Planet Money answers listener questions on cat food, "free" shipping, and more. : Planet Money It's listener question time. We've got answers about "free" shipping, full employment, when a raise isn't a raise, Taylor Swift, crypto seizures and our very own Micro-Face comic. | Subscribe to our weekly newsletter here.

You asked for real raises, free shipping, and a special delivery

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/1058039161/1059140324" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

SYLVIE DOUGLIS, BYLINE: This is PLANET MONEY from NPR.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

SOPHIA: Hey there, PLANET MONEY. Quirky cat food-related question for you. So our cat Marshmallow is on this special prescription-only diet where she's only getting duck animal protein. We used to order it online, but now it's always out of stock. And yeah, we're just wondering what's going on. Please help us out if you can. Thanks so much. Love the show.

AMANDA ARONCZYK, HOST:

We recently got this message from Sophia (ph) in New York. And look. We love our listeners. We want to help you out.

OK. I'm outside on the street, about to go into an apartment building.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: How are you doing?

ARONCZYK: Good. How you doing?

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: I'm good. Everything OK?

ARONCZYK: Yeah. I'm here for Sophia. And I can text her, too.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: OK. What's your name?

ARONCZYK: Amanda.

So last weekend, I packed up my recording gear, and I went the extra mile - 11 miles, to be exact - to go and see Sophia.

(SOUNDBITE OF KNOCKING ON DOOR)

ARONCZYK: Hi, Sophia.

SOPHIA: Hi.

ARONCZYK: How are you?

SOPHIA: I'm good. Do you want to come in just for a second?

ARONCZYK: Sure. Is that OK?

SOPHIA: Yeah, yeah.

ARONCZYK: I won't stay long.

SOPHIA: Please come on in.

ARONCZYK: When we heard that Sophia couldn't find Marshmallow's food, I called pet food companies and industry experts, all sorts of people to find an answer.

All right. So I brought you the answer to your question.

SOPHIA: OK.

ARONCZYK: OK, so Royal Canin customer service says production on the duck wet food is paused.

SOPHIA: Paused?

ARONCZYK: OK, no pun intended.

SOPHIA: (Laughter).

ARONCZYK: They do hope to bring it back...

SOPHIA: OK.

ARONCZYK: ...And that it's a raw material shortage and that the issue is specifically duck liver.

SOPHIA: Really?

ARONCZYK: Duck liver - that is what's in Marshmallow's wet cat food. Now, if you don't want to hear about meat production, tune out for about 30 seconds. Pet food has been having all of the issues - a glut of pandemic pets, which has increased demand. There have been raw material shortages, supply chain disruptions. And I spoke with a woman who runs a duck pate company. And she said that because duck livers are inside the duck, that's the problem. It's the extra time and labor to take them out.

ARONCZYK: So it's not worth their time, all the labor issues. They don't want to bother taking out the duck livers. They just want to sell the duck.

SOPHIA: The whole duck.

ARONCZYK: The whole duck. So the duck livers - and this is her expression, from the duck pate woman - have been put on the chopping block.

SOPHIA: (Laughter).

ARONCZYK: So no duck livers, hence no duck liver cat food for Marshmallow.

(SOUNDBITE OF CAT MEOWING)

ARONCZYK: That was the answer. Now, my visit wouldn't be complete without the traditional sharing of NPR swag.

ARONCZYK: This is for you, and this is for Marshmallow.

SOPHIA: Ooh, we get a present?

ARONCZYK: There you go.

SOPHIA: Thank you. Marshmallow, it's a duck.

ARONCZYK: I did think about bringing you raw duck, but people said that'd be gross.

SOPHIA: (Laughter) Well, Marshmallow would have loved it.

(SOUNDBITE OF AARON KELLEY ET AL.'S "WE DON'T CARE")

ARONCZYK: Hello. And welcome to PLANET MONEY. I'm Amanda Aronczyk. If it wasn't already clear, we mean it when we say that we love hearing from you. And because it is that giving thanks season, we want to go the extra mile for you - to not just answer your questions but to, you know, show up at your house, knock on your door and present you and your pet with the answer to your question. Today on the show, questions and answers about full employment, heavy shipping, seizing crypto, Taylor Swift and our own PLANET MONEY celebrity, Micro-Face.

(SOUNDBITE OF AARON KELLEY ET AL.'S "WE DON'T CARE")

ARONCZYK: So let's jump right in with some listener questions. We will start with one that we got from listener Lisa Lyons (ph). She describes herself as an avid fan of our daily podcast, The Indicator, which is cool. That's cool around here. That's fine. She has a question about this big, lofty idea that economists like to dream about. It is called full employment. And she wants to know, what are the signs of full employment? And are we there yet? To answer that question, here is Jim O'Grady. Hello, Jim.

JIM O'GRADY, BYLINE: Amanda, I'm not even going to say hello. I'm just going to go straight to the point. We are almost - right now, we are almost at full employment.

ARONCZYK: Wow. Jim, that is a very bold statement. I thought full employment was this kind of, like, elusive moment for the economy, totally hard to pin down. Are you sure you want to say that?

O'GRADY: No, I'm not sure. But professor Jay Zagorsky said that to me. He's a senior lecturer in markets, public policy and law at Boston University's Questrom School of Business.

ARONCZYK: Why did you call him?

O'GRADY: Because he studies personal wealth and why it differs among us. And, you know, for most of us, a large part of our personal wealth depends on having a decent job that pays fairly well. And that just becomes easier when the country is at full employment.

ARONCZYK: But how do you define full employment?

O'GRADY: OK. Take it away, professor.

JAY ZAGORSKY: To the average person on the street, full employment means everybody has a job that wants a job. We're not at that level.

ARONCZYK: OK, fine. What would the level be, then?

O'GRADY: So this is when I went to one of my specialties. I asked a very dumb question. I said, wouldn't full employment be when the unemployment rate was zero?

ZAGORSKY: The unemployment rate has never gotten to 0% in the absolute best times. During the middle of World War II, the unemployment rate fell to 1.2%, which was this all-time historic low since we've been keeping records. And we never get to 0% because there's always some sort of mismatch. There's always some friction in the labor market.

O'GRADY: Someone leaves their job and is unemployed while taking their time to get a new job.

ARONCZYK: Right.

O'GRADY: Or someone's waiting until just the right job comes along - that kind of thing.

ARONCZYK: OK. So let's get to it then. How do economists define full employment?

O'GRADY: It's this particular state of the economy. It's very important. When everyone who wants a job has one and there's so little slack in the labor market, those two conditions can then speed up inflation.

ARONCZYK: Explain that a little more. How does that happen?

O'GRADY: Because as unemployment falls, labor starts to get scarce, and employers start competing for workers. Here's Jay's example of that.

ZAGORSKY: Lots of restaurants can't find workers. So what are they doing? They're boosting wages for waiters, waitresses, cooks. When those wages are increased, many times, firms try and pass on the extra wages to their customers. And that causes inflation.

O'GRADY: Yeah. You know, so if you're a worker, it's great when companies are jockeying for your services by raising your wages. But when that becomes widespread, companies all over the place start passing on the costs in higher prices.

ARONCZYK: Hence inflation.

O'GRADY: Yes. The Federal Reserve cares so much about that magic full employment moment because that's the threshold between things getting better for workers - when they have leverage, can negotiate better conditions, better wages - and this other moment when the inflation caused by those very rising wages becomes a real threat.

ARONCZYK: But, of course, we are already seeing high inflation.

O'GRADY: Because, Amanda, rising wages is not the only thing that causes inflation. Jay says the main culprit for our current spike of inflation is - ready? You've heard this before.

AMANDA ARONCZYK AND JIM O'GRADY: Bottlenecks in the global supply chain.

O'GRADY: Yes.

ARONCZYK: I was there with you.

O'GRADY: If only there was a PLANET MONEY episode about this subject.

ARONCZYK: (Laughter). We'll work on some.

O'GRADY: OK. So shortages drive up prices. That's what we're seeing right now. And now here comes full employment - good for workers, but it could speed up inflation even more. And this could end up a problem for the exact workers who benefit from full employment.

ARONCZYK: Right. They're being paid more, but everything costs more. So it is this balancing act for the government.

O'GRADY: Yes, exactly. If you like the workers getting more money, you want full employment. But you don't want prices to rise faster than those wages because then their buying power, also known as their real wages, actually goes down.

ARONCZYK: So the guy you spoke with, Jay - he says that full employment is just a couple of weeks away.

O'GRADY: That's right.

ARONCZYK: But it's the job of the Federal Reserve to identify this threat by looking at all kinds of metrics - the unemployment rate, inflation rate, so on. And then what? What do they do? They decide whether or not to slow down the economy?

O'GRADY: I, Amanda, went to great lengths to try to convince Jay to do a role-play where he became chairman of the Fed, and I'm a U.S. senator grilling him at a hearing about what he was going to do to rein in inflation. Here was his reaction to that proposal.

ZAGORSKY: Oh, this is a nightmare (laughter).

ARONCZYK: Is role-playing with you the nightmare, or is being the Fed chairman the nightmare?

O'GRADY: It's being the Fed chairman because Jay is an academic. He'd rather analyze the problem than be thrust into the spotlight and be told to solve it.

ARONCZYK: Jim, thank you so much.

O'GRADY: Thank you, Amanda.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

ARONCZYK: Our next question comes from listener Mitch Allen (ph). He wants to know about the economics of Taylor Swift rerecording her early albums. To answer this question, I've brought in producer Andrea Gutierrez. Hello, Andrea.

ANDREA GUTIERREZ, BYLINE: Hey, Amanda.

ARONCZYK: OK, so to give you a challenge, to make you go that extra mile, I would like to see how many Taylor Swift song titles you can include in this story. OK, go.

GUTIERREZ: I knew you were trouble.

ARONCZYK: Oh, so it begins. Go for it.

GUTIERREZ: OK, so Taylor Swift has just dropped her second rerecorded album called "Red," originally released in 2012 when she was 22. And it's all because she does not own the copyright to the master recordings of those earlier albums.

ARONCZYK: Right.

GUTIERREZ: It is a long, treacherous story. But Taylor tried to buy back her masters. Her old label was like, we are never getting back together and would not sell them to her. And the thing is whoever holds the copyright to the masters, those people know all too well they have something really valuable.

ARONCZYK: All too well, huh? OK, keep going.

GUTIERREZ: So I talked to Meredith Rose. She's a copyright expert at Public Knowledge, a consumer advocacy organization. And she says that copyright for songs is not just one thing.

MEREDITH ROSE: Copyright is more like a box of matches. One match in it is going to be the right to reproduce a work. A different match is the right to distribute. A third match is the right to publicly perform. So there's a bunch of subrights that are all lumped together under this heading of copyright.

ARONCZYK: So I don't really get this, like, box of matches thing. I don't get - what's her point?

GUTIERREZ: Her point is that people assume that, like, copyright's just, like, one static thing. You own a thing, right? But actually, it's a whole suite of things. They're different matches that you can strike and actually, like, use for whether it's distribution, whether it's reproducing something and recording. It's licensing it, like, for a TV show or movies. These different things, of course - they lead to the potential to make money.

ARONCZYK: OK, got it. OK, so the copyright for the masters - not just one match. It's a whole box of matches.

GUTIERREZ: Right. But here's the thing. Meredith told me there's actually two different copyrights for each track on an album.

ROSE: There's the copyright accorded to the songwriter for the underlying composition. And then there's the copyright that is accorded to the recording artist for the actual sound recording.

GUTIERREZ: OK. So Taylor is both a songwriter and the recording artist on her songs, right? That's actually two boxes of matches on each song, two copyrights. So what she's doing is using the copyright she does own - let's call it her songwriter box of matches - to create new masters that she also owns. That's a whole new box of matches. Those new masters, the rerecordings - they're a new holy ground that her very dedicated fans may listen to instead of the old ones that she doesn't own.

ARONCZYK: OK. Well, that is all well and good for Taylor Swift. But does this help other artists at all?

GUTIERREZ: I mean, Taylor is a lucky one. But not everyone can begin again like her. The Wall Street Journal reported this month that Universal Music Group - that's Taylor's current label - they were like, uh-uh, that's the last time and then went about changing the record deals to make it harder for other artists to rerecord their own music.

ARONCZYK: All right. Got it. OK. And how many song titles did you manage to fit in here?

GUTIERREZ: That was 10. And because of all of this, everything is changed, and nothing has changed. OK, that was 11.

ARONCZYK: Very good. All right. Thank you so much, Andrea.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "22 (TAYLOR'S VERSION)")

TAYLOR SWIFT: (Singing) I don't know about you, but I'm feeling 22. Everything will be all right if you keep me next to you.

ARONCZYK: Our next question comes from Mike in Chatham, Ill.

MIKE: Hi. I just bought and sent to my son, who is stationed in Texas, about eight pounds' worth of stuff from Amazon with free shipping. If I had bought locally and mailed it myself, the shipping cost would've been about $30 via UPS and more through USPS. How can Amazon and other online retailers mail heavy items at seemingly no cost?

ARONCZYK: To enter this question, I have brought in Wailin Wong. Hello, Wailin.

WAILIN WONG, BYLINE: Hi, Amanda. This is a great question because it is a reminder, especially as we head into holiday shopping season, that there is no such thing as free shipping. The price of shipping is almost always built in.

ARONCZYK: Free shipping - it is a myth.

WONG: It is. Now, Amazon, being such a behemoth, delivers most of its own packages. They have their own vans and contract their own drivers.

ARONCZYK: Right. But there are retailers out there that use FedEx, UPS and the good, old post office like the rest of us. So how do they get a good deal on shipping that they make it feel like it's free to the customer? We decided we were going to investigate this question together. We set up an experiment. I ordered a 15-pound bag of dog food, as well as a couple of treats from chewy.com. And I got free shipping because I spent more than $49.

WONG: Right. And then I bought a 15-pound bag of dog food from a pet store in suburban Chicago, where I live. And I mailed it from my local post office to you in New York.

ARONCZYK: Excellent. Can't wait. OK, so let us start with my Chewy order. Do you know, how much did Chewy pay to send me my dog food?

WONG: Well, they wouldn't say, but I was undeterred. I called a couple of shipping experts and learned about two ways that big companies like Chewy get their shipping costs down. First, they get special rates, you know, because they're buying in bulk.

ARONCZYK: Right. Of course. We regular folks - we do not get this bulk discount.

WONG: Nope. An individual person or a very small business pays sticker price. I talked to Josh Taylor, a consultant with a company called Shipware. He says these sticker prices are listed in long and detailed guides.

JOSH TAYLOR: UPS and FedEx have written service guides that are - I don't know - 200 pages long each, full of hundreds of surcharges that could be associated with any things with, you know, dozens of services.

WONG: There's a surcharge for a shipment that can't be stacked vertically. There is a surcharge if the delivery driver has to wait. An excessive tracking request - well, that's another surcharge. What's excessive? Check the terms and conditions.

TAYLOR: My least favorite one is UPS has a surcharge for charging you a surcharge. If they measure your package and they say that it's bigger than you said it was, well then they're going to change the weight, which might, you know, cost you more. And then they're going to charge you for having to have had to change the wait. (Laughter) So it's - pretty much everything in that book is negotiable.

WONG: Josh says that between this ability to negotiate and the bulk pricing, the big retailers end up paying half or sometimes even a quarter of the sticker prices listed in these guides. The second advantage large companies have is they have fulfillment centers scattered all over the country. This way, packages don't have to travel as far. And this makes shipping cheaper and faster.

TAYLOR: Even with just three fulfillment sites - you know, if you have one on the East Coast, one on the West Coast and one somewhere in Texas, you can probably hit 90% of the U.S. population within two days.

WONG: We regular folks - we have to pay the distance from our local post office. So in the end, we get the worst deal. We pay the highest rate. Let me get my receipt for shipping you the dog food. OK, so I did priority mail two-day.

ARONCZYK: Thank you.

WONG: You're welcome. And I paid $48.55.

ARONCZYK: Just for the shipping.

WONG: Just for the shipping.

ARONCZYK: And I spent nothing on my shipping. For me, it was free.

WONG: Yes. And that is what the retailers want. They know that online shoppers demand free shipping. They will go elsewhere if they can't get it. So even now, when goods are costing more, a lot of retailers are still absorbing the cost of shipping to keep customers happy.

ARONCZYK: Got it. OK, well, thank you so much. And thank you for the dog food.

WONG: Bon appetit.

ARONCZYK: I will not eat it. But my dog will.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

ARONCZYK: Coming up, we answer the No. 1 question from listeners. Seriously, a lot of you asked us the same thing. That is after the break.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

BIANCA BRIOLA: Hey, PLANET MONEY. It's Bianca Briola from Raleigh, N.C., and I heard about this multi-national drug bust called Dark HunTor. The bust seized a whole bunch of cash, along with drugs. They also seized a whole bunch of virtual currency. What happens to that? Thanks, PLANET MONEY.

ARONCZYK: To answer that question, I brought in Dave Blanchard. He's a producer at PLANET MONEY. Dave, what can you tell me about this question?

BRIOLA: Right. So in a lot of ways, they just kind of deal with it like any other asset that they seize. They usually will auction it off or find some other way to sell it. They'll make a little money, and then often they'll use that money to compensate victims. Or sometimes they'll keep it for themselves and fund things like trainings or equipment - you know, that kind of thing.

ARONCZYK: So that is the answer to that. But I think a lot of people have this idea that it's, like, really anonymous and it's the preferred currency for criminals. So how does the government figure out how to connect the person to the crypto?

DAVE BLANCHARD, BYLINE: So we reached out for official comment on the case that Bianca was asking about - this Dark HunTor case. And this was a multi-continent drug bust. It resulted in 150 arrests and, you know, the seizure of the drugs and the money, which came in both cash and cryptocurrencies.

Officials wouldn't comment on the methodology and operations used in this case. So instead, I called up an expert on the subject. Her name is Suzanne Lynch. She's the director of the financial crimes program at Utica College.

SUZANNE LYNCH: We can trace some of the cryptocurrencies, whether it's Bitcoin, Dogecoin. There's a number of different ones - 'cause remember, in theory, crypto is supposed to be very transparent.

BLANCHARD: The whole idea of, like, Bitcoin, for example, is that there's this permanent record of every transaction ever that is totally public. Anyone can see it. And so it is this detailed - perfectly detailed log of what is going where in the Bitcoin universe. But it just doesn't show you who's using it. So instead of it being this anonymous thing, a lot of people refer to cryptocurrency and Bitcoin as being pseudonymous.

ARONCZYK: Pseudonymous - is that the word?

BLANCHARD: Yeah, pseudonymous - so it's like pseudonym, right? A pseudonym is used most of the time in writing. If you write under a pseudonym, you're writing under a false name. But there's still this entire record of everything you've ever written. It's just under a different name. So if you're able to connect the real person to the pseudonym, then you've got all the information on them that you could ever want. So that's sort of what investigators do with crypto. If there are these little clues to who this person might be - it might be a little transaction you make with your crypto, the IP address that you're using...

LYNCH: Instead of tracking physical clues - right? - now we're looking for virtually moving funds - being email addresses, geotags, locations, sites that accepted the Bitcoin. We teach at the college, follow the money. Well, that's, in essence, what you're doing.

ARONCZYK: OK. So it sounds like they are able to find the people. But then how does the government actually seize crypto?

BLANCHARD: Right. So there's kind of two ways. One is by going through some of the third parties that are involved in the crypto economy. There are now brokers, exchanges, storage systems - a lot of stuff that look a lot like the traditional finance world. And those institutions can be subpoenaed and forced to hand over the cryptocurrency. Now, some people will avoid using those kinds of institutions entirely. So they are really the only ones who know their own keys. But even then, there are ways - at least, sometimes.

So Thomas Hook used to be an assistant district attorney. Now he's U.S. chief compliance officer at a company called Bitstamp. And he says law enforcement is still law enforcement. If they know you've got a bunch of crypto, there are ways they can compel you to hand over the key to that crypto.

THOMAS HOOK: What they would do is they'd have to have a court order that would require the individual to divulge the private keys so that the funds can be seized.

BLANCHARD: There's still often crypto that just can't be seized, even with all of these methods. Sometimes the crypto is just unrecoverable.

ARONCZYK: Got it - OK. Well, thank you so much, Dave. This has been super helpful.

BLANCHARD: Yeah. You're welcome. And also, before I go, I got a tip for this kind of currency that really does do a lot of the things that Bitcoin does. It's very difficult to trace. It's anonymized. And I figured I'd go the extra mile and get you in on this.

ARONCZYK: You got me in on this? Is that what this secret envelope that I had to (laughter) go wander to some house up the street and go pick up this unmarked envelope for?

BLANCHARD: Yup. I had you meet with one of my associates. That's right.

ARONCZYK: (Laughter).

BLANCHARD: Well, then, why you go ahead and open it?

ARONCZYK: OK.

(SOUNDBITE OF ENVELOPE TEARING)

ARONCZYK: All right, let me see here. (Laughter) Dave gave me some cash. He gave me $20 cash.

BLANCHARD: I gave you some cash. It turns out that the best way to do crimes, at least small-time local crimes, is still with cash. You avoid a digital record. You don't have to move it through accounts with any kind of identifying information. It's basically about as clean as you can hope for.

ARONCZYK: Thank you so much for my $20 United States of America cash money.

BLANCHARD: (Laughter).

ARONCZYK: And do I have to do something illegal with this money?

BLANCHARD: I mean, that is maybe an answer best left unrecorded.

ARONCZYK: Dave, thank you so much for answering this listener question and going above and beyond.

BLANCHARD: You bet, Amanda.

(SOUNDBITE OF THE BROTHERS VANGUARD'S "DON'T LOOK DOWN")

ARONCZYK: So our No. 1 question from listeners - we're getting this on Twitter, we're getting it on Facebook, we're getting it in our inbox - is what is happening with the Micro-Face comic book? To answer that, I welcome Kenny Malone. Kenny - host, reporter, customer service for Micro-Face.

KENNY MALONE, BYLINE: Yeah, it has kind of become my second job. It's true.

ARONCZYK: Yeah.

MALONE: OK, so if there's any listeners who don't know what we're talking about, we did a five-part series where we revived an old superhero. We said we were going to write a comic book for this character. We sold it for real money to people.

ARONCZYK: For real money. How much was it - how much did it cost?

MALONE: Five ninety-nine. The problem is that we presold this is as a normal 24-page comic book.

ARONCZYK: Right.

MALONE: But then we sort of insisted on including this complicated private equity plotline that caused the comic book to roughly double in length...

ARONCZYK: Oh, no.

MALONE: ...And therefore double in production time. But we do now have one of, like, the best comic book artists in the business, Jamal Igle, working on this thing. He's been working for months and months. And, well, actually, Amanda, you know what? I see someone's in the waiting room here. I don't know if you can see this. I know this episode is about going to extraordinary lengths. And who's this in our waiting room here? Hold on.

ARONCZYK: Wait. Is there somebody - did you bring somebody in? (Laughter).

MALONE: Jamal, come on in.

ARONCZYK: No. Oh. Hello there, Jamal (laughter).

JAMAL IGLE: Hello.

ARONCZYK: Jamal, you are wearing a Micro-Face T-shirt.

IGLE: Yes.

ARONCZYK: Nice.

IGLE: Because it's all about branding.

ARONCZYK: I like it.

(LAUGHTER)

MALONE: Now, Jamal, you have been hard at work...

IGLE: Yes.

MALONE: ...On this Micro-Face comic book. And I wanted to have you kind of crash our Zoom because this is, in fact, a landmark moment that you are here for.

IGLE: Yes. So I am literally, as we speak, drawing the last story page of "The Mysterious Micro-Face."

ARONCZYK: No. Prove it. Prove it.

IGLE: Yes. Prove it? OK, hold on. Can you see it?

ARONCZYK: Look at that.

MALONE: Oh, yeah.

IGLE: (Laughter).

ARONCZYK: We are looking at the last page of the Micro-Face comic book.

IGLE: (Laughter).

ARONCZYK: There are five boxes on this page. Two are filled, and three are blank. Are those the last three boxes?

IGLE: Those are - yes, those are - these are the last three panels. And just to give you a little sneak peek, too - these are the layouts for the last three panels.

ARONCZYK: When you look at it, it's like all of these sketchy blue lines, and then some of it is inked in black. Like, you guys can't see it, but it's really exciting, and it looks gorgeous.

IGLE: Thank you.

ARONCZYK: So, Jamal, people have been writing to us, asking when the comic book will be ready. And I'm just curious, what day do you plan to put down your pen and be done?

IGLE: Well, there's one other thing that needs to be drawn. So technically, tomorrow will be my last illustration for this book for the time being. I mean, I think one of the things that most people who aren't that familiar with comic books don't understand usually is that the drawing of comics is a labor-intensive process. You try to shoot to do a page a day. Failing that, you try to (laughter) work as much as humanly possible.

ARONCZYK: And you are trying to single-handedly keep the holidays alive for Micro-Face fans. Good.

IGLE: Absolutely, absolutely (laughter).

ARONCZYK: Thank you. You are doing good work.

MALONE: I'm going to go out on a limb and say I do think it's going to be in people's mailboxes before the end of the year.

ARONCZYK: Kenny, don't - what - ugh, Kenny (laughter).

MALONE: I shouldn't.

ARONCZYK: Don't say it. Don't say it.

MALONE: I really 100% shouldn't say it. There's so many things I don't know.

IGLE: I don't know any of this.

ARONCZYK: I just said holiday, too. I didn't specify which holiday.

MALONE: That's right.

(LAUGHTER)

ARONCZYK: Speaking of the Micro-Face comic, we will post some of the comic art on Twitter and Instagram, and you can still preorder the comic book at a discount because it is still pre-, but not for much longer, hopefully. Go to shop.npr.org/planetmoney. And thank you to everyone who sent a question. We read them all. Email us at planetmoney@npr.org. Or we are also on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and TikTok at @planetmoney.

Today's show was produced by Andrea Gutierrez, Dave Blanchard, Emma Peaslee and James Sneed with help from Corey Bridges. It was mastered by Isaac Rodrigues, and it was edited by PLANET MONEY's supervising producer Alex Goldmark. Louise Story and Ebony Reed are our consulting senior editors. Special thanks to Alexandra Groezinger from Alexian Pate, Emily Kehr (ph), Star McCown, Barry McGorder (ph), Michael Plunkett and Mary Emma Young from the Pet Food Institute. I'm Amanda Aronczyk. This is NPR. Thanks for listening.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

Copyright © 2021 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.