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Mark Esper and Donald Trump stand shoulder to shoulder, slightly off to the side. On the wall is the White House insignia.

WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 01: Secretary of Defense Mark Esper speaks as U.S. President Donald Trump listens during the daily White House coronavirus press briefing April 1, 2020 in Washington, DC. After announcing yesterday that COVID-19 could kill between 100,000 and 240,000 Americans, the Trump administration is also contending with the economic effects of the outbreak as the stock market continues to fall, businesses remain closed, and companies lay off and furlough employees. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

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Today during Economics on Tap, we’re low-key celebrating this weekend’s Kentucky Derby and venting a little about the journalists and political figures who withheld critical information and news, only to finally reveal it in their books. For profit. Former Secretary of Defense Mark Esper revealed in his soon-to-be-released memoir that, two years ago, then-President Donald Trump considered launching missiles into Mexico. In surprisingly less scary news, “Little Shop of Horrors” is celebrating its Broadway revival with festivities. Before we head into Kentucky Derby weekend, we go Half Full/Half Empty on coin collecting, children at work and more.

Tell us what you think about today’s show. Email us at makemesmart@marketplace.org or leave us a voice message at 508-827-6278, or 508-U-B-SMART.

Your donation powers the journalism you rely on. Give today to support “Make Me Smart.”

Make Me Smart May 6, 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: Drew, whenever you’re ready. I’m ready. Kimberly is ready. And Jasper is ready.

Kimberly Adams: Jasper’s not ready because Jasper’s here. I’m in the office.

Kai Ryssdal: Oh, right. Oops, sorry.

Kimberly Adams: Hi, I’m Kimberly Adams, and welcome back to Make Me Smart, where we make today make sense, even when we don’t have Jasper around because I’m in the office. Apologies.

Kai Ryssdal: When one of us is in the office. I’m Kai Ryssdal, thank you for joining us on this Friday afternoon for Economics on Tap. Whether you’re on the YouTube livestream, listen to the podcast I guess we’re doing Discord to although I don’t have that up. We got everything going on is what we do.

Kimberly Adams: Yeah, and we have some news. We’re gonna play some Half Full/Half Empty coming up. But first, Kai, what are you drinking?

Kai Ryssdal: We’ll do drinks. So I’m doing a standard beer. It’s a Firestone Brewing Mind Haze IPA. But more to the point. Also, why do I look so big on that YouTube? Sorry about that.

Kimberly Adams: This is why I don’t look at the YouTube video Kai.

Kai Ryssdal: That’s why you don’t look at the video. That’s why you don’t look at the video. That’s exactly right. That’s exactly right. So that’s what I’m drinking. Plus a special treat here in about 30 seconds after you tell me what you’re drinking.

Kimberly Adams: I of course am drinking a mint julep. As I said, I would be yesterday I made my mint simple syrup this morning for this particular occasion. And so I’ve got my mint simple syrup. I’ve got my bourbon, and more bourbon and mint. And for those who are watching,

Kai Ryssdal: Can I just tell you how much – Go ahead. No, you describe…

Kimberly Adams: For those who are watching on the YouTube live stream. I am wearing my Derby hat because the Kentucky Derby is this weekend. And so as some have correctly identified in the YouTube chat, it is a fascinator not a typical hat and it is large.

Kai Ryssdal: It is very large. My favorite part of this though, is that it goes with the headphones, the headphones fit. And now that you know we had this whole conversation yesterday about you wearing a fascinator or a hat. And clearly you had to wear the fascinator because how else were you going to wear the headphones if you had a hat on? So excellent practicality there.

Kimberly Adams: I would have found a way.

Kai Ryssdal: Yeah, you would have. Excellent practicality there. There you go. Anyway, here is the surprise o’ the day beside Kimberly’s hat, the new swag for fundraising, which we’re about to regale you with I hang on, hang on, hang on. I’m on a little bit of a delay here on the on the YouTube. Yes. All right. Good. So the new Kai-PA glass. It’s a new design. It’s a new logo. It says drink good beer, which you can’t see because it’s right at the foam line. But anyway, thank you gifts are what this is all about. You can get one of each, and I’m about to explain the each here in a minute. Kimberly will explain the other part of it. For a gift of $17 a month. It’s marketplace.org/give smart and Kimberly you don’t have anything to show and tell. But you can tell a little bit, suppose.

Kimberly Adams: Not yet. The other gift that you can either get on its own or in partnership with the KPA glass is the Jasper-themed wine tumbler. It’s super cute. It’s like navy blue, and it says Make Me Smile on it. And then it has a little picture of Jasper and it looks astonishingly like him considering it’s a graphic representation. And he’s like making his little pleading face like please give me treats” or “please give me donations to Marketplace so that we can keep doing Make Me Smart and I can keep making cameos on the bed in the background when Kimberly’s not in the office.” Anywho we have already raised $24,383 of the $60,000 match that we have from Tim Ranzetta and Next Gen Personal Finance. This goes towards all our financial literacy programs like Million Bazillion, which is so much fun. And if you can help us reach that match. If you give us – sorry, you can help us reach that match if you give through the weekend. So please and thank you we’d be very grateful and you can get the good swag.

Kai Ryssdal: Which is what it’s all about. marketplace.org/givesmart and we appreciate anything you can do. Alright, news? News.

Kimberly Adams: Yeah, news.

Kai Ryssdal: News, okay, so I’m gonna go first. And I believe I have recounted before on this particular podcast, my distress about journalists who in the course of reporting for books that they are writing, withhold critical information to the citizenry, from the citizenry, so that they can let it out when the book comes in the most recent example are the two reports from the New York Times who have written a new book called “This shall pa –” Shall not pass? Shall not pass, right? Anyway, about the events of January, the sixth, and all kinds of stuff has come out in the lead up to the release of that book, which it would have been really nice to know at the moment. So there’s a new book out from the former Secretary of Defense, right? His name is Mark Esper. The book is out, I believe, today. Maggie Haberman, from the New York Times, got a copy of it yesterday or a couple of days ago, and has written an article about as what is contained in the book, including, I can’t even believe this, including a revelation that Trump once discussed with the Secretary of Defense, launching missiles into Mexico to destroy “drug labs” there. Now. Nothing that the former president proposed surprises me anymore. It truly doesn’t, which is a commentary and probably a podcast all of its own. But here’s the thing, Mark Esper, he’s not some journalist who operates on an independent and unwritten but very clear code of ethics, right. Mark Esper swore an oath to the Constitution, the United States, “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution, the United States from all enemies, foreign and domestic,” right. It’s the same oath in point of fact that commissioned officers commissioned officers swear when they take their commission as a member.

Kimberly Adams: And that you swore.

Kai Ryssdal: And that I swear, I don’t understand how as per can in good conscience, keep that information from the public at the time, and instead hold it for a buck. I literally don’t understand. I mean, yes, I understand the profit motive, but it’s just it’s dishonorable. And that just dismays me I can’t even I can’t even tell you. I can’t even tell you that’s that’s it.

Kimberly Adams: I I really, you know, people like to talk about DC being so swampy and everybody, you know, sort of knowing each other wink wink, nod nod and, you know, journalists hanging out with government officials and access journalism and stuff. And look, I definitely know some people who work in government, a lot of our former sources on Marketplace now work in government. And so you definitely do, you know, have relationships with the people in these positions of power. But I, I kind of wonder what happens to you that you get to a place where all of these things just go out the window, and somehow you make it okay, in your head? That it’s, it’s worth it’s worth anything to withhold such pivotal information in order to make a personal profit. And it goes against, certainly everything I thought journalism was about, and I’m pretty sure everything you thought service was about, and it’s really disheartening. And you know, maybe we’ll find out that Esper was also working behind the scenes and shut it down and was doing all kinds of things. But still.

Kai Ryssdal: Yeah, yeah. Anyway, so that’s my news.

Kimberly Adams: It’s a downer.

Kai Ryssdal: It’s really bugging me. Really bugging me.

Kimberly Adams: As it should. And I – it’ll be interesting to see how these books sell. You know, like, oh, Sandy, in the chat, brought up the Overton window, which is so key, people talk about the Overton Window moving, there ain’t no window anymore. It’s just a big, wide open view onto everything. So the Overton Window is this concept in political science, that there is this range of acceptable behavior and views. And what is considered the norm fits in this window. And that window can shift and expand and contract depending on what’s going on in politics and media and in the social life. And so when people talk about that Overton Window moving, you know, I struggled to believe that the Overton window within journalism would have permitted this. I don’t know when at some point. But and the other thing that’s worth noting is that not everybody can do this. Not everybody can do this. If certain people in journalism, put out these books, they would not have jobs anymore for withholding information like that from the people paying them to report the news. And so there’s that too. Well you know what’s funny. Right. Sorry. Maggie Haberman. Who wrote this article on Espers book because she got a copy, Maggie Haberman covered Trump, the New York Times is writing a book about Trump, the New York Times and one does wonder what’s going to be in that book when it comes out. You know? Okay, we’re gonna just like wind ourselves up in more anger. Okay, so my news is extremely light and fluffy. But it just left me with a big smile. And since we don’t have a make me smile today, because of Half Full/Half Empty. I’m just putting it in as my news fix because it brought me great joy. So, this year is the 40th anniversary of the Broadway version of “Little Shop of Horrors.” You are familiar with this.

Kai Ryssdal: Little Shop of Horrors, Little Shop of Horrors.

Kimberly Adams: God bless. Thank you. Okay, so NPR did one of their Tiny Desk at home concerts with the cast of the Off Broadway revival of Little Shop of Horrors. And it is a joy to watch. It’s so much fun. And so I definitely watched that. And then I was texting my mother, because I have this powerful memory from my youth of we did a lot of dance classes when I was little. And so we had all these performances and I’m talking we I mean, me, my brother, my sisters, all of us. There was one dance recital, where my mom dressed up as Audrey II and my sister and I my littlest – my younger sister. She’s, she was older than me. But anyway, the two little ones, myself included, were a little baby Audrey IIs. My brother was Seymour and my sister, the one who’s in the chat and several other people from our dance classes were like the arms of Audrey II. And it was this whole performance, and it’s burned – it was the Mean Green Mother from Outer Space song from “Little Shop of Horrors.”

Kai Ryssdal: Yes, that’s me singing on the pod. Wow.

Kimberly Adams: And it is burned to my memory. And I was texting my mom today. I was like, “Do you have any pictures?” She’s like, “No.” And I was like, “How old was I for that?” And she was like, “three or four?” And I was like, “what?” You know, some things are just like so in your memory. He’s skeptical. He’s like, “Are you sure you don’t have a manufactured memory?”

Kai Ryssdal: No, no, no, not at all. It’s so interesting because you you know between this and, and, and the fascinator and all this. You just you have an unabashed family history of dressing up and enjoying stuff and me being the repressed Norwegian that I am. I have no history, and it’s, it’s just really interesting to me.

Kimberly Adams: I think my niece and nephew have taken over my sister’s chat on the YouTube.

Kai Ryssdal: Oh, Auntie Kim, oh, yeah, look at that. “Hi Auntie Kim, We love you.”

Kimberly Adams: Love you, too. Oh, that’s adorable. All right, with that bit of joy and fun. Let’s play game. Okay, it’s time for Half Full/Half Hmpty, hosted by our very own Drew Jostad, and take it away, Drew.

Kai Ryssdal: All right, first topic is, are you half full or half empty on people using Buy now pay later for travel expenses?

Kimberly Adams: Half empty.

Kai Ryssdal: Oh, I don’t know the story at all. But that seems not wise half empty.

Kimberly Adams: All right, let me let me let me actually take that back and think about it. So these Buy now pay later. options that you know have been growing in popularity allow you to pay for things in installments. And I wonder how different it is to pay on an installment basis for travel versus putting it on a credit card? And it depends on the interest rate, I guess. And whether or not you can afford the payments? Like is it any different or worse? But still, debt financing travel is probably not great.

Kai Ryssdal: Yeah, that’s that’s what I was gonna say. I think it’s one thing if you need a refrigeratior and this is not why people use buy now pay later. Right? But if you need a fridge or some other capital good, you gotta get it. That’s fine. Travel. I don’t know. It just it just seems unwise.

Kimberly Adams: Jodi Pritchard says in the chat that she’s empty. “Vacations are expensive. My wife and I started a vacation fund two years ago, and it’s a lot more enjoyable when it’s already paid for.”

Kai Ryssdal: Yeah that’s totally true. Totally true. Yep.

Kimberly Adams: Yep. All right. What’s next?

Kai Ryssdal: Okay. James Corden has announced he’s leaving the Late Late Show. Are you half full or half empty on his potential successor?  I have a thought.

Kimberly Adams: Go for it.

Kai Ryssdal: I’ve thought. Well, it’s great opportunity for network to put a woman of color in there right. And expand the demographics of of late night because Samantha Bee It is great but she’s just one Samantha Bee and I think it’s a great opportunity. So if they do it right half full, otherwise meh.

Kimberly Adams: I’m I’m never up that late but I do believe there isn’t a woman of color on late night –

Kai Ryssdal: Oh please, pshh.

Kimberly Adams: – who’s, okay well that’s not true I am up that late, but I’m not up late watching TV, like looking at the Internet and browsing Instagram etc. Twitter unfortunately. But there is a woman of color who is on late night whose name escapes me but there is at least one.One is not enough. And yeah, that would be cool. I – Amber Ruffin the YouTube chat tells me, Amber Ruffin. So, okay, that is the person. I’m gonna go half full because James Corden is great. I love watching his little clips, especially the carpool karaoke and stuff, and crosswalk concerts so much fun. But I think anytime that there’s space for someone to try something new, I want to wish them well and hope for the best and hopefully they don’t go Jeopardy in the selection process.

Kai Ryssdal:  What Kimberly said, I’m there, Okay, all right, something completely different. And you can take this any way you want. Are you half full or half empty on this week’s rate hike? I guess I’m well, no, look, wait, hang on. I’m actually all the way full because inflation is a plague on this country right now at you know, 6.6% for the headline PCE. So yeah, I’m absolutely awful. Holy cow. I wonder why I had to think that through.

Kimberly Adams:  Half full. Just because I know…

Kai Ryssdal: She says tentatively.

Kimberly Adams: Just because of all the things that we’ve talked about, you know, we know that the economic expansion still has not reached everyone. Black unemployment, as we just discussed on Tuesday, is still double the white unemployment rate. And we know that raising interest rates is probably going to put a pause or slow down economic growth and and I wonder how that’s going to affect the most vulnerable who still haven’t benefited from this recovery. So but at the same time, I know people are really struggling with food and energy prices and housing prices and rents and everything so half empty on that still.

Kai Ryssdal: Alright, fair.

Kimberly Adams: And and just to go back to the last one was James Corden. A lot of people in the chat are also bringing up Lilly Singh as another late night host. Okay.

Kai Ryssdal: Okay, it looks like there is a spike in coin collecting recently. Are you half full or half empty on a comeback for a numismatics? I didn’t – sure coins are cool. I’m half full. Sure.

Kimberly Adams: Sure, half full. I think it’s a fun thing. And you know, of the hobbies one can have, it’s harmless. Let’s do it.

Kai Ryssdal: There you go. I’m with that, I’m down with that. Last topic, are you half full or half empty on take your Daughters and Sons to Work Day?

Kimberly Adams: As long as they don’t push buttons.

Kai Ryssdal: Sorry, just thinking this through. Yeah, wasn’t there like some NPR dead air about like six or eight years ago where somebody – it was take your daughter or son to work today and somebody pushed a button in the control room and it like turned everything off for 30 seconds or whatever? Am I misremembering that?

Kimberly Adams:  No, that really happened. But um, I’m half full on on. Take Your Child to Work Day, shall we say?

Kai Ryssdal: I think that’s good.

Kimberly Adams: Let’s make it a little more inclusive.

Kai Ryssdal: Any and all childs. There we go. Good. Boom, on a Friday.

Kimberly Adams: Are those crickets in the background? Or is it?

Kai Ryssdal: You know, it’s really funny. They’re actually inside the shed so I could close the door, but it wouldn’t make a difference. Yes, they are crickets? Yes, sorry. Sorry.

Kimberly Adams: I have to wait until you say something that you want to be funny and then just sit silently so that you actually just hear…

Kai Ryssdal: And let the crickets go. Thank you very much. Yes, that would be great. That’d be great.

Kimberly Adams: Okay, okay. That is it for us for today. We will be back next week or Tuesday deep dive is going to be about something we’ve mentioned kind of in passing on this podcast a couple of times now. But I think I could certainly benefit being smarter about it, and hopefully you all will, too. Title 42 which is a part of the US public health code that the government has been using to restrict immigration during the public health emergency of COVID. If you have questions about Title 42 how it’s been and used the fact that the Biden administration tried to end it and it’s getting all this pushback any and all questions about that. Please send those questions to us.

Kai Ryssdal: Yeah, and you can do it with a voice memo or an email to makemesmart@marketplace.org. Or leave us a voice message 508-827-6278. That is 508-U-B-SMART, And we’ll get it and we’ll get on the pod and in one form the conversation we’re gonna have Tuesday on Title 42.

Kimberly Adams: Make Me Smart is produced by Marissa Cabrera who for the record likes my hat, our intern is Tiffany Bui.

Kai Ryssdal: I love your hat.

Kimberly Adams: Today’s episode was engineered by Drew Jostad, our senior producer is Bridget Bodnar.

Kai Ryssdal: You wear a hat well, honestly, you really do. I cannot actually think that I wear a hat, well. I would love to be able to wear out well, but I don’t. The team behind our game is Steven Byeon, – yeah, I should but have I mentioned, I’m a repressed Norwegian? Steven Byeon, Mel Rosenberg and Emily Macune do our Friday games theme music was written by Drew Jostad. The director of On Demand, who’s probably saying right now, “Kai, shut up. Shut up Kai, shut up. Too much sharing.” You should try!

Kimberly Adams: She’s enjoying you on the big screen.

Kai Ryssdal: On the big screen right. God.

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