Dangerous ambiguity of power and money
Disclosure is at the heart of honest politics. If you don’t know the factors that affect politicians before they make a decision, you cannot trust the decision. A decision, for example about state procurement or an appointment to government, will be tainted if it serves the interest of the politician personally or if he gets a personal benefit from its outcome.
The test for a transparent decision is one where the politician is subjected to open disclosure about his undisclosed financial interests in private companies, links to lobbyists acting for private sector parties, family or personal connections to others in positions of power.
Many politicians have benefited from the march of new economics and sought to combine a place at the heart of the economic system and a position at the heart of politics. Such a place is laden with ambiguity.
It would be naive to imagine that political decisions are taken without a great number of vested interests being served. But when those that make the decision can see behind the promoters of one alternative or another (because they have made disclosures), the better society will be served.
Decisions about matters that affect society as a whole should be taken in a transparent way and with the benefit of sunlight, rather than in dark.
Openness in politics encourages the involvement of a population in its leadership and its direction. That involvement repays itself in a willingness to trust those who have stewardship over the society’s finances; people are more prepared to pay their taxes if they know how they will be spent and they will be spent after a due process and will not be stolen.
For society to embrace openness, politicians who have grown used to working in the dark, must embrace the light. I can already hear the cynics chuckling at the impossibility of such a move and damning it as idealistic. It is only a matter of time before society grows impatient with politicians who exploit the dark business model. The reckoning will be expensive for them, but a release for the wider society and democratic process.