Letest: How Jacob Loud’s Land Was Lost

Letest: How Jacob Loud’s Land Was Lost

There’s a little deli in Paulsboro, New Jersey, called Hometown Deli. It is mostly unremarkable except that it is publicly traded, on the stock market, where it is valued at over $100 million, for some reason.

Normally when you buy stock, you are thinking about things like growth, or future earnings. But this deli is just one deli. It does not appear to be growing into more delis. So … what is it doing on the stock market? How do we even know about it? It’s probably not the chicken parm. Today on the show, what the $100 million deli tells us about how the stock market works.

There’s a battle raging over just how free market India’s economy should become.

For months, India has been dealing with the one of the largest protests the world has seen in modern history. Tens of thousands of farmers across the country are demanding that the government revoke a series of reforms that will change India’s agricultural sector.

Agriculture is by far the largest employer in India. 700 million people make a living from it. For decades, the government has shielded farmers from the free market by providing price supports on some crops, running wholesale markets where farmers can sell their goods, and rounding up buyers to guarantee sales. Now, the government plans to take a step back, with the hopes that the free market will boost an industry that has stagnated over time. But farmers fear they’ll get the raw end of the deal, even if the free market helps the overall economy

Today on the show, we follow a farmer who decided to enter the free market 25 years before these laws were passed, and hear how his story serves as an example of both the prospects and the perils of liberalization.

In 1999, Fred Wardlaw got a phone call from his mother. She was calling about the family land: 160 acres bought by Wardlaw’s great-great-great grandfather, a formerly enslaved man named Jacob Loud.

According to Wardlaw’s mother, the family was at risk of losing that land. A judge had ordered that the entire property be put up for auction. But this wasn’t because of an overdue mortgage payment or unpaid taxes. Instead, the ruling was based on an arcane set of laws concerning “heirs’ property,” property that had been passed down without a will.

In the last hundred years, heirs’ property laws have contributed to the loss of millions of acres of Black-owed land. Some of this land can be traced as far back as the Wardlaws’, acquired by formerly enslaved people through government land grants. Today on the show, Fred Wardlaw’s struggle to keep his family’s land, and the lawyer trying to fix the legal system around heirs’ property.

Two months ago, we began a quest to build our own superhero franchise. We faced the perils of copyright, waded through the depths of the public domain, and uncovered the hero who was perfect for the Planet Money brand: Micro-Face.

But finding our hero was just the beginning of that story. We still have to make Planet Money Studios the comic book juggernaut we envision it to be. That means getting Micro-Face out there for the world to see. We need to license him out to people who want our hero’s (regular-sized) face on their merchandise..

But we can’t slap his regular-sized face on any old thing! We need to hear proposals, marketing strategies, branding! We have to make sure that anyone who deigns to use Micro-Face’s coveted image deserves to. We called for the best business opportunities, set up our own Planet Money Shark Tank, and let entrepreneurs pitch their ideas directly to the hosts, Kenny Malone and Robert Smith. Today on the show, we hear those ideas, consider those proposals. It’s time for Micro-Face to sell out.

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