Guest Contributor Cory Morgan – How To Achieve Greater Accountability From Those We Elect
Cory Morgan has been writing about politics and social issues on his Blog – Ravings and Rantings since April 2008. He He first came to my attention last year when I stumbled on his writings about the Occupy Calgary Movement, a somewhat pathetic and half-hearted attempt by a small but annoying group of wanna-be protesters in downtown Calgary, Alberta.
Cory was fed up with the City’s lack of courage in dealing with the vandalism and disruption caused by this ragtag group so he decided to do a little ‘occupying’ of his own and drove his truck down to the city park and ‘occupied’. The city eventually harassed and ticketed his truck but in the end, he won. The media attention he brought to the hypocrisy of the City’s actions against one protester compared to its cowardice in dealing with Occupy, eventually forced the City’s hand and Occupy was booted out of the park.
Like Cory, I wrote extensively about the Occupy Movement but unlike him, my words never got translated into the kind of creative action he brought to his city and I admired that. I have been following his blog ever since.
Before Christmas, I invited him to write a guest-post on any topic that suited his fancy and he accepted the invitation. What follows is a thoughtful look at why transparency in any organization but especially in government is so necessary.
To read more of Cory Morgan’s thoughts on the brave new world in which we are now living, check out Cory’s blog at Ravings and Rantings
Transparency + Choice = Accountability
by Cory Morgan
While some try to make it seem complex, the formula for keeping an organization or government accountable to the people they purport to serve is quite simple. Transparency in the actions and expenditures of the organization/government is required so that members/citizens may choose whether or not they want to continue supporting that organization or government.
It is worth noting that the dishonest, the self-serving and the unscrupulous know this principle as well. Look at the actions of communist governments as they work to maintain control for example. Control of information is critical for a corrupt regime. A populace kept in the dark of their government’s actions is far less likely to work to overthrow or change the administration.
When I was younger, I had the chance to tour Russia and some parts of Eastern Europe during the late 80s. When entering the communist bloc, we were all thoroughly searched by customs agents. Unlike when entering other nations where we were searched for possible narcotics, the communist countries main concerns were that we may be carrying cassettes or books that could spread among their populace. It is amazing the lengths that the communists went to to keep information from their citizens.
Choice is another thing that makes the corrupted people in power cringe. Communist countries are never democracies as they know the citizens will choose to change and quickly once they realize that extreme socialism is a catastrophe.
Communist nations go farther through erecting iron curtains to keep their citizens from escaping as well. Despite the CBC working it’s hardest to tell us how great Cuba is, when is the last time you heard of people boarding a rickety raft and risking their lives to try and sail to Cuba from Florida? How many people are trying to get into North Korea? Socialists know very well that giving people the means to choose will be the end of their hold on power so they fight choice with every possible means.
Now let’s look at a smaller, local example of how transparency and choice can and will lead to further accountability on the part of organizations. Unions in Canada have been griping and howling about Bill C-377 which will compel unions to disclose how much they are spending on top salaries and in political activities to their membership. Considering that union members are forced to pay some rather large dues to the union, one wouldn’t think it would be too much to expect some disclosure by the unions on what they are doing with this money taken from workers. Well, to listen to to union heads such a disclosure would lead to the end of the world. Perhaps for some corrupted union leaders it figuratively would be.
Let’s face it, unions are well known for their closed nature and use of all means possible to eliminate possible labor choice. It is those qualities that have drawn the attention of the mafia over the years as such organizations are perfect for contract corruption and money laundering. Research the Hoffa family and the Teamster’s union if this sounds exaggerated. It really is little wonder why something as apparently simple as fiscal disclosure terrifies some at the helm of unions.
I suspect that when the fiscal disclosures come we will see much more interest on the part of union members in the pursuit of choice in union membership. Union dues are taken from workers and entrusted in the union under the expectation that the funds are being used to ensure a safe and steady career for the worker. Once the full numbers are disclosed of just how much money has been filtered to union heads in salaries or spent on political activities totally unrelated to labor, I suspect that many hard working union members are going to want to continue working, but without the union.
Giving workers the choice of union participation or not is the another thing that terrifies unions. Rather than considering cleaning up their ethical acts, union leaders are instead putting all of their efforts into ensuring that members can’t leave the union no matter how poorly they may be served by it. If unions really are clean and serving the membership well, there should be utterly nothing for them to fear in disclosing their expenditures and giving their members the freedom to choose if they want to stay with the union while employed with the employer of their choice. What are these union executives so scared of?
We are fortunate to be in this age of easy and quick dissemination of information. Only 15 years ago it would have taken months of research in a legislative library and thousands of dollars spent to gain the kind of government information that can be found on the internet for free and with only hours of work for a one person. This access is empowering to us all and we must maintain and expand it when possible.
Whether as consumers, voters or union members we are always better served when we have transparency before us and the choice to make informed decisions. We must always wonder what is up when somebody is trying to keep information from us or to keep us from having a right to choose as individuals. As long as we maintain true transparency and have the means to make choices we will always end up fine. It will take vigilance to keep that formula active and effective though as the corrupted will fight it to the end.
© 2012 Maggie’s Bear
all rights reserved
The written content of this article is the sole property of Maggie’s Bear but a link to it may be shared by those who think it may be of interest to others
Follow The Bear on Twitter: @maggsbear or connect with a friend request on Facebook: Maggie’s Bear