MARY REICHARD, HOST: Good morning!
Google, Facebook, Apple and Amazon CEOs deny they’re monopolizing big tech. But lawmakers are not convinced.
NICK EICHER, HOST: We’ll talk about what might be next for regulating big tech.
Also what’s up with cash shortages? We have a report.
Plus our Classic Book of the Month.
And WORLD commentator Andrée Seu Peterson on asking the right questions.
REICHARD: It’s Tuesday, August 4th. This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Mary Reichard.
EICHER: And I’m Nick Eicher. Good morning!
REICHARD: Now the news. Here’s Jill Nelson.
JILL NELSON, NEWS ANCHOR: Debate over stimulus bill drags on » Top Democrats and White House negotiators met again Monday afternoon to hammer out the details on another round of pandemic-related economic stimulus. But they made little progress.
Among the sticking points—unemployment insurance. Democrats want to extend the $600 weekly federal addition to state benefits into 2021. Republicans want to scale it back to encourage people back into the workforce.
But Republican Senator John Barrasso of Wyoming told Fox New that’s not the only area of disagreement.
BARRASSO: Take a look at where Nancy Pelosi is. To me she’s still living on Fantasy Island. She is proposing truly runaway government spending, not aimed at coronavirus, but spending at its worst.
Pelosi pushed back on CNN, comparing the country to a building on fire.
PELOSI: Today we have an emergency. A building is on fire and they’re deciding how much water they want to have in the bucket. They’re so fussy about any anecdotal information they may have about somebody not going to work because they make $600 on this, but so cavalier about big money to companies that really shouldn’t be having it.
Democrats also want to send almost $1 trillion in new aid to state and local governments, a proposal Republicans reject.
Latest coronavirus numbers » Meanwhile, governors in several states hit hard by the pandemic celebrated good news on Monday.
Florida’s Ron DeSantis said his state had recorded the lowest number of positive tests in a long time. And Broward Health CEO Gino Santorio said fewer sick patients are needing hospital care.
SANTORIO: It has been a challenging summer. But it is pleasing to report a reduction in the number of hospitalizations going on over two weeks here in South Florida and at Broward Health.
California Governor Gavin Newsom said his state has also seen positive trends.
NEWSOM: The seven-day positivity rate now down to 6.1 percent. Not where it needs to be and still too high. But again, it is good to see this number trending down, not trending up.
While Sun Belt states are seeing improvement, White House coronavirus task force coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx warned cases are increasing elsewhere. Birx is especially concerned about Missouri and Tennessee.
And in Washington, the White House announced Monday that random coronavirus testing for staff will now be mandatory. Last week, National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien became the highest-ranking U.S. official to test positive for the virus.
Nevada approves mail-in voting » Nevada is set to become the eighth state to allow all voters to cast their ballots by mail in the November 3rd election. Lawmakers approved the move Sunday, and Governor Steve Sisolak is expected to sign the bill into law.
President Trump threatened a legal challenge, claiming mail-in ballots would make it impossible for Republicans to win in Nevada.
The state mailed ballots to all voters during the June primary. Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske is the state’s top election official and the only Republican to hold state-wide office in Nevada. She said she had no reports of fraud in the primary.
But she opposed the effort to use mail-in ballots during the November election. Republicans are especially concerned with provisions in the bill that expand the number of people who can collect and turn in completed ballots.
Microsoft confirms talks to buy TikTok » Microsoft confirmed Sunday that it is in talks with the Chinese company ByteDance to buy its popular video sharing platform TikTok. That announcement came two days after President Trump said he would ban the app over security concerns.
On Monday, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin repeated that threat.
MNUCHIN: We are not keeping TikTok in its current form, where the app can send back information and location on 100 million Americans.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has accused Chinese software companies, including TikTok, of feeding data directly to the Chinese Communist Party. The company has denied those claims.
Microsoft is exploring a deal that would give it control of TikTok’s services in the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. The company said it appreciates the president’s concerns and is committed to buying TikTok pending a complete security review.
But Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said that might not be enough to gain his support.
SCHUMER: How will the data be stored and secured? Will still the Chinese have links into TikTok? So before I would be for such a merger I would have to get some answers to these questions.
Microsoft expects to finalize details of the proposed buyout by September 15th.
Trump tax records case about more than ‘hush money’ » The New York prosecutor seeking President Trump’s tax records is looking for evidence of more than just hush money payments. WORLD’s Leigh Jones has that story.
LEIGH JONES, REPORTER: The Manhattan district attorney is investigating alleged payments to women who claimed to have had affairs with the president. But in a petition filed Monday in district court, Cyrus Vance Jr. said his probe into the Trump organization goes beyond that.
He’s also seeking proof of alleged bank and insurance fraud.
Vance is asking for eight years of financial records related to the president and his businesses.
President Trump’s legal team claims that request is too broad and has asked U.S. District Court Judge Victor Marrero to block it.
The case could have major political implications as the November election nears. The president’s attorneys have until August 14th to respond to Vance’s filing.
Reporting for WORLD, I’m Leigh Jones.
I’m Jill Nelson. Straight ahead: the debate over downsizing Big Tech.
Plus, Andrée Seu Peterson on helping the homeless.
This is The World and Everything in It.
MARY REICHARD: It’s Tuesday, the 4th of August, 2020. Glad to have you along for today’s edition of The World and Everything in It. Good morning, I’m Mary Reichard.
NICK EICHER: And I’m Nick Eicher. First up: regulating Big Tech.
The four most powerful technology leaders in America appeared before the House last week. Some members of Congress accused them of creating monopolies of online services so many of us have come to rely on.
REICHARD: The CEOs of Google, Facebook, Apple, and Amazon denied those charges. Both Republicans and Democrats seemed unconvinced. Could Silicon Valley be in for some changes?
Joining us now to talk about it is Jason Thacker. He is chair of research in technology ethics at the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. Good morning!
JASON THACKER, GUEST: Good morning. Thanks for having me, Mary.
REICHARD: Let’s start with Facebook. Lawmakers questions for Mark Zuckerberg had to do with his company’s acquisition of Instagram. What’s their concern?
THACKER: Yeah, I mean, as you said earlier, there’s been a lot of question, kind of antitrust questions surrounding Big Tech in general. But in many ways, the culture surrounding Silicon Valley of buying up start ups and kind of merging into these systems, so even if users, if you open up the Facebook app now, at the very bottom you’re going to see five different icons representing five different brands or companies that are under the Facebook umbrella. One of the largest and kind of most active is Instagram. And so lawmakers had a lot of questions specifically from the Democratic side of the aisle addressing how and why Instagram was acquired, were they knocking off a competitor, someone who might have done damage to Facebook? But even on the conservative side of the aisle, there were a lot of questions about censorship and misinformation. These tech companies are so intertwined in our lives and we’re so used to using these services. There’s a lot of distrust there. And so that’s really what was on display throughout this hearing.
REICHARD: Amazon owner Jeff Bezos told lawmakers he couldn’t be accused of having a monopoly, because Amazon’s market share is still dwarfed by that of Walmart—the nation’s biggest retailer. But that’s not what lawmakers are worried about is it? They had questions about how Amazon uses information gleaned from businesses that use its platform to sell their own products. Can you go into that?
THACKER: Yeah, and so really what was happening here was a lot of questions surrounding the rise of the Amazon brand. And so you have in many ways the Amazon basics, whether it’s coolers or batteries or kind of any popular products where Amazon’s selling their own brand. And this is really similar to what you see with Walmart having the Great Value brand or Kroger having any type of brand. But one of the things that’s unique about the way Amazon works is that they have access as the platform through which all of these products sell to be able to use that information to actually help strengthen the feedback and the sales trends to help strengthen their own products, which in many ways would be seen as a monopoly or unfair business practices. And so one of the things that was kind of striking from this hearing was actually kind of an admission from Jeff Bezos saying that while they do have a policy against using the seller-specific data to strengthen their own private label, he said they couldn’t “guarantee that that policy has never been violated.” Which was kind of a big bomb that was dropped in the middle of the room to say we don’t know exactly if this has happened and Amazon has said they’re conducting an internal investigation. So, it’s going to be really interesting to see how all of this continues to play out.
REICHARD: What about Google and Apple?
THACKER: Yeah, in Google and Apple, this was more of an interesting take especially for Google because they’re kind of subtly everywhere. They’re behind a lot of things like our digital products, our Gmails, our applications and things and so there were a lot of questions specifically surrounding advertising on their platforms like YouTube, how those Google ads appear in your search results and how they’re culling information and keeping you away from various websites by putting that information at the top of your search results. And Google would argue that they’re making life easier and they are in many ways. But does that come at a cost of personal privacy and squashing various types of competition? And then Apple specifically, they’re first and foremost a computer technology company in the sense of putting out iPads and iPhones and various hardware devices along with their app ecosystem. But there were questions surrounding the app store and the commission that Apple has, but also the closed ecosystem that Apple operates. That’s intentional on their part, but it also could raise concerns about antitrust things, in many ways kind of reminiscent of the 90s and the hearings and the antitrust lawsuits that Microsoft went through themselves of being this kind of ecosystem where people are kind of locked in. And so that’s where a lot of the questions surrounded Google and Apple.
REICHARD: You know, Republicans have traditionally been more friendly to business. There’s a fine line between successful capitalism and unfairly taking out the competition. But they have less sympathy for social media companies because of some evidence that those companies are biased against conservatives.
Do you think that could lead to an alliance between Democrats and Republicans on some form of antitrust regulation?
THACKER: It very well might. The one thing that’s hard here is that Democrats are going on more of the antitrust monopoly route and conservatives are kind of more focused on conservative bias and so while there might be an alliance of doing something about the influence of technology companies in our lives, it’s very different what those outcomes would be. And so if it’s going to be an alliance, it’s going to be a rocky one to see exactly what can be done. Honestly, there’s really—in my opinion—not a lot of hope of major legislation taking place, especially before the November presidential election.
REICHARD: Jason Thacker is chair of research in technology ethics at the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. Thanks for joining us today!
THACKER: Yeah, thank you for having me, Mary.
MARY REICHARD: Coming up next on The World and Everything in It: cold, hard cash.
When the economic shutdowns began earlier this year, some stores refused cash payments. Owners were concerned that bills and coins might be a source of COVID-19.
But now, businesses willing to take cash payments are having a different problem: They can’t get enough cash!
NICK EICHER: Shoppers are finding in some stores signs like these: “Due to the national coin shortage, please pay with a credit card or exact change.”
So why is cash suddenly in short supply? WORLD’s Anna Johansen reports.
ANNA JOHANSEN, REPORTER: Laura Willis is a young newlywed living in Lisle, Illinois.
WILLIS: I’ve been living in apartments for six years and I’ve never had in-unit laundry. So I always use quarters.
Living on coin-operated laundry means she’s always hunting down quarters. She used to pick them up at the bank or get cash back at grocery stores. But then—we all know what happened—COVID hit.
WILLIS: Right when everything shut down. I ran out of quarters literally the week before. And then the bank is closed. Like, oh no, I’ll have to go to the grocery store, I guess. And then they had signs up at the grocery store. They weren’t giving back cash. And I was like, Oh, no, I don’t know what to do.
Laura Willis isn’t the only one desperate for coins. About 25 percent of people in the United States rely on cash almost exclusively. They either don’t have a debit or credit card, or they don’t have a bank account at all. People use paper bills to make a purchase, get loose change back, and use that change for things like laundry. Americans spend about $48 billion in coins every year.
So, where did all that money go?
GAHERITY: Yeah, that’s the question that everybody’s asking.
Jim Gaherity is the CEO of Coinstar. It’s a chain of coin kiosks, mostly stationed in grocery stores. People can bring in their loose change and swap it for foldable bills. Last year, Coinstar recirculated almost three billion dollars in coins in the United States. But when stores shut down and people started sheltering in place, Coinstar’s transactions plummeted. The cash stopped circulating.
But that doesn’t mean the money disappeared.
GAHERITY: So, this coin shortage is not a shortage. That $48 billion worth of coin is still out there. And it’s stuck right now. It’s just not in the place it needs to be.
David Tente works with the ATM Industry Association. He isn’t 100 percent sure where the money is, but he has a decent idea.
TENTE: If I had to venture a guess I would think that it’s just, you know, in the pockets or piggy banks or jars of the consumers out there who aren’t having as much of an opportunity to, you know, turn that in as they have in the past.
Many stores are still closed, so they can’t circulate cash. And banks have stashes of coins that they haven’t really been able to use for months. So a lot of loose change is just stuck.
Tente says there’s another factor feeding the shortage: Coin production. The U.S. Mint produces almost 12 billion coins in an average year. Of course, 2020 hasn’t exactly been an average year.
TENTE: And the production of minting of new coins is way down. Because at the mint, they’re in the midst of restrictions on how many people they can have and how they work and so forth, like many of us out in the economy. So, you know, it’s just turned into kind of a perfect storm.
The Federal Reserve created a task force to try to address the problem. Coinstar is part of that group. CEO Jim Gaherity says part of the solution is just raising awareness.
GAHERITY: Talking to the average American citizens to say look, there’s a coin shortage right now, perceived, and you’ve got some of that coin. Come out, make a deposit or spend it in some way or go to an aggregator like a Coinstar and get it back into circulation again.
The U.S. Mint has stepped up production, hoping to inject new coins into the system.
In the meantime, some stores are saying, look, we just can’t give you change back. Others are saying, we can round up your transaction and donate the extra to charity. Or you can put it onto a loyalty card in the store and use it at some point in the future. One Chick-fil-A location in Texas is offering free treats to customers who bring in spare change.
Back in Illinois, Laura Willis couldn’t find quarters anywhere, so she did laundry at her in-law’s house for a couple of weeks. Then she bought $10 worth of quarters from one friend, and $30 worth from her sister-in-law. She’s still surviving on those coins, doling them out so they last as long as possible.
WILLIS: Each wash is $1, each dry is $1. So sometimes I let it air dry and that saves $1.
Good news for her: Jim Gaherity thinks this will be a short-term problem.
GAHERITY: I believe that if we can get the economy reopened, if we can get businesses reopened to the extent that 50 or 60 percent of what was shuttered comes back online, and people are willing to come out and use their cash again, this goes away in a very short period of time.
But regardless, Willis hopes she never has this problem again.
WILLIS: We’re looking at moving sometime in the fall possibly. And I’m like okay, if we move, in-unit laundry is now a requirement; I’m not dealing with this anymore.
Reporting for WORLD, I’m Anna Johansen.
NICK EICHER: Some taxpayers in Rhode Island who expected state refund checks this year received them.
Just not in the way they expected.
Now, the amounts were all correct.
The problem was a very small error that made a very big difference: the signature was incorrect and banks wouldn’t accept the checks.
Instead of the official signatures of the general treasurer and state controller, you’re wondering whose signature was on these checks, right?
Here’s a hint:
MICKEY MOUSE: Hi everybody! Say, you want to come inside my clubhouse?
Mickey Mouse—his signature was on some checks—and his boss Walt Disney was on others.
Apparently the tax division of the state Revenue Department uses the signatures of Walt and Mickey on dummy checks for testing purposes.
But somehow, the signatures mistakenly made their way onto some actual taxpayer checks: 176 of them, to be exact.
The department of revenue apologized for the error and said affected taxpayers should receive corrected checks within a week.
MICKEY MOUSE: Well alright!
It’s The World and Everything in It.
NICK EICHER: Today is Tuesday, August 4th. Thank you for turning to WORLD Radio to help start your day. Good morning. I’m Nick Eicher.
MARY REICHARD: And I’m Mary Reichard. Well, it’s the first Tuesday of the month, so that means it’s time to welcome book reviewer Emily Whitten for our Classic Book of the Month.
Thanks for joining us, Emily.
EMILY WHITTEN, BOOK REVIEWER: Happy to be here, Mary.
REICHARD: What book should we talk about today?
WHITTEN: I thought maybe we could up the ante and talk about 600 great books for Christian families. How much time do you have, Mary?
REICHARD: Probably not that much.
WHITTEN: Ok. In that case, why don’t we talk about one book that will cover all those books for us? I’m talking about Jamie C. Martin’s Give Your Child the World: Raising Globally Minded Kids One Book at a Time. And it’s basically a book full of reading recommendations for Christian families with kids.
REICHARD: That sounds timely. I keep hearing about families choosing—or being forced into—some kind of homeschool situation.
WHITTEN: Right. Covid-19 has a lot of us thinking outside the box. I hope today’s selection can help families in a lot of different situations.
REICHARD: Ok. Tell us about it.
WHITTEN: Probably the first thing families need to know is that this book builds on an important tradition started with another book. Back in 1969, a Christian mom named Gladys Hunt came out with a book titled Honey for a Child’s Heart. The book offered hundreds of book recommendations to help Christian kids learn to love reading. It also included essays to help parents use books to shape their child’s values and family culture.
REICHARD: Well, that’s one I haven’t heard of. Sounds like I missed out!
WHITTEN: Well, lots of people didn’t miss it, because it sold over 250-thousand copies and is a classic among many Christian families. The author of our selection this month, Jamie C. Martin, made this comparison when I talked with her recently:
MARTIN: Honey for a Child’s Heart is really focusing on classics of literature. So if you don’t even know where to start, that’s a great book to go to. If you’re wondering, why should I read aloud, things like that. Mine is really if you want to branch out globally and take that focus. I think there’s a place for both in someone’s library.
Like Hunt, Martin provides book lists as well as thoughtful essays. But unlike Hunt’s focus on classics, Martin focuses on more recent books set in many different countries and time periods. She sees books as passports to other lands that can spark kids’ imaginations and inspire a life-long love of God’s Creation.
MARTIN: Give Your Child the World to me is like a love letter to other parents who want their kids to grow up really loving and appreciating the diversity of God’s world and those who live in it specifically through being able to introduce their kids to stories that take place all over the globe…To me, it’s just the easiest and cheapest way to allow our children to visit other places, especially right now as we find ourselves in, as a country, as a world, with the coronavirus pandemic.
So, Mary, let’s say a mom wants to teach her kids about Australia or Africa. She can turn to that section of the book and find a list of titles set in that part of the globe.
REICHARD: So convenient. So, kids read these books to learn about a new culture and a new place?
WHITTEN: Exactly. You could use the book as the basis of a geography and social studies curriculum, or you could use it to find books to read aloud as a family—not as curriculum but just something fun to learn about together. Some families might even want to read about countries where your church supports missionaries to pray for them better. You could use a map and Youtube videos to expand your learning. One more tip—Martin also includes an index that organizes the books based on historical time period, so you could use the book for history studies as well.
REICHARD: I love a good index! That sounds like a great way to explore the world. Tell us a bit about the kinds of books Martin includes—are we talking mostly fiction, nonfiction?
WHITTEN: The books included are a mix of fiction and nonfiction. And that’s by design, because she says, nonfiction stories often give us the facts of a place but fiction stories give us the heart. And she says, kids really need both.
Many of the books Martin recommends came out after Hunt wrote her book in 1969. Some might be considered classics, but many came out more recently. To give you a flavor, I’ll let Martin tell us about two books set in Africa she recommends:
MARTIN: One of my favorites is Anna Hibiscus. This takes place in Africa. It’s perfect for your younger ages. So maybe ages 5, 6, and 7. It’s about a little girl growing up in Africa, “amazing Africa” she always calls it. It’s just darling. If you have teens you’re trying to connect with, another great book set in Africa is called A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park. That is an incredible story. It does encompass some hard themes, but I think teens can wrestle with those. And it also reminds us how fortunate we are to have such easy access to water in our country.
REICHARD: Those sound like they’d be worth checking out. That brings up another question, would parents need access to a library to get Give Your Child the World?
WHITTEN: A library definitely would help. Some folks may not have access to a physical library, but they may be able to order books from their library online and pick them up curbside. Other families might join a nearby public library with a digital collection. Areas will vary, but when I lived outside our city limits, I used to pay $25 a year to use the Nashville Public Library. Other options might include an ebook membership service like Amazon Unlimited or Epic.com. If you really prefer physical books, maybe get together with friends and build a small library to share.
REICHARD: I like physical books, too. You can write notes in the margins. Useful suggestions!
WHITTEN: One final point, Mary. Some older Christian homeschool lists focus on books set in America and Britain. Martin’s list, on the other hand, reflects more of the diversity of the real world, the world God made. I might quibble with one or two of the 600 books that she recommends. So keep in mind, you always want to be discerning about how a book might affect your child.
But overall, Give Your Child the World can be an important resource for Christian families. It can help kids fall in love with God’s very big world, one story at a time.
REICHARD: Thanks for these recommendations today, Emily.
WHITTEN: You’re very welcome, Mary. Happy reading!
REICHARD: For August, Emily recommended Give Your Child the World by Jamie C. Martin. She also recommended Gladys Hunt’s classic, Honey for a Child’s Heart. For more classic book ideas, just search for Classic Book of the Month at worldandeverything.org.
MARY REICHARD: It’s Tuesday, August 4th and you’re listening to The World and Everything in It. So glad to have you along today. I’m Mary Reichard.
NICK EICHER: And I’m Nick Eicher.
You hear a lot around here about poverty-fighting: what doesn’t work—government programs, for the most part. And what does work—challenging, personal, spiritual—effective compassion.
Today, WORLD commentator Andrée Seu Peterson recalls an outreach program in Philadelphia years ago. This is a selection from her 2008 book Normal Kingdom Business.
ANDRÉE SEU PETERSON, REVIEWER: The Philadelphia Inquirer had a story on an unmarried 29-year-old defender for the Kixx, our professional soccer team, who runs toward homeless people instead of away. I decided to check it out.
I looked for the green jacket on a grassy commons in front of the main city library at 19th and Vine, where roughly 200 milled about, some waiting in queues for macaroni by the ladle.
I spotted a huddle of humanity like somebody was giving away money. Guess what? Somebody was giving away money. I stood on the periphery watching the green jacket take requests (“Need ID?”) and tear off personal checks at a speed that brought to mind a 30-year-old Guadalajara incident that involved hastily disencumbering myself of a couple of hundred dollars in travelers checks as the price of informal Mexican justice.
“You were easy to spot,” I spoke up when he noticed me.
“I don’t have much of a wardrobe,” he replied, waiting for me to state my business. I said I write for a magazine. He scribbled his phone number and moved on to nobler business.
Adam Bruckner was once your average cynic from suburban Milwaukee who at some point started looking at the Bible for real instead of to stump people: “My heart changed from dark to light and I couldn’t explain it.”
The heart burden for down-and-outers came over months of shuffling from state to state trying out for soccer teams. It’s where he learned all the needs—and all the scams, too—and realized that you can enable, and not “enable,” by offering checks to the order of Penn DOT (driver’s license) and Pennsylvania Vital Statistics (for birth certificates) and not straight cash.
“Does anyone underwrite you?” I asked, perplexed.
“I get a few donations, but much less than I spend. Last year was a very expensive year and I will not be able to continue at that rate. That being said, I know that God will provide a way for it to work….I have been without a car several times and had to take trains and catch rides to serve the meals. (He spends three hours cooking on Mondays at Helping Hand Rescue Mission, 6th and Green Streets.) One time my car wasn’t starting regularly, but I knew that it would or the food wouldn’t get there.
I find myself repeating, ‘All things work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose.’”
“Any advice for the church in helping the needy?” I inquired.
Bruckner replied: “No money, no rides, no promises. I think you need to approach these men with open arms of love….but with an awareness that there is some darkness…and to proceed with caution….Many of the stories are not true and the more questions you ask, and asking for references and details, will show who has good intentions….Either way, you can’t fake being hungry and cold.”
I’m Andrée Seu Peterson.
NICK EICHER: Tomorrow: We’ll take you to Boise, Idaho, to find out how one very in-demand sculptor spends his days.
And, World Tour.
That and more tomorrow.
I’m Nick Eicher.
MARY REICHARD: And I’m Mary Reichard.
The World and Everything in It comes to you from WORLD Radio.
WORLD’s mission is biblically objective journalism that informs, educates, and inspires.
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I hope you’ll have a great rest of the day. We’ll talk to you tomorrow!