The Magazine

Misrule of Law

A dose of medicine for ‘runaway legalism.’

May 26, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 35 • By ROBERT WHITCOMB
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Given the entrenched interests that prosper in our regulatory/legal swamp—trial lawyers, accountants, some big companies, environmental perfectionists and other NIMBYs, politicians’ anxiety about advocating  structural change—I share Howard’s view that things probably must get worse before our leaders will address our runaway legalism. But he holds out hope. He shows how some other developed countries have much simpler, more flexible, and more effective rules. And he proposes amendments to the Constitution that would “sunset’’ old laws and regulations, give the president power to manage the executive branch more effectively, widen judges’ power to dismiss unreasonable lawsuits, and create a council of citizens to act as an advisory body that would make recommendations on how to improve government.

I have reservations about that last idea, but the others sound alluring.

Robert Whitcomb, a writer and former newspaper editor, is a management consultant in the health care industry.