Debunking Inequality Myths with Ed Conard

Mark Twain is often quoted as having said, “It’s not what you know that gets you in trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.” Ironically, there is no evidence Twain ever said or wrote this line, but we can still reflect on its implications for today’s most contentious economic debates. In the case of rising economic inequality, conventional wisdom (coupled with noble motives) has produced policies that hurt the very people they are intended to help: the poor and middle class. Ed Conard – founding partner at Bain Capital and visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute – takes aim at what he sees as a wrong-headed redistributionist mindset in his latest best-selling book, The Upside of Inequality: How Good Intentions Undermine the Middle Class (Penguin). Conard goes beyond an apology for "the 1%" in explaining the real drivers of persistent poverty and relative stagnation of the American middle class. Though counter-intuitive, his insights are essential to improving policy, and the uncertain economic outlook. Conard joins to the show this Sunday (2/26) to help listeners understand the economic landscape like never before. Call in with your questions for Ed and Bob any time during the show: 8-9am PACIFIC, on 860AM – The Answer: (424) BOB-SHOW.

Small Business vs. the 4th Branch of Government

In the waning days of Obama’s presidency, Sam Batkins of the American Action Forum brought to our attention the record number of so-called “midnight regulations” being implemented by administrative agencies like the EPA. This stealthy (and costly) form of executive lawmaking bypasses the traditional legislative process and erodes the checks and balances so vital to a free republic. This Sunday, Luke Wake (a Staff Attorney for the National Federation of Independent Business) will take us under the hood of the emerging “Fourth Branch” of government to inspect its inner workings. Wake’s message is simple and should be uncontroversial: giving the public a voice is a moral imperative of a liberal democratic system. Whereas the legislature consists of elected officials engaged in open debate, administrative agencies are made up of unelected bureaucrats who can quietly alter the interpretations of laws without the usual required period of public notice-and-comment. As usual, it’s small businesses who take the greatest hit in their struggles with Kafkaesque bureaucracy. The result: alienation, existential anxiety, and absurdity. Bob and Luke sort through it all, and take calls, on the show of ideas, not attitude.

Floating Island Project: French Polynesia

When we last heard from Joe Quirk – author and “Seavangelist” for The Seasteading Institute – his visions of humanity’s oceanic future may have seemed remote to the some listeners. That, however, was in 2015. After a dizzying election year, during which all grounds for predicting the future were cast into doubt, the seasteading concept of floating free cities sounds entirely reasonable, and at least as likely as California's nascent secession scheme. Joe joins the show this Sunday after a successful diplomatic trip to French Polynesia, which led to the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding in San Francisco last month between the Institute and the French Polynesian government. Reason’s Brian Doherty calls it an “agreement to come to an agreement” regarding the creation of a seazone in Tahitian waters with a “unique governing framework”, where the first aquapreneurs can begin seasteading as early as 2018. Is this the dawning of a Blue Revolution? Bob finds out when it will be time to ready his liveaboard yacht, The Laissez Faire, for a voyage in the near future.


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*Crossroads for Liberty* with William Watkins Jr.

Latter-day patriots often speak of the U.S. Constitution as if it's sacred scripture – the wisdom of ages, revealed to men of letters through the divine faculties of reason. Although this makes for a good story, Bob and past guests have poked holes in that narrative, and revealed how certain compromises required for ratification were a bridge too far for some of the wisest Founding Fathers. The skeptics, known as the anti-federalists, worried that the limited powers outlined in the Articles of Confederation were not circumscribed clearly enough in the new constitution. Seeing the end result of these compromises – a too-powerful federal government – we must give credit to the anti-Federalists. William J. Watkins Jr., a research fellow at the Independent Institute and author of a new book, Crossroads for Liberty: Recovering the Anti-Federalist Values of America's First Constitution, says we should go a step further and seek the reforms they sought, as previewed in the Articles of Confederation. Widely viewed as a failure for granting states too much power, the short-lived Articles may be ripe for a revival, as Americans tire of a president who acts like a King, a congress removed from the people, and a judiciary that legislates from the bench. Join Bob and William as they discuss the relevance of anti-federalist ideals to current events, from Trump's executive orders to California’s new secession movement.

The Return of Big Spending Republicans?

Under President Obama, Republicans grew accustomed to their role opposing the prevailing winds of Big Government. Apparently the fastest way to turn conservative hawks into libertarian doves is to elect a national security hawk and Democrat as president. Now, the Right’s small-government rhetoric will be put to several key tests. Chief among them is whether they will bring military and entitlement spending under control, or let the national debt grow to even more unsustainable levels. Ivan Eland (Director of the Center on Peace & Liberty at the Independent Institute) spent 15 years working for Congress on national security issues, and served as Principal Defense Analyst at the Congressional Budget Office; he knows a national security threat when he sees one. He joins Bob to point out the elephant in the room – one that's not going anywhere just because of the new “elephant” in the oval office. Eland identifies the United States’ precarious fiscal situation as the single greatest threat to our security, citing retired Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen as one authority who can read the writing on the wall. President Trump may talk a big game when it comes to cutting wasteful military spending, but will he keep his promises to scale back U.S. intervention in the Middle East and elsewhere?

Download this episode as a podcast in iTunes.

Inauguration Special – Bob on KFAX

The page has officially turned on President Obama's two terms of ever-expanding executive power. However, while the Obama administration has served as a steady foil for Bob's small-government libertarianism since the start of this show, now is no time to start going soft on the executive branch. Bob went on Craig Roberts' Life!Line show to comment on President Trump's inauguration speech. The show aired on KFAX (1100AM in the SF Bay), and begins with the full length of Trump's speech starting at 5pm, followed by commentary by Bob and two other local guests. What should we make of Trump's proposed "buy American, hire American" rules? Are these compatible with his promise to give power back to the people? Regardless of what happens in the next chapter, we look forward to bringing you the freshest libertarian ideas, from the smartest guests in radio, and continuing to stand up for individual freedom for the next four years.

Listen below:

Read more about Life!Line with Craig Roberts.

"For 22 years, Craig Roberts has hosted KFAX’s popular afternoon drive talk show, “Life!Line,” Northern California’s longest running and most widely listened to show of its kind. The program features a multitude of subjects and newsmakers, covering politics, current affairs, family issues and ministry opportunities around the San Francisco Bay Area, across the nation and around the world."

Dr. Tom Palmer on Self Control vs. State Control

With the inauguration of President-elect Trump coming later this week, citizens of the United States have developed radically divergent expectations for the next four years. Those who enthusiastically pulled the lever for Trump see a man who can “Make America Great Again” with policies prioritizing domestic interests, while many others fear that he will roll back the progressive, big-government victories of the last eight years. However, the two camps may share more in common than they realize. Both, after all, view government as a primary force to manipulate industries and individual actions to improve outcomes. Dr. Tom Palmer, executive vice president for international programs at the Atlas Network, has an alternative way of looking at things. His new book, “Self Control or State Control? You Decide,” goes beyond mere ideology to questions that every thinking person should be asking. His essays (among several others featured in the book) speak to the importance of personal responsibility to freedom, and offer both a historical and practical perspective to support the central conclusion: if you seek self-determination, then you must also strive for self-control.

A Lame Duck's Last Stand

Libertarians constantly warn partisans of both sides to be wary of expanding executive power. With each changing of the guard, the ascendant party seems to suffer a collective amnesia in its push to grant the president ever greater authority to enact their preferred agenda. Republicans and Democrats alike neglect the fact that giving power to “Leviathan” works like a ratchet: it only moves in one direction. In the waning hours of President Obama’s lame duck term, his administration is rushing to pass hundreds of new regulations which will saddle the nation well beyond his formal exit from office. Sam Batkins, Director of regulatory policy at the American Action Forum, is putting a spotlight on the costs of this “midnight regulation.” His research shows how this is problem is getting worse with each out-going administration. Batkins joins Bob to review that latest round of administrative lawmaking, with the EPA leading General Obama’s “last stand” – battling to the end for efficiency standards for every imaginable machine and appliance. To paraphrase George Orwell, if you want to picture the future, imagine a fluorescent lamp stamping on a human face – forever.


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Executive Rulemaking & Administrative Law

Environmental Regulation

On this day in history... (January 8):

On this day in 1790, President George Washington delivers the first State of the Union address to the assembled Congress in New York City.

Casey Given: Young Voices for Liberty

Casey Given is a man on a mission. Ever since founding the UC Berkeley chapter of Students for Liberty in 2009, he has worked tirelessly to advance “a free academy and a free society” – writing and organizing on behalf of the libertarian minority on college campuses across the country. Now, as Director of Young Voices, an initiative of international nonprofit Students for Liberty, Casey helps students and young professionals jumpstart their careers as classically liberal pundits, and compete with the dominant progressive liberalism espoused by millennials. Young Voices recently published a collection of 13 essays that bodes well for the future of liberty in our lifetime (A Future for Millennials: Policies that Can Restore Prosperity). Reminiscent of Milton Friedman's classic *Free to Choose,* A Future for Millennials renews the case for using the power of the market to solve the most pressing issues of 2016. Casey joins Bob to talk about what is on younger people’s minds, and how the Young Voices network is penetrating the thick fog of ideological conformism on college campuses and in the mainstream media. 


Young Voices website

Students for Liberty (International nonprofit)

Follow @CaseyJGiven on Twitter

Alex Nowrasteh: How Prop. 187 Turned California Blue

After campaigning on a platform to crack down on illegal immigration, President Elect Trump is now facing a tall order. In enforcing his proposed policies, he will find himself at odds with many state and local governments, which have crafted their own policies in lieu of Congress’s failure to enact immigration reform. Although the issue could be largely resolved with Bob’s preferred laissez-faire approach – to “Let Them All In” – alas, this idea is not popular with everyone. In 1994, Governor Pete Wilson acted on anxieties in the state of California to promote and pass Proposition 187 – aka the “Save Our State Initiative – which would have prevented undocumented immigrants from accessing non-emergency state services, such as public education. Alex Nowrasteh of the Cato Institute writes that this policy (in addition to being ruled unconstitutional several years later) had the unintended consequence of turning California “Blue” (i.e., majority Democrat). Prior to 1994, the hispanic vote split roughly 50-50 among Democrats and Republicans. Afterwards, California steadily swung to the left, as the GOP came to be known as the anti-immigrant party. Alex returns to the show to explain how Republicans went astray, and to offer a history lesson on political parties that ushered their downfall through misguided nativist platforms. They will also discuss why Trump's proposed policies would be a disaster for the Republic, if they can be implemented at all. Call (424) BOB-SHOW to speak with Bob and Alex at any time during the show.


Proposition 187 Turned California Blue | Cato @ Liberty, July 20, 2016 – By Alex Nowrasteh

Twitter: @AlexNowrasteh