The Edit Button

Listen to this episode

S1: Hello. Welcome to the edit button episode is Slate Money your guide to the Business and Finance News of the Week. I’m Felix Salmon of Axios. I’m joined from the Axios while I’m in the Axios office. But my colleague Emily Peck, you’re still at home?

S2: Yes. Hello.

S1: And we are both joined by Elizabeth Spiers. Elizabeth, welcome.

S3: Thank you.

S1: Tell me about your various affiliations, because we have some heartbreaking news here.

Advertisement

S3: Well, here at Slate, I write the Peter column, which is a column about the ethics of money and personal finance.

S1: But you’re now adding another another arrow to your quiver is another string to your bow.

S3: Yes. I am now a co-host on Slate Money Week. Very exciting. I didn’t tell you.

S1: Well done. This is great. Now, this is awesome, because now I have two people who love to tell me that I’m wrong about everything, which is how we like it here on this show. And we’re going to talk about Ellen, the man who wants an edit button and looks like he might be getting it and who owns a chunk of Twitter that happened this week. So we’re going to talk about that. We are going to talk about Amazon being unionized for the first time ever right here in New York City. Exciting stuff. And we are going to talk about Ukraine and whether and how giving money to Ukraine may or may not be a good idea. We also have a slate plus segment on hot desking. And whether that ever works. And spoiler alert, I’m very bad at it. It’s all coming up on Slate. Money. Okay. We have to talk about Elon because Elon Musk not satisfied with being the Tesla electric vehicle gazillionaire and the solar power gazillionaire and the boring tunnel’s gazillionaire and the spaceflight gazillionaire and the satellite gazillionaire and all the rest of it. And the sort of, you know, occasional party. Grimes Arms Candy is now on the board of Twitter, the single largest shareholder of Twitter, teaming up seemingly with Jack Dorsey, the founder of Twitter, who claims that he’s been trying to get Elon on the board for years and the two of them could be unstoppable. Does he have designs to take over an entire social network? Is this what billionaires do in their spare time is thinking to themselves, I should just take over Twitter.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S3: All of this for an edit button.

S1: I mean, it is a lot it is a lot of effort to go to from that. But. Okay, well, why don’t we start with this? Because it is the the question of the moment. Elizabeth Spiers Do you think there’s an edit button is a good idea?

S3: I want an edit button. I think I’m in the minority there, but it’s because I write a lot of threads and then invariably I find typos and like the middle tweet. So you can’t just delete the whole thing out and then or you can repost it, but then it’s really annoying. So I’m a compulsive shredder who makes a lot of typos, so of course I want an edit button.

Advertisement

S1: Emily, should we have an edit button?

S2: I mean, who cares? Yeah, sure. We should have an edit button. Everyone does typos on Twitter. It’s not hard to pull it off. You can keep the old version. You know, this has been edited. Click to see the old version. Kind of like how Facebook does. I don’t think it would be the end of the world by any means. I don’t think that’s why Elon Musk is now on the Twitter board and holds a little over 9% of the Twitter stock. Right. I think it’s because, like Felix wrote, he wants to be a media mogul of of our time. And that means, you know, being a part of Twitter, it doesn’t mean like buying The Washington Post or anything like that. And the news did coincide with Musk overtaking Jeff Bezos on some of that one of those billionaire lists or something, which is kind of interesting.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S1: Boy, Jeff Bezos, you know, he he lost a bunch of money just by getting divorced. Right. I think if he hadn’t got divorced is still be number one. Let this be a lesson to you. Sleep money listeners, stay married. And that way you can stay atop the The Rich List rankings.

S2: Yeah, that was quite it was very damaging. It pushed him from from 1 to 2. So he’s really that’s devastating for Jeff. I guess the question is, will Elon Musk prove to be more influential on Twitter’s board than just as Twitter’s biggest troll?

S1: Basically biggest. Biggest shit poster.

S2: Biggest shit poster. Right. What do you think, Elizabeth?

Advertisement

S3: Yeah, I think he’s already sort of turning Twitter into a meme stock, so any time he insinuates that he might do something, you can sort of expect the stock to move. And I think that alone is, you know, influence, at least in terms of the way the other board members view him, how the company views him internally. And he does have a lot of cultural power on the platforms. And as much as they care about that, you know, that’s that’s significant, I think.

S1: I think so. I wrote a column for Wired back in 2018 saying that Twitter should ban Elon Musk from Twitter, that he was that bad. I think 2018 was probably the low point for Elon Twitter. That was when he would send like a troll army against any journalists who dared to criticize him. It was when his Tesla was struggling and he didn’t know whether it would survive and he was very much on edge. And he is open about the fact that he wasn’t sleeping and he was very, you know, irascible. But he took he took his anger out in like very, very bad ways, especially on female journalists and obviously on, you know, people trying to rescue kids in caves in Thailand, calling them pedo guy and stuff like that. He is he is not an example of someone who uses Twitter in a sort of socially upright and responsible way. He is a troll. He is a shit post. And now he is on the board of Twitter. And I just feel like he doesn’t do things by halves. Like why would he want 9.2% of Twitter? I think the reason why Twitter stock has done so well this week is not because it is a meme stock, but it’s because everyone knows if he long wants 9.2% of Twitter, what he really wants is 100% of Twitter. And he’s going to have to pay, you know, a takeover premium. So they’re bidding it up.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S2: I don’t want Elon Musk to take over Twitter. I don’t know how either of you feel about it. I just feel very uncomfortable.

S1: Be terrible. It would be very, very bad. It is a public utility and you don’t want to turn it into a billionaire’s toy. Toy?

S2: Yeah. I mean, I already saw some some stories yesterday that were like, well, Elon wants free speech on Twitter, which is a private company. And there’s no the Bill of Rights does not include social media platforms, to my knowledge and and talk of bringing back the former president to Twitter, which really makes me sick to my stomach like I really would not like that to happen if that’s like the end result of this, if that’s.

Advertisement

S1: Where we going. I was I was absolutely astonished how much better Twitter got after Trump was banned. Yes, I was I was in favor of banning Trump just on the basis of like we should ban Trump. What I didn’t expect is that it would improve the product, the overall product by a noticeable amount.

S2: Yeah, it’s like when a bad colleague like finally leaves the job and you’re like, Oh God, we were spending like 50% of our time just like talking trash about him, and now he’s gone. It’s like the. Yeah, but.

S1: Now I’m back. Emily let you come?

S3: I mean, some of it, too, is because, you know, Trump set a tone for a certain type of conversation and it gave other people license to behave badly. And Musk kind of does that too. The troll army still exists, and I see it every time I read something even slightly negative about Musk he’s they end up in my DMS. So I think when he starts talking about free speech, what he really means is license to do or say whatever he wants. And if that’s the direction the platform goes in, it’s not going to make for a better Twitter experience.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S1: Right. As if Elon Musk is someone who really suffers from inability to say whatever he wants.

S2: Exactly right. But the one thing I’ll add to what I just said, which is the dread I feel about Elon Musk actually controlling Twitter is Tesla seems like a an okay company like his it seems that’s fine it’s.

S1: Terrible it is suffers from crazy racism like all of the class action suits. He’s moving to Texas because he can’t be bothered to pay taxes. He’s you know, he’s hand-in-glove with the Chinese with that massive Gigafactory in Shanghai. Yeah, I’m not I’m not the product. The product falls apart. The product is famously shoddily constructed, but it does go first.

Advertisement

S3: Crashes itself automatically.

S1: If it you know, it does have a voice recognition software where if you say open poop hole, then that will make it open the little things so you can recharge it.

S2: Should we also talk about, like the missteps of Elon Musk in in filing for his stock and all that? Are you excited?

S1: I think that was just him trolling the FCC, right? I mean, I don’t think we need to go into incredible detail about the difference between 13 and 13 filings, because that will put everyone to sleep. But the but the fact is that, you know, Elon famously tweeted that SEC is a three letter acronym. And the second word is Elon’s this is the guy who just loves to caucus snook at the FCC whenever he can. And if he can piss off people at the FCC by failing at that and when he should have filed the 13 G, then he enjoys that.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S2: But I mean, he was late in in declaring that he held the stake and was able to buy more stock at like the 30th dollar price, even though when he finally disclosed that he held all the stock, the stock price went up. So like he made kind of a lot of money by being late to do, you know.

S1: Yeah. The which is why there are rules against that kind of thing and, and which is exactly why these rules exist. And he’s like just laughing. He doesn’t care because he’s Elon also.

S3: The FCC would really have to go scorched earth on him over that, too, to get anywhere. And I don’t think that they have any incentive to do that. And he knows that. You know, he whenever he filed the the documents is a whole army of lawyers telling him how to do it correctly. So I don’t find it plausible either that he was doing it unintentionally.

S1: He’s I’m not sure he has an army of lawyers to be on this. Like Ellen really does strike me as someone as like one of the billionaires with the fewest layers between him in the world. I think I think he really you know, he fired all of his PR people. He’s like, I don’t need a PR anything. I can just have a Twitter account. He obviously doesn’t listen to lawyers. He doesn’t listen to the SEC. So I think he can he can just carry on doing his thing and like and basically on the basis of, well, if the SEC really does try and prosecute me, then I have enough money that I can pay the fine.

S2: Then Twitter with Ellen running, it is going to be like truth social. Trump’s social media failed social media network is falling apart by the minute, but now it’s like Elon’s Twitter will be the new truth social, right?

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S1: Well, I mean, this is the big question, right. Is, is, you know, does having two libertarian Bitcoin brothers effectively controlling the Twitter board because like, it’s very hard to imagine that the board of Twitter won’t do what Elon and Jack between them want. Is that worrisome? And I think the answer is absolutely yes. It is like this is one of the big problems with Twitter. Being a for profit public company is that it is susceptible to multi-billionaires coming in and buying up large chunks of it on a whim and then just deciding to change it. That’s something you can do under capitalism, and it kind of frankly terrifies me.

S3: So what do we think the worst case scenario is here, just for purposes of conversation? Elon Musk run Twitter. How is it different?

S2: Well, my worst case. Scenario I’ve already stated is the return of Donald Trump. But maybe there’s something else I’ve overlooked even worse than that. What could it be?

S1: I think that one of the things that Twitter has put a huge amount of effort into in recent years is trying to make the platform slightly more civilised, slightly less toxic. Try and cut down on the amount of abuse and so on and so forth. And it’s become a little bit strong, you know, stronger in terms of banning people and suspending people and trying to say like, no, we we want to create a healthy conversation here. And if you’re not creating a healthy conversation, then we are not going to think twice about banning you. And presumably all that would go away, right. We would have all of the Kobe truth is coming back. We would have all of the Q and ONS coming back. We would have all of the Trumpists coming back and we would have all of the, you know, the dark things and the harassments and so on coming back. And how would that be good for anyone now? That would be terrible. Well.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S2: I mean, Jack had to go from Twitter because he couldn’t be CEO of two companies. So why does Elon get to be CEO of. Not that that’s on the table right now, but like.

S1: Well, remember that Elan. Remember that Elan was CEO of two companies? Well, he still is. He’s the CEO of Space X.

S2: We can’t be a third. He can’t have a third job. Come on.

S1: Well, he was he was the CEO of three because he did a solar city and SpaceX and Tesla, and then he merged Cell City and Tesla. But now he’s like, two isn’t enough. I need three. Now, I don’t think he will take over as CEO. I do think that, you know, in the back of his head, he’s like, you know, remember, he had that dream of taking Tesla private for $420 a share. You know, he probably has this dream of like, I could take Twitter private and then, you know, as a private company, it can do whatever it likes. And he’s not wrong about that. All right. So shall we change to the less depressing news and talk about what happened in Staten Island this week?

S2: Yes, of course.

S1: Emily has a huge smile on her face. You’re clearly happy about Seth, knowing this could be the very first time that Emily has ever been happy about Staten Island.

S2: That’s mean. No, but this is great news. This happened right after we I think around the time we were recording last week, last Friday, there was this big vote at a warehouse in Staten and Staten Island and New York at the warehouse.

S1: This massive, enormous what’s it called, JFK eight.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S2: Where 8300 workers at the warehouse. And they had a vote whether they wanted to be in a union or not. And they voted yes. They wanted to be in a union. And it was a big win. It was like more than ten percentage points victory, like very definitive kind of victory. And it’s the best story because it’s these two warehouse workers at the The Darkest Moment of the pandemic, March 2020. Amazon is like going full speed ahead. No one feels safe. I remember back then, like you, if you were a reporter back then who reported on workers like it was, it was like everyone in the world was calling you because everything was so awful for these workers at that moment. They felt so unsafe and unprotected. And this one guy, Derek Smalls, was like, We should protest conditions. He protested. I believe they fired him. He was like, Let’s organize a union. And they did him. And this other guy in the warehouse, Derek, got together and started this movement and like in less than a year, had a vote. And now Amazon has its first union. It’s like the best store. You can’t wipe the smile off my face about this feeling.

S1: So there’s a couple of really fascinating angles to this. The first is that. This isn’t the first time there’s been a unionization attempt at Amazon. It is the first time there’s been a successful unionization attempt. And one of the big differences is this is not some big established union dating back to the 1930s coming in and telling the benighted workers that they’re very miserable and that they should join this big historical union. This is really I mean, this union what’s it called, the Amazon Labor Union or something? It’s you know, it’s like two pieces of two, two tin cans strung together with a piece of string. I mean, it’s nothing. It barely exists. And yet somehow that gave. The organizers a level of credibility that it was almost impossible for Amazon with all of its expensive union busting lawyers and tactics to counteract.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S2: Well, it’s created the credibility and access that’s really important. I was just reading a piece that Steve Greenhouse, the labor reporter, wrote somewhere on the Internet, and he was saying they had like a tactical advantage because they were organizing from the inside so they could be in the break room. They could talk to people. They knew each other as organizers. You know, it’s like your friend, your co-worker. They understand each other and they actually they were physically there. Whereas like outside union organizers are going to have a much harder time, just like talking to people, getting access to them. And at the same time, they had they were able to do more of that talking because there’s a friendly labor board now under Biden who’s like putting out this woman, Jennifer Abruzzo, the general counsel’s like putting out all these memos, really enforcing labor laws that weren’t kind of ignored for a long time. Like even today, she’s got some other memos saying, like, why are we letting companies do these anti-union, you know, captive audience meetings with workers like that shouldn’t be okay. And it’s just like, yeah, that shouldn’t be okay. Anyway, it’s a very pro-labor, you know, administration and labor board right now, too.

S1: I do think it made it harder for Amazon to fight back and say, Yeah, we are your lovely employer. We give you your paycheck every week and we give you a health care and we give you your livelihood and we give you decent wages. And do you really want to give up a chunk of those wages to these interlopers coming in from outside who have no idea what it’s like to work at Amazon? And they just want you. They just want like a chunk of your wages. Like, that argument doesn’t work nearly as well when it’s like your friends who are standing next to you.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S2: Yeah, it’s it’s a total failure of an argument. And that is like the one that they always use. That’s like chapter one in the playbook of how to, like, fight against the union. And it was like totally kaput.

S3: Yeah. That’s also why I think the the Alabama effort didn’t work as well. You know, it’s a more conservative area. Anti-union sentiment is a lot broader and they were being organized by an outside organization. So particularly in the Deep South, when you have people coming down from the north, you know, to sort of tell people what to do. There’s there’s a kind of knee jerk distrust of it. And also, Alabama is a right to work state. So people already have a little bit of antipathy toward the idea that they might have to pay union dues even if they think the outcomes are potentially positive. So it’s two totally different environments. You know, the dynamics of the company internally might be the same, but I think the challenges were completely different in Alabama than they were in Staten Island.

S1: Emily, you are the woman with a massive, great smile on your face. So can you explain to me how you believe that this tiny, little, scrappy two tin cans strung together with a piece of string union is going to be able to actually. Get anything significant out of this, you know, massive gazillion dollar corporation?

S2: Well, I don’t know. I mean, I feel like this is a win already. They already got something out of this corporation by the fact of them of them unionizing. The challenge now is, like you’re saying, is to negotiate that first contract. And even though they’re a scrappy, independent union, they’ll have support like every institutional big labor union in the country is like, we will help you do whatever you need. We will give you advice. We will help you negotiate. And it’s going to be really, really hard. I’m sure Amazon will fight tooth and nail, but I think there’s reason to be to be optimistic they’ll get a contract. How good it will be, I don’t know. It might the first contract might not be amazing, but the second contract might be better. There’s already movements at other warehouses, you know, to organize, too. And this is all happening at the same time. There’s Starbucks is all over the world, the country, I want to say hundreds of Starbucks stores are also looking to unionize in the same kind of independent way. So something is happening and I think we can be optimistic about it maybe.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S1: And what we can definitely say is that in terms of woke stakeholder capitalism with these, you know, people who love to run for president and paint themselves as champions of the, you know, broad economy and blah, blah, blah. When push comes to shove, the Howard Schultz’s of this world will always be like ultra, ultra anti-union as well. Amazon. The companies that like Amazon and Starbucks are happy to claim the moral high ground, but it is very rare to find any of them going, Oh, you want a union like that? Seems sensible. We can just we can just have like, one interlocutor. Let’s let’s encourage that, you know?

S2: Right. Amazon could say, Oh, well, since this one warehouse voted to unionize, why don’t we negotiate a nationwide settlement, a contract for all our work? That’s not going to happen. And Howard Schultz, there was a leaked video of him this week because he just came back to be CEO of Starbucks saying like for the third.

S1: Time.

S2: To fix it, we are under assault by unionization efforts like they take this very personally.

S1: Is true like and I know a bunch of managers who have found themselves with a workforce that has decided to unionize and they do always take it personally. They’re always like, does this mean I’m a bad manager? Does this mean I was doing my job out there? Are you telling me that like I’m the enemy because I thought I was your friend? And they do take it personally, but no, it doesn’t mean that.

S2: No, of course not. I mean, it’s a matter of leverage. You know, workers don’t have any leverage or power and unions are just a way to sort of even that out a little bit. I don’t know. Right, Elizabeth?

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S3: But they tend to I think management layer tends to view it as an institutional critique of sorts. If we need a union, then there’s something about the company that’s broken. What’s generally there is that that’s the whole impetus for rehabilitation in the first place. So, but, but I think Felix is right. The people take it way too personally, especially I’ve seen it in the tech industry in particular, because there’s so much veneration of entrepreneur types and founders. So it’s a little over personalized, I think, with tech companies.

S2: I mean, management can fire people at will. How could they how dare they be upset that you’d want to form a union and negotiate a contract that was like, no, you need a reason to fire me. Like, is that so crazy? Of course not.

S1: So, Emily, do you think now that now that the first cracks are appearing in the dam, do you think that the unionization. Trend might expand not just from Amazon warehouses, but actually to Amazon. You know, software engineers and white collar workers.

S2: That’s such a good question. The the lawyer for the Amazon Labor Union, this guy, Seth Goldstein, he actually represented the Kickstarter. He helped start the Kickstarter union, which was like the first kind of like white collar tech union, because there is this movement now in in tech amongst white collar workers to unionize. There’s a Google labor union and some at some stage of the game, it’s.

S1: Yeah, there’s an organization which kind of calls itself a Google union, but it’s not actually a union.

S2: But actually a union. I mean, I’ve not heard anything about that. And in fact, I was on LinkedIn. Sometimes I look on LinkedIn. Anyway, I was on LinkedIn the other day and they released they’re like best companies to work for and Amazon was number one. Just a side note, I thought that was.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S1: Do you think. All right. So here’s my question. Like if Amazon white collar workers unionized, do you think that that would make Amazon better to work for or worse? To work for.

S2: Better? Really? Of course it would be better. I mean, from all the reporting, especially from Jodi Kantor at the Times, it seems like it’s not the ideal place to work. It pays less than the other tech companies, though. I think they just raise their wage floor to something that sounds amazing. You know, they.

S1: Raised they raised the salary ceiling to 350,000.

S2: Yes. But there were other reporting. You remember the story about everyone crying at the desks and stuff, I think, oh.

S1: We remember them.

S2: Yeah.

S1: So we’ll link to that in the show notes.

S2: So yeah, why wouldn’t a union make that better? You think it wouldn’t?

S1: No, I think it probably would. But you were kind of. But there was this. But I think you’re right that. You know, if Amazon is ranked as a company that’s good to work for, then that makes it harder to unionize.

S2: Yes. And I mean, generally, like, if you’re at a place where you’re, you know, you could make $350,000 a year. Like, I guess I don’t quite see what your impetus to unionize is like.

S1: Well, to make $450,000 a year, of.

S2: Course, you could command that salary. You could just not work at there and work somewhere else.

S1: I don’t well, I mean, but, you know, if if you think about the most powerful unions in America almost. Maybe not, but they would be the players unions. Right. And in professional sports would be the football and basketball and baseball players. And they get paid a hell of a lot more than $350,000 a year. Let’s let’s move on to matters philanthropic because this this is what I decided to put in my newsletter this week, thanks to a Slate money listener who wrote in and asked what we thought about how and where to give money if we’re if we want to give money to Ukraine and. I guess the first thing I want to ask you guys is. The United States government alone has allocated $13.6 billion to Ukraine in various different flavors. That number has since gone up. Other countries have also thrown in hundreds of millions, if not billions of dollars. The EU has put in a couple billion dollars. The one thing that Ukraine doesn’t seem to be short of right now is. Either. Military or humanitarian aid. That seems to be like just, you know, a fucking ton of that ship pouring into the country. The money is there. You know, what they need is Russia to stop invading. Money can’t do that. So is there any reason for. Individuals like you and me to throw a few hundred or a couple thousand bucks at Ukraine on the basis of like, I want to feel like I’m doing something and this is the only thing I can do when there are actually. A lot of causes out there which just don’t have that kind of excess funding.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S2: I think you don’t have to give your money to Ukraine. I’m I’m convinced by what you just said in that in my decision not to donate money to Ukrainians, though I feel terrible. And, and and obviously what’s happening is horrendous. But. Felix, you’re telling me they have the money that they need already unprecedented amounts of aid. So yeah. If, if the donation is merely to make the donor feel good, then it seems like you could feel good giving money to a cause where your money is more needed.

S3: Yeah, I think most people though, especially small dollar donors, don’t really think in terms of efficiency or efficacy that much. You know, in a lot of cases they’re donating because it gives them a sense of engagement with the issue or they feel like they’re already invested in some way. I think when you get to the higher level of donations here, people will be very strategic and philosophical about what they’re going to do. But I think for the average person, they just see something happening and they want to feel like they’re not completely helpless to do anything about it. And writing a check is a pretty simple way to scratch that itch.

S2: So is there an argument to be made where the donation is like is like speech and that it’s an indication to the U.S. government that, you know, citizens are feeling really passionate about this. And so, like we as a country should be engaged on it. You know what I mean?

S1: 100%. Yes. And this is and this is why I would answer my own question with like, yes, you should actually give money. You agree. And like I kind of phrased it in a deliberately provocative way. But yes, I think that if you give money to Ukraine in general, if if there’s a big public outpouring of support for Ukraine, that does send a signal to members of Congress and members of the executive branch that this is what Americans believe in and what they want to see the government on their side about. And then specifically and this is what I wrote about in my newsletter this week specifically, if you give to organizations like the IOC or the WFP, which are sort of quasi official and they’re very well connected with the U.S. government, often what they’ll do with that money, instead of just spending it on giving money to refugees or buying chicken sandwiches, is they will use that money to effectively to lobby the government and to say, like, you know, we need more money and can you give us more money? Last year, the WFP got $100 million more money from the U.S. government than it had on the previously right. And it was already big. It went up from like $3.7 billion to $3.8 billion. We’re talking absolutely enormous amounts of money that the US government gives to the WFP. And so if you can just move that needle a tiny bit, if you buy it by supporting WFP, by having the WFP in your in your communities and having a whip round for them, and by giving their money, which they can then use to have a presence in Washington and try and go up to the government and say, like we could do with another 100 million increase this year, like every like those $100 million increases add up really damn quickly. You know, they’re they’re all a lot bigger than the total annual fundraising for the WFP. So what you’re doing is you’re leveraging your money. What I said in the in my newsletter is that basically your your donation is being matched 60 to 1 by the United States government. And if you you know, even if your $1 could be put to better use, you know, buying chlorine pills in Kenya, which is another thing which happened this week that’s comparing $1 with $1. But really what I’m saying is that maybe what you should be doing is comparing $1 $60. Your your dollar can get leverage if it can persuade the US Government to throw billions more behind it, which seems to be what’s happening.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S2: That all makes sense. I think you should say what the WFP is.

S1: WFP is a United Nations agency which stands the World Food Program. It doesn’t have quite the public level of public name recognition that other UN agencies like UNICEF and UNESCO’s have. Probably because it doesn’t start with the letters UN. It’s not UN. WFP is just WFP, but it is. It is a UN agency just like them, and it does raise money from the public just like them. And it does great work around the world. We should, we should have a numbers round.

S2: Oh, right. Yeah, I remember that.

S1: Remember the number.

S2: Remember that. Yep.

S1: We don’t just throw the show together, you know, we have a structure here. Elizabeth, you have a number.

S3: Yeah. My number is $110,000 and that is what Walmart is raising its starting salary to for truck drivers now. About the same amount as, you know, junior banker at Goldman.

S1: And presumably it’s a lot harder to get a job as a junior banker at Goldman is like, well, like I feel like at least if Britain is any indication, almost anyone with the right driving test qualifications can become a driver’s truck driver. There just aren’t enough to go around. They will take anyone right now.

S2: Will, because the pay is terrible for truck drivers. So the the trucking industry is always complaining that there’s a driver shortage. And then you look at average pay for truck drivers and it’s only gone down over the past like 30, 40 years to 110,000.

S1: Sounds like a lot to me.

S2: Yeah, but I think I think they’re at like 84 Walmart drivers and they said in the press release, as much as which we all know it, that ooh. And, and, and I don’t know, I tweeted some stat from Chris Mims wrote about truck drivers in his book that we had an episode on a few months ago. And I tweeted some stat about how truck driver pay has gone down a lot. I have never had such engagement from the truck driving industry. They were all like, Yes, it has gone down a lot and it’s a really awful job. You have to sit in a truck driving for like, I don’t know, 12 hours a day. I mean, it’s awful, right?

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S3: And you’re being monitored constantly. The high surveillance job.

S1: Is high and. Yeah. And just and you have to deal with all those things on the road and yeah, driving, driving anything is miserable. I don’t understand people who drive a lot. I’m like, No, don’t drive. It’s terrible.

S2: And I say, I submitted as a harder job than Goldman Sachs analyst. Right. It’s got to be.

S1: Got to be.

S3: Physically it has to.

S2: Be can order free lunch.

S1: The Goldman Sachs analyst they have like standing desks since it these days.

S2: Yeah. Standing desks and excel sheets and expense dinners. Right. How bad could it be? Oh, my God. Don’t email me. I don’t know what I’m talking about.

S1: My number is 5.02%, which I got again from Axios markets. Thank you, Emily. That is the official mortgage news daily latest survey rate for the 30 year fixed mortgage has surpassed 5%, which is a big deal for people who want to buy homes because no one’s going to refinance at that rate. I can pretty much guarantee you that. So the only people taking out mortgages right now are going to be people buying homes.

S2: There has been a cooling effect. We might report on it in markets. It’s unclear to me, but things are slowing.

S1: It depends what kind of market you’re in. There are lots of markets where most of the buyers are cash buyers, and then there are other buyers where nearly all buyers have to take a mortgage. And I feel like that is going to be it’s going to be interesting to see whether that makes a big difference. It suddenly, suddenly seems to put more people who do need to take a mortgage at even more of a disadvantage to cash buyers than they were already.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S2: For sure. Yeah, it probably hits like first time homebuyers a lot. Yeah. And people with less. People with less money.

S1: Yeah. Rather than people who are like, you know, boomers who are downsizing and selling something big, they don’t need to take out a mortgage. Emily. Emily, we haven’t heard from you. What is your number for?

S2: My number? Oh, for as we were about to record, I was looking at Twitter, which still isn’t fully controlled by Elon Musk yet. So I feel like it’s okay. And it occurred to me that there are now four women on the Supreme Court. Oh, my God. Is that crazy?

S1: Because that’s almost half.

S2: Yeah. On Thursday, Katie Brown, Jackson, the Senate confirmed her nomination. So that makes four. And it’s sort of ironic, though, because the court’s probably going to knock down Roe v Wade soon, and it has the most women it’s ever had. And that’s also going to happen is just kind of a terrible, terrible irony, I guess. But still worth noting, right, is that I think do.

S1: We do what we want? I mean, I, I think it’s great that we’ve got a public defender on the court that is a big first. What do you think the fact that she’s a woman, you know, speaks to what? Where do you think that’s going to make a difference looking at, you know, do you think there’s any anything you can look at the women on the court and say, like, there’s a difference between them and the men?

S2: Well, I’m sure Elizabeth has good things to say about this, but I mean, I’m not really I’m not like a rah rah kind of gender essentialist. Like, if you have more women, then you have better this or that. And you see people arguing that a lot. And clearly, like partisan affiliation really matters. Amy Coney Barrett I wasn’t exactly, you know, she’s quite conservative. She’s not.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S1: She’s extremely conservative. And she’s reproductive rights like that.

S2: Yeah. But I think in general, it’s good to have a diverse group of people on the Supreme Court, right?

S1: Yeah, the Supreme Court. I mean, yeah, the Supreme Court should look like in America.

S2: Yes.

S1: You know, even if we still have a Supreme Court where what all of them, I think, went to either Harvard or Yale.

S3: And it’s also significant that she’s the first black woman on the court, because I think, you know, having some sort of connection to a lot of the cases that they’re looking at is important for the way the rest of the country engages with SCOTUS. And right now, we’re seeing so many voters suppression cases come before the court around redistricting and gerrymandering. So I think even just for purposes of influencing the dialogue around those issues, having someone on the court who is black is is.

S1: Well, we have someone on there, Wolf.

S3: Who’s black black woman on the court.

S1: But he was not someone who seems to care very much about gerrymandering. It has to be said.

S3: No, he doesn’t.

S1: We are going to be back on Tuesday with same when he goes to the movies where we are going to bring back Cathy O’Neil to talk about It’s a Wonderful Life, a wonderful person talking about a wonderful film that spoiler alert. Everyone loves this movie, including Emily Peck. So, yeah, we’ll be talking to Kathy. It’s always great to have her back. So do send the requests coming in. We do listen to them. We do answer them. Slate money at Slate.com. Many thanks to Jane Arraf for producing and will be back next Saturday with more slate money. All right, Slate Plus, Elizabeth, you get to choose what we’re talking about.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S3: There was something that I saw that in Jamie Diamond’s shareholder letter, he said that they’re allowing J.P. Morgan workers, 40% of them, to continue to work from home in a hybrid situation. And as a result, they’re moving to a sort of hot desk model in the office where they only have 60 desk for 100 employees. And I’m just trying to imagine how that works in an investment banking scenario.

S1: It’s a really good question. And I think that that transition for bankers is going to be a tough one. Although what you have to realize, too, when it comes to massive banks like J.P. Morgan is that the people we talk to, you know, the the high profile analysts and M&A bankers and stock traders and that kind of stuff, you know who you think of when you think of bankers? They’re really a minority of the workers at the bank. You walk into the bank and there’s just a huge number of normal support staff and people just doing perfectly normal, boring jobs, you know, deep down in the credit card department somewhere. And I feel like they’re perfectly capable of just finding a desk somewhere if they need to.

S2: Felix You’re hot desking now, right? Because Axios is new office, isn’t it’s not like you don’t have your desk at the office anymore. So, like, what is that like? I’ve never had to to do that, actually. I’ve always had, you know, my desk.

S1: Yeah, we just moved into a new Axios office, which has, since I’ve been here for less than a week, been extremely empty. And, yeah, I’ve done the thing that I always do when I move into an office, which is I found a little corner for myself and kind of carved out my corner. And I’ve, you know, I’ve put an extra screen up and turned it sideways because I like using that for my slack. And oh, and the other thing I do is I leave my laptop there when I leave. So no one is going to take that desk because like my laptop is physically there.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S2: There’s this one, the hot desk model. You’re like, Oh.

S1: I am very bad. I am very bad desk. There’s this wonderful scene in one a, the funniest sitcom ever made in the history of TV, where the new incoming director of Better at the BBC comes in to start his new job at the BBC. And they’re like, Oh, we have this situation. And he’s like, spends the first episode basically just walking around the entire building trying to find the desk. And he can’t.

S3: Everyone. Everyone has all.

S1: The desks of himself. Every desk. Oh, no. This desk has, like, a pair of smelly shoes on the back that you can’t fit there, and so on and so forth. Yeah, the hot desking always seems to work better in theory than in practice. What does work is, um, soft furnishings, right? Where the people who like to hang out on couches with a laptop, it’s very hard to mark out a couch as your own. Once you get up from the couch, then someone else can sit there. But it’s much easier to, you know, leave a jacket over the back of a chair and then no one’s going to use that desk.

S2: So what are these poor JPMorgan people going to do, if there’s only, would you say, 60 desks, desks for 100 people or something? Yeah, it’s like musical chairs.

S3: It’s I would bet half of them take the Felix Salmon approach and, you know, passive aggressively reject the policy by leaving their shit on the desk.

S1: Yeah. Because, like, who wants to be that person who’s like, oh, well, I guess I ought to pack everything up and take it to my locker. It feels like high school.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S2: I mean, all I really need is my laptop, and I can work for, like, it doesn’t seem like that big of a deal. Like, my desk at my old desk was just like books that didn’t read, stacked up, you know, really high. And then just my laptop, which I could take with me and yeah.

S1: What are you going to do with that? You know, with the massive piles of books, they just, you know, they have to put them somewhere. And the one thing I will say is that one of the ways in which I’m a little bit boomer ish or at least older Gen X is I like having a decent amount of screen real estate. Having having just a 13 inch MacBook screen is tough for me and I like having a bit more screen edge than that. And the need for like more screen edge is one of the things that generally causes me to wind up accumulating stuff, even if that stuff is only like two screens.

S2: I think my plan is to come into the Axios office and sit at your desk and see what happens.

S1: You should do that. You should do that well. And then. And then I’ll come in. We’ll have a thumb war and see who. Yeah, see who.

S2: Wins. And I’ll be like, see, I should just stay at home. Isolate plus.