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The Death of Common Sense

How Law Is Suffocating America

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Paperback published by Random House Trade Paperbacks (Random House Publishing Group)

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About This Book

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

“We need a new idea of how to govern. The current system is broken. Law is supposed to be a framework for humans to make choices, not the replacement for free choice.” So notes Philip K. Howard in the new Afterword to his explosive manifesto The Death of Common Sense. Here Howard offers nothing less than a fresh, lucid, practical operating system for modern democracy. America is drowning—in law, lawsuits, and nearly endless red tape. Before acting or making a decision, we often abandon our best instincts. We pause, we worry, we equivocate, and then we divert our energy into trying to protect ourselves. Filled with one too many examples of bureaucratic overreach, The Death of Common Sense demonstrates how we—and our country—can at last get back on track.

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NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

“We need a new idea of how to govern. The current system is broken. Law is supposed to be a framework for humans to make choices, not the replacement for free choice.” So notes Philip K. Howard in the new Afterword to his explosive manifesto The Death of Common Sense. Here Howard offers nothing less than a fresh, lucid, practical operating system for modern democracy. America is drowning—in law, lawsuits, and nearly endless red tape. Before acting or making a decision, we often abandon our best instincts. We pause, we worry, we equivocate, and then we divert our energy into trying to protect ourselves. Filled with one too many examples of bureaucratic overreach, The Death of Common Sense demonstrates how we—and our country—can at last get back on track.

Product Details
Paperback (256 pages)
Published: May 3, 2011
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Imprint: Random House Trade Paperbacks
ISBN: 9780812982749
Other books byPhilip K. Howard
  • The Rule of Nobody

    The Rule of Nobody
    Saving America from Dead Laws and Broken...
    What’s wrong in Washington is deeper than you think.

    The Lost Art of Drawing the Line

    The Lost Art of Drawing the Line
    How Fairness Went Too Far
    The Lost Art of Drawing the Line will appall and irritate — and entertain — readers every bit as much as Philip Howard’s first book. Why is it that no one can fix the schools? Why do ordinary judgements fill doctors with fear? Why are seesaws disappearing from playgrounds? Why has a wave of selfish people overtaken America? In our effort to protect the individual against unfair decisions, we have created a society where no one’s in charge of anything. Silly lawsuits strike fear in our hearts because judges don’t think they have the authority to dismiss them. Inner-city schools are filthy and mired in a cycle of incompetence because no one has the authority to decide who’s doing the job and who’s not. When no one’s in charge, we all lose our link to the common good. When principals lack authority over schools, of what use are the parents’ views? When no one can judge right and wrong, why not be as selfish as you can be? Philip Howard traces our well-meaning effort to protect individuals through the twentieth century, with the unintended result that we have lost much of our individual freedom. Buttressed with scores of stories that make you want to collar the next self-centered jerk or hapless bureaucrat, The Lost Art of Drawing the Line demonstrates once again that Philip Howard is “trying to drive us all sane.”

    Life Without Lawyers: Liberating Americans from Too Much Law

    Life Without Lawyers: Liberating Americans from Too Much Law
    How to restore the can-do spirit that made America great, from the author of the best-selling The Death of Common Sense. Americans are losing the freedom to make sense of daily choices—teachers can’t maintain order in the classroom, managers are trained to avoid candor, schools ban tag, and companies plaster inane warnings on everything: “Remove Baby Before Folding Stroller.” Philip K. Howard’s urgent argument is full of examples, often darkly humorous. He describes the historical and cultural forces that led to this mess and lays out the basic shift in approach needed to fix it. Today we are flooded with legal threats that prevent us from taking responsibility. We must rebuild boundaries of law that protect an open field of freedom. The voices here will ring true to every reader. The analysis is powerful, and the solution unavoidable. What’s at stake, Howard explains in this seminal book, is the vitality of American culture.

    The Collapse of the Common Good

    The Collapse of the Common Good
    How America's Lawsuit Culture Undermines Our...
    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. From the Trade Paperback edition.

Favorite QuotesFROM THIS BOOK
  • Rationalism looms before us with more logic and reasons than we can possibly respond to, demanding almost all our energy, but ultimately not making any sense. We must kill it again.

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