#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

#36 The Risks of Safety: Greg Ip: How Do We Fix It?

Anti-lock brakes make many motorists drive faster.  Introducing helmets and face masks in football raised the risk of concussions.  Financial regulators and central bankers played a role in creating conditions that led to the 2008 mortgage meltdown.

The illusion of safety can lead to reckless behavior. These fascinating insights are part of "Foolproof- Why Safety Can Be Dangerous and How Danger Makes Us Safe", the recently published book by Greg Ip, chief economics commentator at The Wall Street Journal.

"Life is about risk," Greg tells us in this episode of "How Do We Fix It?" When we believe the world is safe, it affects our behavior.  "Many positive things happen from taking risks and we should not let the pendulum swing all the way to the other side - trying to eliminate all risks from our lives."

Our collective aim to make life safer comes into conflict with the equally strong desire to make things bigger and more complicated.  It is in our nature to safeguard our world - and yet sometimes, more often than we realize, protections end up being the things that threaten our safety and well-being.

Accidents will always happen, says Greg.  Among the solutions he calls for are safe spaces: allowing banks to fail without taking down the entire financial system and creating flood plains that all rivers and coastal waters to rise without creating havoc in nearby communities.

Greg argues for a balance between independence, risk and safety.  Regulate too much and we reduce the opportunities for innovation and create a sense of potential
 complacency. "Black swan" events are inevitable.  Our systems of governance and rule-making should recognize that we cannot plan for every eventuality.

#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

#29 Are College Students Too Emotionally Fragile? Hara Marano: How Do We Fix It?

From angry scenes over Halloween costumes at Yale to protests against racism at the University of Missouri, student activism is back.  More than at any time since the late 1960's, America is in the middle of a wave of college unrest. 

To what extent do students today have genuine grievances? Are at least some of them rebels without a cause - angry because their feelings have been hurt? 

Step by step colleges are being transformed into something more akin to mental health wards rather than citadels of learning,” says our guest, Hara Marano, Editor at Large of Psychology Today and author of the book, "A Nation of Wimps".  

While calls for greater diversity among college professors are an important cause, Marano tells us of fundamental changes in the student population. 

"Rising numbers of students are breaking down with anxiety and depression, self-mutilation, burning, cutting, binge drinking to obliterate all of their anxiety," says Marano. "Even the slightest disappointment pitches them into crisis mode."

"The American College Mental Health Association has been documented rises in all of these conditions." Many students "get so distressed so readily."

Are many young people over-protected and even narcissistic, demanding protection from ideas and concepts they find too uncomfortable to listen to?  This episode digs into these questions, suggesting fixes for colleges and parents.