Why we should (not) insist on government transparency?

Hello, we live in the 21st century! I can track my FedEx package in a second. Pay my bills online. I can tweet about my washroom dumps and the whole world will share the experience with me instantaneously. Hell, I could also post my sh** on youtube and update my facebook account from my iphone. I can connect to people from all over the world in a blink of an eye. But I cannot find out where and how my tax money is being spent. I would like to be able to track every single cent of my government’s budget. I would like to be able to see and analyze data on the salaries being paid to public servants and the amounts given by the government to various contractors. I would like to have access to information on goods and services used by ministries. Everything: from reimbursed Tim Horton’s coffee up to the exact cost of the 2009 automobile industry bailout. As an honest taxpayer I expect certain service for my work. Most Canadians go to work every day for almost half of the year just to pay taxes. We give almost half of our work hours to the government for certain services. I would like to be able to overview the use of our hard earned money.

In the age of information technologies it is realistic to expect that full government transparency is possible. There is technology. There are people capable of building such a system. But there is no motivation at the highest level. Suddenly all the sloppiness, laziness, misspending would be clearly visible.

Let’s say hypothetically that there is or there will be, funding and motivation to create a system that would make all layers of government transparent. What would be the cost? If Province of Ontario (mis)spent over a billion dollars on eHealth contracts, imagine how much would something that is of similar, or possibly higher complexity, cost. I don’t even dare to think of the cost, and even less of the results. Just take a look at how much was spent on salaries only in eHealth: Almost two hundred people were paid over $100K a year, and no visible results were produced. I keep asking myself ‘What did these 200 people do besides filling out their reimbursement forms?’.

Such a system would be a good excuse to hire more workers. After all, who is going to type in all the data? Please correct me if I am wrong by saying that the data is already being typed in and processed by numerous accountants. How hard would it be to auto-convert the text and numbers to a different form?

A Government Transparency Project would be good for economy. The project would create thousands of contracting jobs: the fattest one going to the Men and the slimmest one going to some geeks in India who would be given a week to patch a demo.

If this project would ever be completed, we could comfortably sit in our warm homes – and analyze in detail how (and where) our tax money flows. And then what?

2 replies on “Why we should (not) insist on government transparency?”

  1. You seem to want to run a web site that lets people post what ever they want true or not. I am wondering how you want to pay for this in cash or would you lie someone to find out the owner of this web site and you an deal with them in a manner that probably won’t be comfortable for you. Its garbage sites like yours that give the web a bad name. If I were you I would shut it down before someone introduces you to the privacy laws of Canada, you realy should monitor your site better. It could cost you your life savings did you not consult a lawyer before you put up this web site and what yor responsibilities were.

  2. Hello,

    I just found out that the person who works in the same office as me (my boss) makes over $100,000 per year. I seriously thought that he was making around $36k,000 to maximum of $48,000 (maybe because I come from a poor family and didn’t know about public salaries). I thought that $36k a year is well off (my family income is $15k per year).

    And I am allowed to make maximum of $1,960 (work-study program at University of Toronto allow you to work maximum of 180 hours during school hours (maximum of 12 hours per week) at $10.25 per hour).

    Poor families want their children to become doctors because they think doctors are the only ones (aside from financial and business bosses) getting good salary. The children then see and hear how hard it is to become a doctor (due to limited spaces and selection criteria, partly due to intentional disinformation, and partly due to lack of motivation because the environment they live in shaped their behaviour and ways of thinking). They give up education and persuit of university and master or doctoral degrees and therefore limiting their career options.

    This cycles continues because there is an intentional way of blocking people from asking others “how much do you make” in the more capitalist societies. One of the things they teach new immigrants in english learning classes is “it is rude to ask someone how much they make”. Culture of inequality.

    Unknown (Someone from another part of the world who live in Canada now because the Canadian government and their friends continue to back up and support corrupt and evil governments in other places. They hide their crimes by not saying anything and intentional sensoring).

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