US Government's Fatal Flaw - Regulations

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Philip K. Howard, founder and chair of Common Good and the author of The Rule of Nobody: Saving America from Dead Laws and Broken Government (W. W. Norton & Company, 2014), argues that government is broken, not because of politics, but a reliance on anachronistic rules and regulations at the expense of common sense.



Philip K. Howard

Comments [14]

Fred from Brooklyn

The legal profession benefits when laws and regulations are complex enough to keep lawyers busy, and big business benefits when rules are complex enough that those who can't afford teams of lawyers are hindered from competing with them. The great majority of legislators in the U.S. are professional lawyers, so they like things as complicated as possible.

Apr. 24 2014 11:48 AM

Jungle gyms were a problem because kids get hurt. Then their parents sued. It's was easier to take the equipment away than to pass/change laws.

Apr. 24 2014 11:42 AM
Joseph Bell from Downtown

Complex regulations are often a means to weaken oversight. the Glass-Steagall Act compelled a separation between investment banking and "regular" banking. Simple. De-regulation allowed the two activities to be re-combined. The Volcker rule was a second-best attempt at some regulation since re-instating the Glass-Steagall act was politically untenable. Hence,the complexity inherent in trying to maintain some separation of banking activities once they have been combined.

The ACA is simarly complex because the simpler alternative -- single-payer was politically untenable.

Apr. 24 2014 11:42 AM
John A

what happened to reform and simplification of the tax code?

Apr. 24 2014 11:41 AM
Seth Pecksniff

"anti-business regime"

all facts to the contrary.

Apr. 24 2014 11:40 AM

The problem is not the rules, its the system of control that is responsible for enforcement. Our government only operates through crisis intervention. We need a system that operates on long term planning and the government we have now should be a sub part of that system that maintains continuity of both purpose and enforcement. most civil service systems would be more guild oriented and not subject to political control

Apr. 24 2014 11:39 AM

Both Brian & Mr. Howard forget to include the fact that the 963 pages of the Volcker act were written by Wall ST lobbyists to their clients' specs as reported in NYT WaPO, HuffPo, etc, etc. so that small banks were penalized.

Same with the Affordable Care Act - written with consultation, input & consent of the Big Insurance/Health lobby.

Time to reinstate Glass-Steagall separating deposit banks & S&Ls from investment (merchant) banks.

Mr. Howard's targets should be the Corporate lobbyists/PR firms/ donation bundlers/SuperPACs/MaxPacs & DC access only to the 1%.

Apr. 24 2014 11:38 AM
Kristy from buffalo, NY

when I was a teacher some of the best advice I received regarding classroom management was to keep the rules simple - instead of lots of specifics, my general rule was "be respectful" - worked like a charm.

Apr. 24 2014 11:35 AM

"People go to work thinking how can I make this better."

He just made that up. It's just not a fact. Not even close.

Apr. 24 2014 11:34 AM

CELEBRATE APRIL 26th - Under a thousand days!

At noon that day, there will be only 999 days 23hours and 59 minutes until Obama's anti-business regime in the White House is officially over.


Apr. 24 2014 11:33 AM
Nick from UWS

Nobody killed all the lawyers, so this is what we get.

Apr. 24 2014 11:32 AM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

Regulations can become antiquated and they should always be reviewed. However, Wall Street successfully made the "too much regulation argument" before they throw the economy off a cliff, in which we the tax-payers had to bail them out.

Polluted water in West Virginia. Chemical plants exploding in Texas. Let's not even start with the Chinas and Bangladeshes of the world.

Apr. 24 2014 10:55 AM

Howard tries to be carefully politically correct, “non-partisan” and uncritical of Obama in his usual schtick, (How else could he get on Lehrer’s show?) .. but ask him if these things haven’t skyrocketed under President “I’ve Never Actually Done Anything But I’ll Tell YOU How To Do It”. What a charade.

“Government report finds regulations have spiked under Obama”

“Small Business Regulations Surge Under Obama”

“Red Tape Rising: Regulation in Obama’s First Term”

Apr. 24 2014 10:30 AM

Don't we all dream of the deregulated days of yore?
Pass me some deregulated meat and mystery chemical cocktail please.
Is swimming in an oil slick good for your skin? Some "scientists" say YES!!
Lets ask a Korean if the ferry industry feels burdened

Apr. 24 2014 09:36 AM

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