One of the things we were excited to investigate when we went to Alabama was to answer the question at the heart of the immigration debate: what does it cost taxpayers when we let in millions of immigrants, documented and undocumented? In Albertville, how much was it? We asked economist Kim Rueben and her colleague Erin Huffer to run the numbers.
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Ira explains that when Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton all seemed to be against free trade agreements, he got genuinely confused. Is free trade good or bad? Was NAFTA good or evil? Are we down with TPP? He asked Jacob Goldstein of NPR’s Planet Money podcast to explain, once and for all, the pros and cons of free trade.
The last day of the month continues and the truism is accurate: some people get great deals because it’s the end of the month and they have to hit their goal. When you look at the numbers, the average car they sell in the last two days actually loses money.
Planet Money reporters David Kestenbaum and Jacob Goldstein went to Kenya to see the work of a charity called GiveDirectly in action. Instead of funding schools or wells or livestock, GiveDirectly has decided to just give money directly to the poor people who need it, and let them decide how to spend it.
NPR reporter Laura Sydell and This American Life producer/Planet Money co-host Alex Blumberg tell the story of Intellectual Ventures, which is accused of being the largest of the patent trolls. Executives at Intellectual Ventures insist they are not trolls, but rather, promoters of innovation.
The dramatic conclusion to Laura and Alex's search for information about Intellectual Ventures, and the inventor they claimed they were helping, Chris Crawford. The story turns out to be different than the one Intellectual Ventures originally told.
Ira Glass talks with Planet Money reporter, Chana Joffe-Walt, about Hale County, Alabama — a place where one fourth of working age adults are on disability. That means the government has determined that due to a health issue, 25 percent of the adults in Hale County are unable to work, qualifying them for monthly payments and health care coverage.
Chana Joffe-Walt spent six months reporting on the rise in people on disability. She spends time in Hale County, Alabama, talking to the only general practitioner in town, the main person who okays so many of the county's residents for disability.
Chana Joffe-Walt continues her story about the phenomenal rise in disability payments over the last 30 years, since President Bill Clinton signed legislation pledging to "end welfare as we know it." Turns out, two private sector groups have really contributed to the growing disability roles. One is a group of people you'd probably expect, the other is a shock.
A young idealist named Octavio Sanchez is chief of staff to the president of Honduras. He gets an idea: What if you could cure all your country's ills by just ... starting over? In one little spot, you could create a whole new, perfect city.
Ira asks Washington-insider Norman Ornstein if we actually need to be paying attention to all of the Fiscal Cliff political news. Or can it wait until next week? Ornstein is the author of the book It's Even Worse Than It Looks: How the American Constitutional System Collided With the New Politics of Extremism.
Producer Alex Blumberg tells the story of how Oklahoma, against huge odds, came to have the first and best publicly-funded pre-school system in the country, and how one businessman joined the fight because a cardboard box full of evidence convinced him that pre-school was the smartest business decision the state could make.
An estate attorney in Rhode Island discovers the investor's Holy Grail: a financial scheme that guarantees only reward and no risk. All upside with no downside.
Producer Sarah Koenig reports on a company called Journatic, that is producing local journalism in a brand new way.
Planet Money's Alex Blumberg and NPR Congressional correspondent Andrea Seabrook take a tour through the world of money and politics, discovering just how much time members of Congress spend raising money and which committee assignments yield the biggest campaign donations. They also try to figure out what all this money is actually buying.For an interactive map of Washington DC fundraiser locations, charts of the best and worst types of fundraisers, and other online extras, visit Planet Money's website.
Everything about political fundraising is changing right now, because of the 2010 Supreme Court decision in Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission.
Ten years ago, Congress voted to reform campaign finance, after Senators John McCain and Russ Feingold took up the cause. Here they reunite on the radio, to reminisce and lament how that reform failed.
In the town of Nowthen, MN, residents held meetings to debate whether a police force is worth the cost. And in Springfield, IL, the state police motorcycle division has been cut, leading to an increase in highway fatalities.
New Jersey governor Chris Christie has led some of the most sweeping budget cuts in the country. Producer Sarah Koenig reports from Trenton, where one third of the police force has been laid off, leading to dramatically increased crime.
Perhaps the biggest proponent of smaller government in the United States is lobbyist and activist Grover Norquist, head of Americans for Tax Reform. He envisions a government reduced in size by half, and has compelled scores of conservative politicians take pledges to never raise taxes.
After the recession hit, Colorado Springs was in rough shape. City services were being cut left and right.
Ira Glass asks guest host Alex Blumberg whether we should really care about the current European debt crisis. The answer: yes, we should, and we should WANT to care too, because this story—and it's actually the story of the Euro itself—is very surprising and dramatic.
Sarah takes us to Mt. Pleasant, PA, where a gas exploration company called Range Resources has leased 95% of the township's land.
For a look at the nuts and bolts of government job creation, This American Life Senior Producer Julie Snyder and Planet Money correspondent Adam Davidson attend a meeting of the International Economic Developers Council in San Diego.