The World and Everything in It — December 2, 2020

MARY REICHARD, HOST: Good morning!

The Biden-Harris economic team—it looks a lot like the Obama-Biden economic team.

NICK EICHER, HOST: That’s ahead on Washington Wednesday.

Also World Tour. 

Plus one pastor’s stand against communism in Cuba leaves a legacy of faith in America.

And some handy rules for life.

REICHARD: It’s Wednesday, December 2nd. 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 with Kent Covington.

KENT COVINGTON, NEWS ANCHOR: Biden introduces economic team » President-elect Joe Biden introduced his top economic advisers on Tuesday, telling Americans “help is on the way.”

BIDEN: The team I’m announcing today will play a critical role in our plan for action starting on day one. 

Biden picked a team of liberal advisers that he said is “tested and experienced” to tackle the economic fallout from the pandemic. 

His pick for Treasury Secretary is former Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen. She said the Biden administration will build the economy back “better than before.” 

YELLEN: To rebuild our infrastructure and create better jobs, to invest in our workforce, to advance racial equity and make sure the economic recovery includes everyone.

Biden noted that many members of his newly formed economic team worked with him in the Obama administration. 

Among them, Wally Adeyemo. He would be the number two official in the Treasury Department. 

Biden also named Heather Boushey and Jared Bernstein to his Council of Economic Advisers. And he’s tapped Cecilia Rouse to chair the council. 

He picked Neera Tanden to lead the Office of Management and Budget. Tanden is president of the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank.

Most of Biden’s choices will require confirmation from the deeply divided Senate. Top Republicans are already pushing back against some of his picks.

Barr: No evidence of widespread voter fraud » One month after the general election, the Department of Justice has not found evidence of widespread voter fraud. WORLD’s Anna Johansen Brown has more. 

ANNA JOHANSEN BROWN, REPORTER: Attorney General William Barr said Tuesday the Justice Department has not found anything would change the outcome of the presidential election.

Last month, Barr issued a directive to U.S. attorneys across the country allowing them to pursue any “substantial allegations” of voting irregularities. 

Barr said U.S. attorneys and FBI agents have been following up on specific complaints, but they’ve uncovered nothing that suggests widespread voter fraud. 

His remarks contradict President Trump’s repeated claims that the election was stolen.

Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani quickly fired back. He said—quoting here—”with all due respect to the attorney general, there hasn’t been any semblance” of an investigation.

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Anna Johansen Brown.

CDC panel: healthcare workers, long term care residents should receive first vaccine doses » Healthcare workers and people living in long term care facilities should be first in line to receive a coronavirus vaccine.

That was the recommendation from a CDC advisory panel on Tuesday. The Advisory Committee for Immunization Practices voted 13-1 to approve the plan to prioritize limited vaccine supplies. 

The CDC reports that long term care residents account for 40 percent of the COVID-19 deaths in the United States. 

But top infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci explains that states don’t have to follow the panel’s recommendation. 

FAUCI: You can either do exactly as they say, tweak it a little, tweat it a lot, or say, you know, for our state it’s a bit different. We want to do it this way. The option is at the local, state level. 

The first vaccine shots will likely be available before Christmas. 

Over the next two weeks, the FDA will consider applications from drugmakers Pfizer and Moderna … for emergency use authorization of their vaccines. 

But vaccines may not be widely available to the public until the spring.

Iran’s parliament approves bill to stop nuclear inspections » Iran’s parliament on Tuesday approved a bill that would suspend UN nuclear inspections and speed up its pursuit of a nuclear weapon. WORLD’s Kristen Flavin reports. 

KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: The lawmakers say if European signatories to the 2015 nuclear deal don’t cave to Iran’s demands, the country should kick out UN inspectors and cast off all restraint. 

Many lawmakers in the 290-seat chamber chanted “Death to America!” and “Death to Israel!”

The bill says European powers must provide relief from oil and banking sanctions. And if they don’t, Iran should crank up its uranium enrichment.

The vote was a show of defiance after the killing of a top nuclear scientist.

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei has the final say on all nuclear policies.

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Kristen Flavin. 

UN: Food has run out for refugees in Ethiopia » The United Nations says almost 100,000 weakened and emaciated refugees are in danger of starving to death in Ethiopia. 

The migrants from Eritrea are sheltering in camps in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region. 

BALOCH: Our concerns are growing by the hour. 

UN spokesman Babar Baloch said the refugees have run out of food. And he said that’s not the only concern.

BALOCH: We are also alarmed at unconfirmed reports of attacks, abductions, and forced recruitment at the refugee camps. 

One month ago, fighting erupted in the Tigray region between government and regional forces. Each government now regards the other as illegitimate.

Communications and transport links to the Tigray region of 6 million people have been severed. And the UN and others are pleading for access to deliver badly needed food, medicines, and other supplies.

I’m Kent Covington.

Straight ahead: Joe Biden’s plans for the economy.

Plus, Janie B. Cheaney on what we say and how we act.

This is The World and Everything in It.

NICK EICHER, HOST: It’s Wednesday, December 2nd, 2020.

You’re listening to The World and Everything in It. So glad to have you along today. Good morning, I’m Nick Eicher.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard. First up: Biden’s blueprint for the economy. 

As you heard a few minutes ago, the president-elect announced key members of his economic team on Tuesday. And among his picks are several officials who served in President Obama’s administration. 

So what should we expect from Biden’s incoming economic team?

EICHER: Joining us now is Jerry Bowyer. He is the chief economist at Vident Financial and author of The Maker vs. the Takers: What Jesus Really Said About Economics and Social Justice.

Jerry, good morning!

JERRY BOWYER, GUEST: Good morning, Nick. How are you?

EICHER: Doing well. Thanks for asking. Well, I was looking overall at the Biden economic team, and I think The Wall Street Journal summing up: lots of government experience, knowledge of labor markets, and an emphasis on equity and climate change.

In short, and no surprise, there kind of a preference for a government-managed economy, a re-regulation to produce certain outcomes—I’m thinking of this idea of equity and climate change. But I wonder, Jerry, is this not a recipe for a return to the slow growth of the Obama years?

BOWYER: Yes. It’s almost perfectly — seems almost perfectly designed to recreate those conditions, the conditions that held when we had this policy mix before. And what that was slow growth. Growth, there was a plus sign on almost all of the quarterly GDP reports, but it wasn’t the kind of plus sign the order of magnitude that we’re used to expecting as Americans. And I expect we’re going to get a similar outcome here. 

And it’s also—interestingly enough—coming out of a crisis, coming out of a deep recession. So, I think we’re going to get Obama results with Obama policies.

EICHER: Well, a deep but short recession. And that leads to what I wanted to ask next, which is that the Obama policymakers comprise a team of economic crisis managers. In a sense, you could say there’s a real crisis to manage, with Covid. 

But isn’t it very, very different from the crisis these managers have experience with? And I’m talking about the difference between the crisis a dozen years ago, the financial crisis, versus the economic lockdown that grows out of Covid policy that we’re dealing with today. 

Isn’t that a fundamental difference that requires a different sort of response?

BOWYER: Yes, it does. And, you’re right, they’re very different. We’ve never lived through a recession like this recession before. Recessions almost always start on the supply side. Or, recessions are often driven by monetary policy. The Fed tightens too much, creating a credit crisis. Or there’s a change in government policy leading to cutbacks in supply. So, the supply side runs things. 

This is the first recession we’ve had maybe since the 1940s where it’s not so much a recession as a suppression, where in essence it’s on the demand side because we illegalized demand. We shuttered the malls and we shuttered the movie theaters and the concert venues, etcetera. We didn’t shutter the factories so much. So, in essence, we suppressed demand. 

So, any stimulus approach—which is what they tried the last time—won’t work because you’re not allowed to spend the stimulus in the normal ways. We’ve suppressed demand, so putting more money in people’s pockets—which they won’t spend—doesn’t really do anything. 

Now, I don’t actually believe the stimulus works in the long run at all. But at least there’s a theory to it: Put money in people’s pockets and they’ll spend it. But when you have lockdowns, you put money in people’s pockets and they mostly hoard it, and that’s exactly what we’ve seen. So, to the degree the stimulus ever works—and I don’t think it tends to—even if you buy into stimulus ideology, this is not the kind of recession that we can stimulate our way out of.

EICHER: Let’s talk about that because there’s a lot of talk about spending. President-elect Biden is talking about $7 trillion in new spending over the next decade. Talking about major priorities like infrastructure, clean energy, and free community college education, among other things. 

This is what you were getting at, I think. The core of the Keynesian idea that government spending stimulates economic activity which is exactly what Biden asserts: the plan will boost the economy, create millions of jobs, and increase the nation’s productivity. What do you say to that?

BOWYER: Well, it won’t increase the nation’s productivity because there’s nothing about it that encourages productivity. So, the Keynesian model is severely flawed in so many ways. 

If I wanted to get sort of deep on this I’d like to get sort of worldviewy, if I might. John Maynard Keynes was raised as a Christian in the Victorian era, which emphasized self-restraint and deferral of gratification. Keynes rejected that. He embraced an ideology of atheism, of rejection of the traditional sexual moral code in ways that people have talked about. And along with that, he rejected the focus on thrift and productivity and inverted economics in the same way that he inverted the sexual ethic and inverted the Biblical worldview. And made spending the savior of the economy and savings was the enemy. 

That spiritual distortion comes down through our economic statistics, the focus on GDP—which is a spending metric—and comes down to our economic policies. This stuff is not spiritually neutral. We’re still living in our policy environment in the fruit that comes from Keynes’ rejection of God.

EICHER: And that fruit has a price tag: I’m seeing a $4 trillion tax increase over the course of a decade. But that, and even the spending blueprint, is contingent upon control of Congress, and we’re not going to know that until next month. You’ve got to get your taxing and spending through the U.S. Senate, of course. So everything here is highly theoretical.

BOWYER: Yes. It is. So, we’re talking about his plans and then we’re talking about what comes out the other side. At this point, I’m not big on predicting myself, but I happen to like the political futures markets and they show Republicans keeping the Senate and picking up seats in the House and I think that’s probably the case. And the Senate’s pretty good at blocking things. 

So, I think that we’re not going to get all of this. I think we’re going to get some of it, though. Because I think what we’re seeing emerging is a bipartisan consensus in favor of spending. We no longer have a functional, fiscally conservative, spending-restraint party in Washington. We have a tax cut and spend party—Republicans. We have a tax hike and spend party—Democrats. 

We have some disagreements about whether we should spend $2 trillion or $4 trillion on stimulus. But in essence the spending consensus is intact. I think markets are reflecting that. So, if markets thought the Biden program was going to go through, we wouldn’t have seen the several weeks we just saw. They would have crashed instead of going up. So, I think markets are liking the divided government, but I also think that there is some significant long term concern about spending. I think Republicans can probably hold off on most of the tax hikes, but I’m not sure they’re going to be very good at holding off on spending measures. 

And, really, what drives things in the end isn’t what Congress or the president does. It’s who we are as a people. If we are an envious people, then income equality mandates and the slow growth policies and the redistributionary policies that come with that will somehow register through the political process. We have to be a different people. As long as envy is seen as a virtue rather than one of the seven deadly sins, that puts a limit on our growth. Not an inherent limit on our growth. God is generous and has made a universe where we can be great at creating wealth. But our own moral vices put a tether on that.

EICHER: Jerry Bowyer is the chief economist at Vident Financial. Jerry, thanks! It was great to talk with you.

BOWYER: Nick, great to be with you.

NICK EICHER, HOST: Coming up next on The World and Everything in It: World Tour with Africa correspondent Onize Ohikere.

ONIZE OHIKERE, REPORTER: Dozens dead in Uganda protests—We start today here in Africa.

AUDIO: [Uganda Protests, people yelling]

At least 45 people died in Uganda last week during protests in the capital. Hundreds of Ugandans took to the streets after the arrest of pop star-turned-politician, Bobi Wine.

AUDIO: [Chanting, “Our power, people power”]

Wine is running for president. Police arrested him earlier this month after he held a campaign rally that drew large crowds.

Uganda currently has a ban on large gatherings to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. But Wine’s supporters say the government is using that ban to crack down on opposition campaign events ahead of the presidential election in January.

AUDIO: [Shots]

As news of Bobi Wine’s arrest spread, protesters took to the streets, clashing with Ugandan police and military. They burned tires and trash and built blockades on major roads. In response, police fired tear gas and live bullets into the crowds.

Sardinian floods—Next, we go to the Mediterranean.

AUDIO: [Water rushing] 

Landslides buried a town in Sardinia this weekend, killing three people. Two others remain missing. Heavy rains drenched the Italian island, triggering torrential floods that poured through the streets. Mudslides smashed cars and buried homes up to the second story.

With more rain in the forecast, officials have issued a red alert for the whole island and warned other towns to evacuate. Many inhabited areas are built on geologically unstable terrain.

New Zealand files new criminal charges in volcano eruption—Next, to New Zealand.

AUDIO: Not only are we coming up to the anniversary of this horrific tragedy, we also are coming up against the deadline for which charges would need to be laid.

Prosecutors have filed criminal charges against 13 organizations and individuals following last year’s volcanic eruption on White Island. The once-popular tourist destination off New Zealand’s coast is an active volcano. Twenty-two people died when it erupted in December 2019.

In the weeks before the eruption, New Zealand’s monitoring service raised the alert level for the island. But tour companies didn’t heed that warning, and 47 people were exploring the island’s slopes and beaches when the volcano erupted.

Investigators determined government agencies and tourist companies failed to take proper precautions to protect workers and visitors.

Argentina protests bill that would legalize abortion—Finally, we end today in South America.

AUDIO: [Crowd chanting “pro-life” in Spanish]

Thousands of pro-lifers gathered in front of Argentina’s congressional building this weekend. They were protesting a new bill that would legalize abortion in the South American country. The protesters carried sky-blue scarves and signs that read “Save both lives,” and “March for the unborn.”

This is the ninth time lawmakers have tried to legalize abortion in Argentina, but the congress has always blocked the legislation. This time it has the support of Argentina’s president. The bill would legalize abortion for any reason up to the 14th week of pregnancy. Argentina currently allows abortions only in cases of rape, or if the mother’s life is in danger.

Lawmakers will debate the bill next week.

That’s this week’s World Tour. Reporting for WORLD, I’m Onize Ohikere in Abuja, Nigeria.

NICK EICHER, HOST: If you have kids, chances are you’ve had the agonizing experience of walking through your living room in your bare feet and suddenly stepping on a LEGO.

A painful accident!

But a group of five Florida women did it on purpose! And they didn’t just step on one LEGO but thousands of them. 

Wellness blogger Katie Wells convinced four friends, Ashley, Savanna, Grace, and Cat to take a run—or at least a painful walk—at a Guinness world record. 

And it was no easy feat.

The record attempt took eight months of planning. They had to build a 33-foot track, procure 200 pounds of Legos and bring in three independent witnesses and two medical professionals to check their feet.

Each woman then had to complete 20 laps inside a one-hour time limit in their bare feet.

But they did it—walking more than 2 miles in total over jagged plastic blocks!

And they celebrated their world record achievement—how else—but icing their feet!

It’s The World and Everything in It.

NICK EICHER, HOST: Today is Wednesday, December 2nd. 

Thank you for turning to WORLD Radio to help start your day. 

Good morning. I’m Nick Eicher.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard.

WORLD Senior Correspondent Myrna Brown recently spent an afternoon with a family of Cuban-Americans who love their cultural heritage. But as ties to the old country slip away, they’re determined to pass on the one thing that never fades. Here’s their story.

AUDIO: [Voices speaking in Spanish, kitchen utensil sounds]

MYRNA BROWN, REPORTER: In this welcoming kitchen 45 minutes outside of Atlanta, Georgia, there’s plenty of garlic…

AUDIO: [Garlic being crushed] It’s important that you don’t cut it…

…olive oil…

AUDIO: [Pouring hot oil] …and the temperature of the oil cooling off is actually what gives it the exact perfect temperature.

…and three-part harmony…

AUDIO: [Aleman family singing about Cristo in Spanish]

JOSH ALEMAN: Yeah, it’s God, family and food. That’s the level of importance. 

36-year-old Josh Aleman and his parents, Samuel and Ruth are second and third generation Cuban-Americans. Their story begins in Havana, Cuba with Josh’s grandfatherand Samuel’s fatherCililo.

SAMUEL ALEMAN: Cililo Aleman. He was pastor, Baptist pastor.

JOSH ALEMAN: I was probably 12 or 13 and a young man came up to him and he said are you Cililo Aleman? Oh my goodness, I just wrote a paper on you. And he shook his hand. And he said I’m so honored to be in front of a person who did what you did. And I’m like what did he do?

AP ANNOUNCER: Cuba’s Fidel Castro emerged triumphant after two years of guerilla warfare of the Batista regime.

The year was 1959. Communist leader Fidel Castro had come into power. Samuel, just a boy, remembers the celebrations.

SAMUEL ALEMAN: My parents, my father, my mother, everybody was happy about Castro because they came to restore democracy.

However, their joy was short-lived. Instead of democracy, Castro promoted socialism and suppressed Christianity. 

SAMUEL ALEMAN: All the Christian schools were closed. People were afraid to go to church.  Nobody have nothing about business, even small restaurants…zero. The government owned  absolutely 100 percent of the things.

In April 1965, Castro ordered the abduction and later imprisonment of nearly 50 Cuban pastors. Cililo Aleman was one of them. Samuel was 12 years old when plain-clothed officers barged into their home and took his father away.

SAMUEL ALEMAN: They take him and put him in the car. They start to check the whole house, every door, everything, including my room. 

Cililo served 5 ½ years of a nine-year sentence in six different prison camps. Old black and white photographs and other memorabilia sprawled across the Aleman’s kitchen counter tell more of the story.

AUDIO: He made this for me in jail.

Samuel picks up a tiny brown comb and triangular ruler his father made for him from the shell of a turtle. Once released from prison, Samuel says instead of leaving Cuba for good, his father continued to preach in the communist country. 

SAMUEL ALEMAN: But he was a man of principle. He said I am pastor. I am not finished in here…

When Cililo retired from ministry in Cuba, he and his family emigrated to America in 1986. But he didn’t stop preaching. He became a pastor in Florida. Samuel and Ruth, along with Josh and his two siblings headed north to Georgia. 

AUDIO: [Samuel preaching in Spanish]

Before Cililo died in 2002, he lived to see his son Samuel become a pastor. 

And earlier this year, Samuel passed the torch to his son, Josh, a youth pastor.

JOSH PREACHING: You’re going through life and things are difficult and he says man will you call my name.

While Cililo didn’t live to see his grandson become part of a new generation of Aleman preachers, his beloved wife of 50 years did.  

Aurora Aleman, is 90 years old now and lives with Samuel and Ruth. Speaking softly and rubbing her aged hands with lotion, Josh cherishes bittersweet moments like this with his abuela.

JOSH ALEMAN: Which means grandma. She’ll go sweetie, I feel like you’re really important to me but I don’t remember you. And I’m like it’s ok, I’m your grandson, Josh. Oh ok, and she’ll continue.

Aurora has Alzheimer’s Disease but her memories aren’t the only treasures fading. Her descendants will likely never hear or understand her stories. Aurora doesn’t speak or understand English. Many of her great-grandchildren don’t know Spanish.

SAMUEL: To see my grandchildren growing up, not a Spanish at all. I feel a little uncomfortable with that…

AUDIO: [Samuel prays around table in Spanish]

Around the dinner table, the Alemans enjoy rice with chicken and yuca with Mojo sauce, traditional Cuban dishes. While the prospect of losing parts of their culture is difficult to accept, Samuel says they cling to the promise of what they’ve gained as a family of faith.

SAMUEL: But let me tell you, for me the more important thing is that they be a Christian, that they have Jesus Christ. We are very close as family because of Jesus.

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Myrna Brown in Loganville, Georgia.

REICHARD: If you’d like to see the Aleman family, Myrna produced a companion video piece for WORLD Watch. We’ll put a link to that story in today’s transcript at

MARY REICHARD, HOST: Today is Wednesday, December 2nd. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Mary Reichard.

NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher. World commentator Janie B. Cheaney now on rules for living.

JANIE B. CHEANEY: You’ve seen the sign in your neighbor’s yard: “In this house, we believe: Black lives matter/ Women’s rights are human rights/ No human is illegal/ Science is real/ Love is love/ Kindness is everything”

Smug, I think, when driving by. Why, I think, would anyone post such an anodyne creed except as a slap to conservatives? Isn’t each point a signpost for leftwing values like militant antiracism, feminism, open borders, scientism, LGBT rights, and virtue signaling?

But wait, I remind myself: there’s such a thing as Christian/conservative sloganeering. Slogans do not an argument make, much less a friend.

“We believe” is a proclamation peculiar to human beings. It’s a moral standard for a moral species, and this particular standard sums up contemporary western values rather well. Each bullet point seems irrefutable and bedrock.

But 2000 years ago other values seemed irrefutable and bedrock. Imagine a Roman patrician’s placard from A.D. 100: “In this villa, we believe: Might makes Right/ the Patriarch rules/ Class is destiny/ Death is real/ Civil Order is Everything.”

Those were the principles of a harsh, utilitarian world that had no room or notion of human rights—until Christ came with the revolutionary news that All Lives Mattered to God. “Let the lowly brother boast in his exaltation, and the rich in his humiliation,” wrote the Lord’s brother James.

We Americans agree, in principle if not always in practice: race, riches, and sex do not determine a person’s worth. But we forget how world-shaking it was in 100 A.D., and how long it took for us to get here, and how we would never have arrived were it not for the gospel that now appears so outdated to cutting-edge morality.  Think how threatening our idolizing of individual rights would have seemed to a Roman of A.D. 100.

But my neighbor doesn’t care about that. In this crazy election year, she wants me to know that she believes in all the right things and subtly reproaches everyone who doesn’t. Once I check my own heart for “right-thingism,” is there anything I could say to her?

Possibly this: “Hi! I noticed your sign. I had a few questions: could we talk?

Credos are an excellent place to begin a conversation. Many of us adopt beliefs without knowing why—sometimes, simply to fit in with the cultural milieu.

Christians have never fit in. In every time or place, there’s always some pillar of the zeitgeist profoundly at odds with Biblical faith: statism, traditionalism, racism, consumerism.

But there’s always an opening, a patch of common ground. Suppose we start by living, instead of merely posting, our placard principles. In this house, we believe: Kindness always/ Love is selfless/ Science serves; it doesn’t rule/ Humans are priceless/ Male and female are real/ All lives matter to God.

If we demonstrate all these, the world will be more open to our bedrock principle: Christ is everything.

I’m Janie B. Cheaney.

NICK EICHER, HOST: Tomorrow: Democrats will have a much slimmer majority in the House for the next two years. We’ll tell you how that might change things in the lower chamber.

And, worldwide travel restrictions have altered commerce in myriad ways. We’ll talk about it. 

That and more tomorrow. 

I’m Nick Eicher.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: 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.

Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

Go now in grace and peace.

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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