How Stupid Is Our Obsession With Lawns?

Season 6, Episode 44 This week on Freakonomics Radio: why are we so obsessed with lawns? Plus: Stephen J. Dubner talks to the British political operative trying to launch the United States’s next political revolution. To find out more, check out the podcasts from which this hour was drawn: “How Stupid Is Our Obsession With Lawns?” and […]

Why Hate the Koch Brothers? (Part 2)

Our latest Freakonomics Radio episode is called “Why Hate the Koch Brothers? (Part 2).” (You can find part 1 here, and subscribe to the podcast at Apple Podcasts or elsewhere, get the RSS feed, or listen via the media player above.) Charles Koch, the mega-billionaire CEO of Koch Industries and half of the infamous political […]

Why Hate the Koch Brothers? (Part 1)

Charles Koch, the mega-billionaire CEO of Koch Industries and half of the infamous political machine, sees himself as a classical liberal. So why do most Democrats hate him so much? In a rare series of interviews, he explains his political awakening, his management philosophy and why he supports legislation that goes against his self-interest.

The Health of Nations

Season 6, Episode 41 This week on Freakonomics Radio: for decades, G.D.P. has been a standard way of measuring living standards around the world. Martha Nussbaum tells Stephen J. Dubner that she’d rather use some better data. Plus: Steve Ballmer wants to know how the U.S. government actually using its G.D.P. To find out more, check out the podcasts from which […]

He’s One of the Most Famous Political Operatives in America. America Just Doesn’t Know It Yet.

Steve Hilton was the man behind David Cameron’s push to remake British politics. Things didn’t work out so well there. Now he’s trying to launch a new political revolution — from sunny California.

Hoopers! Hoopers! Hoopers!

As CEO of Microsoft, Steve Ballmer was famous for over-the-top enthusiasm. Now he’s brought that same passion to the N.B.A. — and to a pet project called USAFacts, which performs a sort of fiscal colonoscopy on the American government.

Ten Ideas to Make Politics Less Rotten

Season 6, Episode 1 We Americans may love our democracy — at least in theory — but at the moment our feelings toward the Federal government lie somewhere between disdain and hatred. Which electoral and political ideas should be killed off to make way for a saner system? This episode features ideas from Olympia Snowe, Howard Dean, Joaquin […]

“If Mayors Ruled the World”: A New Freakonomics Radio Podcast

Our latest Freakonomics Radio episode is called “'If Mayors Ruled the World.'” (You can subscribe to the podcast at iTunes, get the RSS feed, or listen via the media player above. You can also read the transcript, which includes credits for the music you’ll hear in the episode.)

The episode expands on an idea from political theorist Benjamin Barber, whose latest book is called If Mayors Ruled the World: Dysfunctional Nations, Rising Cities. Barber argues that cities are paragons of good governance – compared at least to nation-states – and that is largely due to their mayors. Mayors, Barber argues, are can-do people who inevitably cut through the inertia and partisanship that can plague state and federal governments. To that end, Barber would like to see a global “Parliament of Mayors,” to help solve the kind of big, borderless problems that national leaders aren't so good at solving.

Government Employees Gone Wild: A New Freakonomics Radio Podcast

Our latest podcast is called “Government Employees Gone Wild.” (You can download/subscribe at iTunes, get the RSS feed, or listen via the media player in the post. You can also read the transcript below; it includes credits for the music you’ll hear in the episode.)

It's about a book that I've come to love -- a most unusual book. What makes it unusual?

1. It is made available online, as a Word document, but is not actually published.

2. It is free (or, more accurately, it's already been paid for -- by U.S. taxpayers).

3. It is published by the U.S. Department of Defense.

This unusual book is called The Encyclopedia of Ethical Failure, and you can get it here (2013 additions here). What is it? It's an ethics guide for  government employees, full of true stories about epic screw-ups. In the podcast, you'll hear from the Encyclopedia's founding editor (Steve Epstein) and its current editor (Jeff Green).