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Philip K Howard on how and why to fix the problem of too many laws

  • Crazy PCness
  • Crazy lawsuits
  • People are too scared to act on their own best judgment
  • Hindsight bias is always perfect so you can always say that person did something wrong
  • Risk would be no more (fantastical nonsense)
  • Defensive medicine - terrified doctors order up to 200 billion dollars worth of unnecessary tests, fear makes them paralysed and they are afraid to act, contents are hot labels on coffee, fishing lure packet says harmful if swallowed
  • Education - 60 steps to suspend a child, teachers spend 43% of their time trying to maintain order, lawsuits by students if they do maintain order, corrosion of authority, banned running during breaks
  • Government - no pebble left unturned to get projects going, and decades of lawsuits by people who don't agree
  • Law - is not trusted, inconsistent, overdetailed
  • Playground - there will be no seesaws because
  • Values - in our attempt to eliminate bad values, we created a world where people can't have good values.
    Accountability - you cannot change laws because of one disgruntled person instead of just one disgruntled person.
  • Freedom - red lights and green lights are necessary.
How to fix the law
Judge law on the benefit the broader society, not the individual
• legal fears cause more tests, more studies, that cost money, so you can't spend that money on the broader community
• too many rules, too much making of rules - formula for paralysis
• rise in disorder, more rules mean more breaking of rules, more perception of broken rules
Trust is essential to a free society
• self-confidence is undermined by trustlessness, self-consciousness creates more mistakes
• restore trust by bounding freedom - boundaries, law sets outer boundaries - remember the the law is there to protect a dryground of freedom
• what people can sue for determines the freedoms of everyone else - but they sue for everything now - so we must limit everything - eliminating risk means eliminating freedom
Rebuild the boundaries
• Simplify the law - so that people can internalise it
• Restore the authority to judges and officials to interpret and apply the law
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