The Blog

News and stories from the campaign to reclaim individual responsibility and liberate Americans from bureaucracy and legal fear.

Blog — Events

The Future of the Individual: A Forum with Philip Howard and Edmund Phelps

On Thursday, November 6, Common Good and Columbia University’s Center on Capitalism and Society will hold an afternoon forum in New York City on reviving the conditions for individual initiative in America. The event’s hosts are Common Good’s Philip K. Howard and Nobel laureate Edmund S. Phelps of Columbia’s Center on Capitalism and Society. Other expected participants include:

  • Stephen Goldsmith, former Mayor of Indianapolis
  • Kay S. Hymowitz, Manhattan Institute
  • Deborah Kenny, Harlem Village Academies
  • Robert E. Litan, Brookings Institution
  • Peter Pazzaglini, Columbia University
  • Andrzej Rapaczynski, Columbia Law School
  • Richard Robb, Columbia University
  • Esa Saarinen, Aalto University (Finland)
  • Robert J. Shiller, Yale University
  • William H. Simon, Columbia Law School
  • Juan Vicente Sola, University of Buenos Aires
  • Mark C. Taylor, Columbia University
  • Peter Thiel, co-founder of PayPal

The forum will address how bureaucracy, corporatism, and cultural trends have diminished the room for individual autonomy and initiative, and will explore possible solutions. Reforms to expand individual opportunities and ownership of daily choices include simplifying regulatory structures, changing corporate incentives away from short-term thinking, fostering decentralized government, discouraging uniform solutions to social problems, sponsoring local manufacturing to build the conditions for know-how, redirecting education toward imagination and creativity, and expanding the public narrative to highlight the role of human initiative in all accomplishment.

The forum will consist of short opening presentations, followed by four panels. A cocktail hour will conclude the event.

Event Details

Title: The Future of the Individual

Date: Thursday, November 6

Time: 1:00 PM to 5:30 PM (followed by a cocktail hour). Registration and lunch begin at 12:15 PM.

Location: Covington & Burling, 43rd Floor, The New York Times Building, 620 Eighth Avenue, New York, NY

RSVP: Registration required. If you’re not responding to the Paperless Post invitation, please e-mail your name, title, and affiliation to Ruth Mary Giverin at rmgiverin@commongood.org. Please e-mail Ruth with any questions as well.

This event is made possible by the generous support of the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.

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John Micklethwait & Philip K. Howard on Commissions

The Economist's editor-in-chief, John Micklethwait, recently joined Philip Howard for a discussion around their two recent books: Micklethwait's The Fourth Revolution and Howard's The Rule of Nobody. Watch an excerpt of their conversation here:

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Video: Infrastructure Now forum

The benefits of greater public and private investment in infrastructure are enormous—job creation, enhanced economic competitiveness, and a greener footprint. But first, America has to fix its paralytic legal infrastructure. Common Good and Regional Plan Association hosted a forum in Washington, D.C. on November 21 to explore obstacles to effective infrastructure investment and solutions to the regulatory and beaurocratic mess. Below, see video of all the presentations from the Infrastructure Now forum. A full schedule of the event can be viewed here, and you can read Common Good's press release on the forum here.

Senator Angus King (I-ME) introduced the forum, observing that because of our convoluted approval process, many of our most crucial infrastructure projects could not be built today:

 

Diana Mendes of the engineering consulting firm AECOM continued with comments on the history of environmental review, the National Environmental Policy Act, and what we can do today to achieve NEPA's goals without crippling our ability to undertake infrastructure projects (Mendes also used a slide presentation which you can download here):

 

Nick Malyshev of the OECD compared international approval processes that hold lessons for the U.S. approach (Malyshev's slide presentation can be downloaded here):

 

A panel of experts on environmental review shared a variety of perspectives on the challenges and opportunities for reform of the environmental review process:

 

Finally, a second panel investigated the issue of jurisdictional overlap in infrastructure permitting:

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Common Good Online Forum on Risk in Schools

JOIN COMMON GOOD’S ONLINE FORUM: RISK AND LEGAL FEAR IN SCHOOLS
We entrust our children to teachers and principals with the expectation that they will be both educated and protected from harm. When, inevitably, incidents happen—especially when those incidents are tragic and well-publicized—communities often press for stricter rules and procedures. But are all of the rules and procedures wise? Do they truly make schools and children safer and better? One school, for example, suspended a six-year-old for "pointing his finger like a gun and saying 'pow,'" while another suspended two boys for playing cops and robbers.

To shield themselves from legal exposure, schools have attempted to eliminate every conceivable risk—no tire swings, no dodgeball, no monkey bars. Field trips require complex liability waivers. Every activity requires paperwork—documentation, permissions, waivers. Our schools must be safe, but are some of the steps taken to protect against every possible lawsuit and risk doing more harm than good?

Common Good is hosting an online forum to address this question, with experts on education, parenting, and the law, including:

  • Lenore Skenazy, author and founder of Free Range Kids
  • Frederick Hess, Director of Education Policy Studies at the American Enterprise Institute
  • Nancy McDermott, writer and former chair of the advisory board for Park Slope Parents
  • Walter Olson, senior fellow at the Cato Institute
  • Megan Rosker, teacher and founder of Let Children Play

These experts have already started talking about how to address risk and legal fear in schools.

Add your ideas to the conversation here.

Find out what our panelists think and contribute your comments and questions below.

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Common Good online forum on obsolete law solutions

Obsolete law is a significant––yet largely ignored––cause of government budget deficits and an obstacle to economic growth. Yesterday’s laws and regulations do not adequately address today’s needs; worse yet, they often senselessly tie the hands of government officials and Americans in every sector of society, preventing them from making common sense decisions to address challenges or create opportunities.

For these reasons, Common Good is hosting an online discussion of obsolete law and what to do about it––enabling leading experts to engage with concerned citizens.

The discussion will begin December 12 at www.newtalk.org and will continue through the coming week. Among the participating experts are:

  • E. Donald Elliott – former General Counsel, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; current partner at Willkie Farr & Gallagher; Adjunct Professor at Yale Law School;
  • Mary Kiffmeyer – Member, Minnesota House of Representatives; former Secretary of State of Minnesota;
  • James Maxeiner – Co-Director of the Center for International and Comparative Law, University of Baltimore School of Law; author of the book Failures of American Lawmaking in International Perspective;
  • Stuart Taylor, Jr. – author and journalist, who has written extensively on legal and policy issues and has taught “Law and the News Media” at Stanford Law School;
  • Ron Faucheux – former member of the Louisiana House of Representatives and a U.S. Senate chief of staff; currently President of Clarus Research Group.

The topic of this online discussion is straightforward: What approach would you recommend for addressing obsolete law, and why and how would you implement it? The experts will each share their perspectives, engage in an online discussion, and respond to members of the public, who are invited to comment as the discussion unfolds.

Follow the conversation and add your thoughts at www.newtalk.org!

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Making New York Work: What Gets in the Way? (A Common Good forum)

On May 7th, 2012, Common Good co-hosted a forum with the Manhattan Institute and the Citizens Budget Commission entitled “Making New York Work: What Gets in the Way?” The event, which focused on the bureaucratic and legal impediments to sensible government in New York City and State, was the first in a series of planned forums exploring the structural challenges facing New York; future events will focus on, among other things, the business climate and education reform.

Common Good founder and chair Philip K. Howard made the opening remarks, calling attention the myriad ways in which sensible government decision-making is thwarted by open-ended mandates, byzantine bureaucratic requirements and the proliferation of overly-specific and inflexible rules. Next came a panel discussion, moderated by Howard Husock of the Manhattan Institute, and featuring Howard, Port Authority President Patrick Foye, New York City Human Resources Commissioner Robert Doar, and City Operations Director Elizabeth Weinstein.

Each panelist brought a unique perspective to the debate.  Foye derided the counterintuitive environmental review requirements that massively delay eco-friendly upgrades to the Bayonne Bridge.  Commissioner Doar spoke about the City’s rigid civil service system, which ties managers’ hands by preventing sensible hiring and firing decisions.  Weinstein concluded by describing the astonishing complexity of City government, and the unwieldy and inefficient ways in which it interacts with itself.  Following their talks, the panelists answered questions from the audience, and the evening concluded with a brief reception.

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