Bradford McKee | Projects

Once More with Feeling: A National Design Policy

Elizabeth Tunstall (front row, third from right) and design leaders at National Design Summit
Washington, D.C., November 2008. Photo: Sean Burgess, IDSA

Considering that government bureaucracy is the opposite of design — metastatic, inelegant, inefficient — the design professor Elizabeth Tunstall has given herself a nearly impossible task. Sensing the possibilities of a new presidency, Tunstall is trying to persuade the U.S. federal government to enact a national “design policy.” The set of edicts she’s got in mind would compel the government to treat various forms of design as essential to our national life, much as it does money or the food supply, and much as countries such as India, Brazil, South Korea and Finland support their design industries already. The feds would themselves become model design clients but also promote design and innovation as ardently as they protect the homeland.

Like reforming health care, it’s a marvelous idea, but pulling off something so radical yet sensible is like trying to hog-tie a whale. Where on earth do you start? Tunstall has started almost from scratch. It is hard not to applaud her optimism. It is even harder when you learn that she began by rubbing two sticks together in early 2008, before it was clear that the new presidency would be Barack Obama’s. His administration’s interest level is not known, though it’s probably safe to call it a multiple of what John McCain’s (or Mitt Romney’s or Mike Huckabee’s) interest level would have been.

Tunstall seized on the idea of a national design policy after having served as a director of Design for Democracy, a flank of the AIGA founded in response to the chaos of the 2000 election to help set national design guidelines for ballots and polling places (which have actually begun to make headway among some election officials). At first, Tunstall told me, her research was theoretical, focused on ways that design influences civic participation. She was investigating the notion of a design policy “from an intellectual, comparative perspective,” she said. “What would be a prototype? How would you structure it?” Then she began mobilizing others around the project.

Last November, Tunstall convened a National Design Policy Summit, in Washington. Nearly two dozen people — leaders of professional design groups, accreditation officials and federally employed designers — spent two days sketching out a raft of detailed policy proposals, from the vague (“Calculate the cost of inaction”… “Use crowd sourcing for creating best design standards”) to the concrete and useful (enhance K-12 design education) to the very wishful (“Create an executive office-level design position”). They boiled these down to 10 fairly coherent imperatives that were then packaged and delivered to members of Congress and the incoming administration after Obama’s inauguration.

There are, as Tunstall learned early on, precedents for her grand proposition to make design a federal priority. The history of similar efforts is not entirely discouraging, but their results have usually been equivocal or short-lived enough to give anyone but a total zealot a measure of caution.

But there have been watershed moments in modern times. Architects, in particular, page back fondly to 1962 and the “Guiding Principles for Federal Architecture,” penned by Daniel Patrick Moynihan, the future senator and godhead of government design, when he worked in the Kennedy Administration. They state famously that federal buildings should “embody the finest contemporary American architectural thought.” Though they did not entirely sterilize the government against producing godawful buildings in the following years, the principles laid groundwork, most significantly, for the Design Excellence program, founded by Edward Feiner, the chief architect of the General Services Administration (the government’s main real estate developer) in the early ’90s. To leap ahead a bit, Design Excellence chucked the old qualifications that favored workmanlike firms for federal contracts (Have you done a government building before? You may do another…) in favor of rigorous competitions and peer reviews among leading architects, and has made it unsurprising to see blue-chip federal architecture by the likes of Thom Mayne or Richard Meier.

During the Nixon years, Moynihan, who worked then in the White House, was likely the force behind the Federal Design Improvement Program. In 1971, the White House asked Nancy Hanks, then head of the National Endowment for the Arts and a formidable figure in her own right, to promote design among federal agencies.

Hanks took this directive and covered the waterfront. Starting in 1973, the NEA organized a series of Federal Design Assemblies, which served as mixers for bureaucrats and designers of all types. The Endowment launched the Federal Graphics Improvement Program, under which 45 federal entities got new graphic identities — without it, we wouldn’t have Massimo Vignelli’s gorgeous maps for the National Park Service or Danne & Blackburn’s NASA logo. A task force of the NEA’s Federal Architecture Project enlisted Charles Eames and Harry Weese and led to Congress’s passing of the Public Buildings Cooperative Use Act of 1976, which helped make federal buildings less aloof and more engaging to their surroundings. And before fizzling out in the late ’70s and early ’80s, the Federal Design Improvement Program birthed a protocol for commissioning better public art in the federal realm through peer reviews much like those for the NEA’s own grant-award panels.

By comparison, the Reagan administration threw bones to designers in the form of the Presidential Design Awards, which were handed out five times through the year 2000.

The next pivotal moment in federal design involvement that Tunstall and others point to came in 1990 in the guise of a civil-rights revolution: The Americans with Disabilities Act, signed by George H. W. Bush. Besides outlawing employment discrimination against people with disabilities, it created comprehensive design standards for access into any place the public is welcome. Still, at the time, you could not literally draw architects and business owners a picture of a proper bathroom-door radius without hearing them complain it wasn’t clear enough. (Actually, the government itself had already largely proved the workability of such standards with the Architectural Barriers Act of 1968 and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which put the feds ahead of the accessibility curve in buildings and grounds and also electronic and information technology.)

The last time anyone attempted an effort like Tunstall’s, though, was at the start of the Clinton administration. It did not end brightly because it barely got started. During Clinton’s transition in December 1992, Christopher Hyland, Clinton’s deputy national political director, called Chee Pearlman, then the editor of I.D. magazine, and asked for her help convening a roundtable of prominent American designers in Little Rock, Ark., to help draw up proposals for a national design policy.

The effort moved quickly. Nearly two dozen designers went to Little Rock, including Maya Lin, Max Bond, Alexander Cooper, David Kelley, Michael Sorkin, Laurinda Spear, Sylvia Harris Woodard and Tom Matano. The meeting resulted in a policy paper that called for three major initiatives, each sensibly grounded in specific overtures: one prong outlined an innovation strategy among designers, manufacturers and investors; a second prong focused on making cities and towns sustainable; and a third proposed creating design standards that encourage the public’s participation in government through items like improved tax forms and, yes, better voting machines. If only the proposal had survived.

“The interesting thing was how quickly it didn’t go anywhere,” Pearlman said recently. The group came away with its policy paper and “so much euphoria,” she said, but “there was no place to channel that within the government…there wasn’t a place where this lived.”

Hyland blames myriad factors for the idea’s ultimate failure. “I think the design community was not organized enough or saw clearly enough the opportunity that was presented at that time,” he says. “There were too many conflicting interest groups, and it was hard to take control of it.” Mainly, though, the notion of design as a driving force in government was lost on the Clinton White House, Hyland remembers, although the Clintons did eventually hold some sort of reception for the participants, which Pearlman calls “very nice.”

It’d be a pity to see Tunstall’s gusto for design in the public realm go down the drain in the same way. Richard Grefé, the executive director of the AIGA and one of the first people with whom Tunstall shared her vision of a national design policy, doubts the idea, under that very rubric, will fly. “The term itself appears to reek of industrial policy, which is anathema in Washington,” he says. The installment of a cabinet-level design czar is improbable at best. And equally daunting but more likely prospect, Grefé offers, is to go to work on Congress to insert specific language in some type of omnibus legislation (they pass these all the time). “It takes only one sentence to say, ‘Professional design standards shall be used in executing any reform efforts between government and citizens,’” Grefé posits. “And lo and behold, it’s there.”

Posted in: Politics

Comments [35]

“The term itself appears to reek of industrial policy, which is anathema in Washington,”

I think instead of anathema he means "all the rage."
Stephen Macklin

Is there any message in the fact that Professor Tunstall has emigrated to Australia recently?

Great summary of recent previous efforts. I am a great admirer of the work that Tunstall undertook last year and she made a great start and outlined with other some fine ideas that should be implemented. However, if we are to have something akin to a national design policy in the United States, it would probably be best to start more aggressively within the bowels of the major design organizations, including but not limited to AIA, AIGA, APA, IDSA, ASLA and many more and first organize the design community from within.

If there is one pattern that persists with those that keep admirably trying to pull of this idea, it is the conceit that they keep gathering a small number of very intelligent individuals, put themselves in a room, come up with bright ideas, and then seek a singular champion in the form of a newly elected President or Cabinet Secretary and expect them to carry the design message. Washington and politics do not work this way and until we in the design community first organize ourselves politically (the way most of the other professions already have done), we will mainly be left out of the national policy conversations - and so will, with the exception of a few bones and awards - design.
John Kaliski

Given the history of federal design concerns to evaporate as administrations turn over I think that this effort is misdirected. Rather than targeting higher-level operatives who will inevitably leave Washington designers should target the myriad staffers who stay in Washington. Federal agency workers, Capitol Hill staffers, lobbyists, etc. are probably as important to governmental design decisions as their bosses are. If relevant design courses could be developed for and integrated into the political and marketing curricula that helps establish young bureaucrats at undergraduate and graduate levels, Washington could be packed with an army of design-conscious wonks.

Take these efforts to the schools that are so important to the Washington system—Harvard, Stanford, Georgetown, and George Washington. Let integration of design and public policy spread and grow from the ground up and a lasting solution is created.
James Puckett

To anonymous, there is no message in the fact that I have moved to Australia. It had to do with my "day job" as a professor having a better opportunity in Melbourne, where I am also assisting in Australia's efforts at design policy.

I am still working hard as organizer of the U.S. National Design Policy Initiative. We are in conversations with the Dept. of Commerce, planning meetings in D.C. in October, and planning our annual meeting in D.C. on December 1st. The Initiative has always been digitally mediated with one face-to-face meeting per year.

To John Kaliski, your point is well taken and represents how the Initiative is structured. The Initiative and policy proposals act as the glue that holds together the individual actions and activities of the professional design organizations, design education bodies, and government design studios as a unified design group. This is why I am optimistic. It is not about the policy document, but about how it serves as a blueprint for action amongst the various stakeholders.

Lastly, now is the age of the impossible. No one would believe that we would have an African American President, but we do. It is our own actions and dedication that create possibilities.
Dori Tunstall

Dori Tunstall understands in a deeply committed fashion that design practice as national policy has great precedent in national great works administrations of the past. It is not surprising – in fact it is resoundingly apt – that Dori Tunstall’s work and passion is aligned with our current president’s political commitments. His administration of politics is in line with design’s fundamental proposition – to solve problems.

It makes deeply historical sense that the course that led Professor Tunstall to conceiving a national design policy, and to creating guidance for its tangible expression, began with reimagining the voting booth in 2000 after the miasma of its presidential elections. Her work today has deep roots, and we do well to recognize these are indeed times of accelerating change. Change has a historical career. We also would do well, as I believe Dori Tunstall does, to ask less about the career of the answers than the career of the questions: questions are of their times, Dori Tonstall’s National Design effort is an answer to a different kind of question, decidedly of our times, a reexamination of politics and participation, ethics as a year in business schools, young people with altogether winds-of-change passion. All clarion calls to a new world.
Frank Romagosa

Perhaps some see the need for a break with history, where we can take a look at past missteps (thanks to this article) and then ignore them altogether in favor of something that has a better fit with our current temperament, goals, and aspirations. Here in India my calendar says 2009, not 1992.

There are at least a few reasons why this initiative is different. In 1992, we wouldn't even be having this discussion, much less on a public blog. I find it very refreshing that the process of moving the proposal forward is a community-driven effort. This means that anyone who has received communication about the proposal and has the inclination, can participate and help support it. Until now, I didn't even know that some fancy-schmancy designers went to Little Rock and had a meeting. So its death may not be that surprising.

In many places the field of design no longer resembles its previous incarnations. This is most definitely true in schools that are moving towards an interdisciplinary approach. It is also true for this channel, where social action and design are now equivalent in more minds. In industry and commercial spaces, certainly there must be some who see design in a new light, given all the attention to 'innovation', 'insight', and other rebranding metaphors being used to bolster design's (who's) status and agency.

Finally, I think we now have better tools for understanding the role of design in society. While some may see government bureaucracy as "the opposite of design — metastatic, inelegant, inefficient", others recognize that the bureaucracy is a form of emergent design, no attributable to a single author, but deeply rooted in the architecture and metaphors created to support it.

Besides don't they teach iteration in design school?

(p.s. Can someone explain why moving to another country, like Australia, carries a message or matters in the first place?)
Gabriel Harp

Show me the money! Start by designing money so beautiful and non-political that everyone would want to use it or collect it. Drop the 50 cent coin and the dollar bill and create a dollar coin that would take the place of both. It could even follow the state quarters program. Only each state would be designed by competent designer of coins. The front face could be the statue of liberty or the most fantastic eagle ever. Then go on to other money, bills and coins.
This would be the best way to educate the American public to good design. Start there and then move on to bigger and better.
Roderick Robertson

I am translating this into realpolitik, soviet era language for you.
Central planning. With all of the attendand mandates and with the attendant coterie of self identified planners to carry on the great work of social engineering.

Not in my lifetime.
B Dubya


"National Design Policy." "Bureaucracy is a form of emergent design." "...winds of change passion. All clarion call to a new world." "national policy has great precedent in national great works administrations of the past." "Now is the age of the impossible."

Gee, you know who was really into national design policy?

Albert Speer.

I am sorry, this effort reeks of centralized planning, politiburo-like top down direction, and a creepy totalitarian sensibility. And a "national design policy" frankly bears no relation to sensible STANDARDS, which we already have in place.

Meanwhile, let the scales of naivete fall from your eyes right now. Don't assume, as some on here seem to, that this new president somehow ushers in some new golden age "of the impossible." He's just a politician, and right now a failing one.
Karl Keller

more federal government? I'm a designer, and even I can see this is a new high (low) in stupidity: Is this an Onion article?
Please, please, just move to another country. I am literally speechless, trying to reach for a non-scatalogical metaphor.
Hillbilly Geek

I am an European that has a degree in Design and never put a foot in USA so from distance well unfortunately i can't say much more that i hope this is a temporary moment of crazyness in America. If not, it is tyranny arriving and then all will be up in the air.

“There were too many conflicting interest groups, and it was hard to take control of it.”

It is a sign freedom that there are conflicting of interests, we are Humans. Where is dissent possible, experiment, going agaisnt the norm?
The whole text is scary enough showing people that want to fullfill their emotional needs controling the live of everyone else.


These architects and designers are certainly among the saddest of creatures: sophisticated supplicants earnestly crawling on their bellies before the altar of government, full of up-lifting (self-aggrandizing) social theory but tragically empty of real guts, courage or confidence. They know in their hearts that if all fees could only come from the government, life would be steady and good. Then a steady-state environment in which to implement their theories could exist with the permanent government at its predictable center playing the role of the ultimate sustainability enforcer and dispenser of commissions and standards. The planet, too, ignorantly exploited by free-market forces as it is, might be saved if only such attitudes could be embedded within the highest levels of the government apparatus.

But if, as the author states "government bureaucracy is the opposite of design — metastatic, inelegant, inefficient", then the government itself must be made amenable to intellectual elegance by means of a design czar (root word: caesar) or the transformative powers of design on the people may come to naught. Fearful and disdainful of the commercial marketplace, such an approach could never be attempted in that venue. Free-market clients are as undependable as free markets are dependable in a world of government-policy driven recessions.

President Obama represents an opening for the statist-oriented designers because bettering the masses from the top down is utterly consistent with his vision to devolve as many of the risks and uncertainties of life as possible into the reassuring cocoon of state-management for a better life. It is ironic that the very choice to build on the land something, or anything, is, at its very heart, a risk and a gamble on the future; the kind that architects (and designers) are in greater and greater numbers becoming ever more unwilling to take on themselves. And that's the sad thing.
Thomas Barbeau

Having a policy like the ADA was essential to those who were excluded or treated like a second class citizen, but a national design policy? What about state's rights? Why add ANOTHER layer of government bureaucracy and ANOTHER office that requires funding by taxpayers already pushed to their limits? Work within the professional organizations - at least we are assured those officers know what their doing.
Linda Lobeck

The 10 fairly coherent imperatives:

1. Create a gov’t design council
2. Set Guidelines for the “design” of all gov’t communications
3. Require carbon neutral bldgs.
4. Appoint a design czar
5. Expand national grants for educating communities
6. Commission a report that tracks the design’s contribution to the economy
7. Revive the Presidential design award (w/ new guidelines)
8. More national grants – for basic design research
9. Modify the patent process to include “intellectual property”
10. Encourage direct gov’t investment in design

I wonder why this would need to get earmarked in ?? But don't fear, congress doesn't read legislation anymore, afterall "they pass these [omnibus bills] all the time"...
Keep politics out of design

Federal Design regulation? How about Federal Floral arrangement regulation. Federal Napkin Folding regulation? Please help me arrange my sock drawer.
Paul Montgomery

Sounds more like a "Cash for Clunky Designers" program. I have enough government intervention in my business and in my life. If a "national design policy" were to be adopted I would be inclined to close my design business, cancel my design license and let my ASID membership expire (it is probably perceived as elitest, anyway).
Paul Biggers

I can't believe that any designer that wants to be creatively free would want any national mandates (national design policy). According to whom? In addition, the government is not there to decorate or design your home or business, it's there to protect you and build infrastructure. Our codes protect you in the design business. Has anyone heard of the ICC or the IRC? How about ADA? Local codes protect consumers even further. Here's the deal. The economy stinks right now and there aren't too many people feeling like they have expendable cash to put into design. Besides that, they can't get a loan even if they might seem qualified. Look folks, there's no money. We all need to take a lesson from the WWII crowd and not spend what we don't have. The government has spent our great great great grandchildren into the hole. How can ANYONE propose adding even more (another perpetual bureaucracy) to that debt? And students, BEWARE! Academia has a political agenda that they want to brainwash you with. They'll tell you that you have to join ASID or IIDA in order to be a legitimate designer. Well, you don't. Yes, you should take the NCIDQ if it applies to the type of design that you are professionally involved with or any state required tests to be a professional designer. But that doesn't mean you have to be a member of any one of the organizations. There are good things about these organizations but make sure it's what you want. Last time I looked, the map still says United States of America.
Rachelle Kiklowicz

Design is deliberation, discriminating and delightful & tastefully done! But who wants to visit New Jersey in Kansas, or in Maine!?
Our regional uniqueness is gone for the sake of sameness, with no history or creative playfullness!? The problem goes deeper than "a lack of aesthetics" for the sake of "what will sell to the easy/flip buyer"! And you want to put this on a national level & have it federally funded? Historically, the Fed Govt has been a top-
down oraganization............
Mary Ning, Interior Designer

This article nicely pointed out that this new administration would be more willing than past administrations to set forth a national design policy. The image of a 1984-ish society comes to mind. What happens to the regional design influences and historic context of once guidelines are set forth?

PS- to the author- You become a much more creditable journalist when you don't place the current administration on a pedestal.
Laura Hutton

What is it that compels an individual to desire being totally controlled by a “select” group of individuals… is it complete lack of ambition and original thought? Or to those that desire to have control over others and micro manage their lives … an overly inflated superior-inferiority complex?

Who are these brilliant individuals that will dictate what is acceptable? Will there be design templates that we “shall” follow? Will we get government issued uniforms and ID’s to wear while functioning under the “loving and controlling” eye of those who wish to control us? Will we be punished for not using the right shade of fuchsia or for having drapes that puddle a tad too much?

Obviously there must be a “union” to go along with this thinking that all practicing designers must then be a member. And as such, I would assume that if you are not a member of the “correct” political party, then work would not be “awarded” to those individuals and you would be removed from the “approved list” of designers who are allowed to design.

This social engineering of our lives by political elitist and the not so brilliant minds of the academies is total crap. Get a life and leave everyone else alone!
Independant Interior Designer

Looks like the flash mob just showed up--fresh from the health care town hall meetings.

Too bad no one is debating the actual points of the proposal, what they mean, and why they matter.
H. Spencer

Excuse me, but with all due respect - this is one of the stupidest ideas I have ever heard. Not that the US Government doesn't support dumb things routinely - but really - what purpose does a US Goverment Design standard serve? Will the standard dictate that all government buildings be Blue until the next administration comes in and changes the standard to be Red? Design is a fluid thing, it isn't a policy. Can you imagine the kind of reception Frank Lloyd Wright would have had? This is NOT a marvelous idea. Design is NOT as essential to our national life, the same as money or food is. The analogy is totally false, and I don't blame Elizabeth Tunstall for running away to Australia. I would too if this ever goes anywhere.
Concerned professional

OMG. We really don't need the government running design. This is NOT a good idea. Who would decide? ASID, they who supposedly represent good design in this country, couldn't even design an invoice that fit its own envelope. PLEASE stop "helping" us by creating more layers of decision makers. We already know good design when we have it and innovation would be dead. Think Soviet design.
A Horse of a Different Color

I guess my former comments that weren't posted were too inflamatory for you.

Any group of people who are supposed to be representing an organization of professional designers should be smart enough to understand when you are totally losing your audience. That you aren't understanding that message by now means that you must be totally tone deaf. I have not heard any designers from anywhere voicing their dismay that there is not enough government involvement in their design business.

ASID was at its best, was when it actually was there supporting designers and making their jobs more effective. More standardization is going to put more costs, more delays, more complications onto a business that needs the opposite. When do you as an organization start to listen and represent your membership? Or is that just too low brow for you?

I urge my fellow designers to give this dialogue some thought as to where these new "standards" are going to put your businesses.
All I can think of is that ASID must be getting too fat with our fees, because otherwise you would not be concentatrating on such irrelivant matters.

Luckylady2, no comments have been removed from this thread. Neither, as you suggest, is Change Observer affiliated in any way with ASID.
Julie Lasky

When will all this insanity end. This is not a brilliant idea it is another demonstration of lack of understanding the destruction that takes place at the hands of government bureaucracy. Independent thought is free thought. Free thought is creative design. As the people of a free society we have the right to determine what works for the needs of our culture. The chaff eventually gets sifted out on it's on lack of merit and the cream rises to the top. It may not be the fastest process but it is the process that produces the best results, not some self-aggrandized government bureaucracy that knows it has all the answers. Will somebody somewhere please derail this train of thought that says the 'government out to do for us' these things.
Scott Adie

What does certification do? Lets ask ourselves this question. What is going on that designers and architects would want more regulation by the government? Am I really hearing this? Has everyone gone crazy or just buying into the Socialist agenda of the Obama administration?

More regulation?? Am I really hearing this. What is wrong with you people?

Instead of spending all this money to pay the lobbyists that now controll gov't why don't we ask ASID to spend the money educating the public. Isn't it their responsibility to help heighten the awareness of what design can do for our country/world? Not to create more difficulty in running our businesses and taking away from our creativity?
Kellie XQ

I think the US Government has larger issues at hand at the moment. What happened to our many professional organizations "setting the standard." This of course is not even mentioning laws and codes that are already in place or on various floors at the moment.

I think that Asid is going in a direction that may only make sense in your own heads. In these times of austerity, designers need the most support, the most inspiration possible. All the green standards and the talk about more government involvement is frankly working against many of us who are hanging on for dear life. I don't understand why ASID wants every designer certified in additional standards when our very exsistance is contracting daily. Every move that you make to further "standardize" us is going away from our creative roots, and jeapordizing our ability to remain viable.

Your right. There is a correlation of ASID's direction and health care. Why would government junk a whole established system when there are concerns that fewer numbers need targeted? The answer is that there is an agenda that is larger than health care.

I am a designer and I think this idea is a bunch of crap. It sounds like this woman needs to be recognized for something. Or needs some reassurance from the Federal government. Can someone give her a certificate for something from their ink-jet and make her go away?

WAKE UP! We live in a country that needs less regulation, less government and more personal responsibility. I suggest that anyone who subscribes to this garbage impose the rules on themselves and leave the rest of the designers (who have no time for this) alone.

I nearly choked on my food as I read this article the first time. The second and third times just made me more angry. Then as I read the first couple of posts, I was discouraged. But then, all of you eloquent communicators showed up! I had to pull down my dictionary to reference a few of your words.

You're right. This is the most outrageously stupid idea EVER! No more government intrusion! Just look at the IRS, USPS, toxic FEMA trailers, Cash for Clunkers, Cash for Convicts, bailouts, "stimulus", other bills that no one reads. And yes, Mr. Author, now we want them to take over health care, and appoint an interior design czar. Are you out of your mind?

The post describing many of those in academia was so on target! I was cheering you on, "Well said!!" I only wish I could have said it better. What world do they live in? Better yet, what country do they live in? Have they ever worked for themselves, had employees, paid taxes for others, gone without income for any length of time? And you want to add yet another layer of bureaucrats and tax burdens to my already slumped shoulders? No thank you!!

Spend your time on stuff that really matters. Quit looking to the government to be your "savior", your "cradle to the grave", your "anything" and "everything" for that matter. Or we will have a health care system like England and Canada ("NICE" they call it??) and who knows what kind of "design" with more rules and regs. Scary!

A Fired Up Texan

I find these comments very confusing... Did someone post this article on some kind of Republican action website? Can someone please read the 10 initiatives and explain where it mentions meddling in design practices in any way? Or setting a national design standard that designers would somehow need to follow? All it says is that there would be new standards for the government's own communications and new (green) standards for government buildings. Even a design czar/council I'm sure would be focused on strengthening the role of design in this country rather than telling designers what to do—see London's design council [http://www.designcouncil.org.uk/]. Then there's the call for more grant money for design, putting us better in line with every other country on the planet that understands the social and economic value of design. Whether it would ever work, well, that's a completely different story. But I don't understand all the whining going on here.

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Better still, which country do they live in? Have they ever worked for themselves, had employees, paid taxes for others, gone without income for any length of time?

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