Planet Money Comes to DC

Last night, NPR’s Planet Money came to DC’s Sixth and I Historic Synagogue for a live event and taping.

Alex Blumberg and Adam Davidson, interspersed with pre-recorded interview segments,
painted a picture of two coexisting US economies: the “broken” economy and the “American dream” economy. In their trademark style, they discussed how the growth of the knowledge and service economy have increased the value of education, resulting in a bifurcated American experience for those with advanced degrees and those without.

I won’t go too much into detail as the event will serve as their podcast this Friday, but suffice to say that, in their slightly tongue-in-cheek view, the US economy could be fixed in three simple steps:

1. improve access to preschool education – this is the key age for the soft skills required to excel in today’s economy (see Dr. Heckman)
2. bring national debt back under 90% debt:GDP – we don’t need to eliminate the debt, nor should we try, in order to restore fiscal sanity
3. replace employer-based health care with anything else – it’s a strange beast, and almost any other system would be better

In the face of how our issues relatively aren’t that severe, how any harm would be almost completely self-inflicted, and how solutions are in reach, they said that our “problems really are Jersey Shore problems”.

I was able to thank Alex and Adam afterward for setting the stage for Recession Sessions nearly three years ago by featuring a rough cut of Central Banker’s Dilemma on their podcast.

Make sure to tune in Friday to Planet Money for the whole show!