04/13/2021 - A Cavalcade of Bummer

Mark Blyth, political economist at Brown University's Watson Institute, and political scientist Carrie Nordlund share their take on the news.

On this episode: Mark and Carrie feel skeptical about a 'post-Covid' boom; Biden's infrastructure bill, and the inconvenient truths it poses to congressional Republicans; the trial of Derek Chauvin, and how policing in America might (or might not) change in its wake; Amazon's defeat of a union drive; Brexit-infused unrest in Northern Ireland. On the bright side: Prince Phillip lived for a long time.

You can learn more about Watson’s other podcasts here.


DAN: Hey there. This is Dan, the producer for Mark and Carrie. If you like this show, we highly recommend you check out Watson's other podcast, Trending Globally. You'll hear more in-depth conversations about politics and policy from some of the world's leading experts, including, occasionally, Mark and Carrie. You can find us by subscribing to Trending Globally on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify, Google Play or wherever you listen to podcasts. Again, that's Trending Globally. All right. On with the show. Thanks.


CARRIE: Hi, everyone, and welcome to Mark and Carrie, the April edition. Hi Mark, how are you?

MARK: Hello there, just having a cup of tea as one does as a British subject.


MARK: We'll get to Prince Philip at the end of the show.

CARRIE: Yeah. Oh Yeah. Of course we have to talk about him. How are you feeling about life? Spring is here the birds are chirping, what are your thoughts--

MARK: Vaccinations aren't.

CARRIE: Yes. Yeah.

MARK: So it's funny, I was just on the phone with someone talking about this. And so there's the expectation that boom, we're going to have a boom, everything's going to boom, and then there'll be inflation. Which is kind of funny, because it's sort of like after a long darkness we have a boom, which is good, but we then have to make it crappy by having a moo inflation, very bad that. But what's complicating this is well I don't know, the Brazilian variants?

CARRIE: Yes. Yeah.

MARK: Right. What's complicating this is the fact that at some States in the South now, apparently, have vaccines just going to waste, because they've kind of vaccinated all the people that really think it's important to get vaccinated. And we're nowhere near where we need to be. So there is a distinct possibility that we can screw this up. Even with vaccines in the summer and everything else, we could basically get into a situation where the new variants overwhelm the population that doesn't have the vaccinations, and then the whole thing could start up again.

The other thing that's frustrating and all of a sudden this thing about the boom is very lazy thinking, you can only boom if you aren't bust, and as we've said repeatedly on this podcast. Little factoid, half the country earns $20 or less, and there's huge amounts of debt. So those stimulus checks actually are not going straight into Gamestop. They're going into paying the rent that hasn't been paid for a month.

So there's a huge amount of people that made a huge amount of money, but they're the already rich.


MARK: And they don't spend enough to basically have a giant boom. So if you add together, maybe, we're going to screw up the vaccination and what leads from there. And then you add to the fact that maybe there just isn't enough money going around, and the people who actually need it to actually have a real boom, then maybe it won't be as booming as we thought.

CARRIE: Well I did see the headline in the post that said, will the economy get too hot? And I thought, Yeah, exactly, I rolled, because I thought, can the economy get too hot? And of course the kicker was inflation, and the world's going to fall apart and all of that sort of stuff. And then you turn the page and it's what 900,000 jobs have been added to the economy, all that sort of stuff.

The super rich are buying $4,000 ice makers, and then everybody else has lost their job. And so it's just-- we obviously have to stop reading the newspaper but it's hard to find a through line of what's the media, What's the average person feeling like? I'm not buying a $4,000 icemaker, but I'm hanging on. And to just make sense of all the economic talk.

MARK: No exactly. I mean, and where are those media outlets located? They're located in very expensive cities.


MARK: They're located in the parts of the world where you can have a boom and where all the wealth is created. Is it going to be much of a boom in rural Wisconsin?

CARRIE: Right.

MARK: Is there going to be much of a boom in, let's say, the Southern States, including those that when they have the chance to form a union don't? In part, because they're so worried if they vote yes, then their employer will move and they will have no jobs again. It doesn't exactly sound like overheating, does it?

CARRIE: Well, and thinking about this in relation to my home State of Michigan, which the CDC is now saying, it should do a shut down. I love what the UK is now just coming out of, and of course, the governor doesn't want to do that for all the political reasons, but I mean the B1.1 variant is the one that's just tearing through the State right now. So when all the talk of a fourth wave or whatever number of wave we're on, you do wonder do the experts maybe have a point? It seems like they might.

MARK: Well, yeah. But in fairness, they're always chasing last month's information and we don't really know. I mean, the only thing we can really say at this point is, it's really wonderful that we have all these vaccines. And if we look at Europe we've even managed to stuff up. And at the end of the day this virus is going to keep mutating, and if you don't take the vaccine, then eventually it's going to get a hold in the population, and that's exactly what's happening in Michigan.


MARK: So there is your future, the future is Michigan.


CARRIE: I'm curious of your take on this about-- So Brown just came out for next fall, requiring vaccine for all students. This follows Rutgers and it follows other universities as well. So not a big surprise there. But I'm wondering what your take is, if we move it up to your employer mandated vaccine, I don't think that that has-- you haven't seen employers actually mandated yet, but just reading about whether there is that legal leg to stand on, whether employees can require that or not, and what your thought is about vaccine mandates.

MARK: Well we have vaccine mandates, they are called for schoolkids.


MARK: You can't send your kid to school unless they've had certain shots. And if you refuse to do so, then the schools can say, well, thanks, but we're not going to take your kid. I really don't see why it should be any different. I mean, there's this idea that's sort of like, I have the right, and this kind of sovereign citizen nonsense. I have the right, the rights are in me. It's like, with rights come responsibilities, and the role vis-a-vis your responsibilities to others.

So if you want to walk around being a public health risk, then you're totally welcome to do so. But then, don't expect your employers, and public services and other people to basically give you the time of day. It's really that straightforward. Now of course, it's easy to say this, and it does raise some real issues about personal freedom et cetera, that shouldn't be dismissed.

But usually under the public health and we kind of give that one the benefit of the doubt, and when the alternative is, yes, but really Bill Gates et cetera, et cetera, then you've got to go, no, can we just stop this now, and stop this pandemic please?

CARRIE: Yeah. No, I have to say when I first started thinking about it my initial reaction was, that even to tell my employer whether I have the vaccine or not, I was like, I don't really want to do that. And then, of course, I actually had to start thinking about it and that they already know all this stuff about my health as it is.

And oh, by the way, CVS is-- I mean, maybe there is not one Excel spreadsheet that the federal government has, but CVS already knows that I got it, when I-- all of these pieces of information are laying around. So it's not as if the powers that be you can't sort this out on their own. So it's always hard for me, though my first inclination is privacy and I don't want the government in my business, to think, Oh yeah. Well the government has this, it may be just not in a centralized format.

MARK: OK. But if this was some kind of giant pandemic STD that only happened to people who had affairs, I could understand the privacy angle. But it's not, it's as simple as, have you had a measles shot, right? And for me the killer on this one is, if you pardon the pun, the killer on this one is aircraft, right?

So let's suppose that you get the Brazilian variant, it's basically able to burst through even the best vaccines, to a certain degree. This one really begins to take hold, because we don't do enough vaccinations. And then airlines who are barely just about to take off again, in all senses of the word, turn around and say, you absolutely need to have a vaccine or you don't get on this.

Why? Because otherwise our business model will crash, we're done, it's over. So if you want to partake this service, you need to have the vaccine. That seems perfectly reasonable to me, if you don't want the terms of the contract, don't sign the contract. You don't have-- there's no God given right to fly, right? There's no God given right access a private service or a public service.

CARRIE: Yeah. It will be interesting to see, I think it's dead because the White House has pushed back on it, that there's no desire to have this federal mandate et cetera, et cetera. Federal mandate for vaccine. But it will be interesting to see whether next year in Twenty-Twenty-Two, this comes up again in terms of more government intervention. Now here's my pun, the bridge to the talking about the infrastructure bill, more on how the infrastructure bill is all bloat and fat, and 0% of it is actually going to infrastructure.

If that will be part of the Republican talking points in pushing back, and to win back the House, which they likely will in Twenty-Twenty-Two. I will--

MARK: Can we hold off all for a minute? We just say that as a matter of course, because it usually happens. But so far everything that Biden has done has been quite popular. Right? Up to and including the stimulus, and up to and including the infrastructure spend. He seems to have pretty good positives, right? And why do we all axiomatically assume the like, and then they will do well? They don't seem to have anything to stand on, they don't even know how to argue against what he's doing.

CARRIE: Well I think it's two things. So one thing is the redistricting, the redistricting is going to favor Republicans in terms of those maybe-- just enough of those swing districts into stronger Republican districts. I noticed you're making a good point that-- I'm just assuming out of hand that Biden's going to fall apart, and just everyone's going to walk on him. That where the economy is, is may not be successful enough, or may not be booming enough to be able to protect the Democrats.

But I guess that falls into the like, who can predict the future? Nobody can. But the Republicans seem pretty confident, at least for today, in Twenty-Twenty-One they do.

MARK: Well they would, they just lost. And basically large parts of the country associate them as a criminal conspiracy against the State. So what could they possibly have that would hold them back? Oh yeah. And then Trump's jumping around in the background.


MARK: So anyway, let's go back to infrastructure. I refuse to look into things until they become real. So what's Unreal about this, are we going to fund theme parks for under twelve's? what is it, what is there's no infrastructure--

CARRIE: Well, hold on to your hat here, because infrastructure Professor Blyth, is not only a bridges and tunnels, it is also humans. And that is really difficult, I think, for other humans to understand that it's not just roads and the stuff that we can point to and look at. But it also includes humans. And so there's a number of elements to the bill that is about bringing those from poor communities, giving them access to better health care, job opportunities, like all sorts of stuff like that that aren't part of that traditional infrastructure that Republicans are really fussing around.

CARRIE: It looks like, at least vote wise, that the Democrats are going to be able to pull this off. And if that's the case, to the point that you just made, Biden becomes-- after FDR and Lyndon Johnson, like that their pressing to have these huge, huge public works bills. So it'll be interesting to see obviously what happens in the Senate, because it's so closely Republican, Democrat. But the biggest talking point that the Republicans currently have is that it's not just infrastructure, bridges and tunnels and roads.

MARK: Right. Because there's more to life than bridges and tunnels.


MARK: Particularly in a post-industrial economy, where we usually do services and skills that are highly valued. I think that investing in the social infrastructure might be a good thing to do. The problem with this, though, is that if you look back at the New Deal, what do you associate the New Deal with, you associate it with federal reach, you associate it with the so-called alphabet agencies. So the W-- what was it called?


MARK: The WPA right, all those sort of different agencies. The one that built the schools, and the one that did something else. Right? And we don't have that this time around, so what are they going to do? are they just going to give the money to the States and hope for the best?

CARRIE: I think so, and lots of distribution by agencies to HHS to do all the health and human service stuff that they do. I mean, lots of stuff to transportation to then funnel out to the cities and the States that need it. The Transportation Secretary, former mayor Buttigieg, talked about how there are these roads that are like four lanes wide, one car drives on it every other day. So being smarter about the types of roads that are built, that sort of stuff.

But lots of stuff around energy and climate control sorts of stuff too. Of course, that's one of the big kickers of the Republicans as well, is that, how is the stuff that's preparing the country for this thing that's already here.

MARK: Right. And you saw part of that already and the pushback. there are several Republican States are basically trying to write legislation that effectively taxes renewable in order to preserve carbon jobs. Including North Dakota, most recently I saw that one there, Texas also tried to do this. But then, you have this corporate pushback, so there's this brilliant picture of Jeff Bezos standing atop a windmill, basically saying to Texas, I'd really rethink this if I were you.

So it's very interesting to see how American capital is splitting on the climate issue, because the Republicans are all in on carbon, for the reasons that we've talked about, which is kind of sad and depressing, but completely understandable. Given that the business models of the States that they represent. So if this infrastructure bill was to do anything, it would be to transform their infrastructure.

But to do that, you kind of need their cooperation and buy-in. And it seems to be that's the one thing that is not going to happen.


MARK: So it'll be very interesting to see how that plays out.

CARRIE: I know we weren't going to talk about this, but I just wanted to bring this up, because I've been following the immigration story this week, and one of the big-- one of the reasons that migration specialists are saying there's this quote, unquote, "crisis at the border right now." is because of the big hurricanes that hit Guatemala and Honduras this year. And just thinking about how all-- I know we talk about this every time, and it's like the dumbest point I'm going to make, but just the interconnected of all of these-- the big headline issues, and how one cannot be tackled without tackling the other.

We have to think about the migration crisis in connection and within context of what's going on with climate change and it's happening within the United States, we can't think about it as something that's happening far, far away either.

MARK: But if you think about it in that way, you then have to admit that things like climate change are not only real, then they are actual things we need to deal with now.


MARK: Which means that your ability to then defend, if you will, the carbon lifestyle, right, the carbon economy becomes really problematised, because on the one hand you're saying, so why are all these people trying to get in the United State's Southern border? Because they come from failed States and we should keep them out. OK. But why do they come from failed States?

That's their problem, no actually, we can understand what it is, it's really climate change. Particularly in the isthmus, you've really got the world's first climate refugees coming out of the isthmus. As we continue to warm, which we're going to, this is only going to get worse, it doesn't matter who's going to be in power, that crisis at the Southern border is not going away.

So I was looking at some projections for this today that an econ shop in London did, and the numbers involved are just absolutely incredible, if you think about the countries in the world that are likely to warm the fastest. So there's a band that basically goes from Iraq, to North India, to Western China that could go up by 5 degrees, even if on average we only go to 2.

Well you've already got North India at 50 degrees in the summer, the same with some parts of Western China. Push up to 55, you're literally getting to the stress limits of what humans can endure. So imagine 400, 500 million people abandoning that area.


MARK: And our little version of that is what's happening for the countries in the isthmus. This is not going away.

CARRIE: Wow. Those are huge numbers too, and just a couple degrees of course make-- Yeah. It is hard to wrap your head around that.

MARK: Yeah. Basically the level of tolerance, it means that farming collapses.


MARK: Right, it's no longer difficult, it stops. And then you can't eat, so you move.

CARRIE: Yeah. Yeah. OK. I can't do the transition to our topic.

MARK: There's no segue from that.

CARRIE: No, There isn't. But I did want to talk a little bit about what's happening in Minneapolis with the trial of Derek Chauvin for the-- well, there's several different parts of it, but it's actually for the murder of George Floyd, which happened last summer. It's lots and lots of coverage. I thought the most interesting story with that piece that I read about it was not about the technical aspects of the trial, but just that the trial itself, that it was happening, was of note.

Because it rarely happens that you have a police person on trial for killing somebody. If you look at the numbers for the number of times that this happens, and the times that it goes to trial, it's very infrequent. And so just the fact that this is ongoing is an event in and of itself, that's a point that I was trying to make. Derek Chauvin is on trial for use of excessive force, felony, and felony assault causing Floyd's death.

So there are a few different aspects to this, and of course, there was the fatal shooting, I think, over the last day in Minneapolis. And then just the state of mass shootings that we've had over the past two weeks too, it's been--

MARK: Did you see the video that emerged of the army medic who was pulled over by the two cops?

CARRIE: I did see that. Yeah.

MARK: You know, I've lived in this country for 30 years. And it's like, I understand that loads of people have guns and cops have a really risky job and they have to be careful. But why is the first instinct, with any situation, is start pointing a gun in somebody's face, and then become completely hyper?


MARK: I mean the tension in that, there was nothing-- I'm looking for professionalism, I'm seeing scared people with guns, pointing guns.


MARK: It's like this is how we deal with human interactions, I mean, cops where I come from pull people over all the time. Their first instinct doesn't sort of like, and now I will pull a weapon and stick it in their face, and pepper spray them just for fun. What is going on? Why is the default reaction is so aggressive, so violent?

CARRIE: I don't know. I think about this more and more, as you see just as regular traffic stop and their like, Oh God, am I-- should I push or should I pull? Should I help this person, like what role should I play or just be the passive bystander? Because you don't know if the person is going to go get hysterical, and start and pull their gun out. Or if it's just going to be a routine, show me your driver's license. I think it's hard to know what the atmosphere is like in any of those situations. I don't know.

MARK: So again, I was just following the press coverage of the shooting that happened the other day in Minneapolis, and the cop may have been going for his taser or whatever. But basically this guy's got a warrant out after him, they pull him over, he basically does a runner, I don't know if he's actually running. He gets back in the car, right. So he gets back in the car and goes to drive off. Now if you go to the UK and you try that, what will happen is, the cop would get back in the car and they would follow you.

Whereas here, somehow you're immediately reaching for a weapon and try and end someone.


MARK: It's like, why is death the default Interaction?

CARRIE: Yeah. This is why it doesn't go to trial very often, because all of this is lawful, right? I mean all of the extreme behaviors are--

MARK: Although did you see Maryland, what they did to Larry Hogan?

CARRIE: No, what did they do?

MARK: Oh. So basically the State Senate overrode his veto on two police reform bills. One of which basically essentially gets rid of the police kind of Bill of Rights/Autonomy from prosecution.

CARRIE: Oh. Really?

MARK: Yeah. There is actually a step up on this, absolutely.

CARRIE: That's interesting. Yeah. Well and of course, the reason why this trial is not going is, there's a new attorney general. Former Congressman Keith Ellison that pursued this particular case too. So I mean that's interesting just about the systemic change.

MARK: But doesn't make any difference? So let's go, I mean the Derek Chauvin trial, you've got a guy who used egregious and very public force to end someone's life on the concrete. Right? So that's something where you just can't turn that one off once you've seen it, right? So that one goes to trial. So let's say that he goes to jail, does anything fundamental change? Do we stop instantly pulling guns on people?

CARRIE: I don't know, and the reason why I'm fumbling around so much right now is that there's just is no-- I worry that it doesn't make a difference, and I worry that this is now just the standard-- This is the operating protocol for traffic stops is the have people just pull their-- cops pull their gun on you.

And I don't think it makes a difference. I mean, look at what's happening already, we have so many different examples after George Floyd. So it's hard to know what makes the difference until we start really thinking about some sort of reform, and I don't know how that reform happens with such strong police unions. And I don't I don't know what happens.

MARK: Well, have also been following the rise of the anti riot legislation that's going on at State level?

CARRIE: I have not, but that just takes all the way down my sails.

MARK: Right. So basically it's like in response to all of the civil unrest last year, 90 odd percent of which was completely peaceful, we're basically going to criminalize the taking part in these events. And even if nothing really bad happens, if you want to do things like, for example, get a State job or claim public benefits at any point in the future, and you have been arrested or involved in one of these things in a way we don't like, that's it, you're done.

So you take marginalized communities that depend upon these types of services, and then basically use that as a threat to make sure that they stop protesting. So our way of engagement is yet more disciplining of these communities.

CARRIE: But I'm assuming that instruction at the Capitol doesn't fall into that, that I can try to take over the US Capitol and still be OK. But is like a protest in the streets, probably is not OK.

MARK: Yeah. And your own hometown, yeah. That's definitely illegal, yeah. Absolutely. I'm glad you got the memo on that one.

CARRIE: Oh, jeez. This is just like a cavalcade of like bummer stuff to talk about. I mean--

MARK: One day we're going to do the modern Carrie Show and it's going to be awesome, all the way through, awesome.

CARRIE: Yes. It's just going to be puppy dogs, yeah, and pancakes.

MARK: I mean anything. When Britney Spears finally gets rid of our custody agreement with her dad, like we can be like, yeah. Right? I mean, you know, whatever anything.

CARRIE: What was your reaction to that failed Union Drive at Amazon in Alabama?

MARK: Saw that one coming.


MARK: I mean, basically the way that the National Labor Relations Board has been structured over the past oh, I don't know, 30 years, has basically been to permit the existence of unions, but to deny them any leverage or level playing field whatsoever vis-a-vis employees. So you have Amazon essentially running a very, very hard ass publicity campaign, as to why this is a very bad idea for you to vote for this. This is a company that does a heck of a lot of, let's say things like, facial recognition technology.

Of course, the ballot would be secret, but we're just saying if everybody does vote, then we might have to move the plant. And this is a very poor part of the country. So much so that the $15 an hour we pay is actually quite good. So what do you think? Yeah. No brainer, absolutely. Did that reflect the true preferences of people? Well to the extent that they were given a limited set of options, yeah. And you got to respect the vote. But it was not exactly a fair fight.

CARRIE: Yeah. I think you just about, these are dangerous jobs, people get killed on the job, these are similar to other factory jobs, when there's heavy machinery and there's dangerous stuff going on with that heavy machinery.

MARK: In the time it takes for us to make one of these episodes, the guy who owns Amazon has made another billion dollars. The notion that they're paying some kind of fair wage, given their earnings, is just disgusting. It's just all to the top, all to the top.

CARRIE: And on the flip side of that, the person working in the warehouse has been forced to make like 58 million trips to build 12 packages, or else they're going to get fined and thrown out of their job or something. I mean it's just--

MARK: And then you got the guy who's delivering it to you pissing in a bowl.

CARRIE: Yeah. Yeah. I know I just--

MARK: Really, this is what we're defending, right? At the end of the day we're saying, no, we don't want a union to represent these people, or actually have some kind of collective voice or constructive engagement with the firm. We want you to piss in a bottle and we want you to basically have a hernia.


MARK: And it's $15 an hour, take it or leave it.

CARRIE: And to your point too, just doing the math, and this is, it's not hard to do. I don't think it-- but $15 an hour is like $30,000 a year, this is not living in some fairyland. This still qualifies most families for free lunch, I mean, for a range of security stuff. So I'm with you like, that $15 an hour is this like magic number like all your worries go away.

MARK: Yeah. So what about the rest of the world, are they screwing up as badly? I mean Europe still has no vaccines, but that may eventually sort itself out. What else is going on.

CARRIE: I hate to ask you this, because you're going to end up rolling your eyes at me. But what's happening with Brexit?

MARK: We're having, [VOCALIZING] Brexit update. Well Northern Ireland is kicking off.

CARRIE: I'm sorry to say, I've paid zero attention.

MARK: OK. So this is kind of important.


MARK: So for 30 years the two communities in Ireland, the six counties in the North, and then the Republic of Ireland, were basically in a Civil War that was mediated by British troops sitting on the street.

CARRIE: I didn't know that.

MARK: You don't know that bit, right?


MARK: And then, they signed these agreements called the Good Friday agreements, and the Good Friday agreements basically integrated the community is a little bit better, et cetera. And it all worked well because they were all in the European Union together. Brexit comes along, dump's a border in the Irish sea, so that you don't have a hard border along the Irish border, but that has the effect of creating incredible delays and paperwork and all the rest of it for stuff getting to Northern Ireland.

So now you've got a situation whereby you have one of the poorest communities in the United Kingdom, and essentially the Belfast economy in the Northern Ireland economy. It's a beautiful part of the world, if it just didn't have to deal with post-industrial decline sectarianism, and a lack of investment. it lives completely off of transfer from London.

And unfortunately Brexit comes in and complicates this whole thing. So what it's done is that signal particularly to kind of like the Republican-- sorry to the loyalists, as they're called, the Protestant youth of Northern Ireland. That things here suck, A, they do. B, they're not getting any better. C, nobody really cares. D, Boris Johnson and the Tories are traditional allies the unionists have sold us down the river, because we are the sacrificial lambs for Brexit.

And we'll go back to C, nobody cares. So they're throwing bottles, and petrol bombs, and kicking off and all the rest of it. In a sense to basically draw attention to the fact that, A, nobody cares, B, nobody cares, and C, nobody cares. But the danger here, of course, is that you still have a lot of tension between the two communities in Northern Ireland. And the peace process is always a process, and it can grind to a halt.

And there's a feeling that what's gone on so far is really to benefit the Republic and benefited Republicans in the North. And what was once this community, which very much-- it's a bit like kind of the-- what do you call again? The white resentment theory, that this once dominant group is losing its status and its privileges, and that's why you're getting this.

And to a certain extent, yeah. That's what's happened, they used to be the richest part of the community and now the whole community's poor. Particularly vis-a-vis the Republic, and they feel as of Britain's abandoned them. Which they have.

CARRIE: But didn't Northern Ireland know in the Brexit talks that the border was going to move?

MARK: Yes. But everyone was talking complete during the British Brexit debates. And you even had Northern Ireland leading politicians campaigning for Brexit, which just so shows you how utterly stupid the whole thing was.

CARRIE: So I mean--

MARK: Maybe they thought that once you got out of the EU the British government would be forced to invest more in Northern Ireland, but, no.

CARRIE: Because that seems like a real-- going against your own interests to be then trying to support Brexit, given where we are right now.

MARK: Yeah.

CARRIE: OK. I just wanted to make sure.

MARK: Exactly, exactly.

CARRIE: Did I totally miss something--

MARK: That's it,

CARRIE: --or not.

MARK: Yes, no, no.

CARRIE: But what's the outcome of this? more silkiness?

MARK: Yeah. Kind of. I mean it's about like, to make a really strange analogy, it's a bit like the relationship between Taiwan and the US and China. If you actually really formalize what you're going to do, You'll probably create more problems than you solve.


MARK: But if you actually keep it ambiguous and you don't really do anything, it's just going to fester. So what's the logical solution for this? The logical solution is for both sides to lose the identity politics built up over God knows how long, and to essentially join a United Ireland, and just give up. Integrate Into this much richer community, become the second growth hub, benefit from basically massive EU funds that would come and all the rest of it.

Or you can sit around and be part of a British State that doesn't give a crap. And that community will sit around and hold onto the British thing, because that's who they are. They're not going to chuck in their lot with the Republicans, so what's the good answer out of that, what's the good solution out of that? I don't know what it is.

CARRIE: Yeah. So in some ways fester is at least something.

MARK: One positive thing in it, is that the politics there tended to be basically, which flavor of unionism did you want? You had the center, the right and the far right. And now the largest political group, and is basically essentially the non-aligned, non-sectarian parties. Because people are sick of it basically. So there is a new set of developments there that you could possibly build on.

But then it needs engagement, and if the British government were to engage with those forces rather than the loyalists, that's yet another snub. There's no right thing to do in this area, makes it very difficult.

CARRIE: Is there anything that isn't unrest, destruction, and utter sadness that we could talk about?

MARK: Well, we could talk about Harry planning to go to his granddad's funeral.

CARRIE: I thought that was nice, Meghan can't be there.

MARK: Do you think Meghan can't be there, or Megan's just-- Yeah. I mean really, Meghan can't be there.

CARRIE: Shes like, please doctor tell me I can't travel in my private jet to this, Yeah.

MARK: I think, yes, there might be a bit of that, yes.

CARRIE: But just the longevity of this family, you often refer to them as a German carpetbaggers, but man they live for a long time.

MARK: Oh yeah absolutely.

CARRIE: 99 years. 7 billion years, that's conservative of what his title was. Like that's-- I mean that's--

MARK: 70 years, yeah.

CARRIE: --some good health genes.

MARK: No, absolutely. And the finest doctors in the world will keep you going forever, plus the whole family's basically 50% gene by this point, so I'm sure the pickling effect does some good.


MARK: But it's funny he's an interesting character, because back in the day he was this roguish example of masculinity and speaking your mind, and these days, if he was any younger and still in public life, he'd be hauled over the calls for all the stuff that he said that was sexist, and racist, and imperialist and the whole nine yards. And all of which was there. But if you go back and read some of the great malaprops that this guy has said, and all the rest of it.

Yes, some of it is outrageous, but you can clearly see that what he's trying to do is trying to be funny. whether it works or not, I'm not excusing him on it and all that, but you can tell that this is a guy that's trying to be funny. And that's his version of humor. And I think that tells us a lot about the Royals. You know your, what's your first version of humor? Well just reach for something vaguely racist. Right?


CARRIE: Right, oh, geez. Well I guess it also tells you a lot about why his family or why his children seem to be dead inside, or a kernel. You know, one of the--

I thought it was very interesting, we finally got a comment in the mouth of Prince Andrew. When he came out of the remembrance service, that wasn't, no I'm not talking to the FBI.


CARRIE: Oh, geez. Well, Charles did say something nice, he called them his dear father, something like that. So there seemed to be some emotional connection between father and son in that--

MARK: But think about Charles is-- the Queen will never abdicate, like, she wouldn't just keep going. And she's likely to last as long as the Queen Mother. Not that that was her mother, that was her father's mother. But anyway. Actually was her mother? No that was the wife of her father, that's what was. So anyway the Queen Mother lived till about 150 150,000 or something.

So she's going to keep ticking along for a while, by which point Charles still wants to be King, right? This notion that he's just going to hand it all over to the kids, he really wants his turn. But at which point he'll probably be about 80.

CARRIE: Yeah. And poor Charles--

MARK: Yeah. I mean it's just-- the whole thing is just like, urgh, stop. Can we just-- sorry, I mean you've been wonderful as cannon fodder for doing the crown, but can we just stop this.


MARK: Nobody needs us anymore, and one very telling thing about this actually it's quite funny. The BBC got complaints about the coverage of Phillip's death, because it was too excessive.

CARRIE: Really.

MARK: They canceled all the stuff that people actually wanted to see, and they put on all these patriotic music and special programs. And then everyone's hitting the keyboard just going, what the hell is this, I don't give a crop about this old dude. Get EastEnders on or whatever it happens to be.

CARRIE: Right, Peaky Blinders.

MARK: Yeah.

CARRIE: Oh that's it, maybe the opinion polls are actually voting with their feet their feet on this one.

MARK: Well exactly.

CARRIE: Because the opinions shows that the British don't want their royal family anymore, is that right? I mean that's what I thought it--

MARK: And I haven't seen those polls, I think that they're obviously German propaganda, they can't be trusted.

CARRIE: Obviously. Yeah.

MARK: God bless the Queen.

CARRIE: But that's interesting, I was going to ask you whether you thought the queen was going to step down, but she'll hang on till the very end.

MARK: She'll hang on. Absolutely.

CARRIE: Well I think that probably does it for us for now I'm sure--

MARK: I think we've exhausted our April round up.

CARRIE: Yes, yeah. That

MARK: Wasn't that hopeful?

CARRIE: No, I will try harder next time to have some optimism. Yeah. Next time I'm going to pick the dark of things to actually put in there and it's going to be clowns, balloons, rainbow candyfloss and unicorns, be prepared.

CARRIE: Yes, that sounds great. Well I'll talk to you later. Thank you everyone for listening.

MARK: OK. Bye.


About the Podcast

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Mark and Carrie
Mark Blyth, political economist at The Watson Ins…

About your hosts

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Mark Blyth

Host, Rhodes Center Podcast
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Carrie Nordlund

Co-Host, Mark and Carrie