America is basically run by dead people: We elect new representatives, but continue on with policy from decades ago. To go forward, Congress needs to confront the past.
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This is the first article in a new series The Atlantic is publishing in partnership with Common Good, a nonpartisan government reform organization, devoted to remaking government within budget and without suffocating the American spirit. Each month, America the Fixable will identify a different challenge facing the United States -- regulation, school bureaucracy, healthcare, civil service, campaign finance reform -- and, drawing together a range of expert voices on the topic, offer potential solutions in articles, online discussions, and video reports. This month, the series tackles the scourge of obsolete laws.--The Editors
America is mired in a tarpit of accumulated law. Reformers propose new laws to fix health care, schools, and the regulatory system, but almost never suggest cleaning out the legal swamp these institutions operate in. These complex legal tangles not only set goals but allocate resources and dictate the minutest details of how to meet those goals. Most are obsolete in whole or part.
Running government today is like trying to run a business using every idea every manager ever had.
Nothing important can get fixed without remaking a coherent legal framework.