It’s time to blow up the bureaucracy that’s killing America

It’s time to blow up the bureaucracy that’s killing America, by Philip Howard.

For decades now, Americans have slogged through a rising tide of idiocies. Getting a permit to do something useful, say, open a restaurant or fix a bridge, can take years. Small businesses get nicked for noncompliance of rules they didn’t know. Teachers are told not to put an arm around a crying child. Doctors and nurses spend up to half the day filling out forms no one reads. Employers no longer give job references. And, in the land of the First Amendment, political incorrectness can get you fired. …

A bureaucratic mindset has infected American culture. Instead of feeling free to do what we think is right, Americans go through the day looking over our shoulders: “Can I prove that what I’m about to do is legally correct?”

Every Republican administration since Reagan has promised to cut red tape with de-regulation. “Washington is not the solution,” as Reagan put it: “It’s the problem.” But Washington has only gotten bigger during their terms in office. That’s because deregulation is too blunt: Americans want Medicare, clean water, and toys without lead paint. …

Mindless compliance replaced human judgment. A new problem? Write another rule. The steady accretion of rules is why government has become progressively paralytic over the past few decades. …

Back in the old days, of say, JFK or Howard Baker, government fixed problems by giving some official that job, and then holding them accountable. Congress authorized the Interstate Highway System with a 29-page statute, and nine years later, over 21,000 miles had been built. Today, the red tape would probably prevent it from being built at all.