Voters, Government, Transparency, Data, Legislation, Execution
As the government is getting bigger and big media is increasingly trumpeting corporate agenda, it is becoming virtually impossible to track government actions and policies. Thankfully, under ever increasing public pressure, government is now embracing transparency, to some extent. Still, it is far from where it should be. Lake of transparency has virtually blinded the voters. Most of them are voting, based on very limited and highly orchestrated information provided by big media, especially TV. The result is that we spend billions of dollars on election campaigns and still get same sh*t every time. Elections have become a mere change of some faces. For example, Obama criticized Bush a lot on his war policies.
But, after elections he started more wars than Bush. Question is why do elections not bring a real change? The answer is that two parties have total control over our political system. Since, all the power is converged into two political parties, for a very long time, it has become very easy for special interest to buy loyalties from politicians. Same is the case with media. A very large majority of Americans almost completely rely on very few TV news channels for their information needs. These channels are owned by big corporations.
Hence, it is, also, very easy for special interest to filter and orchestrate the information reaching an average voter. The reason why special interest hate Internet is because it is gradually changing this equation. Special interest is losing its complete control over information. While more people are switching to Internet for their information needs, big media is losing followers, advertisers and revenues. For them this situation is just going to get worse. Another new and healthy trend is that people are now asking for raw stats, rather than professionally written and highly skewed reports. On the other hand, big media is putting lots of emphasis on “non-professional” nature of Internet information sites.
So called, professionalism is the method through which monopolists get their way around. Demand for professionalism leads to set standards and set of standards lead to licensing. Licensing ultimately restricts the competition and guarantees that few will control everything. The few licensed ones will decide what are you going to get, how are you going to get, when and where are you going to get, in which form and for how long you are going to get. They can set their own supply and prices. Pretty much what happened to TV with the help of cable.
If you really want to keep Internet free, unlike TV, radio, newspapers, magazines, movies and videos, this is the key: Do not allow government to set any standards, and licensing procedures. Look around yourself, everything that is exorbitantly high priced, has very restrictive licensing. Healthcare, Internet access, telephone lines, cellphones, cable, pharmaceuticals, insurance companies, all are examples of monopolies due to very restrictive licensing procedures. Internet must remain open and free. This is our only hope for breaking away the strong hold of special interest on this country. You do not need professionals who use their professionalism to misguide and misinform you.
You are the professional. You are the citizen journalist. You are new set of standards. You have a God given license for freedom of speech. Speak up for your mind and value this right. Do not let this power slip away off your hands. Let them know, all you need is raw data in real time. We can process it ourselves. Friends on social networks, blogs and sites can help each other to discover and understand. We do this in almost every aspect of our lives. We can practice this with information, too. That’s what the friends are for.
There are many aspects of government functioning which need far more transparency. I cannot stress more about money. How much money government is getting and from where? How much money is it generating and how? How much is being spent and on what? Who authorized that specific spending and who is responsible for it? What are the goals and why? These two parties have completely failed in controlling the spending. Both debt and deficits have been out of control for a while. Transparency can provide us power to check on this reckless spending. After all it is our money which they are spending. We must know how is it being spent, where, when and on what?
Legislation is other very important aspect of government which needs transparency. Who is proposing which bill? What is in that bill? What is the discussion going on? What are the related facts? Who is voting for and against? How is it going to be executed? What will be the cost and benefits? Due to lake of transparency in legislation, our tax and other codes are seriously messed up. Even the experts, lawyers and legislators are not sure about lots of those. If the bill is available in real time, we can lobby and campaign for and against the bill, effectively neutralizing the effects of corporate lobbies. Legislative voting records can also help us a lot in our future voting decisions.
We must also be very well aware of what is going on in White House, state, county and city capitals? We should know which executive powers are being exercised and to what extent? What are the costs and benefits of different executive actions? Is the authority is being exercised within the constitutional and legal limits? Is money being wisely spent or not? Are agencies doing what they are supposed to do and in the way those are supposed do?
The fact is that many of our grievances about government can be resolved through transparency. Government can regain our trust, in this way. In the process, government can significantly improve its own functioning. Knowing that eyes are focused on them can make them perform better. Internet is finally offering a viable solution to this dilemma. Neither we nor government should lose this opportunity. If the constitutional purpose of government is to serve us then the served must know how they are being served? What their servants are doing and how are they doing? Is our money in safe hands or not? Are our interests being properly protected?