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

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Phillip Blond Speaks with Philip K. Howard

Phillip Blond, architect of David Cameron's "Big Society" program, recently appeared in New York to discuss structural problems that plague both the United Kingdom and the United States. He joined Common Good Chair Philip K. Howard on Friday morning to explore common ideas with the Start Over movement. The Christian Century reports that according to Blond:

The breakdown of both social norms and the family unit—and the growth of government to address those ills—as well as the dominance of corporations and the rich in the current economy...[is] a result of an 'oscillation between extreme collectivism and extreme individualism' .... Both are manifestations of the same impulse: a concentration of power first in the state and then in the markets. And both those liberal and conservative 'orthodoxies' have led to the same society-destroying outcome.

Common Good certainly agrees with Blond that political orthodoxy will not lead to a successful American future—and that it's time to Start Over.

Video of the event with Blond and Howard will be posted here when available.

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The Oklahoman Endorses Start Over Solutions

A recent editorial in The Oklahoman supports the Start Over mission to restore authority and accountability to government. After Common Good Chair Philip K. Howard spoke in Oklahoma City, the paper wrote that "sensible rules and regulations, including reasonable fees, should be the norm all the time, not just a temporary response to crises." It continues:

Restoring common sense to society is a bipartisan issue....'Neither party,' Howard's group says, 'will acknowledge the core flaw in our government structure: Americans with responsibility no longer feel free to make sensible choices.'

Read the full editorial here and leave your feedback in the comments section below.

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Philip K. Howard Argues for Health Courts

Common Good Chair Philip K. Howard recently spoke at the Union League Club in Chicago on the topic of healthcare, defensive medicine, and health courts. Modern Physician reported that according to Howard:

[P]eople [are] feeling powerless to oppose nonsensical legal or bureaucratic rules imposed on them by well-meaning politicians—many of them now dead—who sought through the rules to keep anything bad from ever happening. And now legislators lack the will to amend rules to fit current circumstances, he said. Howard urged the students to question and make fun of the rules and "write about this with clear eyes."

Howard made the common sense point that legal fear should not define how doctors practice medicine. Instead of traditional tort reform, which has proven to have limited effecitveness, Howard advocated health courts, a Common Good solution that "would not have juries but would be led by full-time health judges with a budget to hire neutral experts to testify on the merits of a malpractice case."

Read the full report from Modern Physician here.

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Providence Journal Editorial: Join Start Over

In a Friday editorial, the Providence Journal endorses the Start Over campaign and encourages its readers to join the effort. A snippet:

The initiative promotes such reforms as (our favorite!) ‘sunset sessions’ of legislatures to get rid of outdated laws; making laws briefer and easier to read; and creating health courts to bring more medical science and rationality to medical disputes now dominated by trial lawyers.

Voters and candidates in this election cycle should pay close attention to Start Over for proposals on how to create a more efficient, more rational, more courteous and less costly society. Again, see and join the campaign. (The site has some hilarious examples of legal overreach. And you can send your own.)

This is not a right vs. left issue. It’s about common sense.

Read the editorial in full and leave your feedback in the comments section below.

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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

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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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