More appropriately, prisoner of my own radio. I drove down to York today, and I caught This American Life on NPR. This week’s episode was The Fix Is In, and I was riveted by the story of ADM’s international conspiracy to price fix lysine (a chicken feed ingredient) and how Mark Whitacre (a vice president of ADM) became an informant for the FBI over the matter. This thing lasted over three years (and longer for the trial) and every time I thought it couldn’t get any more twisted, it warped again. I sat in the Lowes parking lot for twenty minutes to hear the end, and it wasn’t anywhere I thought the story would go.

The implications of the story are scary. Consumers weren’t hit badly by the price-fixing, but farmers were put out of business. One FBI agent visited his sister and brother-in-law (who were farmers) during the investigation. The brother-in-law mentioned to the agent how he didn’t think that his farm could keep going much longer–the price of lysine was driving his feed costs too high. The brother-in-law knew nothing about the investigation, but the agent knew–and he couldn’t say anything.

This event changed completely the face and nature of antitrust investigation for the United States federal government.

If you’d like to hear the broadcast, This American Life will have the REALAudio version out in a few days, or you can go to the iTunes store and buy the episode for $3.95 (you can listen to a sample, but it’s from an earlier prologue to the story).

Or you can wait for the movie–I’m sure it’s only a matter of time. This thing was wilder than a John Grisham novel.