If you followed Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign last year, you know the basics about inequality in America. This country is the world’s richest overall, but it also has one of the planet’s largest gaps between rich and poor. Today, the top 1 percent controls nearly 40 percent of America’s wealth. Much of the economic policy debate in America is revolves around wages and jobs. But on this episode, researcher Matt Bruenig says something much more systemic is going on — he argues that the real issue is capital. He notes that today, almost a third of all the income produced in the United States comes not from day-to-day hard work, but from earnings off capital — basically, earnings off real estate, stocks and debt. Bruenig has just launched the new People’s Policy Project — a grassroots funded think tank looking to infuse the public policy debate with more radical solutions to economic inequality. During our discussion, we talked about Democratic politicians’ aversion to confronting economic inequality, the intensifying fight over single-payer health care and how lawmakers can tackle the unequal distribution of capital.
Before there was Colin Kapernick, there was Craig Hodges of the Chicago Bulls. Hodges was Michael Jordan’s teammate and one of the NBA’s greatest three point shooters. But after winning two championships, Hodges in the early 1990s suddenly found himself out of the NBA after he spoke out about the pressing civil rights issues of the day. On this episode, I talk to Hodges and sportswriter Dave Zirin about Jordan, sports activism and the backlash against athletes who dare to speak out.
Eighteen years before the Las Vegas massacre, there was Columbine — a catastrophe that saw two students kill twelve other teenagers and a teacher. In between the two massacres, mass shootings have become a daily occurrence in America — and the question is: why? On this episode, I explore that question with Tom Mauser — the father of Daniel Mauser, who was one of the kids killed at Columbine. Mauser is now a board member of Colorado Ceasefire, a nonprofit that aims to reduce gun violence. Mauser arrived at our recording studio wearing his son’s sneakers. The discussion covered everything from mental health to gun control to politics. Over the course of the conversation, he expressed despondence over the fact that gun laws have not changed, and he also weighed in on whether society should blame the friends and family members of shooters for their acts of violence.
Consider the last two months in America: We’ve seen hurricanes destroy Houston, Florida and Puerto Rico. We’ve seen a Nazi rally in Charlottesville that culminated with the death of a protestor. We’ve seen the president intensify a nuclear standoff with North Korea. And we’ve most recently seen a Las Vegas massacre that was the biggest mass shooting in modern history. These are dark times — some might even say they feel like end times. How can we maintain any hope or optimism at a moment like this? On this episode, I explore this question with Rabbi Adam Morris. You’ll hear us discuss how to think through the larger sense of despondence that seems to have taken hold in America. And we have a pretty intense conversation about how many Jews struggle with their simultaneous affinity for the idea of Israel, and their disgust with some of the Israeli government’s actions. This is a wide-ranging discussion — I hope it provides you with a thought-provoking perspective on how to process this tumultuous moment that we are all living through.
Sports and politics — some say they go together, others say they should never go together, and that athletes should just shut up and play. President Trump touched off a big debate about the topic with his incendiary comments last week. On this first of two episodes, I discuss the role of athletes in politics with the one and only Kareem Abdul Jabbar — an icon whose life has been a study in how athletics and politics intertwine. Since he was a young player, Kareem chose to use his platform for political causes. In 1967, he stood in solidarity at the famous “Ali Summit’ to show support for Muhammed Ali’s refusal to be drafted into the war. He then boycotted the 1968 Olympics. Now, he is a prolific writer on political and cultural issues. During our conversation, we discussed everything from civil rights to Islamophobia to his role in Airplane! to the Colin Kaepernick controversy to climate change.
It’s that time of year we all know so well — the summer is ending, the smell of autumn is in the air, and that means its the back to school vibe, and football season. But that may not be a reason to rejoice. In recent years we’ve been hit by some disturbing science suggesting that football is more dangerous than we ever thought. There are concerns about concussions and CTE — the long-term brain damage believed to be caused by repeated head trauma. A recent study of 111 brains of NFL players found that 110 of them showed signs of CTE. Luke Zaleski knows this science pretty well — he is the research director for GQ magazine, which has published stories about the health and safety concerns surrounding football. In a new article, Zaleski reviewed his own personal decisionmaking process as a father of an 8-year-old boy who wanted to play tackle football in school. On this episode, I talk to Zaleski about his article called “What Kind of Father Lets His Son Play Football?”
This weekend was the Labor Day holiday — a day that is supposed to celebrate the American worker. But does our country honors the American worker on a day to day basis? On this first of two podcasts about the changing relationship between workers and employers, I talk to Rick Wartzman — the former Wall Street Journal reporter whose new book says no, America does not honor workers anymore. Wartzman explores a fundamental shift in corporate culture, and argues that things could get far worse for employees in the age of technological change. He also offers up straightforward policies that could begin to improve the situation.
A major American city is once again under water after a huge tropical storm: this time it’s Houston, Texas, the oil industry capital of America. One climate scientist has already said human-caused climate change may have amplified the unprecedented weather event. But is it appropriate to mention climate change amid these kinds of natural disasters? We explore that question on this first of two special episodes with journalist Naomi Klein. She says the attempt to shut down a discussion of climate change amid a natural disaster is a destructive political effort to avoid an urgently needed conversation about how to reduce carbon emissions. She also warns that Republicans may try to turn the disaster into a rationale to further expand fossil fuel development.