Transparency in government.

Discussion in 'Current Events' started by curiousbrain, Apr 30, 2011.

  1. curiousbrain

    curiousbrain Well-Known Member

    The basic question matrix is this:

    Is government transparency a good thing?
    If it is a good thing, is there a point where transparency has to end?
    If it is a bad thing, how can the populace make an informed decision?

    Some of my own thoughts on the matter.

    To the question at hand, my stance (as usual) is shrouded in shades of grey. An amount of transparency must be available for a populace to make an informed decision about the issues of the day, and anything less than that results in an unintentional ignorance on the individuals part. However, too much transparency results in a government paralyzed by inaction because it is unable to make objective, rational decisions for fear of its inability to explain it on a level the average individual will understand.

    A certain amount of ignorance on the individuals part is to be expected; the average citizen in this day and age cannot be expected to be well versed in political science and/or other abstract fields. To that end, the governments job is to be versed in these abstract fields and promote the welfare of its own citizens when dealing with other countries; in this regard, too much transparency does not allow the government to do its job.

    Although, on the other hand, if the entire world acted in accordance with principles of transparency, the problem(s) outlined in the previous paragraph would cease to exist because the landscape of world politics would be more conducive to transparency. In the current landscape of world politics, however, I would stake out my own position that too much transparency is not just a utopian ideal, excepting the entire world simultaneously adopting principles of transparency, but that it is dangerous for a nation to reach too far in this direction.

    Personally, I think this is relevant not only in light of the WikiLeaks situation, but also because this country has two wars and an additional military action in progress. To think about what the country as a whole has the right to know is to examine not only the reasons why one supports a war in the first place, but in how a country should conduct itself during a conflict.
  2. wkmac

    wkmac Well-Known Member

  3. curiousbrain

    curiousbrain Well-Known Member

    Reading through that and mulling the topic over, I'm currently contemplating that, excluding the most utopian of circumstances, a government cannot be expected to achieve "full transparency" (whatever that is). Not necessarily out of some evil purpose or intent, but simply because of the difference in perspective - consider an intelligence officer who has to review certain documents and decide what should be made public. This officer, depending on whether he was personally involved in the case or not will have different feelings one way or the other, and will no doubt see things differently than an average citizen who has no connection whatsoever.

    To that end, it seems like it should never be the job of a government to decide what to make public; it should be a process of leaks, FOIA-esque requests (which can be denied by the government, but still serve a valuable purpose), and independent watchdog agencies.

    At least, that's what I thought of at work today.
    Lasted edited by : May 3, 2011