Friday, November 19, 2021

The Rise and Fall of the NRA and What it's Cost Us: A Conversation with Tim Mak

For the past 40 years, the debate about the proliferation of guns in America has revolved around the NRA. All public policy has been shaped and driven by the political influence of the NRA. Few if any lobbying groups in American history have ever been so powerful for so long.

But how did this power evolve, and what led to its downfall. What was behind its scorched earth “never give an inch” philosophy and was it simple greed and old fashioned corruption that brought it down?

Four years of research have given my guest NPR Washington investigative correspondent, Tim Mak some answers to these and many other questions. He details them in Misfire: Inside the Downfall of the NRA 

My conversation with Tim Mak:

Thursday, November 11, 2021

China: Enemy or Competitor?

Elbridge Colby, is co‑founder and principal of The Marathon Initiative. He served as deputy assistant secretary of defense for strategy and force development from 2017 through 2018, and led the development of the 2018 National Defense Strategy.

In his recent book, The Strategy of Denial: American Defense in an Age of Great Power Conflict, In it, Colby addresses our relationship with China in brutally frank terms

Some of the questions he sets out to answer:

Do we need a grand strategy for China, similar to the Cold War policy of “containing” the former Soviet Union?

To counter China’s military strength, do we need to remove our troops from Europe and the Middle East, since we are no longer realistically capable of operating in three theaters?

What should we do if China moves on Taiwan?

What role would our Western allies play if we confronted China?

In a US/China conflict, would other Asian nations side with the US or make their own deal with China?

Has US credibility in Asia been irreparably harmed by our Middle East performance?

If China is politically dominant in Asia, does that mean they would also dominate the world economy?

What might a war with China look like?

My conversation with Eldridge Colby:

Tuesday, November 9, 2021

A Story of What Went Right in the Battle Agaisnt COVID - Gregory Zuckerman tells how we got the shot that saved the world

Amidst all of the noise and debate about vaccine mandates, less than clear information from the CDC, and the broader context of healthcare and society, it’s easy to forget that these vaccines are truly miracles of modern science, and that the herculean effort to develop them, in record time, is a science story for the ages.

But the story doesn’t exist without the understanding the players. The global panoply of scientists, entrepreneurs, government officials and market forces that all came together in a kind of war effort, that saved millions of lives. After all, imagine the debate we’d be having today, and what our society would look like, if no vaccine had happened?

This story, one of the rare ones about what went right in the COVID battle, is told by Gregory Zuckerman in A Shot to Save the World: The Inside Story of the Life-or-Death Race for a COVID-19 Vaccine.

My conversation with Gregory Zuckerman:

Tuesday, November 2, 2021

How the Index Fund Changed Finance and Why It's Still So Powerful Today

Never have so many individuals been actively engaged in trading in the equity markets. Robin Hood, Reddit, meme stocks, crypto, blockchain are the language of a whole new world of mostly young traders. And most of them will lose money.

They think they can outperform markets that have long humbled the smartest guys in the room.

So back in the early seventy, a group of those guys got together to imagine and evolve a way to passively participate in the markets. Long before information about the markets had been democratized. Long before we checked our portfolio every-time we checked our phone, the idea of passive index funds would take hold.

And even in our hyperbolic financial world today, they are still going strong. In fact, they are so powerful, they alone can move markets.

What this all means for markets and economics is worth examining. To do so I’m joined by Robin Wigglesworth, the global finance correspondent at the Financial Times and the author of Trillions: How a Band of Wall Street Renegades Invented the Index Fund and Changed Finance Forever 

My conversation with Robin Wigglesworth: