On Friday August 13th, we met up with a local film crew on Cape Cod not for a day of pina coladas, go-karts, sandcastles, lobsters, and waffle cones, but to continue filming season 4! We filmed three guests on Martín Espada’s poem of the invisibility of labor, and the nausea of looking back down the socioeconomic ladder, “Who Burns for the Perfection of Paper.”
We asked three economists for their perspective on the poem. First, University of Pennsylvania Law Professor Natasha Sarin—who has recently been spirited away by the Biden administration to serve in the Treasury Department. Then, we sat down with Justin Wolfers, Professor of Economics and Public Policy at the University of Michigan and his wife Betsey Stevenson, also a Professor of Economics and Public Policy at the University of Michigan, and former Chief Economist of the Labor Department under President Obama. Undergraduates may know Wolfers and Stevenson from the power couple’s series of economics textbooks, and others likely know them from their contributions to The New York Times and Bloomberg View respectively.
Soon we hope poetry fans will know all three guests for the insight that their knowledge of labor and economics lent to Espada’s poem!