It behooves you as a citizen --
-- stop giggling, I'm goddam serious. Citizenship comes with responsibilities. One of those responsibilities is to take time and learn about complicated Very Bad Things we need to deal with as a nation. The financial complicated Bad Thing is the current financial crisis. In an entertaining and marvelously clarifying podcast, Alex Blumberg and Adam Davidson explain how this all came to be with the NPR show "The Giant Pool of Money."
Stream it over lunch, or go buy it for a buck on iTunes, dump it in the mp3 player. Get some knowledge while you're commuting to work, or instead of zoning out and surfing for Russian gun girl porn. You'll understand what happened, and even more importantly a.) be able to communicate what happened to your friends and b.) understand when a politician is full of crap when he talks about this particular Very Bad Thing.*
The same guys did a podcast about the recent stock market crash and Credit Default Swaps -- Another Frightening Show About the Economy. It's not up for purchase yet, but you can stream it.
Good citizenship in under an hour. How can you beat that?
The Giant Pool of Money
Another Frightening Show About the Economy
Their weekly podcast.
* One candidate is, indeed, full of crap, by the way. Blaming Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac for the financial meltdown is like blaming the dead canary for the mine explosion. They were leading symptoms, not causes.