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I am by no means a financial wizard. In fact I am the opposite. A know nothing. Useless. And compared to my high school friend Troy V., who knew of a certainty that he was born to be a CPA, a career he has pursued with focus and dexterity, much to his financial benefit, since I first met him in the summer of my 16th year, I am a derelict.

Not because I’m a spendthrift, I’m not, but because the business of money bores me. Kneading and squeezing it to make it something more has the allure of toenail excision and root canal. Honestly, I can’t even stand to balance my checkbook.

And yet, I’m intrigued by what the recent mortgage crisis has wrought. Intrigued enough that I wanted to figure it out. But clueless as to where to begin to get some helpful, easily understandable information. Information capable of being understood by a man with my financial disabilities.

That’s why I’ve been thrilled by two recent episodes of the This American Life radio show as both have helped me to get my non-financial mind around what is in some ways a very complicated financial issue. (I say in some ways because the obvious and uncomplicated part of this problem is unadulterated greed, and the willingness of some to put the many at risk for their own financial benefit. But, unfortunately, that’s not a detailed enough answer to satisfy my inquiring mind.)

Both these episodes, to my mind, are required listening. Completely necessary if you, like me, are among the unwashed masses who haven’t a clue as to the ways that money in this country is handled behind the scenes and beyond the “everyday” trade that we are used to.

The first episode, which originally aired the week of March 9, 2008, is called The Giant Pool of Money and in incredibly understandable detail, lays out exactly how and why the mortgage markets began to crash and burn.

The second episode, which aired last week, is titled Another Frightening Show About The Economy and explains how the original mortgage market crash led to what appears to be a financial market crash and why the government felt impelled to spend $700 billion of your hard-earned dollars to bail the banks out.

Audio for both these shows is available via the links above or by going directly to the This American Life website.

No fooling, this is required listening.