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The Titanic sub and the migrant shipwreck
Jun 21, 2023
Episode 950

The Titanic sub and the migrant shipwreck

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And what it says about how the media covers the haves and have nots.

The missing sub of wealthy tourists lost on an excursion to view the wreckage of the Titanic has been dominating news feeds this week, while the story of a deadly migrant shipwreck off the coast of Greece has, for the most part, stayed in the periphery. We’ll get into the disparities in resources and media attention paid to the two disasters. Plus, we connect the dots on interest rates, home sales and new home construction. And, confirmed by the man himself, Fed Chair Jay Powell is a Deadhead.

Here’s everything we talked about today:

We’re shaking things up on “Make Me Smart”! If you’ve got an idea for an episode, segment or game, let us know. You can reach us at 508-U-B-SMART or email us at makemesmart@marketplace.org.

Make Me Smart June 21, 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.

Kimberly Adams

Test one, two. Test one, two. Okay, I am rolling!

Kai Ryssdal

Okay let’s go!

Kai Ryssdal

Everyone I’m car. No, I feel … sorry. That was a little brain fart. I don’t know what happened. Anyway, make me smart as a podcast. 21 June is the date. Please help me.

Kimberly Adams

Yes. And I know that I’m Kimberly Adams. And I thank all of you for joining us on this Wednesday. We are going to shake things up a little bit on the show. And we’re testing out some new segments. So, we aren’t going to do listener questions today. But if you have an idea for something you’d like to hear on the show, a new segment, a new game, a new idea. Let us know we’d love to hear your ideas. We’re at 508-U-B-SMART, or email us at makemesmart@marketplace.org.

Kai Ryssdal

So instead of questions, I mean, yeah, instead of questions, we’re doing news and smiles. I’m sorry. I’m all discombobulated today. I don’t know what’s going on.

Kimberly Adams 

No questions, because we shook up the first format. That’s why.

Kai Ryssdal

I know right? That’s right. That’s right. That’s right. Anyway, let’s do some news. First, you get to go first. Go ahead.

Kimberly Adams 

Okay, two stories about the media, even though they’re ostensibly about the news, they’re really about the media, and how the media covers different stories. So I, like many others have been very fascinated by this story of the submarine that is still at the moment of this recording, missing at the bottom of the ocean. Probably apparently, we don’t really know. There’s a piece in the New Republic though, that gets something that was sort of kicking around in the back of my brain, which the headline says it all, “The media cares more about the Titanic sub than drowned migrants,” because not very long ago, we had one of the most deadly, you know, incidences of a migrant boat sinking. It was on June 14, they think it’s the second deadliest refugee and migrant shipwreck on record. More than 800 migrants were on the boat when it sank off the Greek Coast. And if you think about the number of ships and resources that are being scrambled to find the submarine with what, five extraordinarily wealthy people on it, and the fact that we know that a lot of ships in the area, including Greek authorities, knew this boat carrying all these migrants was out there and didn’t go to its aid. And, you know, yes, the Titanic story is new. And it’s a mystery. There’s this time element of sort of counting down the hours. And it’s definitely a tragic situation. But it’s worth noting, like what we pay attention to and what we don’t, because you have some of the wealthiest people in trouble and the resources being organized to go and save them. And then some of the poorest and most desperate people also in dire straits, still trying to get to Europe because of often economic conditions. That is a story that’s been ongoing, and a lot of people including most of us in the media have kind of moved on from. So it’s a really interesting piece. And it’s just something I was thinking about, and I was glad to see somebody write it up.

Kai Ryssdal

Yeah we’ll get another sharp edge. It’s a good piece.

Kimberly Adams

Yeah. The other story is about this Hunter biter. Neither one of us can speak today, Hunter Biden deal, plea deal with the Department of Justice. And I’m not going to get into the nuances of this case. The Politico article that we have in the show notes, talks about the case, but really what it talks about is how whether or not Hunter Biden got off easy, pretty much completely depends on your political orientation, because they found IRS experts and DOJ experts on both sides who said that he got off too easy. Some said it was harsher because of all the scrutiny. But the larger issue here is the fact that the Department of Justice can barely do its job without it being politicized anymore. And I can’t imagine how hard it is to try to do your job, the Department of Justice right now, be impartial, knowing that no matter what you do, there’s going to be a big chunk of the country saying that you’re playing favorites or that you’re being harsher on someone. And of course, that all you know also relates to how our tax dollars are being spent. So there’s that.

Kai Ryssdal  

Yeah, it’s, it’s, it’s actually a terrible thing, that it’s all being so badly politicized and that you cannot talk reason to the people who are politicizing it. But anyway. So mine is sort of a connect the dots piece. And it it’s all about the real estate market and interest rates and the Fed and why real estate in this country is not going to be a solvable problem for a while to come yet. New data out from Redfin, which is the online real estate brokerage firm, which says the number of homes for sale in the United States fell to record low levels in May. And here is why that is happening. Not only do we not have enough housing stock to begin with in this country, full stop. Forget affordable housing or otherwise, although I think it was Elizabeth Trovall did a piece for us yesterday on Marketplace. No, it was Sam, Samantha Fields, who did a story about how most of the housing stock that’s being built in new housing construction in this economy is hiring stuff. And so that’s not what we need, we need, we need more affordable stuff. But anyway, part of the reason that the number of homes for sale in the economy is so low and falling to lower levels is that nobody who currently has a home at a mortgage rate of something below, let’s say 3%, which is where they were 14 months ago. Or yeah, right. I mean, mine’s, we timed our refi really well. So, we’re not moving until I’m– you have to carry me out of here cold and dead because oh, my lord. But anyway, nobody owns a house is going to move and trade a 3% mortgage rate for a 7% mortgage rate. So, all these existing homes that people are in, and homeowners have and maybe they want to downsize, but they can’t afford the bump in the monthly not from 3% to 7%. That’s why housing in this economy is going to stay really tight for a very long time. And prices will stay elevated because existing homeowners do not want to and, in some cases, cannot afford to move. And that’s just a little connect the dots thing when you see some data floating around out there. That’s what’s going on. That’s the why.

Kimberly Adams

And I mean layered on top of that is something that we’re seeing all over the country in which people have been telling me about here where I am right now and Chincoteague, Virginia, which is all of the housing that’s been converted to short term rentals. Now granted, this is a tourist town, there’s more of an incentive for it. But there are so many people here who are trying to live here, work here, or even buy a home. And they can’t because of all the short term rentals but also be all the people from DC and New York who moved here now that they can work remotely, who can pay way more for houses than people in the community ever could. So what might have been, you know, a home for a young couple at a reasonable price, you know, five years ago is now being sold for you know, twice the price to somebody from New York who still thinks it’s a steal. And that that doesn’t help either.

Kai Ryssdal  

No, exactly. Exactly. Jay let us let us move on here, shall we? Alright, guys, do yours first. Alright, let’s let’s, let’s do mine first. So let’s see, if you listen to the Friday episode when we were in Seattle, which even though it seems like a very long time ago can’t possibly have been last Friday, it was two Fridays ago. And what made me smile was about Jay Powell who had been photographed at a Dead & Company concert. Dead & Company is the successor organization to organization, successor band group, whatever, to the Grateful Dead. Anyway, so Jay Powell is a Deadhead. Amazingly enough, nobody at the Federal Reserve’s press conference last Wednesday asked the chairman about it. But today, Jay Powell was on Capitol Hill, giving testimony to the House Financial Services Committee, and Wiley Nickel from great State of North Carolina. asked him a question. That’s work.

Wiley Nickel

I watched the show. Did you like it?

Jay Powell

It was terrific. What can I say? It was great. I’ve been a Grateful Dead fan for 50 years.

Kai Ryssdal

So Jay Powell, a Deadhead. Jay Powell also is in a band at the Fed, I believe he’s the guitar for that band. So, you know, the musical stylings of Jay Powell.

Kimberly dams   

It’s so funny when you see people who exist in one part of your brain as one thing as something totally different. It always sort of, you know, it’s fun. And, like, the mermaid thing. I think one of the reasons that people were so fascinated by it was like, because I’m usually covering Washington and politics and economics, and then there’s mermaid.

Kai Ryssdal  

Yep, exactly. Anyway, what do you got?

Kimberly Adams 

Okay. So mine is the wonderful video that announced the US Women’s National Team for the World Cup, coming up. The announcement video of who was going to be on the roster is so much fun and so cool. And you should go and watch it. They basically got a bunch of celebrities and other like famous people announcing each individual person. Like little Wayne, I think is in there. Taylor Swift, people from TV shows, Rainn Wilson, Gabrielle Union and lots of other very famous people whose names I forget, anyway, announcing the roster of each of the individual players. So it’s super fun. Yes, and another thing and hat tip to Rick Karr for pointing that out to me because I was running around all day, and he was telling me about it. In in DC, one of the listeners actually sent me this, they have passed an emergency law to keep the bars open 24/7 so people can watch the World Cup. Women’s World Cup. Yeah. So that’s gonna be fun. Also, are they doing that? No idea? No.

Kai Ryssdal 

I don’t know. I don’t know. But I think it’s so super cool that DC is doing it. Women’s World Cup, by the way, in July, down in Australia, New Zealand. So there’s a big time zone difference. But yeah, it’s cool. It’s very cool.

Kimberly Adams

And then to end it with a dose of the economy. This is a different situation than the last World Cup. Because this time around, the women players are actually being paid somewhat fairly for their work. So remember, the women’s team sued basically FIFA or the US Soccer, US Soccer. They sued. Yeah, they sued US soccer for, you know, gender discrimination and pay because they kept winning, and they were making so much less money than the guys, who were losing. And so now, the two teams, US Soccer, I’m reading here from a piece in the athletic. The two teams, US Soccer and the two teams union agreed to a deal in 2022 that achieves equal pay through identical economic terms and women and men will pool and split the team’s prize totals from the 2022 and 2023 World Cups. So what the guys won and what the women won. And although I should say that in some cases, the there are players from other countries that are now sitting out the World Cup, because they are fighting the same fight in their home countries for equal pay for the women’s players, so the fight goes on globally, but I imagine they take a lot of hope from what the American women did. So all of those things make me smile.

Kai Ryssdal  

Huge win. Huge, huge win. Alright, that is it for us today back tomorrow. We’re mixing things up so who knows what’s actually gonna be on tomorrow but we’re still taking questions so keep sending him we’re at 508-U-B-SMART or write to us at makemesmart@marketplace.org.

Kimberly Adams  

Make me smart is produced Courtney Bergsieker, Ellen Rolfes writes our newsletter. Today’s program was engineered by Jay Siebold and welcome again to our new intern Nilou Shahbandi.

Kai Ryssdal  

Ben Tolliday and Daniel Ramirez composed our theme music. Our senior producer is Marissa Cabrera. Bridget Bodnar is the director of podcasts. Francesca Levy is the executive director of Digital.

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