#81 Rana Foroohar: Wall Street's Giant Threat to the Economy

More than eight years after the financial meltdown, we still have a lot to learn, says our guest, CNN global economic analyst Rana Foroohar.

"The rise of finance has actually kind of eaten the rest of the economy," Rana tells this in this "Fix It" episode.  "Finance controls the rest of industry.  Finance has become the tail that wags the dog." At the same time, the financial industry remains at risk for another hugely destructive collapse.

In her book, "Makers and Takers: The Rise of Finance and the Fall of American Business", Rana says only 15% of all the money in financial markets ends up in the real economy in the form of loans to help grow business.  The rest is traded and shuffled around the financial system. 

"Finance is there to serve business. We need to simplify it," Rana says.  That means deciding "what kinds of activities in our economy we want to incentivize and then creating the rules around finance to help capital flow to those areas."

Solutions:

Reform the tax code that “treats one-year investment gains the same way it treats longer-term investments, and induces financial institutions to push overconsumption and speculation, rather than healthy lending to small businesses and job creators.” End the system's bias favoring debt over equity.

Reduce the U.S. corporate tax rate - and abolish complex loopholes. Encourage multinational corporate to return cash kept overseas, reinvesting it in U.S. enterprises. 
End offshore banking, which allows corporations and wealthy individuals to avoid paying tax.
Discourage stock buybacks. Boost incentives for large corporations to fund research and innovation.
 
Reform banking laws. Impose new safety limits on the amount of money banks must have in cash. 
 
Impose a financial transaction tax: forcing banks to pay a small fee for each trade in bonds, stocks, and derivatives.
 
Limit leverage: impose safety controls that require banks to hold a larger percentage of holdings in cash.
 
Simplify and overhaul the enormously complex Dodd-Frank law, which penalizes community and regional banks.  Pass a new form of Glass-Steagall Act - the 1933 law that separated commercial banking from investing and trading. 
 
Take a page from airline safety.  Set up a financial version of the independent National Transportation Safety Board to investigate bank failures and other threats to the financial system.
 
End "cognitive capture" or group think. When debating financial reform, listen to the views of all stakeholders: large and small banks, consumers, manufacturing businesses and academics that study the impact of finance on other sectors of the economy.
 

#80 Why Science & Reason Are Under Assault: Michael Shermer

This week we go deep and we go long, considering the tide of human history. How science, reason, and rational inquiry contribute to human progress.

Dr. Michael Shermer is our guest. He's the Founding Publisher of Skeptic magazine, a monthly columnist for Scientific American and a regular contributor to Time.com.  

 

In his latest book, The Moral Arc: How Science and Reason Lead Humanity toward Truth, Justice, and Freedom, he claims that we are living in the most moral period of our history. 

Using data and the lessons of history, Michael shows that the arc of the moral universe bends toward truth, justice, and freedom.

When considering right and wrong, "most people separate scientific facts - facts about nature - from moral facts," says Michael in this episode of our podcast, "How Do We Fix It?"  "I'm pushing back against that saying moral truths are really no different from biological or physical truths about nature."

We consider the profound implications of his ideas for how we look at science, religion, politics, climate change, prison reform and our own moral choices. 

You can find out more about Steven Pinker, or his book, "The Better Angels of Our Nature" by clicking on the links provided.

#79 Beyond Obamacare: Smart Fixes for the Healthcare System:Dr. Joe Habboushe

The U.S. spends more than $3 trillion a year on healthcare, or nearly $10,000 a year for every man, woman and child. But are we getting a bang for our buck? In many cases, the answer has to be no. And this goes well beyond the raging debate over Obamacare and whether all Americans should have access to coverage.

About a third of money spent on healthcare is now simply wasted or spent on poor decisions, says our guest, emergency room physician and entrepreneur, Dr. Joe Habboushe. The crisis includes clinical waste, excessive prices, fraud and bureaucracy.

 

Dr. Habboushe shares his moving personal story and passion for reducing waste and improving patient outcomes through his work as a physician and as CEO of MDCalc - an online diagnostic app used by about 50% of American doctors.

"Let's not get rid of what we do really well and that's drive innovation for the world," says Dr. Joe. "If we focus on waste, we have to look at why healthcare costs a lot and if we want to reduce that how can we do it in a way that doesn't damage our system.

Solutions:

  • Greater use of technology to help doctors improve decision-making.
  • Take a careful look at how much money, and intense care, is spent on the final months of life. In some cases, doctors and hospitals profit from treatment 
  • Government and taxpayers need to continue funding research that leads to potential drugs and breakthrough treatments.
  • Allow pharmaceutical companies to profit from new drugs and medical treatments that benefit patients.
  • Patients: Be better informed about successful medicine, which doesn't always mean a pill for every ailment.

#78 How Games Can Help All of Us: Dan Grech

This show is about the benefits adults, especially business owners,can get from playing games. 

This year's huge success of Pokemon Go helped bring gamification and augmented reality into the mainstream - with many small businesses using the mobile app to raise engagement with consumers. Dan Grech, OfferCraft, tells us how governments, businesses, and even parents use games to boost participation and change behavior.

Dan Grech is a former journalist who works for OfferCraft, a Florida company that designs games for companies and other clients. 

"You can incorporate games into business settings in really small and subtle ways that aren't necessarily expensive and can generate extraordinary results" says Dan.  

Solutions with games:

  • Governments use games and behavioral economics insights to reduce speeding or increase voter turnout. In China, the government introduced lottery scratch-off games to cut tax evasion.
  • Businesses offer prizes and rewards to excite consumers and boost engagement 
  • Doctors’ offices and healthcare clinics may reduce income loss from last-minute cancellations with games and prizes for patients who show up. 
  • Parents can use games, such as ChoreMonster, to get kids and other family members to do household chores. 

#77 Fixes for Feminists in a Time of Trump: Sallie Krawcheck

Anyone who cares about diversity, feminism and closing the gender gap should be fired up about this show.

Author, entrepreneur and - yes provocateur - Sallie Krawcheck is our guest.  Her forthcoming 2017 book is "Own It: The Power of Women at Work."  Sallie is CEO and Co-Founder of Ellevest, a digital investment platform and wealth management site for women.  

For years, she has been well known as one of the most senior women on Wall Street and was called "the last honest analyst" by Fortune Magazine after the 2008 financial crisis.  She has deep experience in "the biggest boys club in the world" - the financial industry, where 86% of investment advisers are men.

 First off we talk about why the Trump Presidency could be good for feminists.  “It’s (locker room talk) on the table now,"  she says. The infamous conversation with Billie Bush, and the widely discussed New York Times column "How Wall Street Bro Talk Keeps Women Down" are both "a really important wake up call."

 Sallie lists the many benefits of true diversity. Organizations where many different voices are respected perform better than those with narrow like-minded leaders from the same gender and social class. 

 Being successful does not mean acting like men, Sallie tells us. "The power of diversity is not bringing a bunch of women or people of difference together and having them act like middle-aged white guys."

Sallie’s Solutions: 

  • For women: Make sure your work gets noticed your supervisors and make sure goals are quantified and acknowledged. 
  • For men:  Be a fully equal partner with your spouse:  do the laundry.
  • For companies: Diversity is a crucial ingredient to a firm's success, but it won't happen without clear leadership from the top. 
  • Investing: Diversify your portfolio and save for the long term.  Instead of trying to beat the market, invest in a range of mutual funds that include U.S. and international sources plus large and small companies.

#7 Fix It Shorts: Why Trump Won. What Should Happen Next?

We recorded this the day after the stunning U.S. Presidential election.  This show is our attempt to explain the reasons for Donald Trump's win.

Despite his deeply divisive rhetoric and attacks on Muslims and undocumented Mexican immigrants that deeply offended many voters, Trump emerged victorious. 

We examine why Trump won the election but also solutions and takeaways from his surprise victory.

Solutions:

  • Infrastructure: Large parts of America feel overlooked. One solution is investing in infrastructure, which would increase productivity and create more jobs.
  • Reform business regulation: “It’s a lot harder to enter a new occupation than it should be,” said Michael Strain, an economist at the American Enterprise Institute. How can we fix that? We can reform occupational licensing laws which have increased five-times in the past sixty years. These laws make it especially hard for people without a college degree to change careers.
  • Congress should meet before the new Administration takes office and discuss bipartisan reform, including taxes, trade, infrastructure and justice reform. 
  • Americans who are deeply distressed by the election can commit themselves to constructive change where they live, volunteering and rebuilding the public square. 
  • We need a civility revolution: stop vilifying people you disagree with. Let's heal our divided nation one conversation at a time.

#75 How Can We Get Better At Forecasting the Future: Mark Earls

Almost all of us do a poor job of predicting the future. 

This show looks at how we can adapt to the disruption and change the future inevitably brings.  Using examples from business and our personal lives, we consider how to be smarter and more successful.

"We over-estimate how bad we might feel if we lose something, and under-estimate how we will feel if something good happens,” says our guest, Mark Earls.

MARKEARLS20163.jpg

Mark joins Jim and Richard at our living room table in New York. Usually Mark is based in London where he's a well-known author and consultant on marketing, communications and behavioral change.  His books include “Copy Copy Copy”, "HERD: How to Change Mass Behavior by Harnessing Our True Nature” and “I’ll Have What She’s Having

"We have to realize…we have to prepare for multiple futures," Mark tells us in this episode. Some additional takeaways:

Solutions:
Start small. For example Spotify began in a small market (Sweden) and it was able to be more agile, make mistakes and react to its competition more effectively than a larger company.
 
Product plus: some of the most successful companies are the ones that make a product AND deliver a service; Dollar Shave Club is a good example of this.  
 
Customer service is more important than ever. “You can’t have that ‘take a ticket and wait in line’ attitude towards customers; you need to fix it.
 
In our personal lives prepare for multiple future scenarios: what would happen if you had an unexpected expense, how would you deal with a serious illness or a absence from work, or a major housing expense?

#74 Fixes for an Insular World: Talk to Strangers. Kio Stark

"There are genuine emotional benefits when we connect with strangers," says our guest, Kio Stark. These fleeting interactions are important interruptions in the steady routine of our lives. "They bring connectedness and belonging."

Kio is the author of "When Strangers Meet: How People You Don't Know Can Transform You."  Her popular TED Talk has received more than 1,450,000 views. "My own interactions with strangers resonate with meaning for me," she writes in her book. "You find questions whose answers you thought you knew. You reject the ideas that make us so suspicious of each other."

"We live in pretty insular ways," Kio tells us in this episode of "How Do We Fix It?"  "When you talk to somebody who is different than you, you are forced to see this person as an individual in a way that you wouldn't have done before." 

This speaks to our divided politics at a time when it is often far to easy to vilify people we don't agree with.  Being more open to people of different races, social class and age groups can open us up to surprising moments of pleasure and transformative possibilities. 

Kio explains how shy, frightened or suspicious people can benefit from being more open to briefly allowing strangers into their lives.  We discuss how dogs and babies can make it easier to speak with people you don't know.

"There's an amazing power in being seen.  We live in cities we don't see each other," Kio tells us.  "When you are seen, when you notice someone is acknowledging you it's a momentary bond."

#73 Why Nonprofits Need to Stop Begging: Jennifer McCrea

Do you believe you can make a difference?  What improvements to the world have been made by nonprofit organizations?  What lessons have been learnt by philanthropists about delivering services and furthering their cause?

These and many more questions are answered here by our guest, Jennifer McCrea.  She's a leading global expert on giving and fundraising.  Jennifer works to transform the practice of philanthropy She discusses her important work with the Born Free Africa collaborative, which works for the eradication of mother-to-child transmission of H.I.V.

"While of course we have to get money moving in support of the work we are doing," Jennifer tells us, "it's not about money at the center of the relationship."

In her course at Harvard University, Jennifer has worked with leaders from the nonprofit and social enterprise sectors to improve their organizations results from fundraising.

"I keep the work itself at the center of the relationship and money just becomes the gas that goes in the car."  Philanthropists need to avoid "a begging bowl mentality," she says.

Solutions:

  • Philanthropic groups need to be collaborative, working in concert with other organizations in their space. 
  • Transparency and learning from those who these groups are trying to help should be part of their DNA. 
  • For those of us who give money to nonprofits, sign up for more than donations. Be part of their cause. Monitor their mission.
  • In our personal lives, when someone needs our help, listen openly and don’t always try to fix their problems.

#6 Fix It Shorts: Election 2016:The Problem is Us.We The Voters

The news media have bombarded us with stories about the candidates, the contest and - to a lesser extent - the crucial issues America faces as people vote for the next President.

This podcast is about the voters.

We went back to four past episodes of "How Do We Fix It?" pulling extracts about how we make decisions and why the information that you and I receive from internet search engines and other sources may be radically different than the news and views our friends and neighbors are hearing.

On episode 24 podcast host and author David McRaney told us "we are not so smart," using confirmation bias as a defining example. "It would do us all good to actually think what are we wrong about," said David, who argues in favor of challenging our own personal biases. "Whenever you have an understanding of something, create an alternate explanation."

Psychologist Robert Epstein joined us on episode 11 to discuss whether Google is too powerful for our democracy. The former Editor-in-Chief of "Psychology Today" has done extensive research on Google's search rankings and algorithms. "There is a problem is the monopoly in search" that Google holds in most of the world, Robert said. "They're customizing what people see." 

Search rankings can have a big influence on how people vote. We are not getting challenged by ideas that we haven't heard before.

Joan Blades of Living Room Conversations aims to bring people together.  A progressive herself, Joan has engaged with evangelical conservatives and leaders of the tea party in lively, but respectful dialog about climate change, criminal justice reform and other questions. 

"We've become increasingly divided," Joan told us on episode 43. "We don't even share the same facts." Joan explained some of the ground rules of having conversations with those you disagree with. 

This brief "Fix It Shorts" podcast also features John Gable of AllSides. This news website puts stories from different sources next to each other -  columns from left, right and center-leaning news newspapers and online sites. 

"We want people to be able to see quickly the differences," John said in episode 49. "What we started doing with All Sides is breaking that filter bubble."

#71 How to Reduce Cyclist and Pedestrian Deaths: Nicole Gelinas

“Vision Zero” is the highly ambitious plan put in place two years ago by New York's Mayor Bill de Blasio. The goal: no traffic deaths by 2024.

America's largest city is nowhere near reducing fatal crashes to zero, but great progress has been made since 1990.  "The good news is that we've gone from 701 deaths back then to an average of 245 deaths a year under the de Blasio Administration," says urban economics and transportation researcher Nicole Gelinas in this "Fix It" episode.

Nicole is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute. She writes for City Journal, The Washington Post, LA Times and a bunch of other publications.

In this show we look at why so many pedestrians and bicycle riders are killed on the streets of U.S. cities and what we can learn from safety initiatives in Sweden and elsewhere.

The bad news is that New York is far safer than almost every other American city. 

"You're three times more like to be killed in Atlanta whether you're in a car or walking - and you're two times more likely to be killed in LA," says Nicole.

We also learn the lessons of the Times Square traffic and pedestrian redevelopment initiative and why it turned critics into fans.  During our show Nicole Gelinas unpacks surprising research on the pros and cons of wearing bicycle helmets on busy urban streets. 

Solutions:

  • Data shows that redesigning streets to slow down and calm traffic is the best way to prevent injuries and deaths.
  • Lower speed limits, especially in dense urban areas.
  • Invest in a comprehensive mass transit system, which will reduce crashes and improves the quality of life for city residents.
  • The old adage, safety in numbers is true when it comes to biking in traffic: bicyclists are safer when they ride in a group.
  • Cyclists should always wear lights to make themselves as visible as possible to motorists. 

#70 Electile Dysfunction: A Cure For Our Campaign: Alan Dershowitz

Electile Dysfunction (is), “a terrible pun plus insightful commentary" is how TV host and wit Seth Myers describes" the new book by Professor Alan Dershowitz.

Dershowitz became a professor at Harvard Law when he was 25 years old. In his long and distinguished career, Newsweek described Dershowitz as "the nation's most peripatetic civil liberties lawyer and one of its most distinguished defenders of individual rights." We recorded this episode of "How Do We Fix It?" at his Manhattan home. "Electile Dysfunction" is his 35th book.

(Left to Right) Jim Meigs, Richard Davies and Alan Dershowitz

Voters are anxious, frustrated and they feel impotent. In this show we look at the strangest political campaign of our lifetime and what can be done to improve the way we elect Presidents.

We are not alone in facing a threat to our democracy.  "I'm afraid of what's going on in Europe today and what's going in the United States may reflect a trend rather than a pendulum swing," Alan Dershowitz tells us. "A trend toward extremes and we have to fight back."

Jim, Richard and Dershowitz discuss the rise of extremism on the right and left, the threat to free speech on college campuses and the virtue of compromise.

(Left to Right) Jim Meigs, Richard Davies and Alan Dershowitz

"I think centrist liberals and centrist conservatives have to get together and take back the center and stop the alt right from taking over the Republican Party and the alt left from taking over the Democratic Party," says Professor Dershowitz

We look at solutions:

A voter's Presidential checklist. Before voting, weigh where the candidates stand on the most important issues - from who will best protect us from terrorism to who will keep America's economy strong and produce more stability.

  • Shortening the nation's extremely long Presidential campaign with one national primary day in June, weeks before the party conventions.
  • Reducing the destructive power of the media to hype conflict and obscure the electorate's understanding of vital issues.
  • Encouraging free speech and open dialog that is now under threat at leading colleges and universities.

#69 Migrants and Refugees: Our Response to a Global Crisis. Leonard Doyle

Too often, migrants and refugees are viewed as "other" - not like us. In recent days Donald Trump Jr. compared the Syrian refugee problem to a bowl of Skittles

In this episode, Leonard Doyle of the International Organization for Migration walks us through the worldwide crisis of tens of millions of displaced people, from families fleeing from war and terrorism to young men and women who overstay their visas in search of a better life.  We look at the definitions of these terms - so often glossed over in our discussions of the crisis.

Using personal stories and speaking from years of experience working with migrants, Leonard makes a powerful case for all of us to see migrants as people like ourselves. This is the first small step we can take in responding immense humanitarian challenge.

"When you say the word 'migrant' people tend to have an image in their head,"  Leonard tells us.  That may be a negative image "because there is so much toxic discourse about them from our quite opportunistic political leaders." 

Established in 1951, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) has offices in more than 100 nations and works with governments and non-governmental organizations to promote humane and orderly migration, for the benefit of all.

The movement of peoples from much of Africa, West Asia and The Middle East “is the global phenomenon of our time," says Leonard. "It's kind of the last flick of the globalization monster in a way.  We had free trade in global goods and services. This is the bit they didn't plan very well... But people aren't stupid. They watch television and see a better lifestyle happening somewhere else. We've kind of empowered them with our globalized media and globalized trade."

A summit of world leaders at The United Nations this week put the migrant crisis more firmly on the global agenda. In his address to the U.N. General Assembly, President Obama called the refugee and migrant crisis "a test of our humanity."

This episode also considers the views of voters in the U.S. and other nations who are fearful that the rising numbers of immigrants from nations with distinctly different cultures could lead to lower wages, rising unemployment and higher crime.  Dismissing or marginalizing their concerns can lead to to populist anti-immigrant rage.

Join Richard, Jim and Leonard for a lively and often moving conversation. 

#68 Why Economic Growth Is Slowing Down: Ruchir Sharma

Get ready for slower economic growth and de-globalization, says investor and writer Ruchir Sharma. 

Ruchir invited us to his New York office, where he is the head of emerging markets and chief global strategist at Morgan Stanley Investment Management. He is also the author of "The Rise and Fall of Nations: Forces of Change in the Post-Crisis World."

Our interview looks at Ruchir's rules for spotting political, economic and social change. They include:

  • The depopulation bomb: If the working population shrinks, so does the economy.
  • Good versus bad billionaires: Wealth inequality is exploding, but some types of tycoons are viewed very differently than others.
  • The curse of the cover story: Ruchir looked at every Time Magazine cover on the economy going back to 1980. If the cover was downbeat the economy grew faster 55% of the time. If it was upbeat, the economy slowed in 66% in the following years.
  • Why democratic capitalism beats the Chinese brand: Postwar booms in democratic nations were usually stronger and longer than under authoritarian regimes. 

"What's very apparent and under-appreciated is the major drop off that we've seen in the world's working age population growth rate," Ruchir tells us. "I think that is a major drag on global economic growth currently."

#67 How Gratitude Can Transform Your Life - Janice Kaplan

On New Year's Eve, journalist and former Parade Editor-in-Chief Janice Kaplan made a promise to herself to be grateful during the coming year and look on the bright side of whatever happens.

As we find out in this episode, it made a big difference to her life. Janice discovered that how she feels has less to do with events than with her own attitude and perspective on life.

Her recent book "The Gratitude Diaries" began after a survey she had done found that 94% of Americans thought people who are grateful live richer lives.  But less than half those surveyed say they practiced gratitude on any regular basis. 

"It struck me that we have this great big gratitude gap," Janice tells us on "How Do We Fix It?" If we change our attitude, she says, "we're going to be a lot happier."

Solutions:

  • Say thanks to someone you love. It's easy to forget to appreciate your partner and your family. But the daily practice of saying something positive can transform almost any relationship.
  • Gratitude is an attitude, but it's also a daily practice. Each day write down something that you are grateful for.
  • Express gratitude at work. Many of us feel unappreciated at work, but we can change that for ourselves and our colleagues.  The start of the work week is a great time to tell fellow workers that they matter to you. 
  • At family dinners or when you are putting your kids to sleep at night, ask your kids what they were grateful for today. This can become part of what families do and how they think about their lives.

#66 Fixing Everyday Money Mistakes: ABC News Correspondent, Rebecca Jarvis

How much do you know about money?  Many of us make simple mistakes that cost us hundreds, if not thousands of dollars a year.

According to a recent study by The FINRA Investor Education Foundation, only 37% of Americans have high financial literacy. 29% of 18-34 year-olds with a mortgage have been late with a monthly payment and more than one in four people use high-cost forms of borrowing like pawn shops and payday loans.

And even worse, many of us think we know much more about personal finance than we do.

In this episode we have simple fixes for money mistakes.  Our guest, ABC News Chief Business, Technology and Economics Correspondent Rebecca Jarvis, explains how a few simple steps will improve our chances of staying out debt and avoiding scams.  

"One of the things that drives me nuts is the number of charlatans out there who are selling products saying it can't lose it can't fail you're going to make money no matter what, " Rebecca tells us.  "Anyone who tells you that... run in the opposite direction." 

Solutions:

  •  Never use credit cards to borrow money.  Most have very high interest rates.
  • Understand why compound interest hurts borrowers and helps savers.
  • Fix it and forget it: How everyday habits automatic saving - putting a small amount of money away each week - can lead to a secure retirement.
  • How employers can help workers to save money.
  • Why better financial education should be a priority for schools and colleges. 

Useful websites:  Mint Quicken and other websites can help you with a weekly budget. Betterment and Wealthfront are savings and investment sites. Blooom offers advice about how to improve the rate of return on 401k and other retirement savings funds.

 

#65 Moms Clean Air Force: Gretchen Dahlkemper

From "nap-time activists" and mommy bloggers to a "stroller march" on Washington, Moms Clean Air Force is using creative and highly effective ways to advance their cause to get dangerous pollutants out of the air. 

In this "How Do We Fix It?" episode we speak about solutions with the group's National Field Director, Gretchen Dahlkemper, a Pennsylvania mom who became an activist - fired up about the threat to her children's health.  Her daughter has asthma. So for her this campaign is personal. 

"I think the more that we connect the average citizen with their elected officials, the better off our entire system is going to be," says Gretchen. "We have forgotten that we can pick up the phone and call our elected officials."

Moms Clean Force fights back against climate change, fossil fuel, methane leaks and other healh problems. But this movement of mothers is about more than the environment and childrens' health.  It's also a way of revitalizing our democracy. 

"That to me is one of the key solutions to eliminating this huge partisan divide that we're seeing in the country right now," says Gretchen. 

#5 Fix It Shorts: Technology: How Children Learn and Play

Following on from our recent episodes about high schools and  playdates, this week we explore children's learning, technology and play with three "How Do We Fix It?" guests. 

Science evangelist Ainissa Ramirez explains why all young kids are fascinated by science.  But school often gets in the way of exploration and curiosity. Ainissa explains how parents and other caregivers can spark interest in science.

Psychology professor Abigail Baird  shares insights and tips for parents about a healthy balance between computers, mobile devices and children's play.  Toy industry and play consultant Richard Gottlieb has creative and - yes - playful ideas about technology, behavior and learning. 

 

#63 Obesity & Diabetes- One City's Solution: Dr. Rose Gowen

The obesity rate is 52% in Brownsville, Texas - far higher than the national average.  Nearly one in three residents has diabetes - three times the rate elsewhere.  Brownsville also has a very high rate of poverty where more half the residents are not covered by health insurance.

This city and other largely hispanic communities along the U.S. - Mexico border are facing a health emergency.

Brownsville decided to tackle the crisis head on, with an innovative mix of public initiatives - including a new farmer's market, many miles of bike lanes, changes to zoning regulations, and a community-wide health challenge. 

Our guest is obstetrician-gynecologist, Rose Gowen, a City Commissioner in Brownsville. We hear her personal story and what Brownsville is doing to transform itself into a more active, prosperous and healthy community.

"We have found here that even in the poorest among us they want to feel better and they want better for their family and they're willing to listen to options and ideas,"  says Rose.

"The difference that we've made is huge."

#62 Playdates & Class Divisions? Tamara Mose How Do We Fix It?

Remember when kids were allowed to play without supervision, when did that change? When did play turn into a playdate?

Today many parents organize playdates. Play is arranged, supervised and has the parental seal of approval. "

I think we could add more diversity into how our children play with other children,"says our guest, Tamara Mose, Associate Professor of Sociology at Brooklyn College. 

Tamara is the author of the new book "The Playdate: Parents, Children and the New Expectations of Play"  In this episode we look at how the shift to structured playdates reflects changes in parenting and class.  "Let's listen to our children's desires," Tamara urges parents. "I think we've lost the ability to do that because we're so afraid of everything our children interacts with.'

We discuss other solutions, including tips for successful playdates and being open a greater range of children from diverse backgrounds.