27 December, 2008

I love me some Lessig

Larry Lessig is always entertaining and enlightening with his elegant power points on the intricacies of the law. If you're not familiar with him, he's a Stanford law professor who has traditionally focused on copyright and the legal structure governing the internet, but his most recent line of inquiry has been into government corruption, mapping what he calls the "economy of influence" that leads to policy outcomes being skewed away from the public good.

In this one, he restates some of his earlier arguments on how government (especially Congress) gets public policy wrong, using the "easy" cases as starting points - that is, why the law gets questions in which there is broad and nearly unassailable consensus so pathetically wrong. (The FDA sugar standards are a personal favorite). He also tries to move the ball forward towards a more specific solution than he has articulated before.

I like how he grounds his argument about dependence and independence in American history. Creating institutions that break the corrupt "economy of influence" has been a struggle since the earliest days of our republic.

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