Season 4 | Episode 6
Jun 17, 2020

Answering your “History of Now” questions

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We're capping off our season by answering your questions about chicken workers, health insurance and more.

We’ve spent the past five weeks trying to make sense of this moment.

The inequalities of our society have been suddenly set in high relief by the pandemic, the economic fallout, skyrocketing unemployment and protests against police brutality. In that time, you all have written in with a bunch of questions big and small. Today, we’re going to cap off this pop-up season by answering a few of them.

Questions like: What would chicken cost if plant workers earned higher wages and better benefits? You might be surprised by how little labor is reflected in the final price you pay for chicken.

We’ll also look at what policies there are to help meat processing workers if they contract COVID-19 on the job, and how health insurance became tied to employment in the first place. Plus, we’ll check in with Candace, the aspiring sex-toy entrepreneur in Georgia who was having trouble getting her unemployment benefits.

Finally, we’ll end our season by looking back through history one more time. We’ll explore two very clear moments, both after pandemics, when economic inequality started to fall dramatically.

When historians look back at 2020 someday, will they see a population that seized the moment and changed history’s course? Or will they see merely a continuation — or even an acceleration — of trends toward economic inequality, the concentration of wealth and the subordination of vulnerable groups?

We don’t know yet. But for now, we want to thank everyone who’s joined us this season, subscribed, told a friend or sent in a question. We’ll be back later this year with a whole new season, and in the meantime, we recommend checking out our first three seasons, too.

Here’s some further reading and material we used in our research:

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The team

Krissy Clark Host and Senior Correspondent
Caitlin Esch Senior Producer
Peter Balonon-Rosen Associate Producer
Tony Wagner Digital Producer
Catherine Winter Senior Editor
Chris Julin Producer