Simpler: The Future of Government

Simpler: The Future of Government

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by Cass R. Sunstein
     
 

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Simpler government arrived four years ago. It helped put money in your pocket. It saved hours of your time. It improved your children’s diet, lengthened your life span, and benefited businesses large and small. It did so by issuing fewer regulations, by insisting on smarter regulations, and by eliminating or improving old regulations. Cass R. Sunstein, as… See more details below

Overview

Simpler government arrived four years ago. It helped put money in your pocket. It saved hours of your time. It improved your children’s diet, lengthened your life span, and benefited businesses large and small. It did so by issuing fewer regulations, by insisting on smarter regulations, and by eliminating or improving old regulations. Cass R. Sunstein, as administrator of the most powerful White House office you’ve never heard of, oversaw it and explains how it works, why government will never be the same again (thank goodness), and what must happen in the future.

Cutting-edge research in behavioral economics has influenced business and politics. Long at the forefront of that research, Sunstein, for three years President Obama’s “regulatory czar” heading the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, oversaw a far-reaching restructuring of America’s regulatory state. In this highly anticipated book, Sunstein pulls back the curtain to show what was done, why Americans are better off as a result, and what the future has in store.

The evidence is all around you, and more is coming soon. Simplified mortgages and student loan applications. Scorecards for colleges and universities. Improved labeling of food and energy-efficient appliances and cars. Calories printed on chain restaurant menus. Healthier food in public schools. Backed by historic executive orders ensuring transparency and accountability, simpler government can be found in new initiatives that save money and time, improve health, and lengthen lives. Simpler: The Future of Government will transform what you think government can and should accomplish.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
A manifesto from Sunstein, who radically streamlined regulations as administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (he even flattened the food pyramid) and caused no little controversy.
Publishers Weekly
Not bigger or smaller government, but cheaper, smarter, better government is the message of this modest yet far-reaching manifesto on regulatory policy. Bestselling Harvard law professor Sunstein (coauthor of Nudge) recounts his stint as the Obama administration’s chief of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), where he helped implement regulations that cut power-plant pollution, mandated disclosure of airline and credit card fees, and improved auto fuel mileage standards while abolishing ill-considered or absurd rules. (Industrial milk spills, he notes, are no longer treated like toxic oil spills.) He elaborates an astonishingly straightforward regulatory philosophy: keep regulations simple and clear; let citizens choose while giving them information and encouragement to choose well; make sure regulations don’t impose disproportionate burdens—he champions the much-maligned cost-benefit analysis—and keep track of how well they are working. Naturally, the author’s common-sense approach outraged both liberals and conservatives—Glenn Beck branded him “‘the most dangerous man in America’”—and his tragicomic account of his confirmation process emerges as the byzantine, partisan, dysfunctional antithesis of good governance. Sunstein grounds his ideas in a lucid, engaging treatment of behavioral economics that sees a role for the state in nudging humans towards rationality and responsibility. The result is a forthright, compelling vision of technocratic government that’s both efficient and humane. Agent: Sarah Chalfant, the Wiley Agency. (Apr. 9)
Fortune.com
“A remarkably fun, engaging read.”
From the Publisher
"This inspiring book has a tale and a lesson. In the tale, a thinker with a passion for reason moves from the ivory tower to the White House and becomes a doer. The lesson is that regulation is not a dirty word and that thoughtful government works."

"This may be the most important book to come out of President Obama's first term. Contrary to conservative perception, the administration, guided by Cass Sunstein, launched a brilliant effort to simplify and reduce regulations. Sunstein found ingenious ways to protect citizens and nudge corporate behavior while maximizing freedom and business opportunity. Simpler is a fascinating guide to how behavioral economics is improving government, and none too soon."

"Everyone complains that government regulations are often dumb, but how could you make them smarter? Here's a guidebook by someone who did it. It should be read by everyone who sets policies for government, nonprofits, education, or business."

"Tucked away from the sound and fury of politics, there is the quiet world of policy making. This fantastic book, from a magnificent scholar turned a master of this world, restored my faith in what governments really do, and more importantly in what a smart government could do to help citizens live better, more fulfilled lives."

"Cass Sunstein: scholar, public servant, choice architect. This lays out a new vision for how research from academics and attention from the public can be used to make regulations and government work better and simpler—to protect the public at the lowest possible cost and hassle. No wonder Glenn Beck said Sunstein was the most dangerous man in America."

"We typically don't associate the idea of simple systems with government and large corporations. But in this fine book, Sunstein provides a glimpse into how we can tame the complexity beast and why it is important, even necessary if we want to improve our collective welfare."

"Federal regulations determine the quality of the air we breathe and water we drink, the safety of our workplaces, the kinds of cars we can buy, and much more. In this book, Cass Sunstein shows how he helped President Obama use the smartest academic ideas to undertake the most important reform of our regulatory system in more than three decades. This revolution in regulation relies on using evidence, rather than ideology, to guide regulatory decisions and by making regulations simpler and easier to understand. Simple is a must (and fun) read for anyone who wants a deeper understanding of how government—and the people in it—are using the insights from the seminal research by Sunstein and others to make our lives healthier, safer, and more prosperous."

"Sunstein’s firsthand knowledge and distinct humor give his account a real dynamism."

"[Simpler is] ...a lucid, engaging treatment of behavioral economics that sees a role for the state in nudging humans towards rationality and responsibility. The result is a forthright, compelling vision of technocratic government that's both efficient and humane."

“A remarkably fun, engaging read.”

bestselling author of Steve Jobs WalterIsaacson
"This may be the most important book to come out of President Obama's first term. Contrary to conservative perception, the administration, guided by Cass Sunstein, launched a brilliant effort to simplify and reduce regulations. Sunstein found ingenious ways to protect citizens and nudge corporate behavior while maximizing freedom and business opportunity. Simpler is a fascinating guide to how behavioral economics is improving government, and none too soon."
Dr.Esther Duflo
"Tucked away from the sound and fury of politics, there is the quiet world of policy making. This fantastic book, from a magnificent scholar turned a master of this world, restored my faith in what governments really do, and more importantlyin what a smart government could do to help citizens live better, more fulfilled lives."
WashingtonPost.com
“This book should be on every federal leader’s reading list…common-sense tips leaders at any level can use to be more effective.”
InTheCapital.Streetwise.com
“Optimistic in its vision of a government that can do good, a positive message in a year that seems to be filled with signs pointing to the opposite…a great read for any aspiring economist or individual on the fence on what to think about the state of regulatory affairs in America today.”
Wall Street Journal
"Mr. Sunstein is a long-standing champion of the cost-benefit analysis of regulation, and his criticisms are often spot-on. The idea is simple and sensible. . . . deeply informed by the insights of behavioral economics—a field of research that reveals several psychological quirks that affect human decision-making."
The New York Times - Michiko Kakutani
A more detailed, more nuanced look at how rules and regulations can be made simpler, and how the social environment in which we make decisions can be "nudged" in ways that help us to make more rational, sensible choices.
Doctor - Esther Duflo
"Tucked away from the sound and fury of politics, there is the quiet world of policy making. This fantastic book, from a magnificent scholar turned a master of this world, restored my faith in what governments really do, and more importantly in what a smart government could do to help citizens live better, more fulfilled lives."
Doctor - Austan Goolsbee
"Cass Sunstein: scholar, public servant, choice architect. This lays out a new vision for how research from academics and attention from the public can be used to make regulations and government work better and simpler—to protect the public at the lowest possible cost and hassle. No wonder Glenn Beck said Sunstein was the most dangerous man in America."
Michael Greenstone
"Federal regulations determine the quality of the air we breathe and water we drink, the safety of our workplaces, the kinds of cars we can buy, and much more. In this book, Cass Sunstein shows how he helped President Obama use the smartest academic ideas to undertake the most important reform of our regulatory system in more than three decades. This revolution in regulation relies on using evidence, rather than ideology, to guide regulatory decisions and by making regulations simpler and easier to understand. Simple is a must (and fun) read for anyone who wants a deeper understanding of how government—and the people in it—are using the insights from the seminal research by Sunstein and others to make our lives healthier, safer, and more prosperous."
Daniel Kahneman
"This inspiring book has a tale and a lesson. In the tale, a thinker with a passion for reason moves from the ivory tower to the White House and becomes a doer. The lesson is that regulation is not a dirty word and that thoughtful government works."
Walter Isaacson
"This may be the most important book to come out of President Obama's first term. Contrary to conservative perception, the administration, guided by Cass Sunstein, launched a brilliant effort to simplify and reduce regulations. Sunstein found ingenious ways to protect citizens and nudge corporate behavior while maximizing freedom and business opportunity. Simpler is a fascinating guide to how behavioral economics is improving government, and none too soon."
Chip Heath
"Everyone complains that government regulations are often dumb, but how could you make them smarter? Here's a guidebook by someone who did it. It should be read by everyone who sets policies for government, nonprofits, education, or business."
Dr. Esther Duflo
"Tucked away from the sound and fury of politics, there is the quiet world of policy making. This fantastic book, from a magnificent scholar turned a master of this world, restored my faith in what governments really do, and more importantly in what a smart government could do to help citizens live better, more fulfilled lives."
Dr. Austan Goolsbee
"Cass Sunstein: scholar, public servant, choice architect. This lays out a new vision for how research from academics and attention from the public can be used to make regulations and government work better and simpler—to protect the public at the lowest possible cost and hassle. No wonder Glenn Beck said Sunstein was the most dangerous man in America."
Dan Ariely
"We typically don't associate the idea of simple systems with government and large corporations. But in this fine book, Sunstein provides a glimpse into how we can tame the complexity beast and why it is important, even necessary if we want to improve our collective welfare."
Kirkus Reviews
Obama's former "regulatory czar" examines the reforms that are beginning to transform the government and what they portend for the future. In 2009, Harvard Law School professor Sunstein (A Constitution of Many Minds: Why the Founding Document Doesn't Mean What It Meant Before, 2009, etc.) became administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, "the cockpit of the regulatory state," where he worked for the next three years. Sunstein was present during the first Reagan administration, when the office was established and its purposes defined. He writes about using the office to find ways to save lives and money and attempt to improve the quality of life. Sunstein is a partisan of behavioral economics and uses its methods in what he calls "nudges…approaches that influence decisions while preserving freedom of choice." His mission, he writes, has been largely one of simplification: "fewer rules and more common sense." Disclosure, whether in summary or fuller form, helps the process along, as does involvement of the public. For example, changes to the presentation of automobile fuel economy make the costs clearer over time, and the presentation of daily food requirements through the image of a plate, rather than a pyramid, makes for better understanding. Sunstein is a vigorous defender of the methods of cost-benefit analysis, both to determine what the costs really are and to figure out whether proposed changes or improvements will bring about net benefits. He has interesting insights about features of current partisan conflicts and the contradictory positions protagonists can find themselves in. Sunstein's firsthand knowledge and distinct humor give his account a real dynamism.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781476726618
Publisher:
Simon & Schuster
Publication date:
04/09/2013
Sold by:
SIMON & SCHUSTER
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
272
Sales rank:
362,501
File size:
3 MB

What People are saying about this

Chip Heath
"Everyone complains that government regulations are often dumb, but how could you make them smarter? Here's a guidebook by someone who did it. It should be read by everyone who sets policies for government, nonprofits, education, or business.
Esther Duflo
"Tucked away from the sound and fury of politics, there is the quiet world of policy making. This fantastic book, from a magnificent scholar turned a master of this world, restored my faith in what governments really do, and more importantly in what a smart government could do to help citizens live better, more fulfilled lives.
Dan Ariely
"We typically don't associate the idea of simple systems with government and large corporations. But in this fine book, Sunstein provides a glimpse into how we can tame the complexity beast and why it is important, even necessary if we want to improve our collective welfare.
Austan Goolsbee
"Cass Sunstein: scholar, public servant, choice architect. This lays out a new vision for how research from academics and attention from the public can be used to make regulations and government work better and simpler—to protect the public at the lowest possible cost and hassle. No wonder Glenn Beck said Sunstein was the most dangerous man in America.
Michael Greenstone
"Federal regulations determine the quality of the air we breathe and water we drink, the safety of our workplaces, the kinds of cars we can buy, and much more. In this book, Cass Sunstein shows how he helped President Obama use the smartest academic ideas to undertake the most important reform of our regulatory system in more than three decades. This revolution in regulation relies on using evidence, rather than ideology, to guide regulatory decisions and by making regulations simpler and easier to understand. Simple is a must (and fun) read for anyone who wants a deeper understanding of how government—and the people in it—are using the insights from the seminal research by Sunstein and others to make our lives healthier, safer, and more prosperous.
Daniel Kahneman
"This inspiring book has a tale and a lesson. In the tale, a thinker with a passion for reason moves from the ivory tower to the White House and becomes a doer. The lesson is that regulation is not a dirty word and that thoughtful government works.
Walter Isaacson
"This may be the most important book to come out of President Obama's first term. Contrary to conservative perception, the administration, guided by Cass Sunstein, launched a brilliant effort to simplify and reduce regulations. Sunstein found ingenious ways to protect citizens and nudge corporate behavior while maximizing freedom and business opportunity. Simpler is a fascinating guide to how behavioral economics is improving government, and none too soon.

Read More

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