The Blog

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

Blog — News

Start Over Campaign Touted in Providence Journal Editorial

In an editorial from this past weekend, the Providence Journal wrote that a proposed rule in Massachusetts which would require craft breweries in the state to grow or acquire locally at least 50% of the grains and hops they use to produce beer is an example of “regulatory overkill” that should belong on www.startover.org.

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Model Recreation Liability Statute

As related by the New York Times this week, there’s a growing consensus among researchers that sheltering children from normal playground risks can pose its own, greater risks. But before park and playground providers—municipalities and schools in particular—can provide opportunities for more invigorating play, they need to be confident that doing so won’t expose them to legal liability. (The Times also notes that a significant reason for today’s “safety-first playgrounds” is legal fear.)

To this end, Common Good has drafted a model recreation liability statute that would provide play providers greater protection from lawsuits from normal recreation accidents. Click here to access the draft.

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“Gang of Six” Deficit-Reduction Plan Calls for Medical Liability Reform

Included in the deficit-reduction plan released yesterday by the “Gang of Six”—which is comprised of U.S. Senators Chambliss, Coburn, Conrad, Crapo, Durbin, and Warner—is a call for Congress to find cost savings through medical liability reform.

The senators’ overall plan resembles that of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform’s, which was released in December 2010 and of which Senators Coburn, Conrad, Crapo, and Durbin were members. The Commission’s plan specifically calls for “creating specialized ‘health courts’ for medical malpractice lawsuits.”

Start Over argues that health courts hold the best promise for bringing reliability, efficiency, and fairness to medical liability disputes—and for limiting the costly practice of defensive medicine. Contact Congress and tell them that you support the renewed call for liability reform, and for health courts specifically. 

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Today’s Quote: Mike Huckabee on the Flaw in Current Political Debate

Speaking recently to Prospect magazine, former Republican presidential candidate and Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee explained his decision not to seek his party’s presidential nomination in 2012 by pointing to this misguided focus of modern presidential politics:

“It’s not whether the government functions, it’s whether the government is ideologically pure."

Start Over agrees with Governor Huckabee that much of America’s current political debate, with its emphasis on partisan grandstanding, is unwise. The discussion during the 2012 election cycle, we argue, must include the need for government overhaul—and that is what we’re working towards. Help us in that effort.

(h/t: Andrew Sullivan)

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Let’s Talk: Pawlenty Calls for Sunsets

In a speech delivered this week at the University of Chicago, former Minnesota Governor and current presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty stated: “I will require sunsetting of all federal regulations. Unless specifically sustained by a vote of Congress.”

Start Over believes that a universal sunset law would allow government officials to make fresh choices—and would extend sunsetting to include most legislation. In a December 2010 op-ed for the Washington Post, Philip K. Howard writes: “Every law should automatically expire after 10 or 15 years. Such a universal sunset provision would force Congress and the president to justify the status quo and give political reformers an opening to reexamine trade-offs and public priorities.”

We’d like to hear your thoughts. Would you support a universal sunset law? Just for regulations? For legislation too? How long after enactment should a regulation or law expire? Leave your feedback in the comments section below.

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Philip K. Howard Speaks on Law and Civility

Watch Philip K. Howard’s talk at the Carnegie Council from last week on how modern law has undermined ethics and civility.

We’d like to hear your feedback — please leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

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Let’s Talk: Do We Still Need Great Depression Farm Subsidies?

The House Appropriations Committee voted yesterday to limit eligibility for receiving federal farm subsidies. As the Associated Press reports, the federal government currently “sends roughly $5 billion annually in direct cash payments to farmers of 10 different crops … regardless of crop prices.” (This is in addition to other types of support farmers can receive, which can range in total from $5 billion to $20 billion a year.)

Start Over applauds the House’s rare effort to review existing government programs—but also questions whether subsidies created during the Great Depression to help starving farmers should still exist some 80 years later. 
 
We’d like to hear your thoughts on this issue in the comments section below.
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Today’s Read: Cass Sunstein in the Wall Street Journal

Read Cass Sunstein’s op-ed in today’s Wall Street Journal on the Obama Administration’s regulatory review initiative. Start Over applauds the Administration’s efforts to reduce red tape, which is certainly needed—but we also stress that the more important task is to address the flawed philosophy that rules should dictate how goals are accomplished.  

Read the op-ed and tell us what you think in the comments section below.

 

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Let’s Talk: The Role of ‘Defensive Medicine’ in Rising Healthcare Costs

Wayne Oliver of the Center for Health Transformation writes on the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s HealthFlock blog that “there is a hidden cost of healthcare that no one wants to talk about”—defensive medicine. Defensive medicine—the practice where doctors order unnecessary tests and procedures to protect themselves from potential lawsuits—contributes anywhere from $45B to over $200B of waste to the cost of healthcare every year. 

Start Over asserts that controlling healthcare costs is impossible without first addressing the distrust that fuels defensive medicine—and, as also suggested by Oliver, that in order to create a foundation of trust we need to establish health courts.    
 
We want to hear from you—How would you address defensive medicine, or wasteful healthcare spending generally? Do health courts hold the key to creating reliable medical justice? Have you experienced defensive medicine personally?—please leave your thoughts and questions in the comments section below.
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LET’S TALK: There’s Too Much Bureaucracy in Removing Bad Teachers

The Associated Press reports on a New York State Senate hearing which revealed that state school districts “aren’t disciplining some bad teachers in the classroom because of a costly and ‘broken’” process. It took one year to remove a New York City teacher convicted of manslaughter. And the issue isn’t unique to New York: A 2008 report from the Center for American Progress found that only between .1 and 1 percent of tenured teachers are dismissed annually nationwide (despite one estimate that “between 5 and 15 percent of tenured teachers are incompetent”).

Start Over argues that we need to free teachers to be able to control their classrooms, and then hold them accountable—but that accountability can’t mean the traditional union approach of endless due process. We want to hear your thoughts on the issue—let’s start a discussion in the comments section below.

 

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