The World and Everything in It: August 29, 2022
On Legal Docket, a flight attendant fired for expressing pro-life beliefs gets her day in court; on Moneybeat, the economic effect canceling student loan debt may have; and on History Book, important dates from the past. Plus: the Monday morning news.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: Good morning!
A flight attendant gets fired for expressing pro-life views. But a jury says her union and employer went too far. Now, she may be $5 million richer.
NICK EICHER, HOST: That’s ahead on Legal Docket.
Also today Monday Moneybeat, canceling student debt. I’ll ask economist David Bahnsen about the economic effects of the new presidential policy.
Plus the WORLD History Book. This week marks the 25th anniversary of a whole new way of movie-rental.
REICHARD: It’s Monday, August 29th. 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: Up next, Kristen Flavin has today’s news.
KRISTEN FLAVIN, NEWS ANCHOR: Mar-a-Lago/Special Master » The public has now had a chance to review the FBI’s reasons for searching former President Trump’s home and many are asking, what’s next?
President Joe Biden said Sunday,
BIDEN: We’ll let the Justice Department determine that.
An affidavit unsealed Friday detailed the back-and-forth between Trump and the National Archives after he left office. Archivists alerted the Justice Department when the former president turned over 15 boxes of records, some containing classified documents.
The DOJ blacked out more than half of the information in the affidavit it released. Here’s Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin, a Republican:
YOUNGKIN: I would just caution folks to not draw too many conclusions from today’s release and yet continue to ask for more transparency. That’s gonna be the key here.
Meanwhile, a federal judge said Saturday she is leaning toward granting Trump’s request to appoint a “special master” to review the seized documents. U.S. Rep. Greg Steube of Florida thinks that’s a good idea.
STEUBE: Anytime you can have somebody who’s outside of this process to be able to determine the legality of what can be searched, what can’t be searched, what information can be used and can’t be used, I think, is a good thing.
Trump says some of the documents may be subject to attorney-client privilege and should not be reviewed by investigators.
Fed retreat » In the resort town of Jackson Hole, Wyoming, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell gave a stark forecast for the U.S. economy.
POWELL: While higher interest rates, slower growth, and softer labor market conditions will bring down inflation, they will also bring some pain to households and businesses.
Powell told economists and bankers to expect more interest rate hikes—an unfortunate but necessary measure to slow down skyrocketing prices.
Monkeypox » Good news about the monkeypox outbreak: The number of global cases dropped by 21 percent last week. The World Health organization says Europe has made the most progress fighting the disease.
Cases in the United States are still rising, but CDC Director Rochelle Walensky says:
WALENSKI: There are certain jurisdictions, New York, Chicago, San Francisco, that are starting to report that they're starting to see a downward trend.
The Biden administration said Friday there’s enough monkeypox vaccine available in the United States. The CDC is working to distribute it to those most at risk—including men who have sex with other men.
Ukraine » Residents in the eastern Ukrainian city of Sloviansk say Russian missiles sent glass and debris flying through their homes on Sunday.
DAINEKO: [Speaking Ukrainian]
Kostiantyn Daineko said it was the second time he survived a Russian strike. He was in the nearby town of Kramatorsk when explosions hit a railway station.
Amid heavy fighting in eastern Ukraine, Kyiv and Moscow continue to trade blame for risky attacks on a nuclear plant. On Sunday, Ukraine’s atomic energy agency released a map showing where radiation could spread from the plant in Zaporizhzhia if a disaster occurred.
Pakistan floods » In Pakistan, families waded through flooded homes looking for belongings to salvage. Heavy monsoon rains across the country have killed nearly 1,000 people, officials said Saturday.
Residents told how the homes they built with their own hands lay in ruins.
AUDIO: [Speaking Urdu]
This year’s rainy season has displaced thousands of people. Pakistan’s prime minister asked for international help battling the deadly flood damage.
Mississippi » In Mississippi, the Pearl River is expected to crest at seven feet above flood stage this morning. Water could spill into parts of Jackson where floods devastated homes just two years ago. Days ago, Jackson Mayor Chokwe Lumumba warned area residents:
JACKSON: Get out now. Get out as soon as possible to prevent any incident or any challenge with people trying to leave the area all at once.
Heavy rains have caused other rivers in the state to swell, also. The National Weather service predicted flood warnings would stay in place throughout this week.
I’m Kristen Flavin. Straight ahead: a flight attendant fired for expressing pro-life beliefs has her day in court.
Plus, the Monday Moneybeat.
This is The World and Everything in It.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: It’s Monday, August 29th and you’re listening to The World and Everything in It. Good morning! I’m Mary Reichard.
NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher. It’s time for Legal Docket.
A federal jury in Texas last month found a flight attendant’s union and employer unlawfully discriminated against her.
Charlene Carter worked for Southwest Airlines as a flight attendant for more than two decades. She had an unblemished record, she paid dues the entire time to Transportation Workers Union of America Local 556. That despite Carter’s resigning from the union in 2013 when she found out that the union promoted beliefs that didn’t line up with hers. Still, paying dues was a condition of employment.
REICHARD: The breaking point came when Carter learned how the union was spending its funds during an event in January, 2017.
Carter explained in an interview with Conservative Commandos Radio Show that aired last month:
CARTER: They took twenty women in January, when President Trump was inaugurated. And it was the women's march that they took these women to. Our union paid for all of these women to go; for their lodging, their food, transportation, you name it, and go in March in what I consider a very, for me, it was demeaning, okay, because they wore the pink hats, and they're, you know, women's rights and all this other stuff. But we knew, I knew that the main sponsor of that march was Planned Parenthood.
…an association much too far for Carter. She complained to the union president and expressed her disapproval on social media.
It didn’t take long until Southwest fired her, two months later in March of that year.
I contacted both Southwest Airlines and the union for comment. I heard back only from Southwest which emailed the following, quoting now: “Southwest Airlines has a demonstrated history of supporting our Employees’ rights to express their opinions – when done in a civil and respectful manner. We are disappointed with this verdict and plan to appeal to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.”
EICHER: That’s where you hear part of the argument of the defense: that Carter’s expression of disapproval wasn’t done in a civil or respectful way. Both the union and the airline characterized Carter as having harassed the union president.
REICHARD: I talked to a man who heads up the law firm representing Carter over these years of litigation: the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation. Mark Mix is president. He told me Carter had a private conversation with the union president, letting her know that she opposed abortion per her Christian beliefs. (He calls her by her first name, Charlene.)
MIX: And so this, this communication, this private communication between the union official and Charlene ended up spilling over to the HR department at Southwest Airlines who took the recommendation of the Union, and had Charlene fired from her job. She was fired because she spoke up about her religious beliefs.
EICHER: But what about the manner of Carter’s communication with the union president? The union argued in court that those communications were bullying, and therefore ran afoul of policy.
MIX: Charlene was communicating to her privately through private Facebook posts, they weren't public, they weren't on Charlene's website. It was direct communication with their union official. That is the single sole voice for Charlene in the workplace.
REICHARD: Southwest objected that Carter posted photos of herself in her uniform, and that use of its brand it cannot permit. But Mix told me those photos were years ago, unrelated to the time of this dispute.
Mix explained the governing laws:
MIX: Unfortunately for Charlene, even though the case was brought in Texas, and Southwest is headquartered there, the Right to Work law that protects private sector workers from being forced to pay dues or fees to a union as a condition of employment do not apply. Because Charlene labors under the Railway Labor Act, which is the federal law that regulates employment in the railroad and airline business. So she was basically exempted from the Right to Work protections that existed in Texas at the time.
EICHER: Transportation workers, in other words, are subject to special rules.
You may recall something about a Supreme Court decision that did away with forced dues. That was the 2018 ruling in Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees. Mark Mix’s group won that case. But it doesn’t help Carter.
MIX: The Janus decision covers every public sector worker in America today. It doesn't cover unfortunately workers under the Railway Labor Act and workers under the National Labor Relations Act, which is the federal law going back to the 1930s that covers private sector workers in the American workforce.
REICHARD: Carter argued three things. First, the union had a duty of fair representation. As the sole voice in the workplace, only the union could speak to the airline about employment conditions.
But here, the union requested that Carter be fired. A real conflict.
MIX: The second issue was retaliation. Did the union retaliate against Charlene for her exercising her rights to speak about issues unrelated to the workplace, but related to the relationship that she was compelled to have with a union that was using her money that was paid as a condition of employment for causes outside of the workplace.
EICHER: So, fair representation and retaliation.
The third argument involved Title VII, the federal law that requires employers to accommodate religious people who have sincere religious beliefs. Carter opposed the union using her money to support a cause she finds abhorrent. The union didn’t accommodate her.
The jury returned a verdict in Carter’s favor on all three complaints.
MIX: She was standing up for her first amendment speech rights that were not directly related to the conditions of employment under the contract. They were related to what the union was doing outside of the scope of the contract. And the jury decided that Charlene was entitled to $5.1 million in punitive and compensatory damages based on the facts presented in this case.
REICHARD: Southwest Airlines and the union stand by their policies of requiring respectful speech and that maybe the jury didn’t understand the court’s charge to them.
I’ll let Charlene Carter have the last word today, during this still ongoing, years-long fight:
CARTER: And so I have a backstory at 19 years old, so I can speak about this on my own. That's why Planned Parenthood, when I saw them marching for them, I was just blown away. I'm like, you know, this is something that touched me at 19 years old. And I know what they did to me, and I do not want my money going into this. I don't care if you go on your own, just don't take my money and don't represent the flight attendants because you didn't represent us as a whole.
And that’s this week’s Legal Docket.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: Next up on The World and Everything in It: the Monday Moneybeat.
NICK EICHER, HOST: Time now for our weekly conversation on business, markets, and the economy with financial analyst and adviser David Bahnsen, head of the wealth management firm The Bahnsen Group. Good morning!
DAVID BAHNSEN, GUEST: Good to be with you, Nick.
EICHER: Let’s begin with student loans. All of my colleagues were telling me last week that I simply have to get your opinion on President Biden’s decision on debt cancellation— $10,000-to-$20,000 for those under the $125,000 income threshold.
What of this new policy?
BAHNSEN: Yeah, I've been about as critical of this as anything that the Biden administration has done. And there's been a lot to be critical of to be quite candid. But this is a sort of another level, both for the just crass, cynical political nature of it, which I will add a contrarian view that I do not think is going to work. So all the politics of it aside, as a matter of policy, there's no limiting principle to it. The notion that the federal government should be just arbitrarily, I don't like the expression ‘forgiving debt’, because the people who got the money, still got it. So the Treasury is telling someone that they don't have to pay other people's money back that was paid to another third party, who has no skin in the game in the transaction, the university administrators, we would think should be involved in this negatively and they're not. So that actually brings up one of the biggest criticisms I'd offer is it is totally missing the biggest problem we have, which is runaway price of tuition caused by a federal government subsidy, while the people are more or less paying more money to have their kids more indoctrinated, or brought into more of a party culture, for less access to high quality teachers who are in the classroom, maybe seven or 8% of the time, and producing a degree that is even less significant in the marketplace. So there's just this entire critique of higher education I'd offer that goes with a runaway price inflation. And this does nothing about any of that. And where they say, Well, this has gotten unfair, it's too expensive. They don't have a way to pay back. They were promised they'd get a better job than they actually got, those things all have another root of their problem. And we can go ahead and address that. And I'll have plenty of ideas that they want to do that. And in the meantime, we're talking about yet again, hundreds of billions of dollars of debt, which represents future growth coming out of the economy.
EICHER: You mentioned inflation, David. I heard many analysts on the right predicting this would pour gasoline on the overall inflation we’re experiencing. I did read you last week in D.C.-Today saying that gets it wrong. You’ve got a micro/macro analysis on the inflation question, if you’d share that with us.
BAHNSEN: Yeah, first, let me start with the part that is absolutely inflationary. And it's the part that I wish everyone cared about. There is now a greater capacity for payment as people price in the almost inevitability that there is going to be future debt forgiveness, it makes absolutely no sense that people can run up student debt. And we can call it unfair, and, and so forth, and then therefore forgive this big $300 billion, $400 billion amount, but then change none of the rules going forward, which means there's no reason this all doesn't happen again, and then have to forgive that debt into the future. So that enables universities to charge even more, after they've already gone through 20 plus years of the most perverse price inflation we've ever seen. And these are the three areas of inflation that constantly bothered me, which is higher education, housing, and health care. And those are the only three areas that we've had significant inflation in for the last 40 years. And those are the three areas that the federal government most subsidizes in the economy, which is what I believe creates unacceptable inflation. But all that to say the argument that now pours gasoline because it gives everyone this extra money to run out and spend, I think misses some of the mechanics. There's no new money being created by this. Everybody got their student debt years ago, their student loans, everybody paid it out to their college administrators. And now they don't have to pay that portion back and they have not been paying anything back for the last couple of years. And so there isn't this inflationary spike because there isn't new money being created and new cash that goes out and will get spent. Some have argued, well, yeah, but now there's going to be that greater degree of margin and how their loans are assessed, which then means a little extra money that they'd have in disposable spending. That's not generally what people mean when they refer to gasoline on a fire. So that's my macro argument as to why I don't see an inflation spike from this. But my micro argument is far more important, which is that university administrators I'm telling you will raise prices because of this.
EICHER: A few weeks ago, I invited listener questions—and I’ll repeat that invitation to submit a question for David Bahnsen, preferably using your phone to make a voice memo, try to keep it tight and to the point, and send me a file at firstname.lastname@example.org, so we can consider your question for air.
Today, here’s our first one: Samuel Kimzey, who teaches humanities at Valley Classical School.
KIMZEY: Hi, Mr. Bahnsen. I'm tuning in from Blacksburg, Virginia. I love listening to your weekly segment with world and I've also really enjoyed your book. There's no free lunch. So I wanted to ask any economy questions specifically about gas and oil prices primarily about the flux and gas prices that we've seen dramatically shifting in the past few weeks? What do you think is the best explanation for the significant drop in prices, especially given that the White House Well, at least as far as I am aware, has not changed any of its regulatory stances or opened up more federal lands for drilling new pipelines and such?
BAHNSEN: Well, thank you for that series of very thoughtful and related questions. And I'll do my best to answer as it pertains to the strategic petroleum reserves. I'd like to start there, because you are exactly correct about the amount that they've been doing, that they've been doing it now for a good four months and change, and that we are at our lowest level of reserves since 1985. Now, I cannot say that the drop from July to August in gas prices has anything to do with this, I think much more likely, is the very nature of how oil and gas prices work to begin with - they're forward looking, and there has been some degree of increase in the market of production from the US as per US producers ramped up their own production more, not to the degree we want it to. We have to remember when we're talking about oil prices going from 120 to 95. We're not talking about them getting to an inexpensive level, we're not talking about them getting where we want great equilibrium for producers and consumers would probably be much closer to $70 in oil, a barrel. The issue you brought up about no new permits on federal land, that wouldn't be bringing prices down anyways, because remember, that's about pipelines. That doesn't produce new oil, that just gives us more ways of transporting oil, once it is produced. Right now, without new permits for pipeline creation, what you have is a bigger reliance on trucks and rail to transport oil. But what pipelines do is give us a safer and better way to move oil. And so I think that the ultimate way in which we get greater production is for the US companies to not be starved of capital from the ESG movement to have more permission for drilling permits, which is different than pipeline permits on federal lands. I think we will start to see a bit more of that, but it's all too little and it's all too late.
So then the question back to what you originally asked, Why did gas prices come down? Sometimes the cure for high prices is high prices, it does start to curtail behavior. And I think there was on the margin some demand erosion that there are some people that will not drive at $6 gas that will drive at $5 gas. And so it starts to have the normal market play of supply and demand working together. But I just think we have to remember we're talking about within a bandwidth of all still real high. So still real high got lower, and it can get higher, but it hasn't got to the point at which you would want it to be for a healthier consumer response and still maintaining the margins needed for production.
And then finally, on a worldwide level, we have to remember as gas prices have come down, meaning auto gasoline, natural gas prices have hit a 15-year high. So people's home heating bills and other things that are used the way in which electricity is powered for about 40% of the country, those things have gone through the roof even as the price at the pump has come down. And so oil and natural gas are, you know, right now kind of bifurcated from one another. And all of that speaks to the problems of inadequate production.
EICHER: David Bahnsen is founder, managing partner, and chief investment officer of The Bahnsen Group. His personal website is Bahnsen.com.
We ran a little long this week, but wanted to get started with listener questions and also dive in deeper to the student debt issue, so thanks for taking the time. David, thank you. I hope you have a great week!
BAHNSEN: Thanks so much, Nick.
NICK EICHER, HOST: Today is Monday, August 29th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Nick Eicher.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard. Next up: the WORLD History Book. This week marks the 25th anniversary of a death that would shock the world, as well as a birth that would change it.
EICHER: But first, we’ll look back at the publication of an American classic. Here’s arts and media editor Collin Garbarino.
COLLIN GARBARINO: Old Man and the Sea came out 70 years ago, this week, and high school reading lists haven’t been the same since. Here’s Charlton Heston reading the beginning of Ernest Hemingway’s classic novella.
HESTON: He was an old man who fished alone in a skiff in the Gulf Stream and he had gone eighty-four days now without taking a fish. In the first forty days a boy had been with him. But after forty days without a fish the boy's parents had told him that the old man was now definitely and finally salao, which is the worst form of unlucky, and the boy had gone at their orders in another boat which caught three good fish the first week. It made the boy sad to see the old man come in each day with his skiff empty and he always went down to help him carry either the coiled lines or the gaff and harpoon and the sail that was furled around the mast. The sail was patched with flour sacks and, furled, it looked like the flag of permanent defeat.
The story follows the adventure of Santiago, an old Cuban fisherman. His unlucky streak seems to end when he hooks a giant marlin, but bringing the huge fish in becomes a life and death struggle that teaches readers about perseverance.
HESTON: He can't do this forever. But four hours later the fish was still swimming steadily out to sea, towing the skiff, and the old man was still braced solidly with the line across his back.
Scribner’s published the book in hardback, but the story also appeared in its entirety that same week in Life magazine. Old Man and the Sea might have been about a failed fisherman, but the story proved to be an instant success. Life sold five million copies in just two days.
Hemingway won a Pulitzer for the story the next year, and Old Man and the Sea ended up being the last piece of major fiction Hemingway published during his lifetime.
And now we look at the end of August 1997—a week that brought both tragic endings and improbable beginnings.
Early in the morning of August 31, Princess Diana died in a car crash in Paris. She and her boyfriend, Dodi Al Fayed, were riding in the backseat of a black Mercedes that sped through the city trying to avoid paparazzi. The car was traveling at twice the legal speed limit when the French driver, who had been drinking, lost control and hit a pillar in a tunnel.
ROBIN COOK: Well, we understand that the princess is in hospital. We are deeply shocked by the news. And our first thoughts at the present time are with the princess and her family. Our ambassador is at the hospital and we will provide every possible assistance we can. In the meantime, all I would add is that I think it will be doubly tragic if it does emerge that this accident was in part caused by the persistent hounding of the princess and her privacy by photographers. Thank you very much.
Fayed died at the crash site, but Diana was brought to a nearby hospital where she died of her injuries a few hours later.
ANNOUNCER: This is BBC television from London. A short while ago, Buckingham Palace confirmed the death of Diana, Princess of Wales. The princess died following a car accident in Paris. She was 36. A statement issued by the palace says the Queen and the Prince of Wales are deeply shocked and distressed by the terrible news.
Diana’s death elicited a national outpouring of grief. And she received a royal ceremonial funeral at Westminster Abbey a week after the accident.
AUDIO: [Elton John singing]
And finally, today is the 25th anniversary of the founding of Netflix. The whole business started because company founder Reed Hastings got stuck with a $40 late fee. He had forgotten to return the movie Apollo 13 to his local Blockbuster.
REED HASTINGS: It made me think, I can’t be the only one who is struggling with this late fee thing. It just started me thinking about the internet and DVDs, and how something could work without late fees.
He came up with the idea of mailing those little red envelopes that allowed him to deliver movies without much cost.
REED HASTINGS: So I stuffed a bunch of CDs—you couldn’t buy DVDs then—and I mailed them to myself, and then I had to wait for 24 hours to see them come home to see are they going to be all shattered in bits along with my idea. And then you know the next day, 3 o’clock, the postman arrives. I rip open the envelopes and the first one’s in good shape and the second one’s in good shape, and the third one’s in good shape.
Hastings says it was at this point he knew his idea would work, but Netflix wasn’t an overnight success. In the late ’90s, few Americans owned DVD players, and the company lost tens of millions of dollars in its early years. But as DVD players got cheaper, Netflix’s subscriptions took off. But the company kept adapting, first pioneering the streaming revolution and then producing its own original content.
And Blockbuster? Well, let’s just say no one pays them late fees anymore.
That’s this week’s WORLD History Book. I’m Collin Garbarino.
NICK EICHER, HOST: Tomorrow: Uniting for Ukraine.
And a review of a podcast about America’s biggest serial killer, abortionist Kermit Gosnell.
That and more tomorrow.
I’m Nick Eicher.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard.
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