February 2014


Board of Directors Luncheon with Philip K. Howard


Philip K. Howard, bestselling author of The Death of Common Sense, Life Without Lawyers joined the French-American Foundation following its meeting of the Board of Directors on February 19 Howard, a partner at Covington & Burling LLP and adviser to a number of prominent politicians from both sides of the political landscape, will discuss his forthcoming book, The Rule of Nobody: Saving America from Dead Laws and Broken Government (W.W. Norton & Co., April 2014). 

The Rule of Nobody

Last year, French President François Hollande said that France was "blocked." By contrast, many observers consider the United States a vibrant land of opportunity, characterized by endless innovation and entrepreneurialism. But is the United States just as blocked as France when it comes to an overabundance of detailed rules and regulations that impede efficiency and innovation? Other countries, such as Australia and Germany, regulate by principle instead of detailed rules. 

In his forthcoming book, The Rule of Nobody: Saving America from Dead Laws and Broken Government, bestselling author and attorney Philip Howard explains how to "unblock" America. According to Howard, the United States is so choked with rules that, in effect, nobody is in charge. Millions of words of detailed regulation have usurped official responsibility, and severed the links of government to broader society.

Modern democracy is not designed for governance and freedom but to do what the accumulated law tells it to do, whatever the consequences. It is, by law, out of control. Sooner or later, this giant legal edifice, designed deliberately to avoid human choice, will collapse of its own weight. It must be rebuilt.

For example, the United States ranks behind 16 other countries when it comes to the ease of getting construction permits. And Howard states that "America's regulatory disorganization is starting to resemble third-world countries'." In his view, law has made government ungovernable, and he notes, "Other countries have succeeded in building an honorable public service with a culture of professionalism. But they don't have rules that dictate how to use a copying machine. Even France doesn't allow people to retire in their forties. American government is an awful place to work."

Howard also sees Washington as a deviant subculture which is choking the rest of America. "Fixing American democracy requires a new vision for how government can work."  

Board of Directors Luncheons

Board of Directors Luncheons are held three times a year immediately following Foundation Board meetings. In addition to Board members and members of the Foundation, we invite friends to join us for these private luncheons. To learn more about Foundation membership, click here or contact Vice President for Development Gabrielle Gilliam at [email protected] or 646.588.6780.

About Philip K. Howard
PHILIP K. HOWARD is the author of the bestseller The Death of Common Sense, Life Without Lawyers (2009), The Collapse of the Common Good (2002), The Death of Common Sense (1995). In April 2014, he will publish his newest work, The Rule of Nobody: Saving America from Dead Laws and Broken Government (W.W. Norton & Co.). He is Chair of Common Good (commongood.org), a partner at Covington & Burling LLP, and has advised two presidents and numerous public officials on legal and government reform.  He has also appeared on, among other shows, NewsHour and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, and his TED Talk has been widely watched and distributed.

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