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The Reason Interview With Nick Gillespie

Want to know what comes next in politics, culture, and libertarian ideas? Reason’s Nick Gillespie hosts relentlessly interesting interviews with the activists, artists, authors, entrepreneurs, newsmakers, and politicians who are defining the 21st century.

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Is Trump Winning the Middle East or Doubling Down on Previous Failures?

Last week, the United States military took out Iran's top military leader, Gen. Qassem Soleimani. Iran has responded by raining down missiles on two American bases in Iraq (no casualties were reported) and with promises to do much, much more. "We promise to continue down martyr Soleimani's path as firmly as before with help of God, and in return for his martyrdom we aim to get rid of America from the region," vowed Esmail Ghaani, who now leads Iran's military.Are we going to war with Iran? Is the flare-up a sign that President Donald Trump, who as a candidate said previous administrations "got us" into Iraq "by lying," charting a bold, new course in the Middle East or following the failed footsteps of Barack Obama and George W. Bush?To answer these questions—and define what a uniquely libertarian foreign policy should look like—Nick Gillespie talks with Christopher A. Preble, vice president for defense and foreign policy studies at the libertarian Cato Institute. From 1990 to 1993, Preble served as an officer in the U.S. Navy on the USS Ticonderoga and he holds a Ph.D. in history from Temple University. He's the co-author of Fuel to the Fire: How Trump Made America's Broken Foreign Policy Even Worse (and How We Can Recover) and the author Peace, War, and Liberty: Understanding U.S. Foreign Policy.Preble says that two decades of failed wars pushed by Republican and Democratic presidents in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, and Yemen have rightly made Americans, especially younger people, skeptical of the use of force abroad to secure the safety and interests of the United States. Increasingly, people want a foreign policy that is "skeptical of the bipartisan consensus" and predicated upon "peaceful global engagement through which [the United States] trades with the rest of the world, engages diplomatically with the rest of the world, and uses our cultural influence in a positive way." Preble also ranks the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates in terms of foreign policy, evaluates the foreign policy legacies of Lyndon Johnson, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama, and praises recent revelations about internal military dissent over the war in Afghanistan.Audio production by Ian Keyser.

50mins

8 Jan 2020

Rank #1

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Richard Epstein: 'More Probable Than Not…Total Number of Deaths at Under 50,000'

From the available data, says New York University law professor Richard Epstein, "it seems more probable than not that the total number of cases worldwide will peak out at well under 1 million, with the total number of deaths at under 50,000…In the United States, if the total death toll increases at about the same rate, the current 67 deaths should translate into about 500 deaths at the end."In the latest Reason Interview podcast, Epstein, who is also a fellow at the University of Chicago's Center for Clinical Medical Ethics and a podcaster and columnist at Ricochet, explains his math, which draws on his work dealing with the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s and '90s. He also tells Nick Gillespie that the stimulus plans being floated are unlikely to help the economy in the short run and cause major problems in the long run, why he thinks local and state governments are overreacting by shutting down businesses and schools, and why he expects the crisis to ease up in a few months.Audio production by Ian Keyser.Photo credit: Richard Epstein speaks during the Margaret Thatcher Conference on Liberty, Niklas Halle'n/NewscomRelated articles:"Coronavirus Isn't a Pandemic," Richard Epstein, Ricochet"Avoid Redistribution Schemes To Limit Coronavirus Fallout," Richard Epstein, Las Vegas Review-JournalThe Libertarian podcast archives, Ricochet

37mins

18 Mar 2020

Rank #2

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The Autobiography of an Ex-Black Man: Thomas Chatterton Williams

"I'd become an ex-black man…not because I'd ceased loving what I've been taught to call "black," or because I…wished my daughter to blend in to what I'd been taught to call "white," but simply because these categories cannot adequately capture either of us—or anyone else, for that matter. I had no guilt about it anymore because blackness, like whiteness, isn't real.That's a passage from the new memoir Self-Portrait in Black and White: Unlearning Race, by Thomas Chatterton Williams. In a world that is increasingly embracing identity politics that sort people along racial and ethnic lines, Chatterton Williams is moving in a radically different direction. His book is an explicit call to "unlearn race" and embrace individual diversity.The 38-year-old Chatterton Williams is the author of a previous memoir, Losing My Cool. He is biracial himself and grew up in New Jersey identifying as black. He is married to a white French woman, lives in Paris, and describes how the birth of his first child—a blonde-haired, blue-eyed girl—forced him to interrogate and ultimately discard ideas about identity that he and the rest of us have long taken for granted.In a wide-ranging discussion, Chatterton Williams and Nick Gillespie talk about race relations in 21st century America; how class and gender intersect with ethnicity; and whether it's really possible to "unlearn race" in a country that has spent so much time and energy defining national character along racial lines.Audio production by Regan Taylor and Ian Keyser.

53mins

18 Dec 2019

Rank #3

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Balaji Srinivasan: The Coronavirus Might Eat the World

How should the United States government and the rest of us respond to the coronavirus, which the World Health Organization has just declared a global pandemic?Balaji Srinivasan, who was on a short list to run Donald Trump's Food and Drug Administration (FDA), has some strong opinions on the matter. Srinivasan is a former venture capitalist at Andreessen Horowitz and a serial entrepreneur with a Ph.D. in electrical engineering. The genetic testing company he co-founded, Counsyl, helped change the way millions of people prepare for parenthood; his cryptocurrency startup, Earn.com, was acquired by Coinbase, where he served as chief technology officer.In his prescient and lively Twitter feed, Srinivasan has been ahead of the curve in noting the coronavirus's potential to cause a global public health crisis and to disrupt our economic and social lives. During a conversation conducted via Skype, he talked about why he thinks the coronavirus may have as big an impact on our way of life as the 9/11 attacks, how the United States government—especially the FDA he once might have headed—has fumbled its response, and why we're likely looking at mandatory quarantines at the national level.At the same time, Srinivasan believes that private-sector and nonprofit actors are conducting a "digital Dunkirk" rescue operation that could not just save countless lives but accelerate positive forms of decentralization in our political, economic, and personal lives.Photo credits: Balaji Srinivasan speaks onstage during TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2017, Steve Jennings/Getty Images for TechCrunch

51mins

12 Mar 2020

Rank #4

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Why LBJ's Great Society Flopped—and What It Means for the 2020 Election

In a 1964 speech delivered at the University of Michigan, President Lyndon Johnson announced his plans for what he called "the Great Society," a sweeping set of programs that marked the most ambitious expansion of the federal government since Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal.Johnson declared war on poverty, jacked up federal spending on education, and pushed massive new entitlement programs, including Medicare and Medicaid, which promised to deliver high-quality, low-cost health care to the nation's elderly and poor. When Republican Richard Nixon succeeded Johnson, a Democrat, as president after the 1968 election, he continued and even expanded many of the Great Society programs despite being from a different political party.But did the Great Society achieve its goals of eradicating poverty, sheltering the homeless, and helping all citizens participate more fully in the American Dream? In Great Society: A New History, Amity Shlaes argues that Lyndon Johnson's bold makeover of the government was a massive failure despite the good intentions of its architects and implementers.Shlaes, who is the author of The Forgotten Man, a best-selling history of The Great Depression (read her interview with Reason), and the chair of the Calvin Coolidge Presidential Foundation, says remembering the failure of the Great Society is especially relevant in an election year when presidential candidates are promising to spend huge amounts of money on all sorts of new government programs. "Once again, many Americans rate socialism as the generous philosophy," writes Shlaes. "But the results of our socialism were not generous. May this book serve as a cautionary tale of lovable people who, despite themselves, hurt those they loved. Nothing is new. It is just forgotten."Nick Gillespie sat down to talk with her about the origins of the Great Society, its failure, and what it all means for 21st century America.Audio production by Ian Keyser.

50mins

15 Jan 2020

Rank #5

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What The New York Times' 1619 Project Gets Wrong About Capitalism: Phillip Magness

When The New York Times launched its 1619 Project last year, it sought to "reframe the country's history by placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of our national narrative." What began as a series of articles and commentaries in the Times magazine morphed into a collection of lesson plans for elementary and high school students and provoked an immediate controversy.Five of the nation's most eminent academic historians co-signed a letter to the Times describing the project as "partly misleading" and containing "factual errors." And Northwestern University Professor Leslie M. Harris revealed that she had been a fact-checker on the series and that her warnings of a major error of interpretation had been ignored. But Harris also took "detractors of the 1619 Project" to task for "misrepresent[ing] both the historical record and the historical profession," writing that the "attacks from its critics are much more dangerous" than the Times' "avoidable mistakes."Enter Phillip W. Magness, an economic historian, a research fellow at the American Institute for Economic Research, and the author of a new collection of essays on the project. Magness praises aspects of the series but he says that the project's editor, Nikole Hannah-Jones, is guilty of blurring lines between serious scholarship and partisan advocacy. And he has called for the retraction of an essay in the series by Princeton sociologist Matthew Desmond, which was headlined, "In order to understand the brutality of American capitalism, you have to start on the plantation."Nick Gillespie spoke with Magness from his office in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, about what the Times gets right and wrong about U.S. history, capitalism and slavery, Abraham Lincoln's contested legacy, and why our interpretation of American history matters to contemporary society.

1hr 17mins

15 Apr 2020

Rank #6

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A Corbyn Victory Would Kill Brexit, Lead to Venezuelan-Style Socialism, Says E.U. Member of Parliament Daniel Hannan

A leading architect of Brexit is warning that the selection of Jeremy Corbyn as British prime minister could lead his country into a Venezuelan-style descent into authoritarian neo-socialism.Tomorrow's U.K. election pits the ruling Conservative Party, led by current prime minister Boris Johnson, against the Labour Party, led by Corbyn, who has called for large tax hikes, new regulations and controls on business, and massive increases on spending."I don't think it's a figure of speech" to suggest Corbyn's rise to power could lead to the economic and civic decline of England, says Daniel Hannan, a Conservative politician who represents Britain in the European Union's parliament. He's one of the leading architects of Brexit and the author of books such as The New Road To Serfdom and Inventing Freedom: How the English-Speaking Peoples Made the Modern World."When I was growing up in Peru," says the 48-year-old Hannon, who was born in Lima, "Venezuela was a country that people immigrated to…the idea that it couldn't happen here, which is [a] dangerously complacent and recurrent theme in both British and American politics, I just don't think is borne out."In a wide-ranging conversation with Nick Gillespie, Hannan explains why British libertarians voted overwhelmingly in favor of Brexit, the urgency of honoring the results of the 2016 referendum in which 52 percent of voters called for leave, and the global rise of "Bannonism and Bernie-ism," or right-wing and left-wing populism.For a video version of this interview, go here.Audio production by Ian Keyser.

33mins

11 Dec 2019

Rank #7

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How To Fight the 'Power of Bad' and the 'Negativity Effect'

It's not just in your head: When it comes to how we all experience life, "Bad is generally stronger than good." We remember trauma more than joy, we're brought down by criticism more than we're elevated by praise, and we pay more attention to bad news than good. A new book called The Power of Bad, by journalist John Tierney and psychologist Roy F. Baumeister, explores "the negativity effect," or the "universal tendency for negative events and emotions to affect us more strongly than positive ones." The negativity effect shapes everything we do, from our personal relationships to our careers to how we vote to what media we consume.But The Power of Bad isn't one more cause for despair. Its subtitle is How the Negativity Effect Rules Us and How We Can Rule It, and it offers practical tips on all sorts of ways to approach life so that we can be happy, productive, and well-adjusted.Nick Gillespie sat down with Tierney, a contributing editor at the Manhattan Institute's City Journal and a former New York Times columnist and reporter, to talk about the root causes of the negativity effect and how to combat it.Audio production by Ian Keyser.

26mins

25 Dec 2019

Rank #8

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Coronavirus: Don't Worry, Be Happily Informed

If you're freaked out by the coronavirus—the growing pandemic that is shutting down travel from China, Iran, Italy, and elsewhere and has been the cause of at least nine deaths in Washington state—stop what you're doing and listen to the new Reason Interview With Nick Gillespie. It's 30 minutes that will give you peace of mind.Ronald Bailey, Reason's science correspondent, provides comprehensive information about the origins and extent of the coronavirus (also known as COVID-19), which steps are being taken to slow its spread, and whether the United States, President Donald Trump, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are up to the task of battling a sickness that has already disrupted global trade and travel. The short version: COVID-19 is a serious problem, especially for older, sicker people with pre-existing medical problems, but its ultimate effects will be "like a particularly bad flu season, with a case-fatality rate somewhere between 0.2 and 0.5 percent."Audio production by Ian Keyser.

33mins

4 Mar 2020

Rank #9

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Meet Titania McGrath, the Wokest SJW on Twitter

Titania McGrath is without question the fiercest social justice warrior (SJW) on Twitter, blasting out sentiment such as"there are now more Nazis living in modern Britain than even existed in 1930s Germany," and "say what you will about ISIS but at least they're not Islamophobic."Based in London, McGrath burst onto social media in 2018 and describes herself as a "radical intersectionalist poet committed to feminism, social justice and armed peaceful protest." She identifies as "non-binary," "polyracial," and ecosexual" and claims to"teabag the foes of justice with a gender-neutral scrotum." She is the author of the new book Woke: A Guide to Social Justice, which is climbing the charts in both the United Kingdom and the United States. As you might have surmised, Titania McGrath is not a real person but a spoof brilliantly pulled off by Andrew Doyle, a writer and comedian whose work has appeared on the BBC, at the Fringe Festival, and Spiked, the heterodox site edited by friend of Reason Brendan O'Neill. Doyle, who identifies as a socialist, says he created Titania to spoof identity politics, which he avers is "a collectivist ideology. It does not value an individual for the content of his or her character, but instead makes prejudicial assessments on the basis of race, gender and sexuality. In the name of anti-racism, identity politics has rehabilitated racial thinking."In a wide-ranging conversation with Nick Gillespie, Doyle discusses Brexit (which he favored), some of the very funniest lines from Titania McGrath's Woke, and how we might get past the current moment of ultra-politically correct insanity.Audio production by Regan Taylor and Ian Keyser.

52mins

5 Feb 2020

Rank #10

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How Rob Long Went from Cheers to National Review to LSD

Rob Long has been a writer and co-executive producer of the classic sitcom Cheers and other TV shows. A liberal who voted for Walter Mondale back in 1984, he became a conservative after the collapse of the Berlin Wall and the Soviet Union and started writing for National Review in the early 1990s. He now provides commentary for Washington Examiner, Commentary, and the NPR station KCRW, and is a regular guest on Fox News' The Greg Gutfeld Show and other programs. In 2010, he co-founded the right-of-center podcast and blogging empire known as Ricochet.The New York City resident talks with Nick Gillespie about all that, plus Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders, Mike Bloomberg, and the 2020 election. And he explains why he thinks psychedelic drugs such as LSD, MDMA, and Ayahuasca should be taken seriously—and on a regular basis.Audio production by Ian Keyser.Show links:Rob Long website.Rob Long on Instagram."Martini Shot" (weekly commentaries on KCRW).GLoP podcast (with Long, Jonah Goldberg, and John Podhoretz).Rob Long podcasts at Ricochet.

1hr 8mins

12 Feb 2020

Rank #11

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Anti-Vaping Panic Will Kill More People Than it Saves

Every week seems to bring a new story about how vaping is really, really, really bad for you. Only a few years ago, electronic cigarettes were hailed as a new and healthier way for people to consume nicotine and pot; the number of vapers worldwide has grown sevenfold since 2011, to an estimated 41 million users. But now vaping is being attacked as a deadly habit that might be as bad for you as traditional smoking.Reports of vaping-related deaths and respiratory illnesses appear daily on cable news shows, in newspapers, and online. The FDA is considering a ban on flavored e-cigarettes, and many states have already instituted strict regulations on vaping sales and use. Congress has voted to change the age for legal tobacco and e-cigarette sales to 21, up from 18. President Donald Trump signed the legislation into law just before Christmas.Is vaping bad for you? Should we be panicking? What sorts of policies should govern the use of electronic cigarettes for nicotine and marijuana? To answer these and other questions, Nick Gillespie sat down with Reason Senior Editor Jacob Sullum, who has spoken extensively and authoritatively about the issue for years. Sullum argues that the current anti-vaping freakout is a classic case of moral panic, and that it is in fact making it harder for current smokers to transition to a safer method of getting nicotine or to quit altogether.

22mins

1 Jan 2020

Rank #12

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Has Trump Drained the Swamp or Stocked It With His Own Fish?

"What sets the Trump era apart is the rank incompetence of the people looking to cash in on [self-serving] opportunities," write Lachlan Markay and Asawin Suebsaeng in their new book, Sinking in the Swamp: How Trump's Minions and Misfits Poisoned Washington. "That's great for us reporters. But it doesn't inspire confidence in the administrative abilities of our present leaders that Trumpworld can't even seem to do corruption right."Markay and Suebsaeng cover Washington and the White House for The Daily Beast and they dish on how Trump associates, appointees, and apparatchiks such as Corey Lewandowski, Lynne Patton, and Rudy Giuliani are constantly working to enrich themselves while desperately trying to stay in the president's good graces. In a wide-ranging interview with Nick Gillespie, they also talk about Hillary Clinton's own brand of incompetence, the deeper forms of D.C.-based corruption that result in Joe Biden's son Hunter pulling down make-work jobs in foreign countries, why they think Donald Trump will win re-election, and their previous jobs at publications on the right and the left.Audio production by Ian Keyser.Related links:Sinking the Swamp on Amazon.Asawin Suebsaeng on Twitter and at The Daily Beast.Lachlan Markay on Twitter and at The Daily Beast.

1hr 1min

19 Feb 2020

Rank #13

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How Many of Us Will Die From the Coronavirus?

How many people are infected with the coronavirus, what will it mean for our hospitals, and how many will die? Those are the questions at the front of everyone's mind. To get the best possible sense of things, Nick Gillespie talks with Reason's science correspondent, Ronald Bailey, about the constantly changing, often contradictory information coming from official channels.Audio production by Ian Keyser.

29mins

27 Mar 2020

Rank #14

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Molly Jong-Fast on Trump's Impeachment, Democratic Candidates, and Why Twitter Is Great

"I don't think you should do Twitter if you think you're better than Twitter," says Molly Jong-Fast in a wide-ranging interview with Nick Gillespie.Molly Jong-Fast is a journalist, novelist, and memoirist who is an editor at large for The Daily Beast, where she writes frequently about President Donald Trump (she doesn't much like him) and the Democratic presidential hopefuls (she will vote for whoever wins the nomination but isn't excited by them). She's also a contributor to Playboy, The Independent (U.K.), and The Bulwark, a website started up by some folks left homeless when The Weekly Standard bit the dust a while back.Just after the first day of the Senate impeachment trial concluded, she sat down to talk with Gillespie about the 2020 election, what it's like to grow up with famous relatives (her mother Erica Jong wrote Fear of Flying, her father is a well-respected author, and her grandfather Howard Fast was a massively popular novelist who wrote Spartacus and received the 1953 Stalin Peace Prize), and why she thinks Twitter (follow her at @mollyjongfast) is a great leveling force in contemporary media. Jong-Fast also has kind words for Bret Easton Ellis, whose 2019 book White she trashed, and explains why as a liberal Democrat she has a lot of overlap with libertarian beliefs about free trade, capitalism, and the legalization of vices.Audio production by Ian Keyser.

1hr 9mins

22 Jan 2020

Rank #15

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Taylor Lorenz Makes Sense of Online Culture for the Rest of Us

Do you know the phrase OK, Boomer? It's an increasingly popular put-down voiced by younger people toward older people whom they see as out of touch or unworthy of serious engagement. If you've heard the saying—or used it—the likely reason is because of today's guest, Taylor Lorenz, who covers technology and internet culture for The New York Times. Last fall, Lorenz popularized the term in a story declaring "the end of friendly generational relations" online. More recently, she's exposed how former New York City mayor and current Democratic presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg is spending millions of dollars on Twitter, Instagram, and other social media services to suddenly look cool, hip, and happening. She's also explained why viral vids shot in bathrooms outperform those shot in less private parts of the house. If you want to know what's happening online, especially among Millennials and Gen Z types, you've got to read Lorenz, who joined the Times after stints at places such as The Atlantic, The Daily Beast, and Buzzfeed.In a wide-ranging conversation with Nick Gillespie, Lorenz talks about how TikTok, the ultra-short video platform out of China, enhances self-expression, why government regulation of online speech is always ultimately doomed to fail, and how the future depends on all of us developing media literacy in a hurry.Audio production by Regan Taylor and Ian Keyser.Related links:Taylor Lorenz's New York Times archive.Her personal website.Follow Lorenz on Instagram.Follow Lorenz on Twitter.

52mins

26 Feb 2020

Rank #16

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The CDC and FDA Have Failed on Coronavirus

The U.S. government's response to the coronavirus has been nothing less than catastrophic, with weak, delayed, and incompetent actions by its two main public health agencies, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).Alex Tabarrok, a professor of economics at George Mason University and one of the co-founders of the popular blog and online university Marginal Revolution, is an outspoken critic of the government's actions, including the FDA's refusal to allow for home testing of the coronavirus. Reason spoke with him about official responses to past pandemics, which countries are doing things right, and how the government can get a better handle on stopping the spread of this novel coronavirus.Audio production by Ian Keyser.

33mins

25 Mar 2020

Rank #17

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When 'Price Gouging' Is Good: Michael Munger

As the COVID-19 pandemic prompted shoppers to clear out supermarkets of toilet paper, rice, and canned vegetables, two brothers set out on a 1,300 mile road trip through the back roads of Kentucky and Tennessee. Matt and Noah Colvin loaded up a U-Haul with all the hand sanitizer and antibacterial wipes they could find and attempted to resell the goods on Amazon at a massive markup. Then the online retailing giant banned the practice, state attorneys general started cracking down, and the Colvins were shamed in the media. They ended up donating the items. But is so-called price gouging a bad thing? Michael C. Munger, who teaches economics, political science, and public policy at Duke University, argues that prices contain vital information about supply and demand. When governments attempt to mandate cheap goods, he says, they end up causing more shortages than they solve. And this is especially true during a crisis.Nick Gillespie spoke with Munger via Zoom about how the 21st century is testing libertarian ideas about limited government and individual freedom.

1hr 1min

3 Apr 2020

Rank #18

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School Choice Opponents Need To Stop Gaslighting Parents

Today's guest, the author and school choice activist Andrew Campanella, is angry but energized."I just wish people who opposed school choice would come out instead of trying to gaslight everybody and tell people that choice doesn't work for any number of reasons," he tells Nick Gillespie in today's podcast. "I wish people who oppose school choice would argue [that they do] not trust families to make decisions for their kids."Campanella is the author of the new book The School Choice Roadmap: 7 Steps to Finding the Right School for Your Child, which provides a history and overview of the choice movement and practical advice on how to match children with schools at which they'll flourish. He is also the president of National School Choice Week, an organization that runs the largest annual public awareness effort to promote student and parental choice in K-12 education. National School Choice Week started on January 26 and runs until February 1 this year. Over 53,000 events around the country showcase the benefits of letting kids choose where they go to school—whether via public charters, tax credits and vouchers for private schools, magnet schools, homeschooling, or other options."We expect people to make every other choice in their life, but we are not going to…allow them to choose schools their kids attend," says Campanella in a wide-ranging conversation that details the massive growth in school choice over the past 50 years. "Not giving people options, not giving people choices, not giving them that freedom…It doesn't make any sense. It is actually not a concept that really fits well with who we are as a country."Audio production by Ian Keyser and Regan Taylor.

39mins

29 Jan 2020

Rank #19

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'Let's Do a Manhattan Project Against This Virus': Thomas Massie

Last week, Rep. Thomas Massie (R–Ky.) became the most-hated man in Washington when he unsuccessfully tried to force a recorded vote in the House of Representatives on the $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D–Calif.) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R–Calif.) denounced him while President Donald Trump called him "a third rate Grandstander." Seconding Trump's characterization on Twitter, former secretary of state and Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry averred, "Congressman Massie has tested positive for being an asshole."In an exclusive interview with Reason, Massie, a libertarian-leaning Republican who entered Congress in 2012 with the backing of the Tea Party movement, explains his insistence that House members should have cast on-the-record votes on the single-biggest spending bill in U.S. history and calls out his critics. Referring "to John Kerry's tweet that I tested positive for being an a-hole," Massie tells Nick Gillespie, "I would just say at least I haven't been symptomatic since birth."Brushing aside health concerns for his House colleagues, Massie notes that the Senate, whose members are on average much older than those in the House, voted in person for the spending bill. "You're telling me that a congressman who makes $174,000 a year and has a really good healthcare plan paid for by the taxpayer can't come to work when the Constitution compels them," asks Massie rhetorically.The CARES Act passed on a voice vote, meaning that there is no record of who voted in favor of or against the legislation (Massie adds bitterly that officials claim it passed unanimously). It was quickly signed into law by President Trump. Massie says that he knows several members besides himself who would have voted against it and name-checks Justin Amash (I–Mich.), Ken Buck (R–Colo.), Alex Mooney (R–W. Va.), and Andy Biggs (R–Ariz.) as others he says were solid no votes. He adds that several "Bernie bro" members recognize that the CARES Act is "cronyism on steroids" but isn't sure they would have voted the bill down given the opportunity.In a wide-ranging discussion about the public health and economic responses to COVID-19, Massie says that the federal government, especially the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration first failed to anticipate and contain the pandemic and now continue to get in the way of allowing local and state governments and the private sector to respond effectively. "When we were attacked at Pearl Harbor, did we come up with a $2 trillion stimulus package," he asks while criticizing the CARES Act. "Or did we declare a war on our enemies? We declared war on our enemies. Why have we not declared war on this virus? Why is our first instinct to make sure that the rich people is to keep all their riches? We need to be fighting the virus. So let's do a Manhattan project against this virus. Let's do a Manhattan project that comes up with a 3D-printed a ventilator, right? Let's do a Manhattan project that figures out how to get everybody a week supply of masks."Despite the passage of a $2 trillion spending bill and his belief that another massive spending bill will almost certainly be introduced over the coming months, Massie still believes that the anti-spending energy that propelled the Tea Party movement and helped bring him to Congress in the first place is still alive. He notes that after he first announced his dissent to the CARES Act and his insistence that regular order be observed in voting for the legislation, he started receiving support from people around the country who respected what he was doing."You've got government telling you when to go to work and how long to work and what things you can buy and what you can't buy. That's central planning on steroids," observes Massie. "When this is over… [I hope we will see] the aspects of this that saved us were free market and innovation and individuals and not the government. Maybe when this is over with, people will have less confidence in the government. A realistic view of what government's role is."

36mins

31 Mar 2020

Rank #20