Sally Helm

Some ideas seem too good to be true. Like this one. It comes from a 13-year-old listener named Amy. She says she knows the government has trouble finding enough money to pay for stuff like schools and hospitals. And she wondered if it has considered just printing more money. She asked us: Can the government do that? Just make more money to pay for stuff?

Every morning, we open our inboxes and find... your questions. Dozens of questions. Like, where does the money from a tariff go? What would happen to the economy if literally no one was unemployed? And why do RV dealerships have so many RV's?

Today on the show, we dig through all those questions and answer some our favorites. We do the math to figure out the cost of having life vests on airplanes, and try to determine whether they are worth it. We learn about a uncommon way of paying for an apartment in South Korea.

For you, dear listeners, we even touch a tariff.

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

These tariffs and counter-tariffs from the U.S. and China hearken back to an earlier era of protectionism. Sally Helm from our Planet Money team has the tale of Smoot Hawley.

SALLY HELM, BYLINE: In the Venn diagram of iconic pop culture moments...

Wildfires aren't like other natural disasters. You can't trace a hurricane to the first gust of wind, but you actually can trace your way back to a wildfire's first spark. And sometimes, someone has to pay.

In 2007, the Witch Creek Fire caused billions of dollars worth of damage in Southern California. While the fire was still burning, wildfire investigators showed up on the scene, and traced the flames back to where they began. The results spawned a ten year legal battle over who should pay for the damage.

Two years ago, one of the biggest companies in the world bought a failing hotel in a tiny rural hamlet in upstate New York. That made Planet Money reporter Noel King, curious. She grew up in the town and worked at the hotel as a teenager. Why, she wondered, would a multi-billion-dollar Chinese company invest in her hometown?