We Need a Government Bail-Out

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S1: Following recording may or may not include instances of words being said that the FCC would find me for their long arm could ever reach.

S2: Slate Plus members, I’m here to remind you to take the sleep survey. It’ll be open through April 1st. This is your chance to tell us what you think about sleep plus and sleep. It’ll only take a few minutes and you can find it at Slate.com slash survey.

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S3: It’s Wednesday, March 18th, twenty twenty from Slate. It’s the gist. I’m Mike PESCA. I have never been less depressed to see voter turn out depressed, actually, overall. Florida and Arizona reported increased voting totals as compared to the 2016 Democratic primary, and that is taking into account anemic voting at the actual polls.

S4: And by the way, if you do have anemia, you are in a risk category, should vote at the polls. And thank goodness there wasn’t a lot of voting at the polls in Illinois. Voting in person was off by a half to about a third. So the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners took a snapshot at 1 p.m. on Election Day. Voting was about one hundred twenty five thousand. And in 2016, same time, three hundred thousand. Overall, about half a million fewer voters in Illinois this time around than in 2016. But in Florida and Arizona, these are past 2016 levels. The Florida Department of State reported that more than 630000 Democrats voted by mail and more than 400 30000 Democrats voted early or did early voting. Did the early voting, you just say, took advantage of early voting? The total in Florida, about 30000 more votes than in 2016.

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S5: And if there was no massive pandemic, that could have been spread by doing the exact action of going to a poll, interacting with a poll worker, milling about with your fellow voters, if that wasn’t going on. I’m going to say that Florida would have smashed 2016 records. Arizona doesn’t have all the votes in. But in 2016, they had four hundred sixty six thousand total votes. And just the early stuff was at four hundred eighty thousand before anyone went to the polls on Tuesday. What we all need to do is to move to a no excuse mail in voting option. We do need that, but we’re not going to get it because when it comes to our elections, change comes slow and the pace of change is faster than ever. It seems that way, but I think it also is that way. And our ability to govern is as slow as always, faster than ever. Versus as slow as always. Here’s an indication of the government’s lack of nimbleness. The Senate today voted on a House resolution 62 01, which was the family’s first Corona Virus Response Act. It’s part of the stimulus package. It granted paid sick leave to hourly employees, expanded unemployment insurance. It was voted in in the Senate 90 to 8, which is good. It is a needed measure. I will now list the no votes, see if you detect a pattern. Marsha Blackburn, Republican, Tennessee. James Inhofe, Republican, Oklahoma. Ron Johnson, Republican, Wisconsin. James Lankford, Republican, Oklahoma. Mike Lee, Republican, Utah. Ron Paul, Republican, Kentucky. Ben Sasse, Republican, Nebraska. And Tim Scott, Republican, South Carolina Republicans. But you know, let’s also give Mitch McConnell, Republican leader, said you might not love it, but vote for it. So kudos to Mitch. But you may have noticed that when you have a 90 to eight vote and 100 member body, it means that two people didn’t vote. Not voting.

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S6: Cory Gardner and Rick Scott of Florida. Now, why were they not present? Because they are quarantine self-quarantine. They are doing the responsible thing, not putting themselves and their colleagues in harm’s way. But they and most importantly, their constituents.

S7: Based on that responsible action, get effectively disenfranchised. We know who these senators are. No one’s going to fake a vote. We know why they are away. And yet still we couldn’t find a way to allow them to participate. Their senators. They’re presumably following the debate. They’re up on the issues. I know I know this legislation didn’t hang on one or, you know, 48 votes. But come on. The only way these two guys could’ve participated in a necessary exercise in helping to save the country and thereby representing millions of Americans who voted them into office. The only way they could have done that is to come to the Senate in person, while possibly contagious with a virus that especially affects the aged. So they wouldn’t have to come into a body where the median member age is sixty two point nine years old and there’s no other option. Come on. Our institutions are so often relics, relics in a time when our challenges have accelerated to a pace that a few dozen white men and white wigs couldn’t have and shouldn’t have anticipated. Two hundred years ago on the show today. Is it okay to jog during a quarantine? It is. It is okay. Is it okay to point out that it’s okay to a popular cable news anchor? Maybe less so. But first, let’s talk about that recovery package in the state of the economy. The Dow has triggered more circuit breakers than a sorority drying their. They’re at the same time. Am I right? This is how I deal with stress people. Great humor. The question is, though, what next?

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S8: The estimable Adam Davidson is here to talk. Lawsons Gaines and John Maynard Keynes.

S1: When we talk of stimulus, when we talk of the economy, when we talk of crashes and ways to get out, there’s no I don’t want to talk to you more than Adam Davidson these days. Adam is the CEO of Three Uncanny for a podcast company is the author of The Passion Economy The New Rules for Thriving in the 21st Century. But he’s also a founder of Planet Money, an institution that was born to figure out the Great Recession, which I guess now we will call the last recession. Hello, Adam, how are you?

S9: I’m actually OK. I mean, we.

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S10: Yeah. So far it’s like with our son, it’s feeling like a little bit of an adventure for now. I can’t promise I’ll feel that way a week from now or a month from now. Yeah.

S11: So I remember when Planet Money came out and a giant pool of money and there was a debate about stimulus, how much money to give. How much was too much. And you were always a bit of a Keynesian where you would argue what we need to do is get money into the hands of people. Pretty much the more the better. It seems like much of the government has come around to this way of thinking this time that they’re seeing stimulating as the priority and also talking about just handing checks to Americans. Does this seem like a good idea to you?

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S10: It does. Yes, it does. I think it’s maybe what I would call necessary, but not sufficient. So in normal times when there’s a major economic slowdown, it’s not always but very often. And certainly the last many, not just the Great Recession with John Maynard Keynes, the great economist, called the paradox of thrift, which is when there is a crisis. Each of us behaves in a way that makes sense individually, but is disastrous collectively. So we hear a crisis is coming. We get a little anxious. We spend less because we want to save for a rainy day and then everybody’s doing that at the same time. It creates a really bad situation where people are buying stuff. Companies aren’t making money. Companies start laying people off. Those people are no longer just choosing not to spend. They don’t have money to spend. That freaks out the people who do have money. So they save even more. And on and on and on. And it’s a really profound insight, because before Cain’s, the general thinking in economics was markets are always going to just get back to a healthy clip eventually if you get out of their way. And I’d say except for, you know, a small number of ideologues in their 80s, that’s not the general view among economists or policymakers anymore. And as you see now, we are seeing a real you know, what are they say? There’s no market fundamentalists in foxholes. I mean, when the crisis gets bad, everybody’s a Keynesian. So, yes, normally this would be the an obvious move that you would expect to have a very quick response if it’s big enough. The problem here is. You and I are not choosing not to spend because. We’re worried about, you know, our economic future. We’re choosing not to spend because we’re stuck in our homes. You know, this is unchartered territory. We’re gonna have to find out how economic tools work. But yes, at a minimum, what this does is it allows some people and businesses to prepare a little bit better with a little bit less panic. So we don’t add the usual paradox of thrift to the crisis and hopefully keep the economy at least. I mean, it almost certainly be in a deep recession, but keep it from being in a real crisis. So when this does lift, we’re in a reasonable place right now.

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S11: The other tool that was deployed, which was a cutting of interest rates. Now, it seemed the day after the day, the markets respond to that. It didn’t just respond by shrugging it off. The markets almost angrily responded. We cut our interest rates to zero and there was this huge crash. We should always caution not to read too much into a one day market reaction. But why didn’t that effort. Cutting it to zero seemed to do anything to the people who at least have a little bit of a finger on the pulse of where the economy is going.

S10: I mean, it’s the opposite. It didn’t do anything, as you said. I mean, it was fast. I did some math. And Monday’s stock market, if if you allow for inflation, was lower than the day President Trump was inaugurated. We literally erased the entire Trump presidency of of economic gains. This was a little bit confusing usually when the Federal Reserve makes a major move. The market likes it because it’s a sign that the economy will will heat up again. I think a couple reasons for caution here. One is one thing that’s been fascinating this last week, I think each of us experienced this with ourselves, with our family, you know, watching people on the news, perhaps watching our president is almost day by day. You’re seeing people getting it in a way that they didn’t get it just hours before. And it seems as if people in the market have been a tiny touch behind understanding how big this is to the Fed, kind of pulling out all the stops, perhaps woke up some people. But then the other thing is the Fed pulled out all their stops. They shot all their guy, other bullets. They don’t have a lot. They have a few tools left, but they don’t have a lot of tools left.

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S12: So it’s like either this works or we’re in for something. You know, we don’t have a lot of other options from the central bank, which is always consumers. You have. When we talk about central banks. Yeah.

S11: Yeah. Are you of the opinion and you hear this? Well, since it didn’t work, it was a mistake. We should have and people use phrases like keep more ammo or keep your powder dry. On the other hand, there’s just the no there’s a right interest rate. And if that right interest rate is zero, don’t concern yourself with the fact that in the future you can’t lower interest rates again.

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S13: So what does the Fed do? The Fed? The primary role of the Fed is to set what they call the interest free rate. That mean that’s interbank loans, banks lending money to each other overnight. And when the Fed raises it or lowers it, it’s essentially pulling a moving a dimmer switch on the entire economy, raising and lowering the amount of risk that people are willing to take. The viability of risk, etc.. So by essentially what the Fed did is like the lights are as bright as they can possibly be. And it’s trying to make banks lend money like crazy to everybody who asks them to. So restaurants that are in hard times, companies that need some money to to survive this. Individuals who might want to refinance their mortgage, if that’s something that you can do these days, that sort of thing. And by doing this, the Fed is hoping that through the normal process of banking, this will kind of move out throughout the economy and eventually lead to more economic activity. So it’s an instant action they can take. But the impact can take quite a while, as much as months or a year, year and a half. So I do think they really had no choice but to go all the way because they needed both to signal they’re not messing around. And they also needed to actually change the fundamental nature of our economy in a dramatic way.

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S12: But the Fed also was doing something which it normally doesn’t do. It was being pretty explicitly political and basically saying and through action, making clear we’re going to do this, but Congress really needs to act that we can change the risk reward calculus among bankers. And that’s an important thing to do in a crisis. But at the end of the day, someone’s got to start spending a lot of money. And the only one who can spend a lot of money is the government. And so they better figure out how to spend a lot of money.

S14: Yeah. So I guess every recession is different, not just bigger or smaller or maybe. They just feel different, I mean, the last great recession they called great, and so that seemed different, but this one really seems different. This doesn’t seem like there are too many fundamental reasons why things are slowing down as much as this euge virus. And if, you know, let us hope we get past the virus, then things will just pick up. So maybe it’s analogous to a natural disaster, you know, Hurricane Katrina, but hitting everyone at once for America, that does seem to be the case.

S12: I mean, a lot of economists were expecting that we’re at risk of a recession, but not at risk of a severe recession. I would say even before the virus, China, Europe were in more serious trouble. Japan, there was more sign that something more substantial was coming. So we did have kind of a weakened global economy. But you’re right. And the U.S. certainly economies called endogenous. It’s it’s a product of the internal to the economy. I mean, the the sort of simplistic story is companies. And you can hear my work from home. My son is walking behind us. Hi, that’s Asher. He runs the finances for our company. You know, that’s kind of standard story is companies think the future is going to be really good. They hire a bunch of people. They start making a ton of stuff. That’s really good. Lots of companies are doing that. People are buying stuff. Things are going great. And then at some point there’s a little bit of a slowdown. And then companies think, oh, boy, there’s the slowdown. They start stop making stuff as much. They start laying people off. That makes people afraid. And so you actually have to like lose inventory eventually. And then sort of over time, the economy kind of kicks back in. That’s clearly not what’s happening. You and I, as I said, are not choosing not to shop because we just feel bad about the financial future or our employers have too many inventory in the warehouse. And so. It is untested. I mean, I guess the Spanish flu is sort of the closest analogue and macroeconomics didn’t even exist then. We didn’t even economies didn’t even have a theory for how to impact the economy. You know, much like what the Great Recession, we had to invent a whole host of new tools. I think we’re going to see some creativity in the coming days and weeks.

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S14: Have you looked at what happens to places hit by a natural disaster? Because sometimes I mean, I have looked at some studies and sometimes it seems like obviously there is a portion of depressed activity. But then the stimulus and the rebuilding and places recover stronger than before. Not to say that the disaster was good, but if you just look at the trend lines and output, sometimes it’s higher than it would have been without a huge, disruptive, horrible thing.

S12: So part of it is just a measurement thing that the way GDP is defined, it’s new products and services. And so a factory or a house or a car just sitting there is not adding to GDP. But if you destroy all that stuff and you build new ones, it’s creating the appearance of growth. Even though you’re not actually creating new real wealth, you’re replacing the old wealth. It’s just more like a measurement bias, not a real like economic change. But there’s no question that when there’s an isolated disaster in a otherwise well-functioning economy, you can see a lot of economic growth. But that’s, first of all, not always the case. I mean, you look at New Orleans just became a smaller city with less economic activity after Katrina. Certainly there were lots of people who benefited, but the city as a whole just was permanently poorer. Other times, you know, natural disasters are basically poverty, disasters. You know, Haiti was not really an earthquake disaster. It was a disaster of a really poor country that had terrible building standards. You know, the same earthquake in another country wouldn’t have had the same kind of effect. So you see that that country just stays poor, too. I don’t know. I think bad things are bad. I think this is bad. I think we’re now in the let’s make it less bad. But I mean, look, people profit from everything. And there will be people who profit tremendously, no doubt, from this disaster. But our country as a whole will be a bit poorer. That is just true.

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S14: And on that passionate note, let me ask you, if you wish to stimulate the economy, you may wish to buy the passion economy, which was written by my guest, Adam Davidson, who is a small business owner. The name of the company is Three Uncanny four. He’s also the founder of NPR’s Planet Money.

S15: B, well, Adam, thank you very much. Thank you. And thanks to Ash for his contribution. Ash was really glad to be on the show and hopes you continue your good.

S6: And now the schpiel. Yesterday, a man on Twitter accused me of retroactively killing his long dead grandmother. Let us trace how we get to that place. First, I was watching CNN’s coverage of the primary. Good job. Jake Tapper, always an excellent anchor, discussing with John King at the Big Board. Use your elbows, not your fingers, with the touch screen, John. You got Axelrod. Gloria Borger, good. Terry McAuliffe, great experience, actual former governor. You got ALEXANDRA Rojas of the DSA. She hasn’t made an original point in a week. But OK, overall, really good show. What I needed then the topic shifts a little bit to San Francisco. They go live. The city has been on lockdown, which is to say stay at home with a few exceptions on the screen. We see a reporter. Reporters can be out. That’s good. That’s central. I support that. And he’s doing his standup at the. I think they call it the Embarcadero. It’s a place where people can congregate or move or in this case, jog, take a walk to people walking hand in hand. And the sight of this guy, Jake Tapper, extremely upset to his great consternation. People in the background of this live shot were rollerblading. There weren’t a lot of people.

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S1: They weren’t in clusters, but people were clearly a roller blade. Tapper was not happy.

S16: Look, everybody understands if you have a doctor’s appointment for an important, important procedure, you go to the doctor if you need groceries or else you’re not going to be able to survive. You go to the grocery store. But this idea of people roller blading when this pandemic is going on, the idea of Tabbara went on to cite crowded beaches as being an outrage, which, by the way, is a decent point.

S5: But he returned to watching the jogger’s on the screen and got madder and madder.

S16: I mean, the selfishness of people who are not taking this seriously is in. It’s just maddening. And I guess some people just don’t understand it. And I get. But. But what bothers me is that people who just think, well, I’m young, I’m not going to die from it. First of all, not necessarily true. Second of all, you can get really, really sick and you could be injured for the rest of your life with like scarred lungs. And third of all, who the hell are you to be walking around just giving this to old people? And you and you’re just flippantly dismissing.

S5: Obviously, if you are giving it to old people, you are horrible. But if you think walking around is what is giving it to old people, that’s wrong. He kept coming back in disbelief at this live shot which showed people out of doors, exercising, moving, walking past each other. So I tweeted, I’m watching Jake Tapper voicing enrage mint at people jogging outdoors in San Francisco. It would be more rational for the joggers to be incensed that Jake is in a studio staffed by cameramen, makeup people and sound engineers, to which Jake Tapper later tweeted. Go ahead and tell Dr. Sanjay Gupta that he shouldn’t be concerned by what he saw in that shot of San Francisco Bee.

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S6: You have zero idea what we’re doing at CNN to lessen risk. Zero. OK, first things first. I know what I’m talking about regarding jogging. I wanted to go for a jog. I did some research. Turns out it’s good to jog. Plus, I am a journalist. And when I tweet things, especially criticisms of other journalists, I feel I best come correct. So as to the issue of is jogging outside or rollerblading a selfish act actually banned in San Francisco? No, explicitly so. San Francisco Chronicle in a Q&A on the quarantine order. Q Can I still go outside for essentials, exercise and fresh air? A Yes. People will still be able to leave their homes to handle essential business in limited circumstances and to get fresh air. As far as Dr. Gupta also being upset by what he saw in San Francisco, maybe Dr. Gupta was wrong. Maybe you had the phenomenon of a contributor deferring to the anchor man, possibly the anchor man who is experiencing deep ire. Maybe he heard you conflating exercise, which is good with going to the beach, which is bad, and to want to pick apart the message, but just wanted to communicate clearly. It’s better to stay inside, which it is in general. And while Dr. Gupta is a doctor and a valuable voice in this coverage, there are other experts as well. Fox spoke to Lamar Hasbrouck, a public health expert and a former senior medical officer at the CDC. He recommended exercising outdoors, saying you lower your risk of catching or spreading illness thanks to good ventilation. And because if you cough, nobody is around and the droplets just fall and hit the ground. Sports Illustrated’s Chris Ballard quoted University of California San Francisco epidemiologist Jeff Martin about exercising outdoors. He said, Eh, it’s OK provided you keep your distance and b it’s important to maintain fitness levels both for your stress reduction and to help the body fight the virus if you get it. The rollerbladers were quickly zipping by the. Loggers who are moving past the strollers and all seemed well spaced in the shop we saw on CNN. As far as Jake Tapper’s assertion to me that I have zero idea what we’re doing at CNN to lessen risk is zero. I don’t know. Perhaps I have some idea. Perhaps it’s similar to what MSNBC, which I’ve been on and will continue to be on, I think Friday with Brian Williams during the crisis, during the pandemic price, similar to what they’re doing. So to recap, Jake, in defending his inaccurate on air assertion, made a Twitter assertion that he couldn’t know the accuracy of about what I know. But if you want to know what the accuracy of it was, it was an accurate look. I don’t want to get into it on Twitter with Jake Tapper because Twitter socks and it amplifies differences and it’s not about conversations. And I also generally think now is a good time to just give people a break. I mean, Jake had just got done anchoring hours of coverage. He did it very well. His heart is certainly in the right place. We both have dads in their 80s. Idiots definitely shouldn Ghosheh. Kid Rock right now. In fact, in my tweet before I hit send, I had the at sign, you know, Jake Tapper. So he’d be sure that I tend to know that I was criticizing him, but I wasn’t really criticizing him and I wasn’t really calling him out. I just wrote his name to make a point. And the point is exercise. Good. I’ve been on TV, I’m on radio and podcasts and you get nitpicked from all corners. And sometimes people feel they have to give you the at sign. Just so you know. I didn’t like what you said. He didn’t need to know. It’s fine if he didn’t know. Just wanted to make my point. Exercise good being in the studio. Probably less good than exercise. My point was between jogging and getting wired by the sound guy runs the audio wire through your shirt and under your sports jacket. Jogging is better for everyone. Which brings me to the responses to our conversation. Some are good. Some are bad. Most of the factual ones. I think we’re on my side. Some of the more overwrought ones were on Jake’s side. Someone wrote to me. Not really, dude. You live in New York. S.F. residents will have to deal with the repercussions of this, not you. So your point about limiting community spread is that it won’t affect me in New York.

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S17: But then we get to the guy with the grandma. A lot of us have grandmas, but this guy had an ex grandma that he pointed to as an indication of why I was wrong. He even provided me with a picture of his grandma. She seems like a nice lady. Or seemed. Here’s what this guy JJ wrote, Mr. PESCA. Were she alive today? Your cavalier attitude would have put at risk. My grandmother, who was born seven years before the Titanic, survive Spanish Flu, World War 1, the Great Depression, World War 2 saw the lunar landing and was in my life until she was 100. Whose grandparents? Will you take away what J.J. is saying? Is she alive today? I’d have killed his grandma.

S6: She’d be rolling over in her grave if she weren’t actually already in her grave. But that’s because of my attitude. So when you think about it, she did succumb to something before she even knew about my attitude.

S18: Or you did. I don’t know what it was. We could rule out the Kaiser and the iceberg, but other suspects or suspect attitudes are still at large. J, I’m sorry your grandmother died, you know, before my tweet could kill her. By the way, if your grandmother were alive today, going by the 7 years before the Titanic, she’d be 115 years old, making her the oldest person in the United States. And somewhere between the third to fifth oldest person in the world.

S17: Just some fascinating facts to help or perhaps comfort you or maybe distract you in these hard times. And while I’m at my moment, my peak moment of least sympathetic, I will now answer your question. Whose grandparents will you take away? Arabella Kushner? Not permanently, of course. Just, you know, to the sidelines before we have to deal with one of these crises again.

S19: And that’s it for today’s show, Pricella Lobby is the associate producer of The Gist. She has zero idea how the Brooklyn Nets got all those Corona tests. Zero. Daniel Schrader is the producer of The Gist. He has four ideas how to make his own llama brownies from home. The gist? I am now headed out for my daily jog. I swear never to exceed seven miles per hour if you wish to catch up to me and guilt me about your grandma in person. Poor adepero your proof. And thanks for listening.