It's interesting that the government has decided to bail out the financial and automotive industries but not the newspaper industry. I would argue that newspapers are just as essential to the functioning of our society as either of those industries!
By now, everybody knows that the catalyst was the sub-prime mortgage meltdown. To understand that, listen to The Giant Pool of Money.
Once you've gotten your head around sub-prime, continue on to Another Frightening Show About the Economy. (This is the better of the two shows in my opinion.)
In return for a two-hour time investment, you should get a pretty good understanding of how we got here.
Some of the interesting topics discussed/proven in this book:
- How teachers cheat by altering their students' standardized test scores
- How sumo wrestlers cheat by throwing matches when it doesn't affect their overall ranking and will help their opponent's ranking
- How a children's radio show and free information flow mortally wounded the Ku Klux Klan
- Why real estate agents don't have anything to gain by helping you get a better deal
- How and why people lie about themselves on online dating services
- How little drug dealers really make and why they still live with their moms
- The effect that legalized abortion had on crime rates in the 1990s
- How your child has a greater chance of dying if she plays at a friend's house where there is a swimming pool rather than playing at a friend's house where there is a gun present
- How parents focus their energy on safer cribs and child car seats and how they are, at best, nominally helpful in preventing child deaths, along with child-resistant packaging, flame-retardant pajamas, car airbags, and safety drawstrings no clothes (the cumulative deaths from all of these causes is significantly less than swimming pool drownings for children).
- How "good parenting actions" have very little effect on the educational success of children (the following had no correlation with academic success: having a stay-at-home parent; being read to them every day; going on museum trips or being enrolled in Head Start; not watching TV)
- The socioeconomic effect of a person's name