Free Exchange Podcast

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Wisconsin’s transportation funding system running on fumes

Transportation projects in Wisconsin are primarily funded by per-gallon fuel taxes that are declining as fuel economy improves and more drivers opt for electric and hybrid vehicles. Transportation funding gurus Robert W. Poole Jr. and Benita Cotton-Orr, both Badger Institute visiting fellows, join us to discuss how Badger State roads should be funded in the future.

The moral ecology of learning: How school choice helps Milwaukeeans

Earlier research already showed that children who went to schools in Milwaukee’s Parental Choice Program were less likely to get in trouble as young adults. Marilyn Anderson Rhames, an education scholar, found that these happier life outcomes were specifically linked to the religious content so prevalent in Milwaukee’s choice schools. Rhames, who spent 14 years as a teacher in Chicago’s public schools before studying for her doctorate, talks about how schools form character and how school choice helps them do it.
August 11, 2022

Wisconsin lags as other states adopt tax reforms

Wisconsin is becoming increasingly less competitive as many states embrace flat taxes and other significant reforms. One example: the Badger State’s GDP is anemic compared to most of our flat tax neighbors. Tax Foundation Senior Policy Analyst Katherine Loughead joins Badger Institute President Mike Nichols to discuss her new report “Tax Reform Options to Improve Wisconsin’s Competitiveness.” She offers options that would make Wisconsin a magnet for residents, businesses and investment.
July 21, 2022

Forgiving Student Loan Debt: Who wins and who loses?

Student debt forgiveness schemes are both inefficient and unfair policies for helping low-income families. Concordia University Wisconsin economics professor Scott Niederjohn discusses his latest analysis of who wins and who loses if President Biden erases some or all of these college loan obligations.
June 30, 2022

Keeping People out of the Work Force

The decision by Gov. Tony Evers to maintain the federal unemployment bonus until September 2021 kept some 28,000 Wisconsinites out of a workforce that desperately needed them. Economist Ike Brannon discusses the findings of his latest report, Unemployment (Over) Compensation.
June 16, 2022

Wisconsin Voters Increasingly Support School Choice

COVID school shutdowns and controversial curriculum have dramatically increased support for school choice in Wisconsin, according to pollster Wes Anderson, founding partner of OnMessage Inc. Anderson, who has been conducting school choice surveys for nearly 30 years, says support is particularly strong among those who have had exposure to school choice. His latest Wisconsin survey conducted for School Choice Wisconsin found that a solid majority of voters believe parental choice should continue – and expand.
June 1, 2022

Advancing Freedom Through Federalism

How can local ideas lead to national impact? Paul Teller, the executive director for Advancing American Freedom, explains the role think tanks play in developing ideas that create statewide laboratories of innovation. The policies that produce the best results help to reinvigorate the vision of federalism where states and communities – not the federal government – find the best solutions to local challenges.
April 20, 2022

Legislature Tries to Restore Fiscal Sanity

As billions of federal “relief” dollars flow into Wisconsin, the state Legislature has advanced two measures designed to restore legislative oversight and sound budgetary practices. Sen. Dale Kooyenga, a supporter of both measures, joins Free Exchange to discuss.
April 6, 2022

How Wisconsin's Minimum Markup Law Impacts Consumers

Are you fed up with soaring prices? Did you know that Wisconsin’s Depression-era minimum markup law arbitrarily inflates the cost of gas, groceries, pharmaceuticals, alcohol and more? State Sen. Duey Stroebel and Will Flanders, research director for the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty, explain how Wisconsin makes it illegal for retailers to sell certain products below cost and why this outdated law is costly to consumers and needs to be repealed.
March 23, 2022

Rise of the Germ-Killing Robots!

Why spend millions of taxpayer dollars on disinfectant robots if you’re going to keep cleaning the old-fashioned way? Remso and Diggings Editor Mark Lisheron discuss how “free” federal money incentivizes governments to buy things they don’t need – including a small army of $40,000-a-piece disinfection robots.
February 16, 2022

Addressing Wisconsin’s Oral Care Shortage

Dental therapists could provide needed oral care to tens of thousands of poor and underserved Wisconsinites. In this episode of Free Exchange, Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, and Matt Crespin, associate director of Children's Health Alliance of Wisconsin, discuss the dire shortage and explain how allowing dental therapy in Wisconsin could dramatically improve access to care. A broadly supported, bipartisan bill is currently hung up in the State Assembly.
February 2, 2022

A Tax Reform Path to Prosperity

States with competitive tax structures are attracting residents and businesses from high-tax neighbors. Can Wisconsin get in on the act? The Tax Foundation’s Katherine Loughead and Scott Manley of the Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce join Badger Institute President Mike Nichols to discuss the challenges posed by Wisconsin’s tax structure as well as reforms – income tax elimination, flat tax adoption, bracket consolidation – that would benefit Wisconsin residents, grow the economy and attract more people to the state.
January 19, 2022

Should Government Rein in Big Tech?

Social media is entering a turbulent new era as private companies with progressive agendas seem to be censoring speech and manipulating information. The question of whether government should further regulate these platforms or strip them of special protections is one that would greatly impact how we get information and interact with each other online. Josh Withrow, Director of Technology Policy at the National Taxpayers Union Foundation, joins the show to discuss the vagaries of social media, the First Amendment and the proper role of government in this sphere.
January 5, 2022

Will the Mainstream Media Survive? Should We Care?

Mike Nichols and Patrick McIlheran, two former conservative columnists for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, talk about the demise of their old employer, why the media has strayed so far to the left and what comes next.
December 15, 2021

Is Guaranteed Income Inevitable?

From coast to coast, American cities are testing the concept of no-strings-attached guaranteed income. Now this ill-advised idea has made its way to Wisconsin. Diggings Managing Editor Mark Lisheron joins the program to discuss the origins of Universal Basic Income, where it has been tested and whether sound economic principles will win out in the end.
December 1, 2021

What Gives? Wisconsin Welfare Numbers Increase While Economy Rebounds

Participation in government safety net programs remains elevated even as the economy recovers and employers clamor for workers. Badger Institute Visiting Fellow Angela Rachidi joins us to discuss what’s contributing to the labor shortage and steps the state can take to help get people back to work.
November 17, 2021

Taxpayer-Funded Venture Capital?

Should taxpayers be on the hook for a $100 million venture capital program? We talk with Daniel Sem, venture capitalist and dean of the Batterman School of Business at Concordia University Wisconsin, to discuss the economic importance of private-sector venture capital and whether government should engage in this high-risk activity with taxpayer dollars.
November 3, 2021

Black & Conservative (Part II)

(Part II of our two-part series) Eloise Anderson, Shannon Whitworth and Cindy Werner talk with Badger Institute President Mike Nichols about conservatism, independence, Critical Race Theory, self-sabotage, hustlers, infantilization and what it means to be American.
October 13, 2021

Black & Conservative (Part I)

Eloise Anderson, Shannon Whitworth and Cindy Werner talk with Badger Institute President Mike Nichols about conservatism, independence, Critical Race Theory, self-sabotage, hustlers, infantilization and what it means to be American.
October 13, 2021

America at a Crossroads: The Rise of the Entitlement State (Ft. Robert Doar)

Robert Doar, president of the American Enterprise Institute, talks with Badger Institute President Mike Nichols about poverty in America and the detrimental push for entitlements disconnected from work.
October 6, 2021

Breaking the Cycle (Ft. Jon Ponder)

Hope for Prisoners founder Jon Ponder explains how proper support, guidance and direction can help those returning from prison stay out of prison and become contributing members of their communities.
September 22, 2021

The Future of School Choice in Wisconsin

Will Flanders of the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty and Jim Bender of School Choice Wisconsin join us in discussing the future of education in the Badger State.
September 7, 2021

Correcting the Crime Narrative (Ft. Heather Mac Donald)

New York Times Best Selling Author and Manhattan Institute Fellow Heather Mac Donald says a false narrative and political agenda are contributing to the dramatic increase in violent crime.
August 25, 2021

Ranked-Choice Voting: For and Against

America is more polarized than ever. Is ranked-choice voting the remedy? Two conservatives – Austin Ramirez, president and CEO of HUSCO International here in Wisconsin, and Hans von Spakovsky of the Heritage Foundation – discuss what they see as the pros and cons.
August 11, 2021

New Orleans Did Away With its Troubled Public Schools, Can Milwaukee do the Same?

We talk to a Milwaukee native who helped lead school reform in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. Now back home, Colleston Morgan Jr. tells us whether Milwaukee can follow the same path in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.
July 28, 2021

What the Media Downplayed About COVID-19

"When it comes to the risk of dying from COVID-19, two words tell the story: old age," says veteran investigative journalist Richard Moore in his recent report found in our Spring 2021 issue of Diggings. Remso W. Martinez and Richard discuss who the vast majority of victims were, how the media downplayed a critical aspect of the pandemic, and much more in this episode.
July 14, 2021

1776: A Unifying Vision for America (Ft. Bob Woodson)

Bob Woodson, the godfather of the neighborhood empowerment movement, offers a unifying alternative to the divisive messages of the 1619 Project and critical race theory.
June 30, 2021

From Iran to Mosinee

Badger Institute President Mike Nichols sits down with Kevin Hermening in our premiere episode. Kevin has lived an extraordinary life; from surviving the 1979 Iranian Hostage Crisis to guiding the Mosinee School District through the height of the COVID-19 pandemic as the board president, Kevin explains why leadership matters, what guides him in his decision making, and why local leaders need to step up during times of crisis.
June 15, 2021

Check Out Free Exchange

Check out the Badger Institute's new podcast "Free Exchange" and learn why those in and outside of the Badger state should consider subscribing today!
June 15, 2021