Episode #30: The Death of Common Sense with Philip Howard

Peter Wood

You may have seen that NAS has been pushing for some changes to the Higher Education Act, which, when it was last reauthorized in 2008, came to 432 pages long.

Why are modern laws so unreadably lengthy? Today’s podcast guest, Philip Howard, joins me to talk about the overgrowth of bureaucracy and law, and the unfortunate effects it has for millions of Americans’ everyday lives.

Philip is the author of the 1995 classic The Death of Common Sense, as well as another four books, including most recently Try Common Sense, published earlier this year. He is the founder and chair of Common Good, a nonpartisan reform coalition aimed at reducing red tape.

Philip and I talk about whether the law should ban bad behavior or dictate how best to achieve good outcomes. He runs through a list of the most ineffective and needless regulations—and we discuss why so often both parties favor lengthy, detailed laws. He also shares some ideas for restructuring our legal and regulatory system.

In this episode, we mention briefly my earlier podcast conversation with Larry Kogan on regulatory overreach, so take this opportunity to go back and listen to that episode here.

I hope you enjoy this conversation with Philip Howard.

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