When Ayn Rand emigrated from Soviet Russia to the United Sates in 1926, she found a mostly free country on the verge of an identity crisis. The US had enjoyed decades of incredible progress at the hands of capitalist innovation in industries like transportation and telecommunications that we now take for granted. Her famous novel Atlas Shrugged held up a mirror to American society, where the engines of these advances – productive, creative individuals – were increasingly punished rather than rewarded. Now, for the first time, fans of Rand and newcomers to her work alike can experience the full epic in film format, as Part III of the movie trilogy opens in theaters across the country. But as the film's producer Harmon Kaslow will explain on tomorrow's show, audiences will exit theaters into a world that is sadly not so different from the fictional realm of Dagny Taggart, Hank Rearden, Wesley Mouch, and John Galt.
Why do cities and states fall all over each other to force billions of dollars of subsidies into the pockets of billionaire professional sports team owners? Is it merely that they want to qualify as “major league cities?” Does it make economic sense (answer – of course not) or is it just to enhance the egos of local politicians and enrich local real estate interests? And aren’t the professional sports teams a monopoly, subject to anti-trust regulation? You’d think so. Imagine a retailer having to obtain the permission of Macy’s before opening a store near a Macy’s? In America professional sports leagues have been exempt from anti-trust laws since a 1922 U.S. Supreme Court case held that baseball was not “interstate commerce.” Robbing from the poor (and middle class) to give to the rich. Robin Hood, where are you when we need you? Skip Sauer, Professor of Economics and Chair of The John E. Walker Department of Economics at Clemson University has studied this issue extensively and joins Bob to discuss the subsidizing of professional sports teams by local governments. The politics, the economics, the insanity. It ain’t pretty.
Later, Bob is joined by Mitch Jeserich, host of Pacifica Radio’s Letters & Politics (KPFA in the Bay Area), to discuss the contentious (to say the least) issue of gun control. Are libertarians closer to progressives or to conservatives on this complex issue? The 2nd amendment is only 27 words long, and its three commas have been parsed and parsed for 200 years. What does the Amendment mean? Does it matter? Bob and Mitch will try to sort it out.
No one can deny the plight of Third World sweatshop workers, who endure long, uncomfortable shifts in exchange for meager pay by American standards. In response, some onlookers promote economic sanctions on countries with lax workplace regulations, while others stir up boycotts against multinational enterprises that utilize sweatshop labor. According to Professor Benjamin Powell, such activism may actually harm the very workers who need sweatshops the most. Bob is joined by Professor Powell, who is the Director of the Free Market Institute, a Senior Fellow with the Oakland-based Independent Institute, and the author of a new book, “Out of Poverty: Sweatshops in the Global Economy.” Don’t miss their conversation on the unintended consequences of anti-sweatshop activism, and the real recipe for escaping poverty.
In the last half hour, Bob turns his attention to other forms of so-called “economic exploitation” such as price gouging and the minimum wage.