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Watchdog.org Podcast

Watchdog Podcasts. Taking you behind the headlines and inside the stories. We examine the news that matters to you - from the school board to the state Capitol and Washington DC - because we know that someone has to keep an eye on how government is spending your money. Education, health care, budgets and more; our reporters have the inside story that you need to know - and a free market perspective that you won't find anywhere else.
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Now displaying: May, 2015
May 29, 2015

This is “In Our Backyards,” Watchdog.org’s podcast that examines local government — because the government that is the closest to you often can be the most important, even if you don’t hear much about it.

We look at city councils, school boards and even water treatment authorities, because local officials can waste your tax dollars as easily as Congress can waste them. Government is real when it’s close by, in schools and local police forces.

As Eric Boehm explains in this episdoe, police in Washington State will have to get a judge's permission before using so-called "stingrays" to track and monitor cell phone calls. 

Police using stingrays, also known as simulated cell towers, now have to get approval from a judge, and they will have to use the devices to seek specific individuals rather than sweeping all calls in a certain area.

State Rep. David Taylor, who sponsored the legislation, sits down with Boehm to discuss the importance of protecting our privacy and why state governments have to act on issues like this when Congress won't.

May 28, 2015

By Eric Boehm and Ben Yount | Watchdog Radio

This is Behind the Headlines, Watchdog.org’s podcast that takes a deeper look at the political news of the day.

In this week’s episode, host Ben Yount sits down with Chris Koopman from the Mercatus Center to talk about some of the big shake-ups in the American economy caused by the growth of the sharing economy. It's here to stay, it's disruptive and it's a good thing - government just can't seem to keep up.

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May 27, 2015

By Eric Boehm | Watchdog Radio

This is “In Our Backyards,” Watchdog.org’s podcast that examines local government — because the government that is the closest to you often can be the most important, even if you don’t hear much about it.

We look at city councils, school boards and even water treatment authorities, because local officials can waste your tax dollars as easily as Congress can waste them.  Government is real when it's close by, in schools and local police forces.

This week, host Eric Boehm looks at a local issue that has become a national one: the use, and abuse, of civil asset forfeiture laws by local police departments to help pad their own bottom lines. Law enforcement says they are using civil asset forfeiture to shut down the drug trade, but in practice the law is being used to target often innocent bystanders who have their property seized without due process.

Case in point: The Richland, Mississippi, police force.  As Steve Wilson from Mississippi Watchdog tells us, the cops in Richland have gotten rich off civil asset forfeiture.

May 26, 2015

This is “Sit Down, Shut Up,” Watchdog.org’s podcast examining education issues at the national, state and local levels.

 

Host Ben Yount takes a critical look at the education establishment, the growth of school choice and the ways free markets can be a part of fixing America’s broken school system.

In this week’s episode, Yount is joined by Watchdog education reporter Moriah Costa to discuss some legislation in a variety of states that would increase the number of charter schools and other school choice options.  Is the breakdown in being able to pay for traditional public schools going to be the thing that finally breaks through legislative oppisiton to school choice?

Or, perhaps, is it the growth of empowered minority families who are demanding better schools for their kids in America's inner cities?

 

May 22, 2015

Breaking the Bank is Watchdog.org’s weekly look at the national public pension crisis, how it’s affecting state and city budgets and what can be done — if anything — to fix it.

In this week’s episode, hosts Eric Boehm and Steve Greenhut take a look at the recent state Supreme Court ruling in Illinois that tossed aside a legislative effort to deal with the state's $100 billion pension debt.

Crisis is not an excuse to abandon the rule of law,” wrote Justice Lloyd Karmeier in the court’s majority opinion.

But what if the rule of law is standing in the way of necessary fixes? Do state lawmakers have the right to change the rules (that they previously passed) in order to get out from under crushing debt?

The next state that will try to find out is Pennsylvania, where some of the same legal issues are at play.

May 21, 2015

By Jason Hart, Katie Watson and Ben Yount | Watchdog Radio

Code Blue is Watchdog Radio’s weekly look at heath issues, ranging from the latest public health debates to small government views on health care reform.

Medicaid and Medicare are breaking the budgets of states and the federal government, but there are other options out there. Is Obamacare the best we can do?

This week, Ben Yount sits down for an interview with Adam Smith from the Mercatus Center (no, not THAT Adam Smith) to talk about his recent article on the so-called "baptists, bootleggers and televangelists" that helped to turn government-run health insurance into a reality.

Then, Hart and Watson discuss how the unique combination of baptists (the "true-believers" who want a certain government policy) and the bootleggers (those who benefit from government sitting up artificial limits on competition) combine to make government policy in other areas of the political sphere.

May 20, 2015

Say it Loud, Say it Proud is Watchdog Radio’s weekly look at free speech and First Amendment issues — examining rights among the most important to our society, but also rights most frequently under attack.

In this week’s episode, host Eric Boehm sits down with Wisconsin Reporter's Matt Kittle to discuss the ongoing free speech issues at Marquette University. John McAdams, a professor at the school, has been suspended since November for defending a student who argued against same-sex marriage in a philosophy class.

But just this week, Marquette administrators had to remove a mural of black militant Assata Shakur after, ironically, McAdams broke the story on his “Marquette Warrior” blog.

Also: did Louie CK's opening monoluge on SNL offend you?

May 19, 2015

This is “Sit Down, Shut Up,” Watchdog.org’s podcast examining education issues at the national, state and local levels.

Host Ben Yount take a critical look at the education establishment, the growth of school choice and the ways free markets can be a part of fixing America’s broken school system.

In this week's episode, Yount sits down with Paul Brennan at the recent Chicago School Choice Conference to talk about the growth of school choice options across the country. Even though many school choice programs have been limited in their scope and targeted to only the poor, they are undoubtedly working.

Then, Yount chats with Dan McGrath, president of Leo High School in Chicago. The school is in the middle of one of the poorest and most violent neighborhoods in the city, but the school had a 100 percent graduation rate - miles ahead of the public schools across the rest of the city.

If Illinois had a legitimate school choice program, McGrath says students "would be lined up out the door" because the school could handle twice as many students as they currently have.

May 18, 2015

Breaking the Bank is Watchdog.org’s weekly look at the national public pension crisis, how it’s affecting state and city budgets and what can be done — if anything — to fix it.

In this week’s episode, hosts Eric Boehm and Steve Greenhut take a step back from the usual number-crunching and budget-busting to ask a sociological question: are America's highly-paid public sector workers a new form of royalty?

Okay, they're not going to be wearing crowns anytime soon, but there's a noticeable and growing class divide between government employees and everyone else. It's a situation that has been worsened by the public pension system, which taxpayers must pay into but don't get much in return.

 

May 15, 2015

Code Blue is Watchdog Radio’s weekly look at heath issues, ranging from the latest public health debates to small government views on health care reform.

Medicaid and Medicare are breaking the budgets of states and the federal government, but there are other options out there. Is Obamacare the best we can do?

In this week's episode, hosts Katie Watson and Jason Hart take a look at the politics of Medicaid expansion. Governors, like Rick Scott in Florida, who once opposed the idea of expanding Medicaid as part of the Affordable Care Act, are coming around - enticed by the promise of federal cash flowing to their state budgets.

But does Medicaid expansion mean quality care for the poor? Most studies say no.

Also: should nurse practitioners be allowed to work without contracting through a doctor? Reducing regulations like that could help improve care and lower costs.

 

May 14, 2015

By Ben Yount | Watchdog Radio

This is the inaugural episode of "In The Arena," the Watchdog.org podcast that features writers from Watchdog Arena - the folks who are out there everyday doing their part to expose waste, fraud and abuse.

In this first episode, host Ben Yount sits down with Ryan Hegemann to discuss how the federal government is dealing with the emerging technology of commercial drones. Congress has ordered the FAA to make rules for how drones can operate in the United States, but it's taking a long time to get rules finalized and that's costing the American economy.

Ryan Hagemann is a masters student in public policy at George Mason University and the co-author of a recent Mercatus paper, “Removing Roadblocks to Autonomous Vehicles.” His research interests include decentralized peer-to-peer networks, Trans-humanism, stateless social organization, robotics and automation, and studies at the intersection of sociology, economics, and technology.

 

May 13, 2015

This is At the Races, Watchdog.org’s podcast that focuses on elections and political campaigns.

In this episode, host Eric Boehm sits down with New Jersey Watchdog's Mark Lagerkvist, who recently uncovered a big story about Gov. Chris Christie spending more than $80,000 on concessions at football games in 2010 and 2011.  That's a lot of nachos and beer.

As Lagerkvist explains, the incident is just the latest in a long series of questionable spending decisions by Christie, who talks a good game as a fiscal conservative but seems to enjoy living-it-up at the expense of taxpayers and his wealthy friends.  Once considered a Republican frontrunner for 2016, Christie is now struggling to remain popular in his own state.

What would you buy with $80,0000 at NFL football games?

May 12, 2015

This is Behind the Headlines, Watchdog.org’s podcast that takes a deeper look at the political news of the day.

In this week’s episode, host Eric Boehm sits down with Watchdog national security reporter Josh Peterson to talk about a recent federal court ruling that struck a blow against the National Security Agency.

A three-judge panel in the 2nd Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled last week that the NSA’s bulk collection of Americans’ telephone records is illegal.

The NSA has argued the bulk collection was legal because of a key component in the federal Patriot Act. But in the ruling issued Thursday, the 2nd Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals did not buy that reasoning and said the NSA overstepped its authority to spy on Americans’ communications.

May 11, 2015

This is “Sit Down, Shut Up,” Watchdog.org’s podcast examining education issues at the national, state and local levels.

Hosts Ben Yount and Moriah Costa take a critical look at the education establishment, the growth of school choice and the ways free markets can be a part of fixing America’s broken school system.

In this week's episode, Yount and Costa welcome fellow Watchdog reporter Yael Ossowski to the program to discuss the growth of charter schools in America. Despite what some recent studies put forward by opponets of charter schools say, there is little evidence that charter schools are reinstituting segregation or otherwise creating a race-based alternative to public schools.

In fact, its quite the opposite: some of the biggest growth of charter schools is in inner cities, where traditional public schools have failed to do a good job and where charters are specifically targeting minority students.

May 8, 2015

By Eric Boehm and Ben Yount | Watchdog Radio

This is Behind the Headlines, Watchdog.org’s podcast that takes a deeper look at the political news of the day.

In this week’s episode, hosts Eric Boehm and Ben Yount take a look at free trade and how it has made the world a better place by providing access to cheap goods. The goal of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a free trade deal being worked out by the United States, China and other nations, is to make sure that flow of goods can continue.  But free trade deals aren't always what they seem.

Then, Donald Boudreaux from the Mercatus Center stops by the program to go a little deeper into why the TPP matters and to dissolve some of the common misconceptions about the deal.

May 7, 2015

By Eric Boehm and Steve Greenhut | Watchdog.org

Breaking the Bank is Watchdog.org’s weekly look at the national public pension crisis, how it’s affecting state and city budgets and what can be done — if anything — to fix it.

In this week’s episode, hosts Eric Boehm and Steve Greenhut take a look at one way that pension reform could get accomplished in California, by getting a proposal on the election ballot in 2016.

The big problem? Republicans are worried that putting pension reform on the ballot in a presidential election year will help turn out Democratic voters.  The fear of losing their slim number of seats in Sacramento might stymie any efforts to have a very important pension bill on the ballot.  Can Republicans get out of their own way?

 

May 6, 2015

This is “Sit Down, Shut Up,” Watchdog.org’s podcast examining education issues at the national, state and local levels.

Hosts Ben Yount and Moriah Costa takes a critical look at the education establishment, the growth of school choice and the ways free markets can be a part of fixing America’s broken school system.

In this week's episode, Yount sits down with Andrew Broy of the Illinois Network of Charter Schools, which is pushing for more school choice in the state. Although Illinois has historically been one of the states with the fewest school choice options, the financial status of the state's schools - particularly those in Chicago - is forcing lawmakers to consider some alternatives.

May 5, 2015

By Eric Boehm and Ben Yount | Watchdog Radio

This is "At The Races," Watchdog.org's podcast that focuses on elections and political campaigns.

In this episode, hosts Ben Yount and Eric Boehm discuss the latest round of entrants into the 2016 presidential field.

Can outsiders like Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina make a mark on the GOP field?  Will Sen. Bernie Sanders force Hilary Clinton to move to the left in the Democratic primary?

Most importantly, do any of these long shots have a chance to win the race, once they reach the starting gate? Place your bets, because we're At The Races on the Watchdog Podcast.

 

May 4, 2015

By Eric Boehm and Katie Watson | Watchdog Radio

This is Behind the Headlines, Watchdog.org’s podcast that takes a deeper look at the political news of the day.

In this week’s episode, host Eric Boehm sits down with Watchdog.org reporter Katie Watson to discuss the political and economic consequences of cigarette taxes. Watson is in the midst of a series of investigative reports about the uses and problems with cigarette taxes in two Virginia cities who recently decided that they wanted to make smokers pay more in order to help plug holes in budgets.

But it's a local story with national implications, as cities and states across the country are looking to avoid broad-based tax increases by picking on smaller groups like smokers.  Do cigarette taxes do some good by encouraging people to quit, or are they really just a regressive tax on the people least likely to be able to avoid paying it?

May 1, 2015

Breaking The Bank is Watchdog.org’s weekly look at the national public pension crisis, how it’s affecting state and city budgets and what can be done — if anything — to fix it.

In this week’s episode, hosts Eric Boehm and Steve Greenhut take a break from the pension beat to reflect on the crisis that unfolded over the past two weeks in Baltimore. Everything that there is to say about the protests and riots has already been said, but we turn our focus to another aspect of the city - one that is literally breaking the bank: failed economic development projects that bring tourists and riches to a small part of the city while the rest of Baltimore struggles.

Does the city really need to own a $300 million hotel (which lost $5 million last year, alone) or spend $2 billion to redevelop the Inner Harbor while neighborhoods and schools are struggling?  It's not a problem that is unique to Baltimore - politicians everywhere choose white elephant projects over basic city services - but it's a problem that is under-reported as we try to understand the crisis in America's urban communities.

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