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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: December, 2015
Dec 18, 2015

Yes, we have "Star Wars fever" too.  But don't worry, there's no spoilers here.

On this edition of the Watchdog Podcast, host Eric Boehm sits down with Dylan Pahman, a researcher for the Acton Institute, to discuss morality and capitalism within the Star Wars universe. When Lando decides to betray his friends in The Empire Strikes Back, is he just making a smart business decision? Why does he change his mind and join the rebels?

Lord Acton famously proclaimed that "power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely," but every Star Wars fan already knows this after watching Anakin's fall and eventual redemption. George Lucas' space saga has resonated with generations of fans not only because of the cool spaceships and sweet lightsaber duels, Pahman argues, but because the series offers a mythology that gives greater meaning to the actions of the characters on screen. 

In the opening, Boehm and Matt Kittle discuss this week's GOP debate and look ahead to 2016, when the polls and the debates will actually matter.  Also, which Star Wars characters do the candidates seem most like?

Evan Grossman explains how the Pennsylvania budget impasse may force Philadelphia schools to close.

Steve Miller wonders whether Mississippi is wasting the windfall it received after the BP oil spill.

All that, plus our Nanny State of the Week, on this edition of the Watchdog Podcast.

Dec 11, 2015

In the world of astrophysics, dark matter is a theoretical type of matter that cannot be seen or otherwise detected with telescopes, but is believed to make up the majority of all substance in the universe. In much the same way, regulatory dark matter is difficult to detect or track, but accounts for the majority of all federal rules and regs.

Clyde Wayne Crews, a vice president of policy for the Competitive Enterprise Institute, sits down with Eric Boehm to discuss his new report on these "dark matter" regulations that are created without any authorization from Congress or federal agencies.  There are lots and lots of them -- and before Crews tried to quantify them, there was really no accounting of exactly how many exist.

How many could he find?  In the past 20 years, more than 500,000 informal “public notices” issued by regulatory agencies of the federal government.

In the opening of the podcast, Watchdog's Matt Kittle explains the newest developments in the ongoing "Secret War" in Wisconsin.  Here's a pro tip: if you're going to investigate conservatives for campaign finance violations, make sure you didn't break campaign finance laws yourself.

In Texas, public officials are getting ready to sign off on a special subsidy for Formula One racing -- an industry that makes billions of dollars every year.

And in Colorado, voters will get to decide whether they want to have a single-payer health care system.

All that, plus our Nanny State of the Week, on this edition of the Watchdog Podcast.

Dec 4, 2015

Environmental groups lost a legal battle in Washington last month, but the case provided a glimpse into the Green group' new plan of attack: using children to tug at judicial heart strings.

As Rob Nikolewski reports, King County Superior Court Judge Hollis Hill denied the children’s demand that the state Department of Ecology adopt stricter emissions standards aimed at protecting them from climate change. Hill said the court did not have rule-making authority, but at the same time, Hill’s ruling was more than sympathetic to the youngsters’ case, with her decision echoing many of the same talking points climate activists often make.

Lawyers who represented the children in the lawsuit say this is a technique they will be looking to duplicate in other states.

And speaking of duplicating things, the Wisconsin Supreme Court had to rule -- again -- this week that the John Doe investigation into conservative donors in the Badger State is once again dead.  It seems like prosecutors in the case just won't take "no" for an answer, says Matt Kittle, who has covered the John Doe investigation -- and its many, many, legal failures -- for the past several years.

Pennsylvania is still without a state budget, but there is hope that a deal could be signed before the end of the year, reports Andrew Staub of the PA Independent.

In Vermont, lawmakers are considering a new carbon tax that could add 88 cents to the cost of every gallon of gas.

And in Texas, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is helping to subsidize the marketing costs of farms who sell organic food to Austin's hippies and hipsters.  Jon Cassidy joins us for that story.

All that, plus the Nanny State of the Week, on this edition of the Watchdog Podcast.