Let me be the first to admit that interest in access to government information is an acquired taste. It’s intoxicating, though. Once into the topic it’s an endless quest to learn. To learn about community health collaboration, small business start-ups, charter schools, the Vietnam war, the thoughts of the founding fathers or the economic status of women – stuff you really do want to know. The point is, access to information is how we know about what our government is about. And it is for that government for which we are ultimately responsible.
Good information honestly collected and generously shared is also a powerful tool for government itself to accomplish its assigned goals with greater efficiency and accountability.
These thoughts are on the top of my mind as I re-enter from a week in Washington, DC where I had the privilege of spending Sunshine Week 2011. It wasn’t a big deal in Minnesota, I know, but it was such in DC from which much of the information emanates. My reflection is this – that we are in good hands. The energy and the ideas are in abundance infused by the experience of those who have kept an eye on the issue of transparency as far back as the olden days when information came in print on paper.
There are many thoughts rattling in my brain re what I have experienced and learned – all related to access to information. Though I know the issue is irrelevant to most, it’s so essential to me that I need to foment a bit. It is at the very core of our democracy, threatened not just by technology (the usual culprit), but by corporate overtake of the media, national security, right wing concerns, and the power of the purse that has yet to be unraveled by our 21st Century economy.
My blast when I got home was the fact that the Strib now costs 75 cents at the stand. It makes me sad and concerned.