Tag Archives: Planet Money

“The Kansas Experiment”

In recent years, Kansas has lived a conservative economic fantasy: dramatically cut taxes.  The most recent Planet Money podcast discusses this economic experiment.

Here is a description of the episode from the NPR website:

Today on the show, a Republican governor lives the dream. He cuts taxes dramatically in his state, and he promises good times ahead. But the good times do not come. Now he’s fighting for his political life.

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Why Textbooks Cost So Much

Recently, the Planet Money podcast tackled a topic relevant to student: the increasing costs of textbooks.

Here is a description of the show from the NPR website:

Prices of new textbooks have been going up like crazy. Faster than clothing, food, cars, and even healthcare.

Listeners have been asking for years why textbooks are getting so expensive. On today’s show, we actually find an answer.

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Innovative Tax Collection Techniques

In “celebration” of Tax Day last week, NPR‘s Planet Money podcast did a story about innovative tax collection techniques that are employed internationally.  

Here is a description of the story, titled “The Tough, The Sweet And The Nosy,” from the NPR website: 

Millions of tax cheats never get caught. And the IRS seems powerless to stop them.

This isn’t just a problem in the U.S. American taxpayers are Dudley Do-Rights compared to people in some other countries. On today’s show, we head to some of the cheating-est places on earth to bring you tales from some of the roughest, toughest tax collectors around. These guys have tricks, tax collector mind-games, that they play to get people to do the right thing.

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April 23, 2014 · 10:12 am

Barilla Pasta and the Italian Economy

Bar none, one of the best podcasts around is NPR’s Planet Money podcast.  If nothing else, it provides good small talk/networking fodder as it provides intersects interesting stories with economic concepts.  This story (from 2012),  which I mentioned to a friend this weekend, is a prime example. It discusses the story of two Barilla pasta factories and the productivity of the Italian workforce.  

Here is a description from the NPR website: 

A decade ago, the Barilla pasta factory in Foggia, Italy, had a big problem with people skipping work. The absentee rate was around 10 percent.

People called in sick all the time, typically on Mondays, or on days when there was a big soccer game.

Foggia is in southern Italy. Barilla’s big factory in northern Italy had a much lower absentee rate. This is not surprising; there’s a huge economic gap between southern and northern Italy. It’s like two different countries.

Barilla execs told Nicola Calandrea, the manager of the Foggia plant, that they would close the factory unless he brought the absenteeism rate down.

Calandrea decided that to save the factory, he had to change the culture. On today’s show, we visit the factory and hear how Calandrea made it work.

For More: How A Pasta Factory Got People To Show Up For Work.

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April 21, 2014 · 2:25 pm

Why the Internet is Faster in the UK

Last Friday, the Planet Money podcast did a story about how American communications law has lead to the United States to have fewer internet service providers and slower internet connections than the United Kingdom.  

Here is a description of the podcast from the NPR website: 

People love to complain about their internet service, but the thing that seems to make people the craziest is they can’t switch. No matter how slow. No matter how bad the customer service. There isn’t much choice. But, this isn’t true for people in lots of other countries. In Europe, in parts of Asia, there is a real choice of who brings your internet to you.

Today on the show: Why do Americans have so few options when buying internet service? Where’s my internet jetpack?

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April 7, 2014 · 10:32 pm

Economics of the Ukrainian Crisis

With Russian on the march in Crimea, NPR’s Planet Money podcast recently discussed the economics of the conflict between Russia and the Ukraine and the role natural gas plays in the dispute.

Here is a description of the podcast from the Planet Money Blog:

On today’s show, how a policy that made natural gas very cheap for every household in Ukraine almost bankrupted the nation. And how that led, in part, to the conflict between Russia and Ukraine.

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March 20, 2014 · 5:45 pm

Why Elder Law Professors Love La Crosse, Wisconsin

The most recent episode of the Planet Money podcast was about La Crosse, Wisconsin, which it describes as “The Town That Loves Death.” Despite this ominous description, La Crosse, Wisconsin is not as sinister as it sounds.  Instead, it is a city that any elder law professor would be proud to live in as 96% of adult citizens of La Crosse, Wisconsin have express advance directives to prepare for their passing.  

Here is a description of the podcast from the Planet Money website: 

People in La Crosse, Wisconsin are used to talking about death. In fact, 96 percent of people who die in this small, Midwestern city have specific directions laid out for when they pass. That number is astounding. Nationwide, it’s more like 50 percent.

In today’s episode, we’ll take you to a place where dying has become acceptable dinner conversation for teenagers and senior citizens alike. A place that also happens to have the lowest healthcare spending of any region in the country.

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March 3, 2014 · 3:49 pm