The stock market’s roaring, and applications for unemployment are down, but there was disappointing news in Thursday’s economic data. In January manufacturing growth slowed, construction spending dipped, and Americans’ after-tax income fell, leading to a fourth straight month of weak consumer spending. Guest host Terrence McNally explores the continued gap between Wall Street and Main Street, and what we can do about it.
Although it’s down a bit today, the Dow hit 13,000 this week for the first time since May, 2008. NASDAQ flirted with 3000. One US company, Apple, is now valued at over $500 billion, higher than the gross domestic product of Poland, Belgium, Sweden, Saudi Arabia or Taiwan. Yet manufacturing growth has slowed, construction spending has slipped, and consumer spending remains weak. Both housing construction and Americans’ after-tax income actually fell in January. What accounts for the disparity? How important is it? What can be done about it? And how will all this play out in this year’s elections?
* Daniel Gross: Yahoo! Finance, @grossdm
* Robert H. Frank: Cornell University
* Tom Donlan: Barron’s National Business and Financial Weekly
* Dean Baker: Center for Economic and Policy Research, @DeanBaker13
* Gross’ ‘Better, Stronger, Faster: The Myth of American Economic Decline’
* Frank’s ‘The Darwin Economy: Liberty Competition and the Common Good’
* Baker’s ‘The End of Loser Liberalism: Making Markets Progressive’
How did the Egyptian people overthrow longtime ruler Hosni Mubarak and are the people of Egypt better off today?
I am very excited to speak with WAEL GHONIM, the Egyptian web exec who played a leading role in last year’s Tahrir Square protests. With the first anniversary of those protests and the recent elections in Egypt, we have a lot to talk about.
WAEL GHONIM was a little-known 30-year-old Google manager, unwilling to publicly criticize the Egyptian regime — silenced like many by resignation and the fear of reprisals — until he anonymously launched a Facebook campaign to protest the death of one particular Egyptian man at the hands of security forces. In his new memoir, he tells us – from his experience — why and how the Egyptian people finally rejected 30 years of oppression and found their voice.
Let me read two quotes from WAEL GHONIM: “Social media allow ideas to be shared. They are places where people can unite, Revolutions can begin. A new type of Revolution – Revolution 2.0”
and finally — “People have called me a hero, but that is ridiculous – this has not been a revolution of heroic individuals, but about people coming together to overcome dictatorship.
HAPPY. Are you happy? What makes you happy? Does money make you happy? Kids and family? Your work? Do you live in an environment that values and promotes happiness and well-being? Do you expect you’re going to get happier? How?
ROKO BELIC’S documentary HAPPY explores these sorts of questions. It weaves the latest scientific research from the field of “positive psychology” with stories from around the world of people whose lives illustrate what we’re learning.
The basic approach to the pursuit of happiness taken by many of us and by society in general isn’t delivering. We know more than we ever have about what science can tell us about happiness. And we have access to more diverse models and worldviews than ever before. This is a good time to ask some basic questions.
Though change has never been as rapid as it is today, adapting to new circumstance is so crucial to our survival that “love of the new” is hardwired into our brains at the deepest levels. The number of new things we confront – from products to information – has quadrupled in the last thirty years with no signs of slowing.
In NEW: Understanding Our Need for Novelty and Change, WINIFRED GALLAGHER points out that 15% of us are “neophiliacs,” biologically predisposed to passionately pursue new experiences. Another 15% are “neophobes” who resist change. Most of us fall in the middle.
WINIFRED GALLAGHER has written for magazines from The Atlantic Monthly to Rolling Stone. Her books include Just the Way You Are: How Heredity and Experience Create the Individual, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, The Power of Place: How Our Surroundings Shape Our Thoughts, Emotions, and Actions; and Rapt: Attention and the Focused Life.
There are 183 million active video gamers in the US, and the average young person will spend 10,000 hours gaming by the age of 21. There are now more than five million “extreme” gamers” in the US who play an average of 45 hours a week.
According to game designer JANE McGONIGAL, this is because videogames are increasingly fulfilling genuine human needs. But she goes way beyond that, in her first book, REALITY IS BROKEN — just out in paperback – she suggests we can use the lessons of game design to fix what is wrong with the real world.
Drawing on positive psychology, cognitive science, and sociology, she shows how game designers have hit on core truths about what makes us happy so that videogames consistently provide the exhilarating rewards, stimulating challenges, and epic victories that are so often lacking in the real world.
I recommend Reality Is Broken to people who have no interest in games. Separate from what it says about the current reality and possible future of games, the book is an excellent primer on what we have learned – and most people don’t know – about happiness, learning, productivity and growth.