Tune in each week as James Pethokoukis interviews economists, business leaders, academics and others on the most important and interesting issues of the day. You can find all episodes at AEI, Ricochet, and wherever podcasts are downloaded, and look for follow-up transcripts and blog posts at aei.org.
Rick Hess: Post-pandemic Education Reform
America's kids have been greatly affected by the pandemic, from canceled sports seasons to constant academic disruption. And at the same time, parents are caught up in bitter disputes over masking and critical race theory in schools. To get a better sense of the education challenges we face coming out of the pandemic, as well as the reforms that will help us meet those challenges, I've brought on Rick Hess.
Rick is my colleague at the American Enterprise Institute, where he is a senior fellow and director of Education Policy Studies. Among Rick's recent work on K-12 and higher education issues is "https://nationalaffairs.com/publications/detail/education-after-the-pandemic (Education after the Pandemic)," written for the winter 2022 issue of National Affairs.
Jimmy Soni: How PayPal Shaped Silicon Valley
Before Elon Musk was the world's wealthiest man, founder of a rocket company, and owner of Twitter, he was best known as one of the founders of PayPal. Other PayPal alumni went on to found companies like YouTube, Yelp, and LinkedIn. And the "don" of the PayPal Mafia, Peter Thiel, is now known for his political activism and contributions to Republican campaigns. So what can we learn about Musk and Thiel—and about Silicon Valley—from the early history of PayPal? To find out, I'm joined by Jimmy Soni.
Jimmy is an award-winning author of three books. His first two, co-authored with Rob Goodman, are https://www.amazon.com/Romes-Last-Citizen-Legacy-Mortal-ebook/dp/B0085UD4A0 (Rome's Last Citizen), a biography of Cato the Younger, and https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01M5IJN1P/ (A Mind at Play), a biography of Claude Shannon. His latest is https://www.amazon.com/Founders-Paypal-Entrepreneurs-Shaped-Silicon-ebook/dp/B08BZXPTGJ (The Founders: The Story of PayPal and the Entrepreneurs Who Shaped Silicon Valley), released earlier this year.
Mark Jamison: Exploring the Metaverse
Last year, Facebook rebranded itself as Meta, signaling its shift from traditional social media to a big bet on the so-called metaverse. This network of 3D, online spaces is accessed through virtual reality headsets like Meta's Oculus and promises to revolutionize internet communications. But is there substance behind the hype, or is the metaverse just a fad? And if virtual reality worlds are here to stay, what do policymakers need to know about them? To answer those questions, I've brought Mark Jamison back on the podcast.
Mark is the director of the Public Utility Research Center at the University of Florida’s Warrington College of Business and a nonresident senior fellow here at the American Enterprise Institute. Over the https://www.aei.org/technology-and-innovation/the-metaverse-is-here-growing-and-changing/ (past) https://www.aei.org/technology-and-innovation/the-ftc-should-not-seek-to-regulate-the-metaverse/ (several) https://www.aei.org/technology-and-innovation/after-a-500-million-year-will-metaverse-real-estate-skyrocket-or-plummet/ (months), Mark has been writing about the metaverse and the https://www.aei.org/technology-and-innovation/the-dark-side-of-the-metaverse-part-i/ (challenges) it https://www.aei.org/technology-and-innovation/the-dark-side-of-the-metaverse-part-ii-potential-solutions/ (faces).
Virginia Postrel: Dynamism or Stasis?
In the early 19th century, English textile workers calling themselves "Luddites" destroyed machinery in an effort to save their jobs from automation. And two centuries later, those who resist technological change are still called Luddites. In the 2020 book The Fabric of Civilization, Virginia Postrel tells the history of textiles, including the Luddite movement. And in her 1998 book, The Future and Its Enemies, she describes the "stasist" view behind Luddism, as well as its natural antipode, dynamism. To discuss how this framework can help us understand the current moment, I've brought Virginia on the podcast.
Virginia is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist and visiting fellow at the Smith Institute for Political Economy and Philosophy at Chapman University. She is the author of https://www.amazon.com/Future-Its-Enemies-Creativity-Enterprise/dp/0684827603/ (The Future and Its Enemies), https://www.amazon.com/Substance-Style-Aesthetic-Remaking-Consciousness/dp/0060933852/ (The Substance of Style), and https://www.amazon.com/Power-Glamour-Longing-Visual-Persuasion/dp/1416561110 (The Power of Glamour). Her latest is https://www.amazon.com/Fabric-Civilization-Textiles-Made-World-ebook/dp/B08KQ441QQ/ (The Fabric of Civilization: How Textiles Made the World).
Dan Sichel: Nails as a Window into Economic Change
When economists set out to measure economic growth and progress over time, one challenge is accounting for striking differences in the quality of goods. Computers, cell phones, and cars on the market today are not easily comparable to those available in 1990. But over the centuries, remarkably little has changed about the common construction nail. For that reason, today's guest explores American economic history through the story of nails. Studying nail production and costs over the past three centuries, Dan Sichel joins this episode of "Political Economy" to explain what we can learn from the humble nail.
Dan is a professor of economics at Wellesley College in Massachusetts and the author of "https://www.nber.org/papers/w29617 (The Price of Nails since 1695: A Window into Economic Change)."
Mark Muro: The geography of the tech sector
Since the early days of the digital revolution, the San Francisco Bay area has played a key role from the rise of the microchip to today's software giants like Facebook and Google. But why has the tech sector remained so geographically concentrated for so long — and is that something government needs to fix? To answer that question and delve into the recent changes in the geography of the tech sector during the pandemic, I've brought on Mark Muro.
Mark is a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, a think tank in Washington, DC, and the policy director of Brookings Metro. He and Yang You recently authored “https://www.brookings.edu/research/superstars-rising-stars-and-the-rest-pandemic-trends-and-shifts-in-the-geography-of-tech/ (Superstars, rising stars, and the rest: Pandemic trends and shifts in the geography of tech).”
Great series with many space topics covered
The host is a technological optimistic with a deep interest in space exploration and exploitation, and has been featuring informative guests on the topic. Teeny tiny note that some others have mentioned: the music is louder than the audio. Voice quality on every episode I've listened to is excellent. Two thumbs up!
I like podcast but please correct…
Please correct #249 with Ed Glaeser—the pod only plays questions, not answers!
257 increase taxes to build back better
2020 tax revenues were $3 trillion
expenditures were $6 trillion
The need to cut government expenditures is obvious.
Build Back America is more social entitlements that can’t sustain itself financially - the sound financial decision is drop the program.