Our nation’s founders understood only a relatively small group of people can communicate and evaluate ideas to successfully make an informed decision. We elect individuals to represent us in Congress and city councils, so the majority of taxpayers’ opinions should be represented.
Most would agree these representatives are obligated to be honest and transparent with their constituents unless it involves matters of national security. The problem is most disagree on the definition of a “national security issue.”
National security extends far beyond protection from invasion and acts of terrorism. The security of our nation depends on peace at home as much as, if not more than, peace abroad. The working American literally cannot afford to know every detail of every decision being made across the nation.
If a teenager’s request for $100 is denied, his parents can not possibly explain every aspect of their financial situation in a way the teenager could grasp. They might say, “We have bills to pay, food to buy and we do not have $100 to spare,” but anything beyond that would only cause unnecessary confusion.
Imagine if you ran a major corporation and had to explain every decision you made, describing all your options and thought processes. You would quickly be rendered ineffective as a leader. But more importantly, how would you maintain order in your office if every employee had the right to demand explanations from you and other executives at any moment? It would result in chaos.
American taxpayers have a limited right to know where their money is going, and truth be told, seem to be concerned only when things are not going well. If you were living comfortably, working a secure job, saving for retirement and paying the bills, how desperate would you be to know exactly how the government spends your tax dollars?
It is the reason the Enron Corporation and Bernie Madoff were able to scam investors and employees out of billions of dollars. Everybody was making money; everything was great. Nobody asked questions.
At the city level, there are few issues that affect city security, so citizens can demand almost complete transparency from their council members.
The problem with American government is not the system. What better way is there? Every year we have the opportunity to replace corrupt officials with ones we think will better serve us. Any form of government requires the population to give decision-making power to one or a few individuals. At least we have the opportunity to choose ours, even though voter turnout is embarrassingly low in any race other than the presidential election.
If your current government leaders are not trustworthy, either vote them out or run for public office yourself. If Americans were as involved as our forefathers wanted us to be, government openness would not be an issue.