Fareed’s Take: “Restoring the American Dream”
Yesterday, Fareed Zakaria GPS began with “Fareed’s Take” on poverty, education and the American Dream.
Here is a description of the commentary:
A recent OECD report points out that the U.S. is one of only three rich countries that spends less on disadvantaged students than others, largely because education funding for elementary and secondary schools in America is tied to local property taxes. So by definition, poor neighborhoods end up with badly funded schools. In general, America spends lots of money on education but most of it is on college education and most is directed towards those already advantaged in various ways.
What’s clear from all this research is that countries that invest more heavily in all their children’s health care, nutrition, and education, well-being more generally end up with a much stronger ladder of opportunity and access than America. Now, that is something we can change and with relatively little money. So if we want to restore the American dream, we now have the beginnings of a path forward.
For more, read the Washington Post column
Treasury Secretary Jack Lew on The State of the American Economy
This past Sunday, Fareed Zakaria interviewed U.S. Treasury Jack Lew in a wide ranging discussion.
Are Baby Boomers Bankrupting Their Grandchildren?
That was the proposition being debated on the BBC’s Moral Maze last week. Although this debate centers on the situation in the United Kingdom, this a debate is relevant to United States.
Tires, Tariffs, and Grizz: Oh My!
NPR’s Planet Money recently ran as story answering the question: “why are tire prices so damn high?” Here is a description of the story:
The price of tires has risen by about 40 percent in the past five years. That’s partly because rubber prices have gone up. But it’s also due to a tariff the U.S. imposed on Chinese tire imports.
As tire prices have risen, more people have been renting tires rather than buying them outright. And renting tires, it turns out, is often a bad deal in the long run.
On today’s show: How a celebrated attempt to help one group of people ended quietly hurting a much larger group. Also on the show: The Grizz.
For more, see our story Why More People Are Renting Tires. And see the paper we mention on the show, U.S. Tire Tariffs: Saving Few Jobs at High Cost.
NPR’s Planet Money team tells the story of Suboxone, an anti-addiction drug that the government subsidized then regulated to the point that it is almost impossible for addicts to access. To attain the anti-drug, addicts are left turning to… their drug dealers.
Here is a description of the story:
There’s a pill called Suboxone that treats addiction to heroin and pain pills like oxycontin. Doctors and addicts say it’s amazing.
“It was the best thing that ever happened,” one heroin addict told us. “I was like OH. MY. LORD. This is a miracle pill.”
The government spent tens of millions of dollars developing Suboxone. Doctors can prescribe it in their offices. But a lot of people who want it can’t get it from a doctor, so they have to buy it on the street.
Today on the show: Why people have to turn to drug dealers to get a pill that fights addiction.
“America Doesn’t Need A Strong Dollar Policy
That was the proposition debated on NPR’s Intelligence Squared, whose website describes the debate as follows:
It’s often taken for granted that America needs a strong dollar. When the value of the U.S. dollar is strong relative to other currencies, it becomes attractive to investors and allows Americans to buy foreign goods and services cheaply. But in times of recession, are we better off with a weak dollar that stimulates U.S. manufacturing by making our goods cheaper and more competitive? Or will the loss of purchasing power and currency manipulation abroad, offset the potential gains?
The debaters included Fredric Miskin (Columbia Business School) and John Taylor (Chairman and Founder, FX Concepts) arguing in favor of the motion and Steve Forbes(Chairman and Editor-in-Chief, Forbes Media) and James Grant (Editor and Founder, Grant’s Interest Rate Observer).
Bitcoin: The Virtual Currency Bubble?
A recent episode of NPR’s Planet Money discussed a new currency, a virtual currency called Bitcoin. Bitcoin is essentially a currency predicated on a peer-to-peer system (think: the now-defunct Limewire). The podcast explores some metaphysical economic questions (what is money?).
Here is Planet Money’s decription of the story:
Since the start of the year, the Japanese yen has risen by about 12 percent against the dollar. The euro has fallen by about 1 percent.
Then there’s bitcoin, a virtual currency that doesn’t even exist in the physical world. In the past few months, the value of bitcoin has risen by more than 1,000 percent — from less than $20 per bitcoin a few months ago to more than $200 today.
On today’s show, we ask: Is a skyrocketing value a good thing or a bad thing for bitcoin?