Honored that two of mine, The Litigation Explosion and The Rule of Lawyers, are among seven that author Charles Murray (most recently of By the People) has recommended if you’d like to understand the state of the U.S. legal system [Benjamin Weingarten, The Blaze] I can recommend all the other books on the list as well, including the four by well-known author Philip K. Howard, often mentioned in this space, and The American Illness: Essays on the Rule of Law, edited by George Mason lawprof F.H. Buckley, a recent and underappreciated gem. Its contributors include Stephen Bainbridge, Todd Zywicki, Richard Epstein, George Priest and many well-known legal academics.
The panel is packed with big names and many of them offer suggestions with a law or regulation angle, including Philip K. Howard (“Radically Simplify Law”), Derek Khanna (rethink patent and copyright law; related, Ramesh Ponnuru), Morris Kleiner (reform occupational licensure; related, Steven Teles), Arnold Kling (“Sidestep the FCC and the FDA”), Robert Litan (admit more high-skill immigrants and reform employment of teachers; similarly on immigration, Alex Nowrasteh), Adam Thierer (emphasize “permissionless innovation”), and Peter Van Doren (relax zoning so to ease movement of workers to high-wage cities).
Nick Gillespie reviews the new book by the author of The Death of Common Sense:
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]
- “Man cited for littering after cash to panhandler hits ground” [USA Today]
- AIG and sunshine: “Spitzer’s Loose Public Talk and Private Emails” [Lawrence Cunningham, Concurring Opinions]
- 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]
- Philip K. Howard on NPR [TED Radio Hour]
- About that “Constitution in Exile” bogeyman [Barnett, Bernstein]
- Come the revolution, comrade, you will gladly pay your Connecticut taxes: Gov. Dannel Malloy approves $300K for ultra-left New Haven People’s Center [CT News Junkie via Zachary Janowski, Raising Hale] Update: Governor reverses stance.
- New law keeps many homemakers from qualifying for credit cards [Sheryl Nance-Nash, Diane Katz/Heritage]
- 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]
- Italy: tax officials stop luxury cars, demand drivers’ most recent tax returns [Secular Right]
- 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;
- Institute for Justice sues IRS over its new licensing requirements for tax preparers [Ilya Shapiro and Chaim Gordon/Cato, Paul Caron/TaxProf, Katherine Mangu-Ward, Barton Hinkle]
- “It is acceptable to refer to all court proceedings as a ‘trial,’ because seriously, you ever sat through one of those things?” [@FakeAPStylebook]
- Christopher Booker series on child-snatching by UK authorities [Telegraph: first, second, third]
Philip K. Howard’s latest, for the Washington Post:
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.
Starting at 11:20, though I imagine, given the April 19, 1995, date, that not many people were watching on C-SPAN at the time. Now’s the chance to catch up.
Author Philip K. Howard (The Death of Common Sense, Life Without Lawyers) gives a talk at the famous TED conference: