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Free Exchange

Free Exchange

By Badger Institute

Free markets, limited government, and individual liberty- you know these principles, now hear the stories of the men and women who embody them and the policies that advance them. Listen as the team from Wisconsin’s Badger Institute come together to demystify, explore, and discover ways to make communities in our state freer and more prosperous, one episode at a time.
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Advancing Freedom Through Federalism

Free ExchangeApr 20, 2022

00:00
36:02
Making Sense of Milwaukee’s Crime Stats

Making Sense of Milwaukee’s Crime Stats

On the surface, Milwaukee’s latest year-over-year crime statistics show promise for the safety of the state’s largest city. Some city officials have even touted the aggregate numbers as cause for optimism.

But the numbers tell a different story when examined in context: Milwaukee is in trouble.

Researcher Sean Kennedy joins Patrick McIlheran to interpret the data and chart a path forward for Milwaukee to move from a culture of criminal coddling to one of certain justice.

Kennedy’s latest for the Badger Institute, “Latest crime figures show a Milwaukee in trouble”: https://www.badgerinstitute.org/latest-crime-figures-show-a-milwaukee-in-trouble/

Apr 13, 202338:38
Cops in Schools: The Numbers No One is Talking About

Cops in Schools: The Numbers No One is Talking About

A new report by Badger Institute Managing Editor Mark Lisheron reveals that calls to police from MPS high schools dramatically increased – again. Lisheron joins Badger Institute Vice President Michael Jahr to discuss the troubling numbers – and the encouraging news that the Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson has signaled support for putting police back in schools.

The report: https://www.badgerinstitute.org/calls-to-police-from-mps-high-schools-up-dramatically-again/

Mar 08, 202323:04
A Legislators’ Look at Licensing

A Legislators’ Look at Licensing

Few people give thought to the impact of occupational licensing – until it affects them directly. But licensing requirements can fence people out of occupations, drive up costs to consumers, limit mobility, create unnecessary bureaucracy and more.

In this episode of Free Exchange, State Sen. Andre Jacque and State Rep. Shae Sortwell, both chairmen of their chamber’s licensing committees, discuss how licensing affects Wisconsinites and policy reforms that can reduce or eliminate some of the resulting burdens.

Feb 22, 202327:25
Schoolhouse Rock: How a Budget Becomes Law in Wisconsin

Schoolhouse Rock: How a Budget Becomes Law in Wisconsin

Did you know that Wisconsin has a biennium budget? Or that a powerful joint committee makes most of the budget decisions in the Legislature? Or how a projected $7.1B budget surplus might factor in?

Rep. Mark Born (R-Beaver Dam) and Rep. Evan Goyke (D-Milwaukee), both members of the Joint Finance Committee, join Badger Institute VP Michael Jahr for a Schoolhouse Rock look at how a budget becomes law in Wisconsin.

Feb 09, 202327:55
Flat Tax Is Better for Business, Better for Wisconsin

Flat Tax Is Better for Business, Better for Wisconsin

In Wisconsin, the vast majority of businesses are established as pass-throughs — meaning their owners pay the individual income tax rate, not the corporate tax rate.


So, no one understands the need for a lower, flatter tax in Wisconsin than Scott Manley of Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce (WMC), the largest and most influential business association in the state.


Manley sat down with Badger Institute President Mike Nichols to discuss how a flat tax would improve Wisconsin’s ability to keep and attract residents and businesses, address the workforce shortage, benefit workers and contribute to overall growth in the Badger State.

Feb 02, 202324:54
LeMahieu on Need for Wisconsin Flat Tax

LeMahieu on Need for Wisconsin Flat Tax

Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu has proposed a 3.25% flat income tax for Wisconsin, a reform that would simplify the code and grant tax relief to every Badger State taxpayer.


LeMahieu sat down with Badger Institute President Mike Nichols in the Capitol to explain the details of his flat tax proposal and the widespread benefits of pro-growth tax policy.


Read Badger Institute’s flat tax research for the state of Wisconsin: https://www.badgerinstitute.org/report-tax-reform-options-to-improve-wisconsins-competitiveness/

Jan 19, 202325:37
For a New Civil Society

For a New Civil Society

Civil society is the essential space for the growth of character, for acts of kindness, for the development of trust — for the altruism that drives Wisconsinites to help each other when they see need.


Unfortunately, the fundamental pillars of civil society have been eroding for quite some time. Eloise Anderson, one of the most thoughtful and experienced researchers on issues of civil society and the family, has witnessed this erosion firsthand. Having worked extensively in government while acknowledging the great value that happens outside it, Anderson offers direction for a new civil society — a reinvigorated space of community, care and hope.


Read Anderson’s chapter in the Mandate for Madison: https://www.badgerinstitute.org/for-a-new-civil-society/ 

Jan 12, 202332:40
Free-Market Reforms Will Make Wisconsin Thrive

Free-Market Reforms Will Make Wisconsin Thrive

Research shows that states in which individuals, businesses and entrepreneurs have greater economic freedom grow more rapidly, produce better labor market outcomes and attract more people. So, what steps can Wisconsin take to ensure that its residents enjoy the benefits of a strong, free-market economy?


Touching on issues ranging from tax reform and migration to occupational licensure, economist James Bohn outlines proven measures for keeping Wisconsin productive and prosperous in 2023 and beyond.


Read Bohn’s chapter in Badger Institute’s Mandate for Madison: https://www.badgerinstitute.org/free-market-reforms-will-make-wisconsin-thrive/

Jan 05, 202340:03
Toward Swifter Justice: How to Handle WI Courts’ Excessive Backlog
Dec 22, 202231:53
Why Milwaukee Needs to Get Cops Back in Schools

Why Milwaukee Needs to Get Cops Back in Schools

The Milwaukee Police Department responded to more than 1,300 calls for service at 34 Milwaukee Public Schools high schools in the 2021-’22 school year, an average of 7.2 calls every school day. Many were for serious crimes including “battery,” “reckless vehicle,” “sexual assault,” “subject with gun” and “shots fired.”


Yet the Milwaukee Public Schools Board of Directors refuses to put resource officers back into the schools. In this episode of Free Exchange, Badger Institute President Mike Nichols and Managing Editor Mark Lisheron discuss the disturbing numbers and how MPS is failing to protect kids and provide a safe place for them to learn.


Read the full report here: https://www.badgerinstitute.org/why-milwaukee-needs-to-get-cops-back-in-schools/


Dec 15, 202223:18
Wisconsin’s Economy: A Comparative Study

Wisconsin’s Economy: A Comparative Study

Thanks to advances in technology and changes in the marketplace, interstate mobility is easier today than it ever has been. So how is Wisconsin doing in its effort to attract and retain citizens in search of fruitful opportunity?


In this episode of Free Exchange, economist Andrew Hanson discusses his findings published in our Mandate for Madison. From GDP to population growth and income migration, hear how Wisconsin compares to its closest Midwest neighbors — and don’t miss Andrew’s recommendations to set the state on a path for growth.


Read Andrew Hanson’s complete report: https://www.badgerinstitute.org/wisconsins-economy-a-comparative-study/

Dec 08, 202229:11
Wisconsin’s School Choice Moment

Wisconsin’s School Choice Moment

Following November’s gubernatorial election, the tone and tenor of discourse in Madison is markedly different than it was four years ago.

The Badger State is looking at a budget surplus of billions of dollars, and both the Legislature and governor’s office have great incentive to improve the lives of Wisconsin families by working together for meaningful solutions.

School choice guru Jim Bender joins Badger Institute President Mike Nichols to discuss these post-election dynamics in the Capitol, including opportunities to invest in student success through accessible and equitable school choice funding in the next state budget cycle.

Read Mike Nichol’s Viewpoint, “This is not four years ago”: https://www.badgerinstitute.org/this-is-not-four-years-ago/

Nov 23, 202239:33
Ensuring Opportunity by Altering Wisconsin’s Safety Net

Ensuring Opportunity by Altering Wisconsin’s Safety Net

“I do think people vastly underestimate just how large and robust the safety net is.”

For decades, the federal government has assumed a larger role in funding and running safety net programs, leaving states with little ability to address flaws such as employment and marriage disincentives or make other changes.

Poverty scholar Angela Rachidi — an American Enterprise Institute senior fellow, Badger Institute visiting fellow and Wisconsin resident who once led policy research at the New York City Department of Social Services — joins us to discuss why Wisconsin should demand more authority over federal safety net programs, including a willingness to take a larger funding role while assuming more responsibility.

Read more of Rachidi’s work at https://www.badgerinstitute.org/ensuring-opportunity-altering-wisconsins-safety-net-to-encourage-upward-mobility/.

Nov 17, 202238:09
Common-sense Healthcare Reforms for Wisconsin (Part II)

Common-sense Healthcare Reforms for Wisconsin (Part II)

America is a leader in healthcare quality, though its healthcare delivery leaves much to be desired. Insurance costs are increasing, transparency is lacking and third parties control too much of the decision making.


In part two of a conversation with the Badger Institute’s Michael Jahr, professor and entrepreneur Daniel Sem discusses a wide range of healthcare topics, including the ACA, innovation, prescription drug prices, telehealth and more.


Read the full report authored with colleague Scott Niederjohn as part of our Mandate for Madison: https://www.badgerinstitute.org/common-sense-healthcare-reforms-for-wisconsin/

Nov 10, 202230:41
Common-sense Healthcare Reforms for Wisconsin (Part I)

Common-sense Healthcare Reforms for Wisconsin (Part I)

America is a leader in healthcare quality, though its healthcare delivery leaves much to be desired. Insurance costs are increasing, transparency is lacking and third parties control too much of the decision making.

In part one of a conversation with the Badger Institute’s Michael Jahr, professor and entrepreneur Daniel Sem outlines common-sense reforms to improve the delivery of quality healthcare, particularly the practice of direct primary care (DPC) in the state of Wisconsin.

Read the full report authored with colleague Scott Niederjohn as part of our Mandate for Madison: https://www.badgerinstitute.org/common-sense-healthcare-reforms-for-wisconsin/

Nov 03, 202221:32
The Current State of Crime and Justice (Part II)
Oct 27, 202232:26
The Current State of Crime and Justice (Part I)
Oct 19, 202234:32
Wisconsin’s transportation funding system running on fumes

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.

Sep 01, 202241:23
The moral ecology of learning: How school choice helps Milwaukeeans

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.

Aug 11, 202233:03
Wisconsin lags as other states adopt tax reforms
Jul 21, 202239:49
Forgiving Student Loan Debt: Who wins and who loses?
Jun 30, 202230:56
Keeping People out of the Workforce
Jun 16, 202230:57
Wisconsin Voters Increasingly Support School Choice

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.

Jun 01, 202232:06
Advancing Freedom Through Federalism

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.

Apr 20, 202236:02
Legislature Tries to Restore Fiscal Sanity

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.

Apr 06, 202231:50
How Wisconsin's Minimum Markup Law Impacts Consumers

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.

Mar 23, 202223:32
Rise of the Germ-Killing Robots!
Feb 16, 202228:26
Addressing Wisconsin’s Oral Care Shortage

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.

Feb 02, 202232:48
A Tax Reform Path to Prosperity

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.

Jan 19, 202240:07
Should Government Rein in Big Tech?

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.

Jan 05, 202237:51
Will the Mainstream Media Survive? Should We Care?

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.

Dec 15, 202145:37
Is Guaranteed Income Inevitable?

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.

Dec 01, 202136:47
What Gives? Wisconsin Welfare Numbers Increase While Economy Rebounds

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.

Nov 17, 202133:13
Taxpayer-Funded Venture Capital?

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. You can read Sem’s article in our Fall 2021 edition of Diggings here.

Nov 03, 202133:13
Black & Conservative (Part II)

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.

Oct 13, 202136:05
Black & Conservative (Part I)

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.

Oct 13, 202135:44
America at a Crossroads: The Rise of the Entitlement State (Ft. Robert Doar)

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.

Oct 06, 202142:52
Breaking the Cycle (Ft. Jon Ponder)

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. Additional benefits include safer communities, stronger families, taxpayer savings and more people in the workforce.

Sep 22, 202149:02
The Future of School Choice in Wisconsin

The Future of School Choice in Wisconsin

School shutdowns, mask mandates and the teaching of critical race theory have once again made school choice a priority in the state that pioneered it. 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.

Sep 08, 202152:23
Correcting the Crime Narrative (Ft. Heather Mac Donald)

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.

Aug 25, 202143:41
Ranked-Choice Voting: For and Against

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.

Aug 11, 202145:05
New Orleans Did Away With its Troubled Public Schools, Can Milwaukee do the Same?

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.

Jul 28, 202158:13
What the Media Downplayed About COVID-19
Jul 14, 202156:22
1776: A Unifying Vision for America (Ft. Bob Woodson)
Jun 30, 202101:09:12
From Iran to Mosinee

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.

Jun 15, 202101:28:31
Check Out Free Exchange

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!

Jun 15, 202101:23