Bain Capital Founder Ed Conard joins the show to talk straight on inequality.Read More
Most people tune out when academics speak in terms of regression analysis and “agent-based modeling.” Nonetheless, we want to understand the long-term economic trends that these methods seek to illuminate in order to plan for the future. Don Boudreaux is a master of making complex economic ideas comprehensible to the layperson. He provides this service free of charge every day for the thousands of visitors to his blog, Cafe Hayek (currently down due to a malicious hacking attack). Boudreaux’s short but powerful letters to the editor are the stuff of any libertarian’s dreams – the equivalent of a Total Knock Out in boxing. The larger battle for economic freedom is not fought solely in public discussion forums like the WSJ editorial page – it’s being waged in academic journals and in the academic marketplace of ideas. Boudreaux recently edited the Fraser Institute’s *What America’s Decline in Economic Freedom Means for Entrepreneurship and Prosperity,* a volume of five essays, each thick with research that Don discusses with Bob and his audience. Find out whether it’s too late for America to change course.
Bob does a regular show with a very special guest – a walking embodiment of the libertarian ethos: David Boaz. Since joining the Cato Institute in 1981, Boaz has been pivotal in transforming the once-obscure think tank into a powerhouse – setting the gold standard for libertarian public policy analysis. More than 15 years ago, at a time when far fewer people had even heard of libertarianism, Boaz wrote and edited a volume titled Libertarianism: A Primer. Today, most voters know the contours of what a libertarian is, but a majority still do not identify along said lines. Clearly, given the iron-clad moral and logical reasoning behind libertarian ideas, the message clearly has not gotten far enough. But we may be near a tipping point if Boaz is correct about the "Libertarian Moment," to which he synced the arrival of his revised version of his Primer, The Libertarian Mind: A Manifesto for Freedom. Tune in for the full hour, this Sunday at 9am Pacific to hear Boaz's evidence that the iron is now hot for the movement to strike with bold free-market solutions.
This week, instead of the usual encore show, we will be airing a remix of the best segments from previous shows on the topic of illegal immigration. This subject is so dear to Bob's heart (and mind) that he has been compelled to revisit it half a dozen times, and he will continue to do so for as long as it remains an issue.
Bob's stance on immigration: Let them all in.
In defending this position, he has interviewed former two-term Governor and Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson, Cato Institute immigration expert Alex Nowrasteh, Huffington Post reporter Elise Foley, and Sophia Campos, an aspiring professional and undocumented student at UCLA. This one-hour special will include select segments from each of these interviews, along with lively debate between Bob and his numerous callers. Few subjects elicit such strong emotions from across the spectrum as illegal immigration. This is all the more reason to learn the facts and get answers to the questions you've always been too afraid to ask. Are open borders compatible with a welfare state? Why are our border regions so violent? Are the most recent waves of immigrants assimilating like past generations of newcomers to the United States? Find out, this Sunday at the usual time.
“Be nice” may be excellent advice for children on the playground, customer service workers, and indeed, for most people in most situations. Being nice, however, does not always advance what Jonathan Rauch calls "the liberal science" – the ongoing process of public criticism that gradually brings us closer to the truth. Thanks to robust rights to free thought and expression, new ideas have been able to overturn ancient dogmas and superstitions. As a long-time editor of The Atlantic and scholar at the Brookings Institution, Rauch’s own writings and opinions have been forged in the crucible of free public debate, and he thinks all knowledge claims should be subject to this same process – even if it sometimes leads to "psychic harm," i.e., hurt feelings. The recent massacre in France is just one more in a long line of assaults on free expression. But the greater danger, described in Rauch’s book The Kindly Inquisitors: New Attacks on Free Thought, is not necessarily violent fundamentalism, but the failure by some to condemn such attacks out of a "humanitarian" sympathy with those offended. The book was republished in late 2013 with a new foreword by George F. Will, and is now more relevant than ever. Rauch will join Bob as he returns to the subject of our increasing sensitivity to criticism and our desire for freedom *from* speech.
As a class, “capitalists” tend to get stereotyped in the starkest of terms. They are heroes to some and villains to others; the captains of industry or the robber barons of old. Rarely do we actually get to hear a successful capitalist explain what his work is about. As former Chairman and CEO of BB&T and current CEO and President of the Cato Institute, John Allison is both a capitalist and defender of capitalism par excellence. In his last book, Allison shed light on the financial crisis, and how phony “crony capitalism” broke the system in 2007-2008. His latest message may be even more important. In his newest book, The Leadership Crisis and the Free Market Cure, Allison combines equal parts moral philosophy, personal confession, and business advice. It is his goal to help others achieve their own version of Aristotle’s “Eudaimonia,” or the Good Life, through hard work. He will join Bob to explain how his 10 core values translate into business and personal success, and to lay out his continued vision for the Cato Institute’s success, measured as political impact rather than dollar profits.
The Citizens United case, in which the Supreme Court affirmed speech rights for corporate “persons,” was alleged by some to herald the end of democracy “of the people, by the people, and for the people.” But are corporate interests really able to purchase politicians and their votes? Perhaps more importantly, is there any evidence that “bought” politicians stay bought? Michael Munger, Director of Duke University’s interdisciplinary Philosophy, Politics, and Economics program, studies how political favors are exchanged between actors in government and the private sector. Munger has no doubt that money can influence policy in wasteful or destructive ways, but he sees something other than campaign finance as the culprit. In a recent New York Times article on the role of money in politics, Munger was quoted talking about the deals that take place after the election, behind closed doors – a phenomenon known as “rent-seeking.” Bob is joined by Professor Munger, a frequent EconTalk guest and former candidate for Governor of North Carolina, to peek into the dirty dens of politics and see how deals really get made.
Sixteen years ago, Virginia Postrel published The Future and Its Enemies, a manifesto for her personal philosophy of "dynamism." Dynamists like Postrel favor the spontaneous, evolving forces of free markets over the "stasist" philosophy common to reactionary conservatives and government technocrats. Even more than left versus right, Postrel argues, politics is a battle of the "stasists" versus the "dynamists." Nowhere is this seen more clearly than in the debate over compensation for kidney donors. Postrel, the editor of Reason during most of the 1990s, is a spokesperson for a new charity, the American Living Organ Donor Fund (ALODF). She also once donated a kidney to a friend in need. But many people with failing kidneys are not as lucky as the beneficiary of Postrel's altruism. Markets and financial incentives could save the lives of thousands of wait-listed patients on dialysis, but the National Kidney Foundation has resisted even marginal reforms at every turn. Postrel will join the show to reflect on her manifesto and its relation to this vital issue.
Lenore Skenazy first made waves after writing a column about how she let her nine-year-old son ride the New York City subway home alone. This was followed by a public outcry, including the accusation of "World's Worst Mom," which led Lenore to defend her position on TV programs like The View, The Today Show, and Anderson Cooper 360. Skenazy eventually repurposed her accusers' label for a TV reality series titled, "World's Worst Mom," in which she helped to keep "helicopter parents" from hovering so close to their children. What has changed in America? Parents no longer send kids out to play in their neighborhoods. Strangers are presumed guilty until proven innocent. Even halloween candy is viewed suspiciously (despite no reports of any kid poisonings, ever). Lenore Skenazy believes this is no way for a free society to operate. Not only is it dreary, but it might be completely unnecessary. Perhaps it's time we looked at the numbers and broke down the risks, as Lenore does in her book, "Free Range Kids." Whether you have kids or not, you'll want to hear Bob and Lenore discussing the real threat to life and liberty – our own paranoia.
Since the initial waves of political correctness and subsequent censorship swept across college campuses in the 1990s, many cases have been fought and won in favor of free speech. The overturning of unconstitutional speech codes, for example, seemed to herald a new era for individual rights in higher education. These victories resulted in no small measure from the tireless efforts of FIRE – the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education. Yet the battle is hardly over. Bob's guest tomorrow will be Greg Lukianoff, President of FIRE. As Greg explains in his new broadside, "Freedom From Speech," there are several new threats to free speech brewing. Colleges are beginning to include “trigger warnings” on standard humanities curricula. Controversial commencement speakers are being subject to "disinvitation campaigns," and a general culture of outrage is preventing a robust debate. This "chilling effect" can be observed both in academia and, increasingly, in society at large. Greg joins the show to discuss the latest challenges to free speech, and to look at the special role played by our universities in creating this stifling environment. They also examine the new "affirmative consent" laws, such as the one recently passed in California, and the dangers they pose to due process.
The Shadow University by Alan Charles Kors and Harvey Silverglate