The holiday shopping season is set to kick off with Black Friday this week, and American shoppers are expected to spend a record amount, particularly in online sales. This spending has become a driving force behind the US economy, accounting for 70% of its GDP.

However, it wasn’t always this way. In the 18th century, the American economy underwent a significant shift from individuals making their own cloth to buying it in shops. This change has had serious environmental consequences that we see today.

Economic historian Louis Hyman at Cornell University discusses this transformation and whether there are alternatives to the consumer-driven economy we know today, linked to the Salem witch trials. He also shares insights into how this history has shaped our current economic system.

In other news, a federal appeals court decision may have significant implications for the Voting Rights Act. We delve into the economic repercussions of this ruling and how it could play out in the Supreme Court. Additionally, we explore the decline of cryptocurrency kings as Bitcoin’s value continues to fluctuate.

Later in the episode, listeners will hear some signature state cocktails suggested by Francis Lam of Food52. We also correct an error made by food journalist Francis Lam about what was on the menu at the first Thanksgiving.

Listeners are encouraged to share their answers to the Make Me Smart question at or leave a voicemail at 508-U-B-SMART.

By Editor

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