Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Why we can't handle the "truth"

Item: New Obama Order on Transparency, FOIA requests

Can President Obama be expected to keep his promise to facilitate transparency in government?

"Transparency" in politics is truly a joke, one which I wish President Obama would not propagate. While progress toward transparency is admirable and necessary, particularly when one considers the blatant stonewalling that was so much a part of the previous administration, the idea that we can actually get there is laughable and perhaps not always desirable.

Fact is, if a group of politicians sits in a room together knowing everyone is watching, nothing can get done; too much posturing and pandering is inevitable. This has been verified by research. The more dogmatic the position, the less likely that progress toward an equitable resolution occurs.

The only way things get done is through deals that involved compromise. That's where "morality" gets fuzzy and invites corruption. People don't want the truth unless it favors their agendas. Since no two people have the exact same agenda, there must always be compromise if anything is to get done ion a democracy. It's easy to see how a politician then learns to lie to protect this truth; it's the only possible way to get elected. The degree to which they are willing to “lie” for the greater good determines their altruism (though they’d prefer the euphemism, “prevaricate”).
We fail ourselves by electing politicians only on the basis of what they can do for us. Parochial interests necessarily conflict with the good of society as a whole. It's not until we consider what's good for the country that we can get rid of the pork-barreling, pandering, hypocrites we have now in politics.

All politics is ultimately local, and there's the rub. Our vote for the President doesn't even count, yet we attribute everything right or wrong about this country to Obama. That detracts from the necessity of our personal involvement on local levels, going to school board meetings, city council meetings, finding out exactly what the people who work for us are doing to the best of our ability. It's so much easier to abstractly comment on some vague issue we have no control over whatsoever.

“Finding the occasional straw of truth awash in a great ocean of confusion and bamboozle requires intelligence, vigilance, dedication and courage. But if we don't practice these tough habits of thought, we cannot hope to solve the truly serious problems that face us - and we risk becoming a nation of suckers, up for grabs by the next charlatan who comes along.” - Carl Sagan, The Fine Art of Baloney Detection