Baylen Linnekin on *Biting the Hands that Feed Us*

The last time Baylen Linnekin joined the show, he had recently helped American farmers secure a major Supreme Court win in the case of Horne v. USDA, in which a raisin farmer Melvin Horne fought back against the federal government’s takings of a portion of his crops for the "National Raisin Reserve". This was a victory to all those cherish "the right of every American to grow, raise, produce, buy, sell, share, cook, eat, and drink the foods of their own choosing." But the fight for our food freedoms is far from over, as Baylen documents in his new book, Biting the Hands that Feed Us: How Fewer, Smarter Laws Would Make Our Food System More Sustainable (Island Press). As it stands, agencies like the USDA and FDA often enact absurd rules that make our food supply no safer, while limiting options and contributing to mountains of food that Americans already waste each year. Case in point: rules constraining the sale of “ugly” fruits and vegetables in supermarkets. Furthermore, many regulations hinder small, sustainable farms, but are no hurdle for Big Agriculture, which swallows up billions in subsidies only to produce surpluses of crops that end up in landfills due to other bad policies. Baylen returns to the show to argue that while some rules are necessary and beneficial, we must be pickier when it comes to our food laws.

Christina Sandefur on the Right to Try Initiative

There's a wave of state-based reform sweeping the nation, and it's giving hope to thousands of terminally-ill patients. Since just 2014, 31 states have passed so-called "right to try" initiatives, which allow those with incurable and life-threatening illnesses to access potentially life-saving experimental treatments that have not yet been approved by the FDA. Leading this legislative cascade is Arizona's Goldwater Institute. They believe the Food and Drug Administration has been overly paternalistic in making what amounts to an incredibly difficult, yet personal decision, on behalf of all Americans. When early "Phase I" evidence shows a treatment's potential, physicians in Right to Try states are able to take the experimental treatments out of the laboratory in an attempt to save their patients. Christina Sandefur, executive Vice President of the Goldwater Institute, is a co-drafter of the Right to Try initiative and has been pivotal in getting these laws passed around the country. She joins Bob to make the case to the remaining 19 states – including California. 

Professor Bernstein vs. President Obama: Battle of the Con Law Professors

Not long ago, Barack Obama's peers knew him as a moderate. As a constitutional law professor, Obama generally subscribed to the dominant progressive ideology at Harvard Law School, but voiced a strong belief in separation of powers and other checks on the executive branch. Many hoped he might become the first civil libertarian president. Now, even liberal law professors (not to mention liberal Supreme Court justices) are questioning the legal reasoning behind the Obama administration’s increasingly brazen edicts. David Bernstein, a constitutional law professor at George Mason University, has documented the worst of these abuses power in his new book, “Lawless: The Obama Administration’s Unprecedented Assault on the Constitution and the Rule of Law” – drone strikes without Congressional approval are only the tip of the iceberg. Regardless of your political tribe, you must listen to Bernstein’s warning. Obama supporters should be especially wary – after all, who knows who will be wielding these expanded powers down the road? 


Amazon: Lawless: The Obama Administration’s Unprecedented Assault on the Constitution and the Rule of Law.

VIDEO: 2008 Candidate Obama campaigns on promise to stop abuses of executive power

The Volokh Conspiracy


Seeing Through TSA's Security Theater With Jim Bovard

If you're flying home from vacation this weekend, you have one more gift to look forward to before you reach your gate: a TSA body scan. As of this week, opt outs of the invasive technology will no longer be granted to all those who ask for the alternative pat down. Jim Bovard has written for over a decade on the Transportation Security Agency’s encroachments of liberty. A frequent “opter-out” of the scanners in bygone times, Bovard has not flinched in the face of the screeners’ intimidation tactics. In addition to his repeat encounters with TSA agents, Bovard stands out among libertarian writers for his widely-read USA Today columns denouncing the climate of fear created by government to justify their privacy violations. He joins this special holiday edition of The Bob Zadek Show to dissect the carefully constructed “security theater” that we are forced to attend every time we fly. Tune in at 9am Pacific and call in with your nightmare experiences at airport security.

Chris Edwards on Why Federal Government Fails

Every once in a while, it’s good to be reminded of how bad the government is at its job. In the private sector, we occasionally learn about crooked CEOs cooking the books. In the public sector, mismanagement and corruption practically seem like requirements. Chris Edwards, curator of the Cato Institute’s Downsizing Government project has masterfully documented the waste, graft and abuse across all Federal departments and agencies, from the Post Office to the Department of Defense. He joins Bob to talk about a new Cato Policy Analysis on the reasons why government fails so consistently, in spite of the mountains of money it receives from taxpayers. Wonder why Mitch McConnell has gone to such efforts to keep funds flowing to the pointless and wasteful Export-Import Bank? Chris will explain. As a bonus, Bob and Chris will discuss Bob’s proposal to gradually replace most of the government workforce with private contractors, who opt to work for fewer benefits and perform select services more efficiently. Call in with your questions or tell us about a government failure you’ve witnessed, at 1-800-345-5639.

Links and Other Resources

 Mount Vernon - A model of private sector park management

The Cato Institute’s Downsizing Government platform, exposing Federal waste and abuse

"Why Federal Government Fails," Chris Edwards' July 2015 Cato Policy Analysis


Lawson Bader on *I, Whiskey* & Curtailing the Regulatory State

What does whiskey have to do with encroaching regulation and bureaucracy? Fortunately, for most of history, the answer has been "very little," as the two domains have remained relatively separate. Distilleries have cooperated peacefully, at least by proxy, with millions of other intermediate producers to yield a variety of complex end products, each with distinct tastes, undertones, and trademarks. The Competitive Enterprise Institute seeks to keep these entrepreneurial energies flowing, unimpeded by regulators who know little about the underlying industries and transactions they seek to control. Lawson Bader, whiskey aficionado and President of CEI, thought this point should be made even more clearly, in documentary form – continuing a video series originally based on Leonard Read's classic work, I, Pencil. Lawson joins Bob to talk about a new crowdfunding campaign to support the I, Whiskey project: a full-length documentary to bring the spontaneous order of the free market to life, through the story of a simple bottle of whiskey. Sit back and listen with a tumbler of your favorite spirit.

Bonus topics include CEI's current lawsuit against the TSA, strategies for rolling back the administrative state, and how to stay sane in a regulation-obsessed area like the Bay Area.

Baylen Linnekin on the Front lines of the Fight for Food Freedom

Freedom-lovers everywhere are lamenting the recent Supreme Court decision in King v. Burwell – perhaps the final blow to the constitutional challenge to ObamaCare (or as it may soon be known, SCOTUSCare). There is a silver lining, however, in the form another recent Supreme Court decision, in Horne v. USDA, which upheld the constitutional protections of raisin growers' personal property from takings by the USDA.  Baylen Linnekin is Executive Director of the Keep Food Legal Foundation, an adjunct professor at both American University and George Mason Law School, and a frequent contributor to Reason Magazine. Linnekin submitted an amicus curiae brief in the Horne case, and his arguments were mirrored in the majority opinion – authored by none other than John Roberts – arguing that the USDA cannot require raisin growers to surrender a portion of their crop for the "public purpose" of stabilizing the raisin market. The ruling is a victory to all of those cherish "the right of every American to grow, raise, produce, buy, sell, share, cook, eat, and drink the foods of their own choosing." Bob and Baylen also look at the many ways our food freedoms are still being restricted. You won't leave hungry after this episode of the show of ideas not attitude.

Subscribe in iTunes

Consumers Beware: The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is Here to Help

Following the Great Recession of 2007-2008, regulators jumped at the opportunity to "remedy" (i.e., regulate) perceived market failures in credit markets. Although government-sponsored enterprises like Fannie Mae were responsible for many of the bad loans that created the crisis, politicians alleged it was the free market and payday lending that needed to be reined in. The 2011 Dodd-Frank Act increased regulators' responsibilities, and even gave rise to a new agency – the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. As the first appointee of the agency's "Consumer Advisory Board," Elizabeth Warren became known as a savior of sorts for victims of so-called "predatory lending." But do these laws, bureaus, and advisory boards protect or harm consumers? In this episode, Bob's guest is George Mason University Law School professor Todd Zywicki, one of Warren's most knowledgeable and outspoken critics. Zywicki and his co-authors recently finished a detailed study on this topic, "Consumer Credit and the American Economy." Listen to learn how the public has been misled about the costs, benefits, uses, and abuses of consumer debt.


Update [10/19/14]: Todd Zywicki writes a post at the Volokh Conspiracy blog about the NYT Editorial on capping interest rates on consumer credit brought up by Bob and his caller during the show.

Click here to read Todd's commentary.

Click here to read the NYT Editorial, "A Rate Cap for All Consumer Loans", published 10/18/14.

The New Royal Prerogative: Philip Hamburger on Administrative Law

Confused by all the talk around Halbig v. Burwell? Rumors abound that this case represents the next big legal challenge to Obamacare, but how do we know it's not just hype surrounding a technicality, as the law's supporters suggest? In Halbig, an IRS interpretation of Obamacare – dubious, but crucial to the law's implementation – was rejected by the courts as an unlawful use of administrative authority. The underlying concern is the ongoing revival of extralegal executive powers – akin to the "Royal Prerogative" of yore – under the banner of "Administrative Law." If the Halbig decision stands, it would represent at least a small win against the growth of executive power. But health care isn't the only area where increasingly absolute executive authority is eroding the checks and balances of our constitutional government. Columbia Law Professor Philip Hamburger will join the show to clear up the confusion, and to reveal the long historical struggle to constrain extralegal power as told in his fascinating new book, Is Administrative Law Unlawful?