Thursday, March 19, 2009

No Change Without Knowledge: Part I

President Obama correctly assessed the public mood for "change" and indeed has tapped into something broader than that.

Significant change is upon us. It just may not be the change the President anticipates, or for that matter the change any of us anticipate.

Maybe it comes around on or about the beginning of a new century and is somewhat psychological in nature as much as real (we feel we must change because its a new century) or perhaps based on new economic, environmental and political realities. That is for smarter folks than me to debate.

Whether it is technological, scientific, generational, organizational or any other category we may mention, there is a thirst for "something different and presumably better."

So while the president and others have clearly seen that change is imminent and is doing his best to assess what this change means and to "lead" the country is a productive direction, it may not be completely possible unless we "empower" the public with the tools we need rather than stay mired in the politics of division.

Its one thing to say we want a unified and collaborative United States, it is quite another to give the public an easier route to accomplishing this task.

So, whether it is the current debate over executive bonuses at AIG, or how to fix the state budget or how to reform local government or schools or any number of important issues, the public feels somewhat left out of the process and angry and frustrated as a result.

Who do we blame? Who is in charge? Who knows how to fix the problem?

No one. Everyone.

You can not make significant, sustainable progress without an educated and engaged public.

You can not say you want public participation with a straight face and then not give the public the tools (please see the 300 or so preceding posts) to help govern themselves.

People must know the true cost of services or the true outcomes of certain actions.

Knowledge is key to sustainable, positive change.

We now have the technology to "tell the truth."

Do we have the strength to make real change and allow the "truth" to be told?

"Of course, it is not uncommon for complicated legislation to go through Congress with sections that escape detailed initial scrutiny."

Yes, but shouldn't it be?

More in Part II

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