Exclusive - Philip K. Howard Extended Interview Pt. 2

  • Aired:  06/09/14
  •  | Views: 21,388

Author Philip K. Howard suggests that the problems with American government are the result of a flaw in institutional design that goes beyond poor leadership. (5:35)

[CHEERING AND APPLAUSE]>> Jon: OKAY.

WE'RE BACK.

"THE RULE OF NOBODY" IS ON THEBOOKSHELVES NOW.

WE'RE TALKING TO PHILIP K.

HOWARD.

WHAT IS THE PERIOD WE NEED?

>> WE NEED TO WAKE UP TO THEFACT THAT WE DON'T HAVE JUST

LOUSY LEADERS, WE HAVE A FLAW ININSTITUTIONAL DESIGN, AND THAT'S

A DIFFERENT DEBATE THAN THE ONEWE'RE HAVING IN WASHINGTON

TODAY.

WE ACTUALLY NEED TO TALK ABOUTWHAT IT TAKES TO MAKE GOVERNMENT

MANAGEABLE TO, GIVE PEOPLE WHOARE... YOU CAN ELECT GEORGE

WASHINGTON AND HE COULDN'T RUNGOVERNMENT TODAY BECAUSE IT

WOULD BE ILLEGAL TO RUNGOVERNMENT.

IT'S ILLEGAL TO BALANCE THEBUDGET.

>> Jon: YOU CAN'T ELECT A DEADGUY. I MEAN, YOU KNOW,

THAT'S JOB ONE. >> RIGHT.

>> Jon: SO, THAT BRINGS UP AVERY INTERESTING POINT, THOUGH.

YOU SAY THE SYSTEM ITSELF HASTHIS INSTITUTIONAL FLAW IN IT.

IF YOU WERE TO LOOK AT THETOP-TEN HEADLINES ON THE 24-HOUR

NEWS CHANNELS AND... VERSUS THETOP-TEN HEADLINES IN A PAPER OF

RECORD, THEY WOULD BE PROBABLYALMOST MUTUALLY EXCLUSIVE.

THEN IF YOU LOOKED AT THETOP-TEN HEADLINES ABOUT WHAT IS

WRONG WITH THE ADMINISTRATION OFGOVERNMENT, THE ACTUAL ABILITY

TO GOVERN, WOULD BE ANOTHERMUTUALLY EXCLUSIVE.

WE DON'T HAVE ANY OF OUR SYSTEMSFOCUSED ON THAT, OUR LAWMAKERS

SPEND FOUR TO SIX HOURS DAYFUND-RAISING.

OUR MEDIA SPENDS MOST OF THEIRTIME PICKING FIGHTS, AND I DON'T

UNDERSTAND... SO THIS IDEA OFGOVERNANCE HAS BEEN COMPLETELY

REMOVED FROM OUR SYSTEM OFGOVERNANCE.

>> YES.

SO WE HAVE THE WRONG NARRATIVE.EVERYONE TALKS ABOUT THE

TERRIBLE, YOU KNOW,TERRIBLE INEXCUSABLE

POLARIZATION IN OUR GOVERNMENT,BUT TO GREAT EXTENT, THAT'S

BECAUSE ALL THESE GUYS HAVEGIVEN UP DOING ANYTHING.

YOU CAN'T DO ANYTHING.

NOBODY KNOWS HOW TO CHANGE ANOLD LAW.

EVEN MUSSOLINI MADE THE TRAINSRUN ON TIME.

TERRIBLE PEOPLE.

[CHEERING AND APPLAUSE]>> Jon: OH, MY GOD.

ALL RIGHT.

>> TERRIBLE PEOPLE WILL TRYTO DO SOMETHING TO PLEASE THE

PEOPLE.

THESE GUYS HAVE GIVEN UP.

SO WE NEED TO SHIFT THENARRATIVE, IN MY VIEW, TOWARDS

ONE OF REMAKING GOVERNMENT, LIKEPUSHING THE RESET BUTTON, TO A

MUCH SIMPLER, COHERENT SYSTEM OFGOVERNMENT, THAT'S CALLED

RECODIFICATION PERIOD.

YOU HAVE A BUNCH OF COMMISSIONS.

THEY COME UP WITH SIMPLIFIEDIDEAS.

THEY DO UNIFORMED COMMERCIALCODE IN THE 1950s, THINGS LIKE

THAT, AND THEN IT GETS VOTED UPOR DOWN BY CONGRESS.

>> Jon: SEE, THERE'S YOURPROBLEM RIGHT THERE.

>> WELL, CONGRESS IS A PROBLEM.

>> Jon: BUT HERE'S THE THING, SOLET'S BACK IT UP THEN.

SOMEBODY ON A STATE LEVEL MUSTBE DOING THIS.

YOU KNOW, I CAN REMEMBER I LIVEDIN NEW YORK CITY IN THE DAYS OF

IT BEING UNMANAGEABLE.

IT HAD GOTTEN TOO BIG, TOOUNRULY.

IT WOULD NEVER... NOW, I DIDN'TNECESSARILY AGREE WITH ALL THE

METHODS, IT TOOK A CERTAINKIND OF FAKE REAL ESTATE AND

STOCK BUBBLE TO GAIN THE MONEYTO DO IT.

BUT THEY GAINED SOME MEASURE OFORDER OUT OF CHAOS.

ARE THERE AT THE STATE LEVEL, ATTHE CITY LEVEL, PEOPLE WHO ARE

PRACTICING THIS TYPE OF ACTUALGOVERNANCE AND ADMINISTRATION?

>> YES.

THERE ARE SOME REALLY GOODMAYORS AND SOME GOVERNORS, BUT

THEY ARE CONSTRAINED BY MANY OFTHE SAME LAWS THAT CONSTRAIN THE

FEDERAL GOVERNMENT, BUT THEYHAVE SOME FLEXIBILITY IN HOW

THEY RUN THEIR SCHOOLS, HOW THEYDELIVER SOCIAL SERVICES, AND

THEY'RE DOING IT BETTER IN MANYRESPECTS.

YOU CAN GO AHEAD AND FIND PLACESALL AROUND THE COUNTRY WHERE

PEOPLE ARE DOING IT BETTER.

THIS SORT OF TOP-DOWN,BUREAUCRATIC SYSTEM THAT WE

HAVE, THIS GIANT LEGAL BLOBTHAT'S BEEN CREATED, IS HARD FOR

ANYONE TO AVOID BECAUSE IT'S THELAW.

>> Jon: RIGHT.

>> YOU CAN'T IGNORE THE LAW.

OBAMA RECENTLY HAD A REPORT ONWHAT HAPPENED TO THE $800

BILLION STIMULUS PLAN FROM 2009,REMEMBER IT WAS GOING TO REBUILD

AMERICA'S DECREPITINFRASTRUCTURE, REALLY

IMPORTANT.>> Jon: I THINK WE, YEAH,

AND ALSO OUR BAD CARS. WE GOTSOME MONEY.

>> IN THE FINE PRINT, IT TURNSOUT THEY SPENT FOR REBUILDING

TRANSPORTATIONINFRASTRUCTURE, BARELY 3% WENT

TO THAT.

AND THE REASON A IS BECAUSE THEPRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES,

DULY ELECTED BY THE MAJORITY OFTHE PEOPLE, DIDN'T HAVE

AUTHORITY TO APPROVE THEREBUILDING, REBUILDING OF

DECREPIT BRIDGES AND ROADS.

YOU'RE NOT TALKING ABOUT ROADS,RIVERS AND FORESTS. YOU KNOW,

WE'RE JUST TALKING ABOUT OLD,BROKEN-DOWN INFRASTRUCTURE.

HE DIDN'T HAVE THAT AUTHORITY.

WELL, THAT'S MADNESS.

IT'S A FORM OF LEGAL MENTALILLNESS THAT WE ELECT A GUY

PRESIDENT --

>> WHO IS PUTTING, SO WHERE DIDA STATUTE LIKE THAT COME FROM.

IS THAT BASED ON REALCONSTITUTIONAL SEPARATION

OF POWER, OR IS ITBASED ON TURF WAR TIT FOR

TATTISM THAT GOES ON IN THECONGRESSIONAL BRANCHES.

THAT SAYS THAT MONEY CAN BEALLOCATED, BUT YOU MUST COME TO

US FOR EACH INDIVIDUAL BRIDGEAND YOU MUST PRESENT PLAN.

HOW DOES THAT WORK?

>> NO, NOBODY MADE A DECISION.IT'S DECADES OF ACCRETION.

YOU HAVE TO GET 47 DIFFERENTPERMITS FROM 19 DIFFERENT

AGENCIES TO RAISE THE ROADWAY OFTHIS BRIDGE AND HAVE TO GO

THROUGH FIVE YEARS PROCESS IFANYBODY COMPLAINS IF YOU WANT TO

GET APPROVAL TO BUILD THAT NEWSPUR.

>> Jon: SO THIS COMPLEXITY,THOUGH, IS NOT PURPOSEFUL.

>> NO.

>> JON: IT'S NOT AN INDIVIDUALTHAT HAS DONE IT.

IT'S SORT OF LIKE THAT THING,LIKE LET'S SAY YOU LEAVE BREAD

OUT AND IT'S DARK AND MOIST ANDYOU COME BACK, AND YOU GO, WOW,

WHAT'S THAT, IT COULD BEPENICILLIN, OR IT COULD JUST BE

CRAP ON YOUR BREAD.

>> YES.

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