The fiscal cliff, for all its grand theater, really comes down to people in a room trying to come to an agreement. People doing whatever it takes to get what they want from the other side.
On today's show, three professional negotiators walk us through techniques that members of Congress may be using right now. They explain these techniques not with textbooks, but with examples from their everyday lives.
On today's show, we visit Fire Station Six in Contra Costa County, Calif.
Firefighters don't go to fires as much as much as they used to. That's because, thanks to modern building codes, fires are much less common than they used to be. Yet the fire dept is still set up the same way: big trucks, lots of fire stations, and lots of firefighters who retire with lifetime pensions.
Rather than close fire stations, the firefighters in Contra Costa County agreed to take a pay cut a few years back. But the county still couldn't afford the fire department.
Before the Civil War, there were 8,000 different kinds of money in the United States.
Banks printed their own paper money. And, unlike today, a $1 bill wasn't always worth $1. Sometimes people took the bills at face value. Sometimes they accepted them at a discount (a $1 bill might only be worth 90 cents, say.) Sometimes people rejected certain bills altogether.
On today's show, we figure out how this world worked. And explain how the Civil War — and the Union's need for money — changed everything.