A Magazine Capturing the Story of Health- For People, Environment, Economy & Habitat

Larry Lessig, Harvard Law School- “Law Chokes Creativity and Democracy”

Democracy is Dependent on People and Trust – Funders do not Represent People!

By Lavinia Weissman


Boston MA

I took a walk with my friend Tess Pope today. Tess and I are in someways very like souls. We had a delightful time walking around the historic Forest Hill Cemetery– walking and chatting as only two women do.

There is something I love about the peace there that is not lost in the nature of death, but actually involves the signs of life and beauty and quiet that is hard to find in a city location like Boston.

Tess and I both share an understanding of what an ordinary person needs in life to work, support a family and keep at it in good times and bad.  Yet we seem right now to live at a time, when the dominant voice in the press has lost the understanding of that. I have been finding it difficult to connect with people like this with any real frequency.  So I really enjoyed my walk and time with Tess.

You see we both believe that just a few people can make it hard on the vast majority of folks.  It is what is underneath the bullying of kids in school, the inability of chronic people to get diagnosis and treatment.   It gets more complicated by the amount of time you have to advocate for your kids and care for your parents.

When the bureaucrats ask you to fill out a form, that means to them everything is black and white. When a ordinary person needs help with something, if they are lucky this implies a conversation between you and friends or coworkers that if your luck might be based on a value for give and take.

Tess and I talked for a bit about her recent experiences with her kids in high school in Boston (and the bureaucracy that this implied) and how she was able to work it out for her kids with them and the teachers/and others involved.  I told her my dream had become to think about any kind of government shut down as something of value that offered people the chance to really work things out in community.

When we got back to Tess’s house, she asked me if she could share this video with me on her ipad.  It is a video presentation by Larry Lessig to Harvard Law School Think Big Forum, produced on February 17th, 2011 — Tess felt it illustrated a bit of what we are both feeling about how bureacracy is standing in the way of people.

In 10 minutes time, Lessig explained corruption and how it has impacted democracy.

Would you believe that only 11% of people believe in the US Congress today.  More people in 1776 believed in King George at the time of  the American Revolution than people believe in the US Congress today.

The message of this video is simple — Congress has to be dependent on the PEOPLE alone. To maintain trust and independence, you have to maintain relationships with people, not the institutions they are guiding agenda for. The dependency of the people is displaced by dependency of raising money by  avoiding confrontation with anything the donors object to.

Within Lessig’s message he explained that  today’s policies respond to the needs of the most affluent and engendered a system of dependence that has resulted in  75% of Americans losing confidence in Congress and other institutions.

Lessig went on to share some feedback that  Arnold Hyatt, no. 2 Democrat contributor to the Clinton campaign gave President Clinton in 1997. At the time, Hyatt was President of Stride Rite Shoes, which has since been acquired by Collective Brands.   Hyatt explained that President Clinton needed to address a reluctant nation in the same way that in 1939 Franklin D. Roosevelt addressed the nation to convince them to wage war in order to save democracy.

I find this thought from Arnold Hyatt very intriguing in simplicity and the fact that Clinton at the time of this meeting so strongly objected.  It is now 2011, I think many family put their trust in Stride Rite shoes for their kids (Keds and Converse).  When I was a child growing up in Boston, my dad’s community of investors and business associates included a member of the family that founded Stride Rite.  Stride Rite over time grew into one of the early stage leaders of CSR.

Those shoes were very expensive in those days for a family of 4.  My father and many other families learned to trust Stride Rite and paid the little extra to assure their kids developed healthy feet to walk on through out life. This was how I was taught CSR. CSR was something that a company did and translated to their customers that sustained an impact for the customer; in this case — insuring kids developed healthy feet.

There is something in Lessig’s presentation that appeals to me. I reminded me of how much I long to live my life in a community again for work and residence that is committed to building this kind of healthy trust. Where I feel my back is watched and has a community force that surrounds it that protects me, my health and my earnings so I can sustain.

I wonder if President Obama has listened to this broadcast produced at his alma mater?  What do you think? Do you think any member of Congress could appreciate and understand Lessig’s presentation?  Can we construct a people driven democracy as an alternative to the current corruption and chaos in WDC now threatening government shut down? What do you think?


Authors bio:

Lavinia Weissman is an sustainable market leadership coach, journalist, and publisher of As a speaker she describes the new emerging patterns of markets shaped by sustainable market leaders and the social networks they work with and employ.  As a coach, Lavinia works with all her clients to inspire professional development that assures a person the opportunity to embed sustainability as a leader into the network and culture of people they work with.


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