The Death of Common Sense by Philip K. Howard

The Death of Common Sense by Philip K. Howard: This is not a good bedtime read. It’s frankly aggravating, but I knew that coming in. This is, more or less, 287 pages of stating the obvious, but in ways that continue to amaze and infuriate anew. In short, there are too many laws, and more specifically, too many highly detailed universal regulations that don’t actually apply to anything in the real world. It was a little upsetting how this book reminded me of all the things I don’t like about my job: the idiotic paperwork and endless mandatory procedure that goes along with basically everything. This book simply gave me more reasons to roll my eyes. Sure, I didn’t quite see eye to eye with the author on everything – I am not quite as enamoured of the New Deal as he, for instance – but he makes enough valid points to give me plenty of food for (frustrating) thought. There is, luckily, a marginal amount of hope offered in the last chapter. I think the author’s purpose here was mostly to point out the inanity of the current climate, to show us just how far down the slope we’ve slid. I doubt we are quite as close to the authoritarian, death-of-democracy dystopia as he implies, but there are unquestionably problems with the way things are being done. This is a book more people need to read, especially those who work as bureaucrats and special-interest advocates.

Also posted on BookCrossing.

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