Saturday, March 05, 2005

A modest proposal on good government

A vigilant population makes for diligent representation and a vibrant living Democracy.

Here’s the idea from a friend:

To improve constituent notice. Plain and simple! Let people readily know what their government is up doing at the opaque level of the legislative and “rules” committee, technology can be a benefit.

Imagine a web site where constituents may sign up for something as simple as an e-mail alert. You know them – their ubiquitous but can quickly convey a great deal about the day’s events.
As with anything which is intended to maintain honest practices, the recipient list would have to be protected except for its’ intended purpose – in which case who’s reading and writing back becomes VERY important.
It would need the interested citizen’s name, address, and some contact information so that it is understood that local issues aren’t being manipulated by people far away, but they SHOULD be able to select alerts on specific types of proposed legislation just as the full time lobbyist out in the corridor does!

One could be inundated in information. But if it was sorted by subject matter/committee, committee assignment and so forth – the interested citizen could be aware of the goings on in the murky world of law and sausage-making.

It could be as simple as an update on what’s discussed, and a link to the standing law or bylaw, and a notice of what’s suggested, and what it’s replacing.
A subject on constitutional legislation would link the section of the constitution that pertains to it. At 701 pages, the E.U. Constitution and it’s appendices would otherwise be impenetrable to a citizen’s scrutiny. The same is true of the rules influences by sectors and industries – they rarely go for anything that isn’t as thick as a city phonebook.

There would need to be legal consequence for misrepresentation and/or identity theft, and people should be able to opt out with the knowing that one’s identity will be protected. But with a few basic protections they would certainly have the public’s confidence.

An interested population can take it from there.

It’s not unlike blogging and the media, eh?
Let her know what you think in the comments.

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