34 of 38 people found the following review helpful
A more intelligent look into legal lunacy; quick read,
This review is from: The Death of Common Sense: How Law is Suffocating America (Paperback)
I wouldn't agree with the categorization of this book as an "explosive manifesto" (back cover), nor would I call this "incendiary ... stimulating" (front cover). As an American who too often cringes when our country's regulatory red tape strangles expediency and constructive decision making, I'd say "The Death of Common Sense" offers some poignant anecdotes in describing today's bureaucratic morass. Beyond this, author Philip K. Howard documents well the mentality which has spawned our dependency and passivity, and how we can refocus on how democracy is supposed to function.
Mr. Howard's messages, evident throughout, are very obvious: we have substituted innovation with process, created enemies instead of cooperative societies, and squashed case-by-case reasoning under mountains of procedural law. There are so many "rights" covering every interest group that very little gets done for the benefit of the majority. "Trusting in the law" now means being wary of nearly everyone. Although sounding a bit rant-stricken at times, Mr. Howard offers up lots of food for thought ... some amazing stories. It's all pretty interesting and easy to read.
In my opinion, the last (and shortest) of the book's four parts, entitled "Releasing Ourselves," falls short of hitting on a way to get out from under suffocating law. I agree that initiative and responsibility are admirable attributes for executives in both the public and private arenas, and further, that universally applied policies that regulate the most minute procedural detail should instead have flexibility for more real-world applications. However, what happens when the most innovative of directives winds up injuring or killing someone? Will Joe Citizen give up his right (there's that word) to sue? I doubt it. And, as long as legal recourse remains the ultimate equalizer, the happy medium between "buried in the fine print" and "total judgment call" will be awfully hard to come by. Mr. Howard doesn't address this issue.
This is a very good read; however, a better balance between problem and solution would have made this book outstanding.
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Initial post: Jul 4, 2009 11:49:46 AM PDT
I don't believe there IS a solution. And perhaps that's why solutions are not discussed in the book. Or, perhaps the author realizes that in order for solutions to occur, the worst must first hapen... whatever that may be...and it's too frightening to think about.
Posted on Dec 31, 2010 12:54:42 PM PST
An excellent review, and perhaps one that offers a more comprehensive look at the book in question. While Mr. Howard lays his case out, relying almost entirely on anecdotal evidence, fairly well, I honestly came away from the book with a "What now?" type of reaction. Acknowledgment is the first step in change, but Mr. Howard doesn't follow through with the process. I was looking for at least a direction to move in, but none was offered.
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