The Rule of Nobody updates and expands Howard’s original brief, and it helps to explain why government at all levels not only is on autopilot but on a flight path that can only end in disaster.
Every Philip Howard book is notable for its horror stories of regulation and systemic dysfunction, and reviewer Kyle Smith in the New York Post relates one I hadn’t heard, about the mammoth Deepwater Horizon spill:
When the oil rig started leaking mud and gas, the crew should have simply directed the flow over the side. Dumped it in the gulf. That would have been a small oil spill, of course, and no oil spill is a good thing. But in trying to avoid that, the crew caused a gigantic oil spill. Eleven lives were lost.
Safety protocol called for the men to aim the flow into a safety gizmo called an oil and gas separator, but that became backed up and made matters worse. Explosive gas filled the air around the rig, which finally exploded.
Then some workers who escaped in a raft almost died. Why? They were tied to the burning rig, and regulations forbade them to carry knives so they couldn’t cut themselves free.
Author Philip K. Howard, who’s begun more regular blogging in connection with his forthcoming book The Rule of Nobody, wonders where the Congressional leader can be found with the courage to take on the failings of IDEA, the special-education law. [Common Good]
Mississippi attorney took 45 percent contingency fee, but “all the contracts came up missing from [his] office” [Insurance Journal] When it comes to billing disputes, California state bar seems keen on protecting lawyers against clients [Lawrence Schonbrun, Recorder]
Shame on DoJ: “Systematic concealment” of evidence when feds prosecuted Sen. Ted Stevens [WaPo, Caleb Mason/Prawfs] NYT notes feds’ losing streak in Foreign Corrupt Practices Act prosecutions [NYT, our latest]
Pinterest: casual users (perhaps especially casual users) might be opening themselves to copyright liability [DDK Portraits, WSJ Law Blog] And in case you needed a reminder not to publish photos grabbed from random web sources… [Webcopyplus]
In new Atlantic special report, Philip K. Howard collects papers on outdated government law and regulation from contributors Robert Litan, Julie Barnes, Mark Warner, Jim Cooper;
Once enacted, most laws are ignored for generations, allowed to take on a life of their own without meaningful review. Decade after decade, they pile up like sediment in a harbor, bogging the country down – in dense regulation, unaffordable health care, and higher taxes and public debt.
Time, he says, to revisit the “sunset law” idea, under which laws would expire unless affirmatively reenacted, and radical simplification as well.
Author Philip K. Howard’s latest op-ed tells of the “legal quicksand” faced by small business owners, who
face legal challenges at every step. Municipalities requires multiple and often nonsensical forms to do business. Labor laws expose them to legal threats by any disgruntled employee. Mandates to provide costly employment benefits impose high hurdles to hiring new employees. Well-meaning but impossibly complex laws impose requirements to prevent consumer fraud, provide disability access, prevent hiring illegal immigrants, display warnings and notices and prevent scores of other potential evils. The tax code is incomprehensible.
All of this requires legal and other overhead – costing 50% more per employee for small businesses than big businesses.
Man who shot dogs sues blogger whose critical account of episode allegedly put him in false light [Christopher Comins v. Matthew Frederick VanVoorhis, Florida, Citizen Media Law; Greenfield (free speech attorney Marc Randazza assisting VanVoorhis)]
Appeals court revives Pennsylvania couple’s trespass suit against Google over Google Street View pics of their home and pool [Legal Intelligencer, ABA Journal]
“Rich Guy Sues to Keep $380/Month Rent on Park Ave.” [Gothamist]
“Think Davis-Bacon on steroids” — Obamaites mull SEIU-driven “High Road” policy to push federal contractors into union practices [Daily Caller, Michael Fox via PoL]
Federal judge’s 49-page sanctions order blasts Adorno & Yoss, two lawyers and client over bad faith conduct of trade dress suit [Fulton County Daily Report]
CBS Sunday Morning this weekend profiled author, lawyer and reformer (Common Good/”health courts”) Philip K. Howard. Related: Progressive Policy Institute to press health-court idea on Capitol Hill? [AP/Washington Post]
Lawyer charged with particularly awful pattern of thefts from disabled/incapacitated persons [NYTimes, Steven Rondos]
“Buy American” provisions in stimulus bill could start trade war [Postrel]. Parting blow to America’s taste buds: outgoing Bush admininstration slapped high tariffs on Roquefort cheese, Irish oatmeal [Cowen, MargRev]
In widening scandal of U.K. miners’-claim lawyers, one law firm found to have funneled more than £6 million to Arthur Scargill’s union [Times Online]
1936 Clarence Darrow piece on how to pick a jury makes a sort of time capsule of wince-worthy stereotypes [Deliberations]
Want to start up moving company in Oregon or liquor store in California? You might find your competitors can legally block you [Coyote]
Maybe there’s hope for Dahlia Lithwick, she “shares concerns” about lame lawsuits and judgment-warping liability fears [Slate, on Philip Howard's Life Without Lawyers]
Dear major banks: Regret to inform must impose high penalties for your unauthorized overdraft of our funds [Naked Capitalism]
“Ethics laundering”: how lawyers can use Internet to evade NY rules against client solicitation [Turkewitz]
George Will raves about this new book by the well-known author on topics dear to this site. I’m much of the way through my review copy and I can say if you like this website, you’ll almost certainly enjoy this book. Author/lawyer Philip K. Howard (The Death of Common Sense) is also a very skillful writer, and, with his organization Common Good, a longtime friend of this site. So why not order a copy today?
Get your copy today!My new book tackles the question of why so many bad ideas come from the law schools. "Cutting-edge commentary, hard-hitting, witty, astute." -- Publisher's Weekly. "Excellent... A fine dissection of these strangely powerful institutions" -- Wall Street Journal.