Hear: Delicious Cake Futures : Planet Money On today's Planet Money, an amazing story of a lunchroom economy.

Hear: Delicious Cake Futures

On today's Planet Money:

-- President Barack Obama has a plan for saving the economy and the environment at the same time. You just have to understand it first. Richard Harris takes us all to school.

-- When Joshua Bearman was a third grader, he got locked out of the lunchroom economy. His classmates piled their jazzed-up, sugarfied, food/not food snacks on the table and traded until the best junk won, while Joshua sat on the sidelines with the sardines and raisins his family sent. Then, one magical day, he dreamed up the delicious cake futures.

-- If you lost your job, and the people you called for help had just laid off 20 percent of their staffs, and a couple of hundred applications turned up nothing, what would you do? If you're intern architect Spencer Lepler, you dial back the job search, just a bit, and prep for that big licensing exam.

Bonus: A philosophical open question, after the jump.

Nick writes from KQED land:

In thinking about our woeful times, I stepped back a little and started wondering ... while shelter has been a fundamental need for homo sapiens since the stone age, how can it possibly be that our economic and financial system got tied around housing to the exclusion of so many other human activities and needs?

We are at a point where, in principal terms as many argue, housing is the single biggest factor wreaking all this havoc.

Is this whole business of getting shelter, paying for it, making money off it (or not), remodeling it, expanding it, equipping and furnishing it, etc the most central and fundamental essense of all human activity so as to make our economic and financial systems exclusively linked with it?

If there is indeed some rational explanation about the centrality of housing in human existence, and maybe some explanation for why we are having this crisis, how is it that other human needs such as food, breathable air, water, sleep, procreation, friendship/society, safety, curiosity for the cosmos or, say, a higher power, etc are NOT the factors that frame our drive for economic profit, prosperity, and growth?

Anyone got an answer?

Aside: Which reminds me of something my hobo brother said years ago. My spouse told him it might be time to settle down, to stop being homeless. My brother replied, "I'm not homeless, I'm home free." Like that.

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