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The Collapse of the Common Good: How America's Lawsuit Culture Undermines Our Freedom Paperback – January 29, 2002

ISBN-13: 978-0345438713 ISBN-10: 034543871X

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The Collapse of the Common Good: How America's Lawsuit Culture Undermines Our Freedom + The Death of Common Sense: How Law Is Suffocating America + The Rule of Nobody: Saving America from Dead Laws and Broken Government
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books (January 29, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 034543871X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345438713
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.6 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #259,639 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“YOU’LL NEVER SEE AMERICA THE SAME AGAIN. . . . [This book is] like nothing you ever read, better even than The Death of Common Sense.”
–ANDREW HEISKELL
Former Chairman and CEO, Time Inc.


“This book sits at the center of important questions about frivolous litigiousness, disdain for authority, and the tendency of bureaucracy to stifle judgment and initiative.”
The New York Times Book Review

From the Inside Flap

In pursuit of fairness at any cost, we have created a society paralyzed by legal fear: Doctors are paranoid and principals powerless. Little league coaches, scared of liability, stop volunteering. Schools and hospitals start to crumble. The common good fades, replaced by a cacophony of people claiming their ?individual rights.?

By turns funny and infuriating, this startling book dissects the dogmas of fairness that allow self-interested individuals to bully the rest of society. Philip K. Howard explains how, trying to honor individual rights, we removed the authority needed to maintain a free society. Teachers don?t even have authority to maintain order in the classroom. With no one in charge, the safe course is to avoid any possible risk. Seesaws and diving boards are removed. Ridiculous warning labels litter the American landscape: ?Caution: Contents Are Hot.?

Striving to protect ?individual rights,? we ended up losing much of our freedom. When almost any decision that someone disagrees with is a possible lawsuit, no one knows where he stands. A huge monument to the unknown plaintiff looms high above America, casting a dark shadow across our daily choices. Today, in the land of free speech, you?d have to be a fool to say what you really think.

This provocative book not only attacks the sacred cows of political correctness, but takes a breathtakingly bold stand on how to reinvigorate our common good. Only by restoring personal authority can schools begin to work again. Only by judges and legislatures taking back the authority to decide who can sue for what can doctors feel comfortable using their best judgment and American be liberated to say and do what they know is right. Lucid, honest, and hard hitting, The Collapse of the Common Good shows how Americans can bring back freedom and common sense to a society disabled by lawyers and legal fear.

Customer Reviews

I'm a big fan of Philip K Howard, primarily because I'm a fan of common sense.
Larry Underwood
Strictly from an analytical point of view, the argument within The Collapse of the Common Good is even less palatable to the objective reader.
T.W Trotter
I actually read this book for an assignment, and the book opened my eyes on really how inhumane or shallow our culture is becoming.
Rhonda Munoz

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Miguel Sanchez on February 5, 2004
Format: Paperback
As an immigrant to the US (from Mexico), one of the hardest things for me to get used to was the skewed sense of freedom and entitlement that is sometimes expressed in this country. On my own I had been trying to come to grips with the ideas of extreme lawsuits, political correctness, and limits on authority. While I'm in favor of the basic ideas expressed in all these principles, I constantly get a feeling that many people don't understand the true meaning of their rights and simply abused their privileges.
This book validated my beliefs, but more importantly, helped me to better understand how we have come to act this way. It also helped me express all my feelings about this subject in a simple way: Our over emphasis on our individual freedoms and (supposed) entitlements is putting in jeopardy our common good, and we are ultimately hurting ourselves.
I think this book should be read by anyone who wants to be a true contributor to the common good.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Robert Beveridge HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on July 12, 2004
Format: Paperback
Philip K. Howard, The Collapse of the Common Good (Ballantine, 2001)
Howard's first book, The Death of Common Sense, should be required reading in high schools and law schools across the nation. Instead, it's supported by a select few and most of the country has never heard of it, despite our best efforts. So Howard releases another book, and I pick it up.
The Collapse of the Common Good takes much the same refrain as The Death of Common Sense, but turns its focus from governmental process to the fallacy of individual rights. What is important here is not what Howard says (which is, naturally, common sense), but in how he says it. His arguments are persuasive and worded so that the average joe can understand what Howard is on about. As with The Death of Common Sense, this is a book that should be required reading.
I do have one problem with the book, and that is the way that the endnotes are handled. Endnotes (as opposed to footnotes) are annoying enough, and publishers should realize that the endnote is archaic (now that students have access to computers, footnotes are easily achieved by even college freshmen; the use of endnotes by professional book publishers looks even more amateur), but The Collapse of the Common Good takes this annoyance to a whole new level by not including endnote numbers in the text; the exhaustive section of endnotes has them referred to only by page number. Perhaps I should have said "exhausting" endnote section. The complete unprofessionalism of the way what should have been footnotes are handled loses the book a full point.
Other than that, though, another must-read from Howard. I think I'm going to start giving them as christmas gifts, and keep giving them until people get the message. ****
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Rhonda Munoz on December 1, 2003
Format: Paperback
I thought this book was an easy read. Howard does his best to light a fire under you to get you thinking. People are so worried about their individual rights, common sense gets thrown out with the bath water!!! This is a good motivational book for any elected official to read. I actually read this book for an assignment, and the book opened my eyes on really how inhumane or shallow our culture is becoming.
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27 of 37 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 12, 2002
Format: Paperback
I read Howard's first book, "The Death of Common Sense", and enjoyed it immensely. I bought and read his second book "The Lost Art of Drawing the Line", and found it not as good. About a year later I heard about his "third" book, "The Collapse of the Common Good", and bought it, hoping it would be as good as his first. I started reading it, and it all sounded extremely familiar. After a few pages, I thought that this could not be just casual re-hashing of the same material. Then I discovered, in small print on the cover "(originally titled: The Lost Art of Drawing the LIne)"! The book was put out under a different title a year later, and presumably a few jerks like me bought it a second time. There's a new "buyer beware" guideline to add to the list.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Michael L. Gooch on August 5, 2009
Format: Paperback
Author Philip K. Howard returns with an extended lesson he started teaching us back in 1994. Sad to say, this book's content reveals that his best selling The Death of Common Sense: How Law is Suffocating Americadid little to dint the damage of predatory litigation. Hopefully, this book's teachings will take hold. At least the author is trying.

As a corporate director of Human Resources, I see the damage on a weekly and often daily basis. As I am still employed - and would like to remain as such - I cannot give specific examples (some of which are worse than anything you will find in the book). Suffice it to say, that the national culture of wanting something for nothing is in a horrible condition. Besides the inordinate cost in time and money, there is the hidden cost associated with loss of morale. This is often not considered when discussing frivolous litigation. The `good' people of the world see what is going on. They are not operating with blinders.

I enjoyed the author's use of real-life anecdotes to highlight and explain his reasoning. Due to my afore-mentioned position, I may not be as shocked as others when I hear these stories but they are an excellent reminder of our current course. That is, we are heading for the reef. To read more on this you may want to check out Glenn Beck's Common Sense: The Case Against an Out-of-Control Government, Inspired by Thomas Paine and
...Read more ›
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More About the Author

Philip K. Howard, a lawyer, advises leaders of both parties on legal and regulatory reform. He is chair of Common Good and a contributor to the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal.

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