#40 America's Angry Political Divide. Mark Gerzon: How Do We Fix It?

More than any time in recent decades, American politics are deeply divided. Compromise is a dirty word.

"The way that we're running the country is that we're not running the country," says our guest Mark Gerzon, author of the new book, "The Reunited States of America."

As President of Mediators Foundation, the group he founded 25 years ago, Mark has brought people together in conflict zones around the world  Concerned about increasing polarization in the U.S., Mark is working on the ideological frontier between left and right.  

"We can work together to solve the problems we all face in a country we all love," Gerzon tells us on this episode of "How Do We Fix It?" But what we have now is a permanent campaign by both parties. "And after election day they start the next campaign." 

"We can't solve any of the problems we face if we're tearing each other down the whole time."

Mark's fixes include urging individual citizens to engage in discussions with people we don't agree with, asking questions about what they think, rather than stating fixed opinions. 

"Do you want to get drunk on being right and enjoy that feeling of being with the people you agree with and bad mouth the people you don't?," asks Mark.  

News media coverage, he says, is biased in favor of controversy, contests and clashes. 

"There's a whole America out there that's not getting any news coverage. And that's the America where Americans work together."

Resources for compromise and open-minded dialog include: livingroomconversations.orgbridgealliance.useveryday-democracy.orgdemocracyfund.org

#39 Why Women Are Missed in History: Joan Wages: How Do We Fix It?

From the American Revolution and the Founding Fathers - through wars, economic change and the struggle for civil rights, American history is overwhelmingly dominated by the achievements and errors of men. 

Women - because they were largely excluded from public and professional life for most of our history - play a relatively small role in the established narrative of our past. 

"Role models have a huge impact on the way young girls and women in general think about themselves," says Joan Wages, President and CEO of The National Women's History Museum.

"We need more women role models out in the public sphere so we know about them."

In this episode, Joan tells about the campaign for building a National Women's History Museum in Washington D.C. The Museum's website states: "It will be centrally located near the world's most prestigious museums and monuments in our Nation's Capital." 

Fewer than 20% of the Members of Congress are women.  In corporate boardrooms the numbers are even lower.  Fewer than 5% of CEO's at Fortune 500 companies are women.

"Each time a young girl hears this, it sends a message to them that they're not equal. That's what needs to change." 

This episode has examples of women forgotten by history and looks at other fixes as well as obstacles as the campaign attempts to correct an imbalance in how women are portrayed.

#38 Why Obamacare Might Collapse: Megan McArdle: How Do We Fix It?

For its opponents, Obamacare is a disaster - a classic example of over-reach by an Administration that wants to expand the size and scope of the Federal government.

Supporters say The Affordable Care Act is a triumph, benefiting countless millions of Americans, while reducing the threat of personal bankruptcies in medical emergencies crippling healthcare costs.

"We have decreased the rate of the uninsured by about a third," says our guest Megan McArdle, a columnist at Bloomberg View. But Obamacare poses a potentially fatal threat.

"What people are doing is they're gaming the system." Some with health emergencies, who have inadequate medical insurance are "signing up for a few months, using a ton of services and then dropping it again."

Several large insurance companies say they are losing money on the government-run exchanges. UnitedHealth, the nation's largest health insurance firm, warned it would have to pull out if market conditions didn't improve. Exchange enrollments are lower than the government had forecast. 

Is Obamacare the victim of "an adverse death spiral"?  Are costs rising faster than expected?  Do Americans have unrealistic expectations that would doom any attempt to provide better coverage?

We debate the arguments from different points of view and suggest a fix that could involve consumers more directly in cost decisions, while putting a ceiling on heath care costs for each household.

Megan McArdle is the author of "The Upside of Down: Why Failing Well Is The Key To Success."

#37 Breast Cancer: Lessons from a life-threatening journey. Debbie Galant.

With love, humor and compassion,  Debbie Galant talks about what it's like to live with breast cancer.  What she learned along the way amount to solutions for what can be a desperate, lonely experience.

From the first shock of her first diagnosis to sometimes wrenching, sometimes funny conversations with her doctors and family, Debbie gives us valuable lessons about how to survive and recover, physically and emotionally.

"You are pitched into this world of fear... this incredible world of fear," she tells us. "You're making a lot of decisions in that period, but you're really in a primal place."

Her journey includes how to "de-code" her oncologist, and learn from a nurse-navigator to dealing with her own emotional roller-coaster ride.  She also talks about a vital ingredient: humor.

"Going into a doctor's appointment with a sense of humor, as opposed to a sense of dread, really helped."

Debbie, her husband Warren Levinson, and son Noah tell their story in the podcast, "Chemo Files" - is a deeply personal account of her months of dealing with cancer. She is Associate Director of New Media Initiatives and runs NJ News Commons at Montclair State University, New Jersey.

If you would like more information about understanding breast cancer and learning more about communities that can help, these websites may be helpful: 

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#32 New Year's Resolutions for 2015

It's easy to make resolutions to improve our lives, but how do we boost our chances of following through?

The first two guests on this New Year's Resolutions special are Dave McRaney of the podcast, "You Are Not So Smart" and Dr. Peter Whybrow, Director of the Semel Institute at U.C.L.A., author of The Well-Tuned Brain: Neuroscience And The Life Well Lived."

Dave dives in to confirmation bias, when we seek out information that confirms our world view, rather than challenging ourselves with the truth. Peter says we often make short-term choices that conflict with our best long-term interests.

Instant gratification is often the enemy of a balanced budget.  Beverly Harzog lived through her own personal crisis of bad debt and now helps people repair their credit.  She explains how she got into credit card debt and how you can get out of it. She has more helpful information at her website, BeverlyHarzog.com.

Farnoosh Torabi, host of the popular podcast, "So Money", gave us creative ideas on how to make more money and preserve your wealth by being your own best financial advocate.

Many people make major mistakes when purchasing home, life, auto or health insurance. While some don't have enough coverage, others buy duplicate insurance.  Laura Adams, host of the "Money Girl" podcast and insurance quotes.com says the cost of term life insurance may be much cheaper than you think.

If you plan to buy or rent a home in 2016, Nela Richardson, Senior Economist with the real estate website, Redfin, has some useful tips.  Jeff Koyen, Editor-in-Chief of VanWinkles.com talks about the importance of getting enough sleep. He gives us some creative ideas on improving our sleeping lives.
Read more at http://howdowefixit.libsyn.com/#teaIQO1OJmltXhH2.99

#27 America's Sleep Crisis: Jeff Koyen. How Do We Fix It?

If you have at least seven hours of interrupted sleep each night, consider yourself very lucky indeed.  Problems with sleep are remarkably widespread. 

Many millions of adults and children either don't spend enough time in bed or suffer from sleep disorders, resulting in illness, obesity, depression, mood swings and loss of creativity.

Our guest is Jeff Koyen, Editor-in-Chief of Van Winkle's, a new website "obsessed with sleeping, waking and everything in between.  He shares the stories of scientists, artists, travel writers, child-care experts and many others who have a great deal to tell us about how we do - and don't - sleep.

"Sleep is a very complicated issue that touches probably everyone you know. It's not just adults," says Jeff. "We're talking about teenagers have sleep issues, even children."

Smartphones, tablets and other devices have made the problem even worse. "Ten years ago, five years ago you were not taking your phone with you to bed."

We look at fixes and what science tells us about how to get a better night's sleep. 

#26 The Trouble With Today's Toys: Richard Gottlieb: How Do We Fix It?

The holiday shopping season is underway and finding the right toy or game for his or her kids is the goal of every parent. A vast range of new toys has been introduced in recent months.

Joining us in this episode to look at the recent changes is consultant and branding expert, Richard Gottlieb, of Global Toy Experts.

"The toy industry is a nineteenth century industry that's trying hard to break into the twenty first," says Richard. "It's had a lot of difficulty dealing with the digital aspect of play that's become so popular."

On this show we ask whether today's technologically sophisticated toys are scripting the way kids play.  Do they force children into a pre-written narrative when they should be allowing for open-ended play? 

Toy stores have many traditional toys, such as blocks, construction sets and craft kits, but kids also have fun with "video games, apps and even social networking," says Richard. These new trends have "confronted the industry with a sort of existential crisis: Who are we, what is a toy and how do we play?"

Richard has many positive, playful and out-of-the-box ideas on how to view toys and the nature of play in a digital society. 

"I think it's wonderful that children has all these choices," he tells us. "I wish we had all these choices."

 

#25 Climate Change: Turning CO2 Into Rock: Peter Kelemen: How Do We Fix It?

The demand for energy around the world continues to grow each year.  And so does the amount of carbon dioxide that's pumped into the earth's atmosphere. 

What happens if the world fails to bring down CO2 emissions in the coming decades?  What if all the treaties and negotiations over climate change don't succeed in reducing the threat of global warming?

Our guest is Peter Kelemen, Chair of Columbia University's Earth and Environmental Sciences Department and Arthur B. Storke Professor of Geochemistry. Last year, Peter was inducted into the National Academy of Sciences. 

His research on carbon capture and storage may offer one exciting solution to a global crisis.  Our show looks at a tool that could fight climate change by taking carbon dioxide and literally locking it up in the earth's crust, right under our feet.  

Geology research could be used to find new ways to suck up carbon and keep it out of the atmosphere, harnessing a natural process and using some of the fracking techniques now common in oil and gas drilling.  We look at the costs as well as the potential offered by this form of breakthrough scientific research. 

#23 The Dangers of Confirmation Bias with David McRaney: How Do We Fix It?

More than ever America is divided into political tribes.  One person's truth is somebody else's lie. This show is about confirmation bias and filter bubbles: How our brains play tricks on us as we try to make sense of the world.

David McRaney, host of the entertaining and popular podcast, "You Are Not So Smart", is our guest. His show is "a celebration of self-delusion."  David, who calls himself a psychology nerd, is passionate about the need for all of us to have some understanding of how our brains work. He is the author of two recent books:  "You Are Not So Smart" and "You Are Now Less Dumb."

Confirmation bias helps us separate into rival political and cultural camps.  "This is the thing almost from which everything else springs, because it is the natural default way that human beings tend to make sense of the world," says David.

With the growth of Google and social media site, such as Facebook and Twitter, it's easier for us to deny the truth of anything that challenges our preconceived view of the world. We can retreat into our own personal corner of the internet.

Behavioral economics, neuroscience and modern psychology challenge our sense that we make logical, sensible decisions.   Our show looks at what confirmation bias means to our democracy.