to many outlets may and I’m emphasizing on may be hiding the largest deposit of lithium found anywhere in the world. This is the McDermitt Caldera, which sits between on the border between Nevada and Oregon. And there’s a study that hypothesizes it contains more than double the concentration of lithium seen in any other bit of clay globally, around 20 to 40 million metric tons in total. I’m reading here from Live Science, sorry, from Science Alert. This is obviously very important for our clean energy future, in our domestic ability to have our own lithium. The caveat here being obviously there are a lot of environmental concerns about what it’s going to take to get this stuff out of the ground. Some of the Native American tribes in the area are very concerned about what mining could do to some of their tribal lands and other areas that are sacred. So with those caveats, lithium is very important to our clean energy future. And so this could potentially, if done, right, help us out a lot in that regard. So that story number one.

Kai Ryssdal 

Sorry, let’s let’s get the plug in for season one, of “How We Survive,” Molly’s season, which was all about lithium mining and batteries. And how yay, but also boo, you know.

Kimberly Adams 

Yeah, the mining. Yeah, yeah, a lot of these same exact concerns she highlighted and went into an explicit detail. So I hope we can include that in the show notes. Also, another sciency make me smile ish with a caveat. This one is from Live Science and, “In a 1st, scientist grow human kidneys inside developing pig embryos.” Now, yes, there are a million sci-fi stories about how this goes terribly wrong. And we end up with sentient pigs that we end up slaughtering so that we can keep ourselves alive. But this is the organ donation, waitlists are a real issue. A lot of people end up in really terrible circumstances or dying while waiting for organs. And I’m just saying we’re eating pigs anyway. If this is something, technology can be ramped up. This could do a lot of good for a lot of people with the caveat: animal rights. And you know, I don’t like to see animals abused. I do love bacon. I’m just gonna say, if we’re eating it anyway, let’s also you know, save some lives on the way and I know I’ll get all the hate from the vegans. And I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry. The bacon.

Kai Ryssdal 

I mentioned how I mentioned that good bacon was on the air one day. Ooh boy did I get it. Oh, my lord.

Kimberly Adams

You know what, I’m sorry. I’m sorry. Sorry.

Kai Ryssdal

I’m on board. No apology necessary. It’s all good to say. Alright, there we go. Bye final installment of smash the patriarchy. So Luis Rubiales is the head of the Spanish Soccer Federation has in fact resigned after the sexual assault on Jenni Hermoso after the World Cup. That’s all we need to say about that. Let’s move on. I just want to make sure everybody knew it. Which is also not to say by the way, that there are still big problems in Spanish Soccer, but that’s a whole different, you know, kettle of fish. But anyway, this guy is gone. And the coach is gone. So yeah.

Kimberly Adams 

Did his mom end her hunger strike?

Kai Ryssdal 

I don’t know. She must have, because how does how does she hold? You know. Yeah.

Kimberly Adams 

All right. Yeah. Okay. Well, that is it for us today. Join us tomorrow for our weekly deep dive. This week, we’re going to be getting smarter about ranked choice voting. This is a system where voters rank candidates by preference on their ballots, and then things get moved around. And some people argue that it’s a way for different candidates to actually get a shot and more people have a voice there are all sorts of complaints about the system as well. We’re gonna get into it. More states are pushing for this and so we’re going to talk about how it all works and what it has to do with economics.

Kai Ryssdal 

I personally am excited for this one because I for reals do not understand rank choice voting. I’m interested in the mechanics but I want to hear the pros and cons. Anyway. Yeah. Also. Yeah, in case you missed it and if you were here Friday, and even if you weren’t, we’ve got a Make Me Smart bingo card to all newsletter subscribers. It’s about our 1000 episodes you can sign up at marketplace.org/newsletters and we will get that to you. Make Me Smart is produced by Courtney Bergsieker. Today’s program was engineered by Jayk Cherry. Ellen Rolfes writes the aforementioned newsletters, actually only one we’ve only got one newsletter. But Marketplace has lots of them, you should sign up for them all. Our intern is Niloufar Shahbandi.

Kimberly Adams 

Marissa Cabrera is our senior producer. Bridget Bodnar is the director of podcasts and Francesca Levy is the executive director of digital. And on demand.

 

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