The Working Poor

We've heard often about "essential workers" since the pandemic got underway -- those indispensable individuals who are, alas, in many cases under-appreciated, under-paid, or both. But such vital workers are not, of course, just those working in the medical, science, health, or rescue fields, and these workers were certainly an important part of American society **before** the pandemic ever hit. Our guest is the New York-based author and journalist Eyal Press.

The pandemic, of course, has clearly changed -- and is actually still changing -- how we think about work, play, relationships, entertainment, education, social interaction, and much more. It's also making many of us wonder about city life, i.e., what the pros and cons of living in an urban setting really are in this age of Covid. Are people still as drawn to cities as they used to be? And what does the future of the city look like? Our guest is David Cutler, the Otto Eckstein Professor of Applied Economics at Harvard University.

On this edition of ST, we welcome writer Connie Cronley back to our program. She's one of our regular commentators; her previous books include "Sometimes a Wheel Falls Off," "Light and Variable," "Poke a Stick at It," and "Mr. Ambassador: Warrior for Peace." Cronley joins us to discuss her latest book, "A Life on Fire," which is a fascinating new biography of Kate Barnard (1875-1930).

Our guest is Adam Tooze, a professor of history at Columbia University and the author of "Crashed," which was a New York Times Notable Book of 2018 and one of The Economist's Books of the Year. His timely new book, which he tells us about, mixes finance, politics, business, economics, medicine, and recent world history in order to trace what went wrong -- and why -- during the turning-point year that was 2020. This new book is "Shutdown: How Covid Shook the World's Economy." As was noted by Reuters: "Tooze makes a strong case for looking back and beginning to draw some conclusions....

The Peace Corps is now 60 years old. The U.S. Government-run volunteer program -- which from the start has provided international aid in the form of person-to-person social, economic, and educational development -- was established per Executive Order by JFK in 1961; later that year, Congress passed the Peace Corps Act. On this edition of ST, we speak with Randy W. Hobler about his book, "101 Arabian Tales: How We All Persevered in Peace Corps Libya." This work documents Hobler's own experiences as a Peace Corps volunteer in Libya in the late 1960s.

(Note: This interview first aired back in February.) Our guest is Kayleen Schaefer, a journalist and author who's written for The New York Times, Vanity Fair, The New Yorker, and other publications. Her latest book, which she tells us about, is "But You're Still So Young: How Thirtysomethings Are Redefining Adulthood." The book looks carefully at how thirtysomethings in America today are -- and aren't -- meeting the milestones which sociologists commonly cite as the five markers of adulthood: finishing school, leaving home, marriage, gaining financial independence, and having kids.

Here in the good ol' USA, a strong work ethic -- a drive to succeed through hard work -- is seen as a leading virtue, and indeed, as a necessity. We Americans have long been told that financial success and personal well-being will undoubtedly follow if we adopt a highly motivated mindset toward our job. On today's edition of ST, we look at the origins of that "highly motivated" outlook. Our guest is David Gray, a teaching professor of American studies and history at Oklahoma State University.

Library of Congress (American National Red Cross Photograph Collection)

The Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921 injured souls, claimed lives, ruined property, and demolished an entire community. Indeed, the damage suffered by the Black citizens of Greenwood took on many forms -- and this suffering went on for decades. Is it possible even to calculate the economic loss that Greenwood endured due to this terrible tragedy, and if so, how could such a tally be arrived at? As the centennial of the Tulsa Race Massacre approaches, many are wondering about these questions. Our guest is Jason Long, an economic historian at Wheaton College.

(Note: This interview originally aired back in September.) Our guest is the writer Jeff Hobbs, whose latest book closely follows four Los Angeles high school boys as they apply to college. These four teens are seniors at two very different high schools in L.A. -- one in Compton, the other in Beverly Hills -- and by telling their individual, personal stories, Hobbs reveals what our nation's young people (across all socio-economic backgrounds) are now confronting at home, at school, among peers, and throughout society.

Photo via Wikipedia

Our guest on StudioTulsa is Dr. Alfredo Quiñones-Hinojosa, who will deliver the next TU Presidential Lecture on Wednesday, April 7th, at 7:30pm. It's a free, online-only lecture; to register for this talk, or to learn more about it, please visit this page on the TU website.) Dr. Quiñones-Hinojosa, known to many as simply Dr. Q, grew up extremely poor in a rural Mexican village before he -- while still a teenager -- climbed over an 18-foot fence in order to enter California.

In the first two decades of the 21st century, New York City has experienced a terrorist attack, a blackout, a hurricane, an historic recession, widespread social injustice, and, of course, the current pandemic. How has all of this affected the lives of New Yorkers? Our guest is the bestselling author Craig Taylor, whose new book draws on years of interviews with hundreds of NYC residents in order to render an indelible group portrait of the city. As per Publishers Weekly: "[This is] an engrossing, multihued 'oral portrait' of New York City as told by the people who live there....

(Note: This interview first aired back in October.) We welcome Sarah Smarsh back to StudioTulsa for a discussion of her latest book. It's a collection of essays that all focus on a certain country-music icon who also happens to be one of the most unifying figures in American culture: Dolly Parton. Smarsh talks with us about how Parton has, for decades now, both embodied and emboldened American women who live and work in poverty.

Despite the pandemic-triggered federal moratorium on residential evictions, evictions do still happen in certain cases here in the Tulsa area. Why? Our guest is Prof. Roni Amit, who's with the Terry West Civil Legal Clinic at the University of Tulsa College of Law. This clinic, per its website, "addresses access to justice for marginalized communities in Tulsa, with a particular focus on the intersection of legal needs within these communities.

Our guest is the author and doctor Michael Stein, who's also a professor of health law, policy, and management at Boston University. He tells us about his new book, which presents the many various moving, sobering, genuine, and often heartbreaking accounts of his patients about money...and about having (or not having) enough money to simply get by in the U.S. today. "Broke" gives us the words and thoughts of those now facing the reality of having to choose between getting medical treatments or paying their bills. As was noted of this book by Dr.

On this edition of our show, we listen back to an interview from 2018 about a book called "Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century." This book is the basis for a forthcoming feature-film starring Frances McDormand. Our guest is the author of the book, Jessica Bruder.

We welcome Sarah Smarsh back to StudioTulsa for a discussion of her new book. It's a collection of essays that all focus on a certain country-music icon who also happens to be one of the most unifying figures in American culture: Dolly Parton. Smarsh talks with us about how Parton has, for decades now, both embodied and emboldened American women who live and work in poverty. Few other musical artists, the author argues, seem as truly **genuine** as Parton, and few can match her gift for telling powerful stories about life, love, men, family, hard times, and surviving.

Our guest is the writer Jeff Hobbs, whose new book closely follows four Los Angeles high school boys as they apply to college. These four teens are seniors at two very different high schools in L.A. -- one in Compton, the other in Beverly Hills -- and by telling their individual, personal stories, Hobbs reveals what our nation's young people (across all socio-economic backgrounds) are now confronting at home, at school, among peers, and throughout society.

Our guest is the author and foreign affairs expert, Sarah Chayes, who has worked as the special assistant on corruption to Mike Mullen, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. She's also advised David McKiernan and Stanley McChrystal (commanders of the International Security Assistant Force) and has been a reporter for NPR.

We welcome to our show Dr. Abdul El-Sayed, a physician, epidemiologist, public health expert, and progressive activist. He was appointed health director of Detroit, Michigan, at age 30, and he was formerly a professor at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health. Dr. El-Sayed's new book, which he tells us about, is "Healing Politics: A Doctor's Journey into the Heart of Our Political Epidemic." As was noted of this book by Bill McKibben with 350.org: "This is a very important book.

On this edition of ST, we're talking about State Question 802, the Medicaid expansion initiative that Oklahoma voters will cast ballots for or against on Tuesday of next week. This measure, per ballotpedia.org, would "expand Medicaid in Oklahoma under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare. It would provide Medicaid coverage for certain low-income adults between 18 and 65 with incomes at or below 133% of the federal poverty level (FPL).

When "America: What Went Wrong?" originally appeared in the early 1990s, the book got a lot of attention, and became a bestseller, because it documented, in a sound, thorough way, the causes behind the shrinking of the American middle class. Now, the authors of that groundbreaking book, Donald L. Barlett and James B. Steele -- "two of the most talented investigative journalists in U.S. history," per The San Jose Mercury News -- have put out an updated edition of their text. Mr. Steele is our guest on ST today.

The current pandemic has brought keen economic hardship, of course, to a vast number of individials and families within various levels of American society. Given that so many folks who rent a house or apartment in our community now require extra time to acquire their unemployment checks and/or federal benefits, the Tulsa City Council voted unanimously last night to ask Gov. Stitt for a statewide moratorium on evictions. In addition to this, Tulsa County has historically had one of the highest rates of eviction in the country.

Our guest is Devin Fergus, the Strickland Distinguished Professor of History, Black Studies, and Public Affairs at the University of Missouri. He's written on politics, policy, and inequality in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The American Prospect, The Guardian, and so forth. He joins us to discuss his latest book, which is just out in paperback: "Land of the Fee: Hidden Costs and the Decline of the American Middle Class." This book exposes the effects that fees have on wealth redistribution, from the poor and the middle class up to wealthy corporations.

Our guest is Michael Brose, the longtime Chief Empowerment Officer at Mental Health Association Oklahoma (or MHAOK). Brose joins us to discuss this important nonprofit's ongoing work to secure permanent housing for the homeless throughout our city and our state. Per the MHAOK website: "The Association's statewide work is dedicated to promoting mental health and the equity of access to mental health care through advocacy, education, research, service, and housing. Since 1955, we have worked toward this goal.

On this edition of ST, we get to know photographer Dan Farnum, a Tulsa Artist Fellow who also teaches at the University of Tulsa School of Art. Originally from Michigan, Farnum now has a debut photography book coming out. It's titled "Young Blood," and it profiles children, teens, and young adults growing up amid the economic strife of Michigan's auto towns. Note: There will be a free-to-the-public book-release gathering for this volume at Magic City Books on Friday night, the 25th, beginning at 6:30pm.

Our guest is the journalist Sarah Smarsh, whose book, "Heartland: A Memoir of Working Hard and Being Broke in the Richest Country on Earth," is now out in paperback. It's a far-reaching account of her coming of age in smalltown Kansas that sharply explores matters of poverty, class, family, income inequality, Midwestern values, personal ambition, faith, womanhood, and other key social and economic concerns.

On this edition of Medical Monday, as the Oklahoma Legislature has just recently completed its annual session, we offer a detailed review of whether and how our state's lawmakers have addressed various medical and healh-related issues. Our guest is Carly Putnam with the non-profit, non-partisan Oklahoma Policy Institute, where she serves as Policy Director and Health Care Policy Analyst.

On this edition of StudioTulsa, we're discussing court fees, court fines, collection costs, and other court-related expenses, which, all told, make up somewhere between 80 and 90 percent of the budget for the State of Oklahoma's court system. Therefore, and quite regrettably, our state's jails are by now brimming with people whose only "crime" is being unable to pay such costs.

In the immediate wake of Governor Stitt's State of the State Address, and as the 2019 legislative session gets underway in OKC, we welcome back to StudioTulsa our longtime colleague David Blatt, who's been the Executive Director of the non-partisan, non-profit OK Policy think tank since 2010. Blatt chats with us in detail about what lawmakers at the State Capitol might attempt or accomplish regarding education, criminal justice, health, economic opportunity, taxes, and the state's budget.

Photo by Valery Lyman

On this edition of ST, we listen back to an interview that first aired in May with the photographer and filmmaker Valery Lyman, who has a striking show on view at Living Arts in downtown Tulsa called "Breaking Ground." This show -- which actually closes today, the 12th -- aims to travel, per the Living Arts website, "through the American psyche and landscape....

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