Five at 8 – 3/17/09

  • If this economy turns out not to be the next Great Depression, what are we going to do with all of this video and stories that are based on the assumption it will? Will there be a display at the Minnesota History Museum 100 years from now. “Step right this way, ladies and gentlemen where you’ll see how Minnesotans used their $90 a month cellphones to tell each other how much the economy mirrored the Great Depression.” A poll out today says about half of us believe it.

    The New York Times is presenting videos with people in a fascinating series “The New Hard Times.” They’re inviting you to interview your neighbors and friends and send your own. Tip: Shoot it in black-and-white.

    Program note: Midday takes on the economy at 11 a.m. And be sure to check out Cathy Mayfield, MPR’s youth reporter’s (I didn’t know we had one, either), look at payday loans.

  • Is the housing market picking up or falling down? Realtor Teresa Boardman, who writes the St. Paul Real Estate blog, reports on absorption rates — how long it would take to sell all the homes on the market at the current pace. She reports we’ve gone from the Shop-Vac to toilet paper level, and Q-tips are on the horizon. Maybe.

    Program note: This afternoon on All Things Considered, Jess Mador looks at mortgage modification scams. I suspect the story will be on the Web site here by early afternoon.

  • In the aftermath of the Daily Show’s anti-CNBC rants, I mentioned on Twitter that even if they told me what was going on, I wouldn’t have understood what they’re talking about. How do I know? Because after months of talks about credit derivatives and swaps and bundling, I still don’t know exactly why the meltdown happened. I only know that some congresspeople, who passed a bailout bill that gave away their oversight to the Treasury Department, are suggesting corporate executives kill themselves.

    Local writer Erik Hare took me up on my challenge. How’d he do?

  • Country-of-origin labeling started on Monday. It’s a difficult concept when you recall former state epidemiologist Mike Osterholm on MPR a month or so ago noting that a typical food in our homes can be made up of ingredients that come from as many as 12 different countries. The blog, The h, has a chart of cool/uncool. Example: Cool: Sliced cantaloupe needs to be labeled. Uncool: Fruit salad does not. It sounds like Jesse Ventura’s ranting over the inequities of the sales tax.
  • What happens to your underwear in space? When you hear that the space shuttle crew is conducting science experiments, now you know. Oh, that reminds me, if you want to see the space shuttle overhead, go here and be sure to enter your location (Go here for St. Paul). The best view looks to be Thursday.

    Posting might be a little light today. I’m filling in for Jon Gordon on Future Tense today.

    • When it comes to a depression or a recession it depends upon who you ask. For the thousands who have lost jobs and those who are losing their homes this is a depression. For those of us who are in the real estate industry we have been in a recession for at least a year. For those who are doing just fine . . this maybe doesn’t seem so bad.

      I have been documenting the vacant homes around St. Paul with my camera. I believe that some day people will be interested in seeing what this has been like.

    • Bob Collins

      I believe I heard the statistic on the CNN poll that 7% of those surveyed thinks things are just fine, which just goes to show you — people lie to pollsters.

    • bsimon

      ” A poll out today says about half of us believe [this economy is like the Great Depression].”

      Except during the great depression they didn’t have unemployment insurance, food stamps, social security or medicare. They DID have 25% unemployment – and that was a workforce that was mostly male, who were the sole breadwinners. Now we have dual income families, where if one adult is out of work, they are in a tight spot; whereas in the Great Depression, losing a job meant losing 100% of income.

      In short: this isn’t even close.

    • BJ

      Since I do not normally listern to MPR during the day what Time are you on?

    • mulad

      All I know about the bailout I learned from Jon Stewart. …And Frontline‘s “Inside the Meltdown”.

    • Bob Collins

      I’m very rarely on MPR, BJ, unless all the guests on the various shows have been caught in a blizzard somewhere. Writing a blog at a mainstream news organization is very much like being in witness protection, I assume.

      I’m on the Current with Mary Lucia a couple of times a day for a few minutes… 4:20 and 5:20.

    • cristobal

      I think that the economy is a big proble in the

    • bsimon

      Argument #2 that we aren’t even close to the Great Depression comes from a MN Post story:

      “Those who say the New Deal didn’t end the Depression and may even have exacerbated it tend to ignore the crisis that was addressed by Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s “alphabet agencies.” In 1933, the average enrollee in the CCC was 10 pounds underweight and shorter than average height. He was, in a blunt word, malnourished. During the standard six-month enlistment, the typical “C” gained 10 pounds and grew an inch.”

    • SalemHouse

      After all the heavy-duty economic reading, the underwear-in-space link was the perfect way to end. Thanks for bringing me a reason to smile!