David Kestenbaum

Episode 680: Anatomy Of A Scam

17 minutes ago

Note: This episode originally ran in January 2016.

The ads are on telephone poles across America: "Work from home. Make thousands of dollars a week. Call this number!" And all over the internet, now, too. Today on the show, we find out what happens when you decide, yeah, that sounds pretty good. It's the story of a scam that will not die. We have secret documents laying out how it all works. And recordings of actual phone calls.

Climate change seems like this complicated, intractable problem. But maybe it doesn't have to be.

In 2013, we talked to a couple economists about a very simple idea that could solve the climate change problem: Tax carbon emissions. A carbon tax could be paired with cuts in the income tax. It would drive down emissions without picking winners or losers, and without creating complicated regulations. It all seemed so elegant. So doable. At the time they made a bold prediction.

Note: This episode originally aired in 2016.

A lot of people dream of not paying their taxes. Larry Williams did just that. He scoured the fine print of IRS code, talked to lawyers, settled on a plan, and then...stopped paying taxes.

Today on the show, we tell his story. It starts on a camping trip, winds through a jail cell in Australia and a courtroom in California, and it ends up in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Note: Today's show originally ran in January of 2016.

A few years back, a famous psychologist published a series of studies that found people could predict the future — not all the time, but more often than if they were guessing by chance alone.

The paper left psychologists with two options.

"Either we have to conclude that ESP is true," says Brian Nosek, a psychologist at the University of Virginia, "or we have to change our beliefs about the right ways to do science."

Note: Today's show originally ran in January 2012.

In 1978, a group of farmers in a Chinese village called Xiaogang wrote a secret contract and hid it in the roof of a mud hut.

They were afraid the document might get them executed. Instead, it wound up completely transforming the Chinese economy.

On today's show, we travel to Xiaogang, and hear the farmers' story.

This episode originally aired on May 13, 2011.

On January 8, 1835, all the big political names in Washington gathered to celebrate what President Andrew Jackson had just accomplished. A senator rose to make the big announcement: "Gentlemen ... the national debt ... is PAID." The huzzahs rose up around the halls of Congress, or something like that.

The Internet Archive and the University of Maryland launch such a library, and it's free to anyone with an Internet connection. Kids helped design the library, and they had final say on the books. NPR's David Kestenbaum reports.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Each summer, as college students prepare to leave campus, they get rid of their textbooks, selling them for cheap. And Bob Peterson and Kenny Jacobson are waiting to buy them, and resell them when school is back in session and demand is high. Their scheme sounds simple, and it is. They've noticed a difference in price, and they're turning it into a quick profit.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Note: This episode originally ran in 2015.

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