Do our laws serve us, or are we slaves to the law?
America is mired in a tarpit of accumulated law. Reformers propose new laws to fix health care, schools, and the regulatory system, but almost never suggest cleaning out the legal swamp these institutions operate in. These complex legal tangles not only set goals but allocate resources and dictate the minutest details of how to meet those goals. Most are obsolete in whole or part. (Philip Howard)Philip Howard advocates a radical concept: Rather than lawmaking, our elected representatives need to be destroying them, untangling them and taking them off the books.
Imagine that! Politicians running for office by promising us not more laws, but less! I would love to see debates where they vied with one another over who could slash more red tape tangle that is strangling the nation.
Howard writes in his book, Life Without Lawyers, that too much law is choking innovation and snuffing our ability to think for ourselves:
Howard's book is a withering critique not of lawyers, but of us: a nation paralyzed by fear, unwilling to assume responsibility, both overly reliant on authority and distrustful of it. Law is wielded as a weapon of intimidation rather than as an instrument of protection.
"To restore our freedom, we have to purge law from most daily activities," writes Howard. But this seething polemic is less about a society buried in paperwork than one that clings to procedure like a crutch — and has lost its capacity for independent thought in the process. (Life Without Lawyers)I'm waiting for the progressives to chime in, so I'll close with this thought. If our government were as expansive as Australia's or Germany's, but also as efficient, we probably wouldn't be having these arguments.