Philip K. Howard Seminar

Thursday, March 9, 2017 - 4:10pm to 6:00pm
Center on Capitalism and Society, Columbia University
In this seminar, entitled "Frameworks to Empower Human Agency and Surmount Distrust," Philip K. Howard writes that "efforts to liberate human initiative usually get bogged down in 1) a belief that regulation should be 'clear,' and leave no room for human judgment, and 2) that any open framework will lead to abuse of discretion." Mr. Howard will discuss the flaws in this approach and possible ways to break free of the resulting suffocating bureaucratic structures. Mr. Howard is a noted commentator on the effects of modern law and bureaucracy on human behavior and the workings of society. In August 2016, Howardand former Senator Bill Bradley launched www.simplifygov.org, which advocates specific reforms, for example, leading a coalition to cut red tape for infrastructure projects from ten years to two years. Howard is the author of The Death of Common Sense (1995), a bestseller which chronicles how overly detailed law has similar effects as central planning; The Collapse of the Common Good (2002), which describes how fear of litigation corrodes daily interaction; and Life Without Lawyers (2009), which proposes rebuilding reliable legal boundaries to define an open field of freedom. His latest book, The Rule of Nobody (April 2014), argues that American government is structurally paralyzed and must be rebuilt to revive human responsibility and accountability.