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Since July, carpool access has been denied for 85,000 hybrid cars with no passengers. Those yellow stickers don't work any more. But the consequences might leave you scratching your head. Having fewer hybrids does not make the emptier car pool lanes move any faster. It slows them down!  Of course, the more congested regular lanes move slower too. We hear why it's worse for everybody. Also, Blue Shield will refund $167 million in excess profits. On our rebroadcast of today's To the Point, big banks: are there alternatives?

Banner image: A Toyota Prius with a California 'clean air vehicle' sticker drives in the carpool lane on highway 101 on May 6, 2011 in San Rafael, California. Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Making News Blue Shield Gives Back Another $285M in Profits 6 MIN, 45 SEC

Health insurance companies are infamous for increasing rates, not for refunds. But Blue Shield of California is about to return $167 million in excess profits to some two million policyholders in California, with another $283 million to be refunded in December. Victoria Colliver writes on the healthcare industry for the San Francisco Chronicle.

Victoria Colliver, San Francsico Chronicle

Main Topic The Paradox of Hybrids and Traffic in Carpool Lanes 13 MIN, 11 SEC

When hybrids were first available, California handed out yellow bumper stickers to encourage sales of cleaner, high-mileage cars. Lone drivers with no passengers got access to carpool lanes, and solo drivers in regular lanes learned to hate the Prius. The program worked, and, with more and more hybrids, the carpool lanes began slowing down. So, in July, the yellow sticker privileges ended. But did traffic in the carpool lanes begin speeding up? It did not, according to Michael Cassidy, Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of California Berkeley.

Michael Cassidy, UC Berkeley
John Voelcker, GreenCarReports.com and High Gear Media

Reporter's Notebook Luis Rodriguez Writes a New Memoir 7 MIN, 17 SEC

book.jpg Luis Rodriguez is recognized as a leading Chicano writer, best known for Always Running, his memoir of gang life in East LA. Published in 1993 it's now used in high school classes in some places, while it's censored in others. He's written 13 books of poetry, non-fiction and fiction. His fourteenth book, It Calls You Back: An Odyssey through Love, Addiction, Revolutions and Healing, is a sequel to Always Running. We welcome him back --  for the first time since 1993.

Note: Rodriguez will be at Tia Chuchas on Saturday, October 15, from 5-7pm, to read and sign copies of his new book.

Luis Rodriguez, author and community organizer

It Calls You Back

Luis J. Rodriguez

Main Topic Ditching Big Bad Banks: Are There Alternatives? 26 MIN, 39 SEC

Ditching the Big, Bad BanksBig banks bailed out because they were "too big to fail" are now jacking up fees on small businesses and individual consumers. Bank of America plans to impose a $5 monthly fee on depositors who use debit cards.  Citibank says it’ll raise fees on accounts with less than $15,000. New York Times columnist Joe Nocera says there are many "juicy angles" to be pursued.  He's going with "gouging." Is it time to transfer money to smaller institutions and credit unions?  Is the entire banking system due for an overhaul? We hear from Nocera and others.

Joe Nocera, New York Times (@nytimes)
Tim O'Brien, small business owner
Trish Wexler, Electronic Payments Coalition
John Cassidy, New Yorker magazine (@TNYJohnCassidy)

How Markets Fail

John Cassidy

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