Robert W. Poole Jr., a co-founder and former president of the Reason Foundation, is now its director of transportation policy, Poole has a longstanding interest in highway policy, but he became obsessed with the subject when he moved the foundation in 1986 from Santa Barbara to Los Angeles and "for the first time ever" found himself "commuting in extremely congested conditions." Poole, 67, earned his B.S. and M.S. in mechanical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and has advised the last four presidents on transportation policy. In "Fixing America's Freeways" (page 38), he explains how market-oriented reforms may soon make your commute less painful. Poole and the Reason Foundation have been instrumental in touting high occupancy toll (HOT) lanes, which charge drivers based on traffic conditions to keep cars moving swiftly.

Hoover Institution Research Fellow Peter Schweizer is the author of Throw Them All Out (Houghton Mifflin), from which "Warren Buffett: Baptist and Bootlegger" (page 30) is adapted. Schweizer, 47, was inspired to write a book about crony capitalism when he read an article in the Journal of Quantitative Economics that "showed how U.S. senators were outperforming hedge funds in their stock picks." Members of Congress, he realized, are a "permanent political class" prone to enhancing their own wealth by trading on inside information to which they are privy as legislators. Schweizer's solution? "Transparency is key," he says. "We need more openness when it comes to congressional investments and the loan guarantees and grants that are doled out."

Fall 2011 reason intern Tate Watkins, 26, has a B.A. and an M.A. in economics from Clemson University. He previously was a research associate at George Mason University's Mercatus Center. Watkins also recently lived as a Peace Corps volunteer "in a village of 300 people in rural Senegal," where he "biked two kilometers to get drinking and bathing water." This experience enhanced Watkins' interest in (and cynicism about) foreign aid and immigration policy, two topics he blogged about regularly for reason online.