Monday, May 23, 2011


A recent article in Newsweek, "Dear Congress, Government Is Broken, These Guys Can fix it," hit me like a ton of bricks.

Our government has seemed broken -- Congress stymied, stuck -- doing nothing for months. It's haunting me!

I blinked at the article -- legal stuff isn't my cup of tea. It looked as if it required heavy-duty, concentrated reading. The first item -- patents -- seems kind of dull and not very significant, but I skimmed the list and got a sense of the 20 bad laws and what needed to be fixed.

The 20 laws had nothing to do with our stuck congress and the "no-no" Republicans, so I turned the page, but some of the items stuck in mind. The idea that out-of-date laws are keeping our courts too busy, messing up a lot of lives, annoys me. And it sounded as the problems could be solved.

The author, Philip K. Howard, kept mentioning common sense. Howard, age 63, has written, studied, lectured, and been published in all the well-known publications. He testified in Congress about the need for common sense in our laws. He sounds like a non-partisan surveyor, and an expert in what's wrong with our government. And common sense -- oh boy -- that's what we need right now in Congress, and that's what he's pushing.

Apparently a lot of laws that don't work are obsolete, and need to be updated, or discarded like debris.

With common sense echoing, I've mulled over the list.
1. Neutralize frivolous patent claims. (Okay, I figure too many are inventors patenting stuff that's already been patented.)
2. Create medical malpractice courts. (Okay, for handling frivolous claims -- it would help our doctors.)
3. Fix civil service so that ratings are based on merit. (That sounds fair -- maybe more unemployed people could get civil service jobs .)
4. Fix school lunches. (Apparently by spending six cents more per meal, the government would save money -- be spending less on health issues for overweight kids. Hey, that sounds important!)
5. Streamline entrepreneurial paper-work, and make starting a business easier. (Good idea -- my husband and I have started more than two dozen projects that required lawyers and endless paperwork to get going.)
6. Eliminate "seniority" as a criterion for promotion in education. ( Yes, that will enable the hiring of young teachers.)
7. Modernize shipping requirements.
8. Increase the visa (passport) cap, so we can import top talent.
9. Give preference to wireless technology. (Booming Cell phones and tablets businesses need it.).
10. Consolidate financial regulators. (Apparently there are too many on the payroll -- money and time are being wasted by regulators arguing over who's handling the turf.)
11. Update accounting, so that pensions are based on current figures.
12. Update regulations on teacher hiring so they're based on achievement, not education.
13. Permit more tourist visa wavers so workers can't stay longer in the country.
14. Establish business start-up "ombudsman" -- i.e., legal advisers to help.
15. Ease import-export documentation.

(Most of this wouldn't affect me personally, but if the government is moving along, if red tape stuff and unnecessary paper work is reduced, my "common sense" says it will affect Congress.)

16. End mortgage deductions that benefit wealthy home owners.
17. Permit U.S. firms to compete with foreign firms who ignore our labor laws.
18. Establish "360 degree" education accountability, hiring the best teachers. (Schools and teachers are going to be helped by fixing the bad laws on this list.)
19. Break up the big banks that are making bad investments.
20. Ban foreign "intellectual property" pirates.

Philip Howard, the common sense king, says the government's got a giant junkyard of laws and regulations. He's thinks we need, urgently, a general "sunset" law, so that laws with budgets would automatically expire every 10 years, unless the law is re-enacted, or reviewed. Then, at least, these regulations would be current. Right now they're dusty, and creating unsolvable problems, wasting time, costing the government, and us, the taxpayers, money.

Well, mull over the list, and if it makes sense to you, pass it on to your neighbors. Got a dust buster? Having mulled this over, my common sense tells me to plug in my dust buster, blow this dust around, and make plenty of noise about fixing bad laws, before the big house-cleaning day in 2012.


Linda Phillips said...

I agree with you Em. There are also some pretty ridiculous laws as well that are totally out dated and absurd. No one enforces them and they are good for a laugh.

But on the serious side, the Republicans are trying to come up with all kinds of obscene laws that will make life miserable for Democrats. For example in some states, they are trying to make photo ID cards necessary for voting. And the type of photo id required is not available to students and seniors, who are a huge voting block that normally vote for Democrats.

I watch Rachel Maddow daily as well as Lawrence O'Donnel, both on MSNBC and I keep learning about more and more obscene schemes that the Republicans are coming up with to make it impossible for people to vote, who are people that would normally vote for Democrats.

There are so many evil dirty tricks going on, many of them financed by the Koch Brothers and the organizations that they have created to try and destroy our democracy.

Carola said...

The trouble is that trying to make these common sense fixes would never get through Congress or would become political footballs in some way.