Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Beyond Corruption

Lawrence Lessig is one of my heros. I returned to computers after a ten year absence when I had finally figured out a good use for them: church hymns. I had taken on a job directing a small Lutheran church choir in Stockton, California. I was quickly frustrated trying to find easy music that we could sing that matched up with the weeks Bible readings. This would be a great job for a computer program I thought... a sort of database driven digital hymnal. I quickly got to work learning as much as I could about computer databases and the maddening world of copyright law. Time and time again Professor Lessig's name came up as the one positive counter to the forces trying to pervert copyright laws in favor of corporations over people.

I was thus with great interest that I read that he was switching his efforts from copyright reform to the greater issue of political corruption. One thing worries me though... he's arguing the negative.

To me it's not enough to just fight against "corruption." There are too many shades of gray in politics. It's my money... show me how it's spent. Today there is no easy way to do that. Everything is couched in the vaguest of terms and only then during the biannual feeding frenzy that is the election cycle.

I am a process man. It's not enough to just stick a label on your lapel and show how well you can recite your party's focus group tested talking points. Until it is easy for every American to hold their representatives accountable for the trust that we've given then, we can never really trust any of them. Anyone who's ever run a business knows that your employees will steal from you. If you don't monitor what they are doing with your money you are asking for them to steal from you.

It's not just about corruption... it's about accountability. If the bottom line you hold your employees to is that they aren't stealing from you you've got one fucked up company. Well my friends... welcome to the United States of America.

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