Four decades after Studs Terkel's famous collection of oral histories was published, Radio Diaries revives one of his interviews with Helen Moog, an Ohio taxi driver and grandmother of five.
Tracing the parentage of a 1957 Chevy is not easy, but for Earl Swift, author of "Auto Biography: A Classic Car, an Outlaw Motorhead, and 57 Years of the American Dream," it became an obsession.
"I met Tommy Arney in 1993 when he was running a go-go bar in Virginia," says Swift.
Swift was, at the time, a newspaper reporter for The Virginian-Pilot. Swift went to Arney’s go-go bar to interview him about a court battle he was involved in. Swift says he walked out of that interview very impressed with Arney.
"He had an intelligent humor that stayed with me for years afterwards," says Swift.
He met the 1957 Chevy 11 years later.
"Having driven a succession of beaters in college and throughout my twenties, and wondering often back in those days what the cars had been like when they were new and actually functioned as intended," says Swift. "I decided it would be an interesting newspaper story to find an old car and try to trace it back to everybody who had owned and try to tell a bigger story; something about America or about the region or the state through this one car and this otherwise unconnected fraternity of people who had shared it."
Swift tracked down the 13 individuals who owned the ’57 Chevy, and uncovered the story of Tommy Arney, the thirteenth owner, whose mission was to rescue the car from ruin.
Listen to the full interview in the audio player above.
When Jamaad Reed started his job as a cashier at a Wal-Mart near Cincinnati, he made $8.15 an hour. That was two years ago. Since then, he has seen a couple of raises, which have meant his wage has kept up with inflation — but just barely. As of March of this year, Reed was making $9.05 an hour.
“I'm stuck,” he said recently. “You know what I'm saying? I feel like I'm stuck in the same spot.”
"Stuck" is a pretty good word to describe wages for most American workers over the last few decades. Not just in the case of lower-wage workers like Reed, but along most of the income spectrum, except for those at the very, very top.
In fact, most American workers have seen little to no growth since the late 1970s, if you adjust for inflation, according to Elise Gould. She's an economist with the Economic Policy Institute and author of a new study that analyzes wage data from census surveys over the last several decades.
That's not to say that individual workers haven't seen gains. But, says Gould, “as productivity has continued to rise, typical workers’ wages simply have not.”
That’s a very different economic picture from a half-century ago. In the first few decades after World War II, as the nation's productivity grew, so did wages. So what happened?
“This is one of the questions that people are arguing about right now,” says Linda Barrington, the executive director of the Institute of Compensation Studies at Cornell University.
Barrington says some economists point to a loss of worker bargaining power, meaning workers are less able to claim growing productivity gains in the way they could when labor unions were stronger.
Others blame a shift in business strategy over the years to one that focuses more on shareholder returns, “as opposed to sharing the returns and the gains to all of the employee base,” says Barrington.
Meanwhile, technological advances and globalization have meant there are fewer middle-wage jobs to be had in the U.S. Now, workers who in a previous era might have had relatively well-paying manufacturing or clerical jobs have to settle for lower-paying jobs in the service sector instead.
Even as economists debate the reasons behind American workers’ stagnating wages, one thing is certain. They don’t just affect individual wallets, but the economy as a whole.
As Barrington points out, “Every worker is also a consumer.” And consumers are what drive the modern American economy.
The State Department said the men should be released out of humanitarian concern and asked that Kenneth Bae, who has been held for two years, be granted amnesty.
Saffron, vanilla, palm oil, cacao and cottonseed oil are still picked by hand in some parts of the world. Sometimes that manual labor shows up in the price of the food; sometimes it doesn't.
Passenger pigeons were once the world's most abundant bird, but they were also the cheapest protein available. The last passenger pigeon, Martha, died exactly a century ago at the Cincinnati Zoo.
Many immigrant men in the U.S. work hard to hold onto definitions of masculinity from their native countries — while also rejecting more rigid gender roles that may be the norm in their homelands.
A new diet study concludes that a low-carbohydrate diet leads to almost three times more weight loss than a traditional low-fat diet where carbs made up 40 to 45 percent of calories.