#59 Why the Human Touch Still Matters: Steve Hilton

When is the last time you called a big company or government agency and after two or three rings, a real live human being answered the phone and said "Hello, how can I help you?" 

From big data, automation, complex algorithms and giant corporations to massive government bureaucracy, we've lost the human touch.  Everyday life often seems increasingly impersonal.

 

Our guest, Steve Hilton, argues for radical change.  The former senior policy advisor to ex-British Prime Minister David Cameron has co-authored  "More Human: Designing a World Where People Come First."  The book is a clarion call for reform of government, law, education, welfare and business systems.
 
"I think one of the most destructive and damaging words in the entire world right now both in government and the private sector is efficiency, "Steve tells us in this episode. "In the name of efficiency really stupid and inhuman things are often done."

Find out what he's talking about and what fixes he has in mind... "More Human" and link to Crowdpac, where voters make a difference to how we run politics. 

We also interviewed Hilton about Brexit; to listen to that interview click here.

#58 Our Problem With Polls. Gary Langer: How Do We Fix It?

Are opinion polls accurate?  Did they miss the rise of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders?  Do they properly measure America's increasingly sharp political and cultural divisions?  What's the difference between a well-designed poll conducted with careful methodology and a sloppy opt-in online survey?

Our guest is Gary Langer, an internationally recognized opinion researcher and longtime director of polling at ABC News. He has overseen and analyzed more than 750 surveys on a broad range of topics.

Gary has a passion for numbers and explains what listeners should know about polls.  He tells us that surveys taken at least a year ago - when many pundits dismissed Trump as an outlier - clearly showed that his views on banning oversees Muslim visitors and building a wall along border with Mexico had substantial support among Republican voters. Trump led the  GOP field throughout the lead-up to the primary season.  

"The news media have for far too long indulged themselves in the lazy luxury of being both data hungry and math phobic," Gary tells us.  "I would suggest polls are anti-pundit. A good quality poll ... holds a pundit's feet to the fire "

In this episode we get some vital takeaways on how well researched randomized polls are conducted and what changes have been made recently to ensure that a representative sample is reached.

#3 Fix It Shorts. Should Britain Leave the European Union?: Steve Hilton

Would Britain face lasting economic and political harm if it votes to quit the European Union in June 23rd's referendum?  Our show looks at the case for Brexit.

Steve Hilton, one of David Cameron's closest friends and a former senior political advisor to the Prime Minister, is a leading member of the Vote Leave campaign.  He tells us in this episode that a bureaucratic, over-centralized EU has become far too entangled in British life and is incapable of reform.

Richard and Jim disagree on the best outcome for Britain and Europe.  They discuss some of the arguments for and against.

Note: This episode was recorded shortly before Thursday's tragic murder of British MP, Jo Cox. Several campaign events were cancelled after the attack. 

#1 Fix It Shorts. Solutions for Laws & Crazy Red Tape: Philip K. Howard

It's the biggest issue of the Presidential campaign that the candidates are not talking about: bloated government and the poor delivery of services.

From very long TSA airport security lines to the dysfunction at your local DMV, our interactions with government can be extremely frustrating.  Exceedingly complex rules and laws make things even worse. 

For decades, Philip K. Howard has been a leading voice on how to streamline government and make it work for all of us. His latest book is "The Rule of Nobody: Saving America From Dead Laws and Broken Government." He's the founder of the good government group, Common Good.

In this 12-minute episode of "Fix It Shorts," Philip gives alarming examples of how regulations have programmed officials and politicians of both parties to follow rigid rules that often leave very little room for human judgement.

Solutions:

  • Rules and regulations need to be radically simplified. 
  • Laws based on principles and goals rather detailed rules.
  • Sunset provisions for laws: they can be re-examined every five or ten years.
  • Founding father James Madison's warning about laws should be heeded. They must not be "so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood."

"Four Ways to Fix A Broken Legal System." Philip K. Howard Ted Talk.

#42 Neighbors Divided Over Politics: Joan Blades: How Do We Fix It?

This show is another response to the deep partisan divide in America - part one of a fascinating conversation with Joan Blades. 

Much of our political campaign has been dominated by personal insults, name-calling and dogma.  Voters have rewarded politicians who use anger and blame others for the country's problems.  Individual citizens are part of the problem and the solution. 

"We live with the dysfunction of partisan behaviors and believe we must and can do better," says Joan, co-founder of Living Room Conversations She makes the case for personal dialog across party lines, arguing that it's a key part of changing the way all of us think about politics.

A strong progressive, who co-founded the liberal activist group, MoveOn.org in  the late 90's, Joan makes the case for listening to those you don't agree with. 

"It's actually really fun having a living room conversation," she tells us."They're more fun than if you have a bunch of people around and you what they're going to say."