Friday, October 28, 2011

In The Spirit Of Transparency

The real sign of a maturing democracy is not in a society’s buildings, roads, infrastructure, industry or even its technology. It’s in the ability of its participants to be graceful in the acceptance of criticism and in their courage to stand up for their principles, whether liberal, conservative, libertarian or any other philosophy.
The more fuss the better, because another sign of a strong democracy is the belief that citizens have the capacity to judge for themselves what arguments stand on the merits and those that do not.
In this respect, I give a hesitant “thumbs up” to the Governor for signaling an openness to debate on his budget proposal. Hopefully, he means what he says.
If he really seeks transparency during this debate, then he can post his budget proposal online. The US Congress, under Republican leadership, makes it mandatory for all legislation to be viewed online by the public in a 72 hour window.
He would serve the interests of all American Samoans by giving everybody the opportunity to chime in with their own two cents.
On top of accountability and determining what our priorities should be, a budget debate is also about what system we mainly expect to achieve our recovery, whether the private sector or government.
Many economists have likened the economy to an engine. What engine (the private sector or government) is more likely to produce a higher speed of recovery the more we put money and resources into it?
That is the line the Governor’s tax increases draw in the sand. Do we want to send more of our limited resources into the engine of government or do we entrust our entrepreneurs and consumers with more of their own money to drive the recovery home?
It’s a debate always worth having when the budget of our government is being proposed. Posting the budget online will further advance that cause in a “spirit of transparency” by the Governor.

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