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The Reason Interview With Nick Gillespie
52 minutes | Jun 9, 2021
Steven Johnson: How We Doubled Life Expectancy in the 20th Century
"It took us four years just to identify the virus that caused AIDS in the '80s," says Steven Johnson. "Imagine COVID where it's four years before we even know what is causing the outbreak. That's what would have happened if we just shifted 20 years, 30 years earlier in terms of when this outbreak happened." Johnson is the author of the new book Extra Life: A Short History of Living Longer, which is also running as a series on PBS (watch online here). The rapid advance in vaccine technology, which is bringing an end to the COVID-19 pandemic, is best understood in the context of a series of innovations that more than doubled the life expectancy of the human race over the last 100 years. Extra Life explores how innovations in epidemiological statistics, artificial fertilizer, toilets, and sanitation systems, along with vaccines and other measures, have allowed billions of people to flourish until old age. By 2016, global life expectancy at birth had reached 72 years, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Johnson was a founder of the pioneering website Feed in the 1990s and has authored a shelf full of books about human progress, including best-sellers such as The Ghost Map, which recounted how doctors and researchers ended the threat of cholera in 19th-century London, and Future Perfect, which argues that the modern networked world is far more resilient than previous iterations. He talks with Nick Gillespie about how we managed to massively increase our lifespans in the 20th century, and whether we can do even better in the 21st. And they talk about performance of the World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Food and Drug Administration when it comes to Covd-19 and how those agencies might rebuild trust and confidence in the post-pandemic world.
53 minutes | Jun 2, 2021
Andrew Doyle: Free Speech and Why It Matters
Andrew Doyle is an Irish journalist and writer best known as the creator of the Twitter personality Titania McGrath, a parody of an ultra-woke, 24-year-old, militant vegan who thinks she is a better poet than William Shakespeare. Though the 43-year-old Doyle describes himself as a left-winger, he is a fierce critic of cancel culture and a proponent of Brexit. He holds a doctorate from Oxford in early Renaissance poetry, is the host of the new nightly show GB News, and is a columnist for Spiked Online. (He's a previous guest on The Reason Interview with Nick Gillespie.) Doyle is also the author of the new book Free Speech and Why It Matters, a comprehensive, learned, and compelling argument in favor of unfettered debate and open expression. Nick Gillespie talks with him about why cancel culture is on the rise, how to combat it, and what Titania McGrath is up to as she approaches her quarter-life crisis.
70 minutes | May 26, 2021
Freddie deBoer: Let's Kill the 'Cult of Smart' and Legacy Media
Born in 1981, Freddie deBoer is an English Ph.D., the author of The Cult of Smart: How Our Broken Education System Perpetuates Social Injustice, and the proprietor of one of the liveliest, most provocative, and most controversial publications at Substack. He is also a third-generation Marxist who believes that individuals are innately different from one another (probably due to inherited differences in intelligence and physical capacity) and that many of his fellow Bernie Sanders-loving, progressive inhabitants of Brooklyn are hurting the poor when they insist that all K-12 students take college prep classes and have access to higher education. "Education is not a weapon against inequality; it is an engine of inequality," he writes, sounding like Dirty Jobs' Mike Rowe when it comes to promoting well-paying but low-status trade jobs. What deBoer calls "the cult of smart"—the valorization of test-taking and a belief that all of us are blank slates who can be remediated through the right sort of instruction and environment—not only marginalizes the poor and "untalented," it ultimately blames them for their own condition. His take on legacy media is equally acid, as when he tells critics of Substack, the controversial newsletter platform that has given a financially rewarding home to him and other writers who either left or never gained purchase at traditional journalistic outlets, "You don't like the writing that gets sold on Substack, cool, write better shit and sell it to more people." Nick Gillespie talks with deBoer about his critiques of education, the mainstream media, and the contemporary left. They also wrangle over deBoer's call for "revolution, not evolution" and an end to capitalism, what it means to "want to live outside of exchange," and the surprising overlap between Marxists and libertarians when it comes to a range of current policy issues.
94 minutes | May 19, 2021
Scott Winship: Don't Believe Horror Stories About Fertility Rates, Income Inequality, and Economic Mobility
Despite Americans' reputation for cockeyed optimism, we have always been suckers for declension narratives—the idea that the Golden Age ended sometime in the past and we have the bad luck to live in a world that is uniquely awful, unfair, and corrupt. Donald Trump built a successful presidential campaign on making America great again and his successor Joe Biden routinely harkens back to a time when things were better and more on the level. Three of today's most widespread declension narratives involve fertility rates, income inequality, and economic mobility. We have fewer children than ever, goes the popular story, because nobody—even the wealthy!—can afford them anymore. The spread between rich and poor has never been bigger and it's only increasing. Kids today will be the first generation in America to have a lower standard of living than their parents. These stories resonate with us emotionally and have obvious political utility, but are they true? My guest today is Scott Winship, the director of poverty studies at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI). He says that these declension narratives are misleading at best and outright wrong at worst. The reason families are getting smaller is because women have more control over their bodies and generally want fewer kids. When you factor in after-tax income and transfer programs, poor people are in fact doing better than ever. And his research shows that about 70 percent of us will make more inflation-adjusted income than our parents—a figure that hasn't changed in the past 50 years. Winship has a doctorate in social policy from Harvard and, prior to joining the right-of-center AEI, he did stints at the Brookings Institution and Pew Research Center. Nick Gillespie talks with Winship about why we want to believe the world we live in is getting worse, how his thinking about social progress and ideology has changed over his career, and how he thinks we might make it easier for poor people to participate more fully in society. Winship also gives a defense of the much-maligned discipline of sociology as a vital way of understanding the world around us.
72 minutes | May 12, 2021
John Samples: Facebook's Oversight Board Was Right To Uphold Trump Ban
On January 7, 2021, Facebook indefinitely suspended the account of President Donald Trump, saying he had violated the platform's "Community Standards" the day before by calling Capitol Hill rioters "great patriots" even as they were engaged in a violent demonstration. In another post on the same day, Trump also pushed "an unfounded narrative of electoral fraud and persistent calls to action" while pro-Trump rioters rampaged in the halls of Congress. Trump's account, which once boasted 35 million followers and was routinely one of the most popular pages at Facebook, has remained frozen since. (Trump was also banned from Facebook's sister app, Instagram). Facebook's management immediately remanded its decision to the platform's Oversight Board, an independent group of 20 people who have the legal right to overturn any suspension on the site. On May 5, the board ruled that Facebook applied its standards correctly by suspending Trump's account but that it erred in making the suspension indefinite. "It is not permissible for Facebook to keep a user off the platform for an undefined period, with no criteria for when or whether the account will be restored," reads the decision. "In applying this penalty, Facebook did not follow a clear, published procedure." The board gave Facebook up to six months to explain why Trump will not be allowed back on the platform or to lay out the criteria by which he will be let back on. John Samples is a political scientist and a vice president at the libertarian Cato Institute. He's also a member of Facebook's Oversight Board (go here for a list of all members). He tells Nick Gillespie how the group came to its conclusions and why he thinks the Oversight Board is an excellent example of private-sector governance of cyberspace. He also discusses his 2019 policy analysis "Why the Government Should Not Regulate Content Moderation of Social Media," casts a dark eye on attempts by liberal and conservative politicians to recast Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube as common carriers subject to intense governmental oversight, and explains why a single standard of content moderation is both unwise and impossible. "Despite the fact that I'm on Facebook's Oversight Board, I worry about a single unified set of content moderation [principles]," says Samples, who argues that a multiplicity of platforms and approaches to speech make more sense from a libertarian perspective. "You don't want one set of rules for the entire world, but you also may need different platforms, different kinds of entities providing these services. I wouldn't necessarily want to see what's good for Facebook to spread everywhere in exactly the same form."
49 minutes | May 5, 2021
John McWhorter: 'The Idea That America Is All About Despising Black People? That's Fantasy.'
If advocates of "wokeness," "critical race theory," and "anti-racism" seem to be acting like religious zealots who must crush all heretics, that's because they are, argued Columbia University linguist John McWhorter at a 2018 debate at the Soho Forum. "Anti-racism as currently configured has gone a long way from what used to be considered intelligent and sincere civil rights activism to today [being] a religion," said McWhorter. "I don't mean that as a rhetorical thing. It actually is what any naive anthropologist would recognize as a faith." The 55-year-old author first explored his idea of anti-racism as "Our Flawed New Religion" in a 2015 essay at The Daily Beast. He's expanding the concept into a book, due out next year, that he's serializing on Substack. Tentatively titled The Elect, it lays out his argument about the misguided fervor undergirding the anti-racist movement championed by people such as Robin DiAngelo, Ibram X. Kendi, and Ta-Nehisi Coates. Meanwhile, McWhorter's latest volume to hit store shelves is Nine Nasty Words, a study of how curse words such as fuck became commonplace, unsayable, or something in between. Reason's Nick Gillespie talked with McWhorter about the shifting status of curse words and accusations of systemic racism in contemporary America.
65 minutes | Apr 28, 2021
Art Tavana: What Guns N' Roses Tells Us about the American Dream
In 1987, just two years before the collapse of the Berlin Wall would usher in the beginning of what Francis Fukuyama would later call the end of history, the rock band Guns N' Roses released Appetite for Destruction, an album that would go on to become the best-selling debut L.P. in the history of rock and roll. Packed with hits such as "Welcome to the Jungle," "Sweet Child o' Mine," and "Paradise City," Appetite for Destruction wasn't just another record. It was a cultural milestone, at once the culmination of decades of trends in popular music and the closing out not just of the rock era but a society-wide flirtation with excess, fear, anger, and nihilism. For the next five years, Guns N' Roses and particularly the band's front man Axl Rose, would personify an America in rapid flux and change, desperate to move on from a worn-out, post-war consensus on national identity, gender roles, and global hegemony but equally terrified of wading into uncharted waters. The new book Goodbye Guns N' Roses: The Crime, Beauty, and Amplified Chaos of America's Most Polarizing Band, by Art Tavana, is an extended essay on the cultural legacy not just of a band but of a period that informs contemporary debates on politics and culture even as it recedes from our memory. Tavana, an LA-based former writer for Playboy and LA Weekly, talks with Nick Gillespie about the attraction of popular nihilism; Axl Rose as the dispossessed son of middle America; how the band's racist, xenophobic, and homophobic song "One in a Million" reflected national anxiety over coming political, social, and economic change; how the group's beef with Nirvana, another band that couldn't quite make it into the post-Cold War era, illustrates the limits of rock and roll; and what comes after the end of corporate mass culture.
75 minutes | Apr 21, 2021
Jane Coaston: Meet the Libertarian New York Times Podcaster
Jane Coaston is the new host of The Argument, a massively popular New York Times podcast that seeks to host civil and informed discussions about the most pressing issues of the day. A 33-year-old Cincinnati native, Coaston has worked at Vox, MTV, and the Human Rights Campaign, among other places. She's the daughter of a black father and a white mother, was raised as a devout Catholic, and identifies as queer.* She's also a registered Libertarian who is "especially distrustful of efforts by the state to get people to do things." She explains that "at some point, a regulation or a law with the absolute best of intentions will be wielded by people who may not have the absolute best of intentions." Coaston tells Nick Gillespie that growing up in a liberal household in a conservative part of the country made her concerned about giving authorities a lot of power. Adding to that was a sense of being isolated because of her race and sexuality. "My libertarian sensibilities really came from a sense of, I know what it is like politically to always lose and to see what the winners look like," she says. One of Coaston's goals for The Argument is to bring in a lot of new voices to debates about politics, partly to learn new arguments but also to model true pluralism. She says she is sick of performative politics in which people act out predetermined roles rather than actually engage with one another and she's wary of the idea that everything needs to be adjudicated at the national level. She also says that we the people—not the feds, or Donald Trump, or Joe Biden—are the ones politicizing every aspect of our lives. That's an individual decision, she insists, and people can make that decision or not. * CORRECTION: This article originally misdescribed Coaston's spouse.
68 minutes | Apr 14, 2021
Jesse Singal: Why We Keep Falling for Psychological Quick Fixes
Do you remember the "power pose" craze from about a decade ago? In the second-most popular TED talk ever, psychologist Amy Cuddy has told over 60 million viewers that they can change their lives by simply changing their body language. If you grew up in the 1990s, you probably experienced classes devoted to boosting your self-esteem, independent of your actual achievements on tests or assignments. Have you taken the Implicit Association Test or IAT, which claims to test your unconscious bias against minorities and other groups? It is routinely used in all sorts of diversity training programs and educational settings, from K-12 through college. These are all examples of what science writer and podcaster Jesse Singal calls "quick fixes" that attempt to address pressing social issues based on fundamentally flawed research. In The Quick Fix: Why Fad Psychology Can't Cure Our Social Ills, Singal looks at these and other attempts to change social policy based on bad or faulty science. One of Cuddy's fellow researchers has said that their research doesn't prove anything in the real world. The K-12 curriculum that started the self-esteem boom was based on a misreading of Nathaniel Branden's work by a single powerful California politician. And the IAT is not only unreliable—the same individual will generate very different scores when they retake the test—it's not clear that "unconscious bias" is a major influence on how we act toward one another. Singal, co-host of the popular podcast Blocked & Reported, tells Nick Gillespie his goal is to explain why we keep falling for ideas that psychologists say will fix society. He hopes that we'll waste less time focusing on things that don't really help anyone.
46 minutes | Apr 7, 2021
Chef Andrew Gruel: "I'm Not an Asshole. Gavin Newsom Is."
Chef Andrew Gruel just might be the patron saint of restaurateurs, small-business owners, and service workers during the pandemic. He's the founder and owner of Slapfish, a growing national fast-casual restaurant chain based in Huntington Beach, California. He's a widely recognized culinary innovator and familiar face on the Food Network and other cooking channels. Over the past year, Gruel has also gained prominence as an unabashed critic of arbitrary rules that put business owners like him at the beck and call of hypocritical politicians such as California Gov. Gavin Newsom. Most famously, in an absolutely inspired rant that went viral on social media last December, Gruel listed all the ways in which California's ban on outdoor dining made no scientific or economic sense before concluding, "I'm not an asshole. The governor is." Gruel, whose Twitter feed is addictive, is no slouch when it comes to helping food workers who have been displaced by the pandemic and lockdowns and ill-served by state welfare agencies too. He and his wife created a fund to help unemployed workers that's given out hundreds of thousands of dollars so far. Nick Gillespie sat down to talk with Gruel about what it's been like to run a business with government at all levels arbitrarily flipping the on-off switch, why innovation is central to both capitalism and cuisine, and why he'll never open another franchise in California.
51 minutes | Mar 31, 2021
Ronald Bailey: Covid-19 Should Be Our Last Pandemic
After nearly 3 million deaths worldwide (and almost 600,000 in the United States), it looks like the end of the COVID-19 pandemic may be within sight as vaccines proliferate. In "The Last Pandemic," the cover story of the new issue of Reason, Science Correspondent Ronald Bailey argues that technological breakthroughs and policy progress mean humanity may never again have to endure such a disaster. "The greatly speeded-up biomedical innovation provoked by the current global scourge has provided future generations with tools to keep subsequent viral invasions at bay," writes Bailey. "These include fast new vaccine production platforms, the development of better diagnostic and disease surveillance monitoring, and progress in the rapid design of therapeutics." The main potential sticking point? The role of governments, which continue to hamper the ability of scientists and medical providers to deal quickly and effectively with diseases. Bailey tells Nick Gillespie that while Operation Warp Speed—through which the United States government incentivized pharmaceutical companies to develop vaccines with unprecedented speed—was wildly successful, bureaucratic inertia and turf wars still stand in the way of quicker, faster, more effective innovation.
64 minutes | Mar 24, 2021
Melissa Chen: "Ideas Have Consequences. So Does Silence."
"Ideas have consequences. But so does silence," insists Melissa Chen, the New York editor for The Spectator and managing director of Ideas Beyond Borders, a nonprofit that translates new and classic texts about science, history, and liberal political philosophy into Arabic and distributes them as free e-books throughout the Middle East. Born and raised in Singapore, Chen came to the United States to study genomics at Boston University and quickly established herself as a foe of groupthink, political correctness, and cancel culture in America while critiquing authoritarian regimes in China, her birth country, and elsewhere. A frequent guest on shows and podcasts such as The Joe Rogan Experience, Bridget Phetasy's Walk-Ins Welcome, and The Rubin Report, Chen maintains one of the liveliest feeds on Twitter, mixing long threads with sardonic comments on the news of the day. "I'd like to welcome the Arabs to the Schrödinger's White People Club. Signed, Asians and Jews," she wrote after some commentators claimed the reason that suspected Boulder, Colorado shooter Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa, a Syrian Arab, was not killed by police was because he was "white." I'd like to welcome the Arabs to the Schrödinger's White People Club. Signed,Asians and Jews — Melissa Chen (@MsMelChen) March 23, 2021 Chen talks with Nick Gillespie about how an obsessive focus on identity politics led the media to keep insisting without evidence that the murder of massage parlor workers in Atlanta was a hate crime against Asian Americans, why Hollywood is changing its products to please censors in the Chinese government, and how the best way to counter radicalization is with speech and information rather than repression.
55 minutes | Mar 17, 2021
Stewart Brand: We Are (Still) As Gods
Has anyone lived a more interesting, influential, and inspiring life than Stewart Brand? Born in 1938 and educated at Stanford and by the United States army, Brand was a Merry Prankster who helped conduct Ken Kesey's legendary acid tests in the 1960s. His guerilla campaign of selling buttons that asked "Why haven't we seen a photograph of the whole earth yet?" pushed NASA to release the first image of the planet from space and helped inspire the first Earth Day celebrations. From 1968 to 1971, he published The Whole Earth Catalog, which quickly became a bible to hippies on communes and techno-geeks such as Steve Jobs, who famously quoted its parting message: "Stay hungry, stay foolish." Brand has rightly been called "the intellectual Johnny Appleseed of the counterculture." He helped shape early techno-culture and cyberspace by reporting on the personal computer revolution and interacting with many of its key figures early on. His ideas were instrumental in the creation of the Well, one of the earliest online communities and he helped found The Long Now Foundation, which seeks to lengthen and deepen the way we all think about the past and the future. In a series of books on everything from the MIT Media Lab to how buildings learn to "eco-modernism," he has delineated a unique strain of ecological thought that embraces technology as a means of salvation and liberation rather than a destructive force that must be stopped. His current passion is Revive & Restore, an organization that is leading the "de-extinction movement" by using biotechnology to bring back plants and animals including the American Chestnut tree, the passenger pigeon, and the woolly mammoth. Brand is the subject of the new documentary, We Are As Gods—a line from the first issue of The Whole Earth Catalog—which takes a long, critical look at his life and work. For today's podcast, Nick Gillespie talks with with Brand and the directors of the film, David Alvarado and Jason Sussberg, about his long, strange trip over the past 60 years that has taken place exclusively at the frontier of social and cultural change.
67 minutes | Mar 10, 2021
Peter Suderman: The $1.9 Trillion American Rescue Plan Has Almost Nothing To Do With Covid
The American Rescue Plan Act is hurtling toward final passage, but only a few percentage points of its massive $1.9 trillion price tag is specifically geared toward, you know, addressing the pandemic. How little? House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R–Calif.) says just 9 percent of it goes "directly to toward Covid-19 relief." The nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Budget puts the number even lower, declaring, "Only about 1 percent of the entire package goes toward COVID-19 vaccines, and 5 percent is truly focused on public health needs surrounding the pandemic." Most of it is instead a pre-existing Democratic Party wishlist of increased spending on virtually every aspect of government, including bigger unemployment benefits, even more money for schools, a gigantic child tax credit, and subsidies for Obamacare insurance policies that would phase out only at a household income of more than $580,000. This legislation comes on the heels of the $4 trillion in coronavirus-related spending passed last year. Peter Suderman, features editor at Reason, joins Nick Gillespie to discuss his cover story in the new issue of the magazine, which is titled "Josh Hawley's Toxic Populism," a deep dive into the anti-libertarian platform of the Missouri senator who is one of the Republican Party's rising stars. They also walk through the nearly $2 trillion of new spending—passed along strict party lines—that is about to be signed into law by President Joe Biden.
61 minutes | Mar 3, 2021
Elon Musk, Welfare King!
Tech billionaire Elon Musk is known for creating bold new companies such as PayPal, Tesla, and SpaceX, championing liberating technologies like Bitcoin, and hyping visionary plans to colonize Mars. But with a net worth of around $200 billion, he's not just the planet's richest person. He's one of it's biggest welfare recipients, report Lisa Conyers and Phil Harvey, authors of Welfare for the Rich: How Your Tax Dollars End Up in Millionaires' Pockets—And What You Can do About It. By 2015, they write, companies led by Musk had gotten billions of dollars in subsidies, tax breaks, and other handouts. New York state even shelled out $750 million to build a solar panel factory for Musk's Solar City operation and said the company would pay no property taxes for a decade, saving another $260 million. Musk is not alone say Conyers, a veteran journalist, and Harvey, a successful businessman who donates to many libertarian organizations, including Reason Foundation, the nonprofit that publishes this podcast. There are literally thousands of other immensely rich people who are constantly bilking governments at all levels for special perks, carve-outs, and handouts paid for by middle-class and poor people. In exhaustively documented and perpetually enraging prose, Conyers and Harvey show how millionaire "farmers," billionaire team owners, and filthy rich oil-and-gas-and-wind-power barons lobby Congress, rewrite zoning laws, and plunder the public fisc like it's a bodily function. They also outline realistic and effective ways to fight back and level a playing field that benefits the people who need the least help from government.
65 minutes | Feb 24, 2021
Jason Riley: Thomas Sowell's Unique Insights on Race, Economics, and Politics
Thomas Sowell is one of the most influential economists, syndicated columnists, and social critics of the past half-century, having authored provocative, best-selling books on everything from race relations to childhood development to, most recently, Charter Schools and Their Enemies. His masterworks include Knowledge and Decisions, which uses Friedrich Hayek's insights about distributed information to explain both how markets work and why intellectuals disdain markets; A Conflict of Visions, which explores the ideological origins of political struggles; and Basic Economics, a best-selling primer now in its fifth edition. Sowell's inspiring life—he was born black and poor in North Carolina in 1930 and received his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago at the age of 38—and expansive work are now the subjects of a new documentary, Common Sense in a Senseless World (watch here) and a forthcoming biography titled Maverick. Nick Gillespie speaks with Jason L. Riley, the author of the film and the biography, about why even at age 90, Sowell is more relevant today than ever. A fellow at The Manhattan Institute and a columnist for The Wall Street Journal, Riley tells me that Sowell's empirically driven research and his fearless engagement with even the most controversial topics are exactly what our world needs more of.
88 minutes | Feb 17, 2021
Conor Friedersdorf: Stand Against Left-Wing and Right-Wing P.C.
To say that we live in a hyper-polarized, angry society is to state the obvious. Everywhere around us, but especially online, in politics, and in the media, we seem to be, with apologies to Matthew Arnold, trapped on a darkling plain where ignorant armies clash by night. It's impossible to avoid a continuous stream of stories, often erupting from prestigious institutions such as The New York Times and Ivy League universities, of people being canceled for real and imagined thought crimes, political hacks defending objectively awful policy failures, and charges of racism, sexism, and homophobia being launched like drone strikes on unsuspecting, innocent civilians. Many in the media and the academy are questioning bedrock commitments to free expression and intellectual freedom. As the former head of the ACLU, Ira Glasser, told Reason recently, many activists, academics, and journalists believe that "free speech is an antagonist" to social justice. One journalist who pushes back against all this is Conor Friedersdorf, a staff writer at The Atlantic, who maintains one of the smartest and engaging Twitter feeds around, and publishes the newsletter The Best of Journalism, which "highlights exceptional nonfiction journalism." The 41-year-old Southern California native writes about criminal justice reform, the excesses of wokeness and political correctness on the right and the left, and the failure of government to effectively deliver many of the basic services it's supposed to provide. "The biggest thing I'm interested in is, can we have a robust public discourse? Can we adjudicate truth propositions together?" Friedersdorf tells me in today's podcast. He cites Jonathan Rauch's influential 1993 book, Kindly Inquisitors: The New Attacks on Free Thought, which lays out the case for free and open dialogue in society, especially about contentious topics and ideas. (Go here for my interview with Rauch on today's cancel culture.). "It is a messy process of talking back and forth, and it's really important," says Friedersdorf. "We can get tremendous value from it in the future if only we allow it to happen. And I see more and more people not allowing it to happen with the advent of social media." We talk about the case of New York Times reporter Donald McNeil, who was pushed out of the paper after colleagues learned he used a racial epithet in 2019 while on a trip with high-school students, calls by journalists to regulate conversations on the popular new audio-only social media platform Clubhouse, and the failure of the FDA and CDC to roll out vaccines as efficiently as possible. We also talk about how libertarians might effectively reach out to people on the left and the right who are increasingly exhausted by the orthodoxy demanded by progressives and conservatives.
81 minutes | Feb 10, 2021
Rep. Peter Meijer: Only GOP Freshman Who Voted To Impeach Trump Tells All
Just three days after being sworn into Congress to represent Michigan's 3rd district, Republican freshman Peter Meijer found himself and colleagues trapped without security in the bowels of the Capitol building while a riot that ultimately claimed five lives raged all around him. The following week, he was one of just 10 Republicans—and the only first-termer—to vote to impeach Donald Trump, a decision that led to a narrowly failed censure vote from his own state's GOP and immediate announcements that he will be primaried in 2022. The 33-year-old Army veteran who served in Iraq didn't expect his first few days in Congress to be so chaotic, but he says his military training helps him stay steady as he fills the seat vacated by Libertarian Justin Amash. On the campaign trail, Meijer supported Donald Trump but says that the truculent behavior of the former president and many members of his own party after Election Day not only caused the January 6 riot but cost the GOP the Senate. Meijer tells Nick Gillespie why he believes in limited government, economic freedom, and individualism; why he's against out-of-control stimulus spending and military adventurism; and how he plans to combat the craziness he sees both on the right and left in the House of Representatives. He also talks about what he's learned about business and public service from being the scion of the Meijer superstore chain, how generational fault lines may be every bit as important as partisan ones, and why he's committed to voting his principles rather than his constituents' will.
70 minutes | Feb 3, 2021
Grant McCracken: The New Honor Code vs. Radical Wokeism
An increasing number of corporations, universities, and other organizations hold anti-racism seminars in which participants are expected to acknowledge their own racism at the start of the meetings or to write "letters of apology to marginalized people whom they may have harmed." Anthropologist and brand consultant Grant McCracken, who has taught at places such as Harvard Business School and worked with people such as Kanye West, says such imperatives are doubly bad. First, they don't acknowledge the changed nature of institutions over the past half-century toward inclusion and equality and second, they leave participants feeling defamed and diminished. There's never a good reason to say you are a racist, he writes, unless, of course, you are one. McCracken's work will be familiar to Reason readers, both as a contributor to our pages and as an influence on the magazine's broad conception of culture as a dynamic, participatory process through which we all figure out who we are and what we want to become. His 1998 book Plenitude, in which he documents what he calls the "quickening speciation of social types," remains the essential starting point for understanding the relentlessly heterogenous world in which we live. His new book is called The New Honor Code: A Simple Plan for Raising Our Standards and Restoring Our Good Names. It explores the seeming disappearance of honorable behavior from much of our personal, professional, and public lives. Sports heroes such as Lance Armstrong not only cheat to win but lie about it while accusing others of cheating. Medical professionals such as Larry Nassar abuse their position as the USA Gymnastics team doctor to assault hundreds of young, defenseless patients. Politicians ranging from Nancy Pelosi to Donald Trump to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to Ted Cruz regularly defame and lie about their opponents without evidence or fear of reprisal. What America needs, says McCracken, is a rebirth of honor that demands we insist on basic standards of behavior, especially from those in positions of power, and that we also treat others as we ourselves would like to be treated: with respect and compassion. The New Honor Code is a rich text, drawing from McCracken's academic research into Elizabethan England, his abiding curiosity about popular culture, and his work in corporate America. Few other thinkers can distill lessons for the future from figures as diverse as 16th-century English diplomat Thomas Elyot, Beat writers such as Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg, and Canadian musician and Elon Musk partner Grimes.
44 minutes | Jan 29, 2021
Corey DeAngelis: Why 2021 Is a Turning Point for School Choice
Nearly a year into ubiquitous school closings as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic—and even with a vaccine being rolled out—it's far from clear when most students will be going back to full-time, in-person classes. How are the shutdowns affecting K-12 education and changing the way we think about public schools? Corey De Angelis, the Reason Foundation's director of school choice, tells Nick Gillespie that a historically large number of parents are leaving traditional residential-assignment schools and looking to take their education dollars with them. As student failure rates climb and dissatisfaction with distance learning increases, says DeAngelis, there's also mounting frustration with teachers unions for their continued opposition to reopening despite mounting evidence that schools are not a significant source of infection. Over a dozen state legislatures are considering laws that would massively expand publicly funded school choice and De Angelis says that the pandemic ultimately may accomplish what decades of white papers have failed to deliver: a switch to a system in which parents rather than bureaucrats decide where their kids go to school.
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