On October 17, 2014, Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen voice her concerns about student loan debt and record high income inequality. Earlier this week, an hour of The Diane Rehm Show was devoted to Yellen’s comments.
Here is a description of the segment:
Earlier this month Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen spoke of the increasingly unequal distribution of wealth and income in this country. She warned that Americans at lower income levels have relatively very little chance to advance, and she questioned whether “this trend is compatible with values rooted in our nation’s history”. Some criticized her for stepping so squarely into what many perceive to be a partisan debate. Others argue that recent Fed policies have themselves contributed to the economic divide. Please join us as Senator Elizabeth Warren and three economists discuss what’s driving economic inequality and what, if anything, we should do about it.
Scott Winship: Walter B. Wriston fellow at the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research; formerly research manager of the Economic Mobility Project of The Pew Charitable Trusts.
Dean Baker: co-director, Center for Economic and Policy Research and blogger, Beat the Press; author of “The End of Loser Liberalism: Making Markets Progressive.”
Elizabeth Warren: U.S. Senator, D, Massachusetts; author of The New York Times bestselling memoir, “A Fighting Chance” (2014)
Edward Kleinbard: professor of law, University of Southern California Gould School of Law; author of the forthcoming book: “We Are Better Than This: How Government Should Spend Our Money” (October 2014).
Marijuana Legalization and Public Health
This year saw a strange overlap of holidays. Easter corresponded with the pot smoker celebration of 420. Perhaps even more significant is the fact that this is the first 420 where marijuana can be purchased legally (in Colorado and Washington state). The Diane Rehm Show recently discussed marijuana legalization and its public health effects.
Here is a description for the segment from the show’s website:
Across the country, public attitudes towards legalizing marijuana have shifted and state legislatures are responding. No state has gone as far as Washington State or Colorado—where marijuana sales are legal—but many are moving to decriminalize the drug or make it available for medical use. And cash strapped states considering legalization are closely watching Colorado where the governor recently predicted a tax windfall. But while politicians are more eager to get on board, public health officials continue to raise alarm bells about the safety of lighting up. Guest host Susan Page and her guests discuss the business and changing politics of marijuana.
Debating Paid Family Leave
Recently, The Diane Rehm show discussed state programs that require paid family leave for workers and efforts to institute such policies federally.
Here is a description of the podcast:
Most federal workplace laws date back to the 1930s when a majority of mothers did not work outside the home. As family and work patterns have shifted, the need for paid time off to care for family members has increased. In the absence of federal paid leave, a few states have passed laws that allow employees to take paid leave to care for a newborn, adopted child or seriously ill relative. Rhode Island, California and New Jersey allow workers to pay part of their wages into a fund that pays for the leave. Diane and a panel of guests discuss the impact of paid leave on businesses and families.
Lisa Horn – director of congressional affairs, Society for Human Resource Management.
Brigid Schulte – reporter, The Washington Post and author of the upcoming book: “Overwhelmed: Work, Love and Play When No One Has the Time.”
Ellen Bravo – executive director, Family Values @ Work.
Kirsten Gillibrand – U.S. Senator, New York (D).
It appears likely that poverty and inequality will be major political topics for 2014. No novel captures the suffering associated with poverty better than John Steinbeck’s classic “The Grapes of Wrath.” Recently, The Diane Rehm Show discussed “The Grapes of Wrath,” its enduring legacy and an upcoming film remake.
Here is a description of the program:
For our January Readers’ Review: “The Grapes of Wrath” by John Steinbeck. Published almost 75 years ago, Steinbeck’s story of the Joad family’s migration from Dust Bowl Oklahoma to California holds important lessons for today. Diane and her guests discuss Steinbeck’s classic novel.
Leslie Maitland former reporter, The New York Times and author, “Crossing the Borders of Time.”
Joseph McCartin history professor, Georgetown University and director, Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor. He is an expert on U.S. labor, social and political history.
Susan Shillinglaw English professor, San Jose State University (SJSU) and scholar in residence, National Steinbeck Center. For 18 years, she was director of the Center for Steinbeck Studies at SJSU.
Reforming Juvenile Justice Laws
Recently, Diane Rehm devoted an hour of her show to discussing efforts to reform juvenile justice and penal system. It is worth a download for anyone interested in juvenile justice.
Here is a description of the podcast:
Over the last decade, 23 states have enacted laws that aim to keep juveniles out of adult prisons and court systems. The shift is a reversal of the tough-on-crime legislation of the 1980s and 1990s. The new laws stem from concerns about teenage suicides in adult jails and new research showing that young people held in adult courts are more likely to be repeat offenders than juveniles not held in adult jails. But some state attorneys are against the change. They say the legislation adds unnecessary delays to prosecution and are an insult to victims. Join Diane and a panel of guests for a discussion on these new laws that aim to keep youths out of adult prisons and courts.
John Schwartz, national correspondent, The New York Times.
Liz Ryan, president, Campaign for Youth Justice.
Dan May, district attorney, Colorado Springs, Colo.
The Cheneys and Changing Attitudes Towards Same-Sex Marriage
If you are interested in the same-sex marriage debate as it relates to the actual policy issues underpinning the debate–as opposed to the rhetoric and politics of the debate–I wholeheartedly urge you to listen today’s episode of The Diane Rehm Show. Not only does the show contain a great panel of guests (see below), it also has some fantastic, passionate callers and emails.
Here is a description of the show:
Polls show that about half of Americans approve of allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry. But among Republicans, that percentage drops sharply. This week a public rift in the family of former Vice President Dick Cheney thrust the issue onto the front page again. One of Cheney’s daughters is married to a woman. The other, Liz Cheney, is running for office on the Republican ticket in Wyoming. On national TV over the over the weekend, Liz Cheney said she believes in the traditional definition of marriage. That puts her in line with most other Republicans –- but not most other Americans. Diane and her guests discuss changing perspectives on same-sex marriage.
Jonathan Rauch: senior fellow at the Brookings Institution; author of “Denial: My 25 Years Without a Soul” and “Gay Marriage: Why It Is Good for Gays, Good for Straights, and Good for America.”
Michael Dimock: director, Pew Research Center for the People and the Press.
Maggie Gallagher: American Principles Project and co-author of “Debating Same-Sex Marriage.”
Special thanks to Matt McKeon, a regular contributor to the SLACE Blog, for bringing this podcast to my attention. Matt writes about LGBTQ issues. His blog posts can be found here.