Monday, September 29, 2008

Can we ever trust the system?

While it may not be the majority, it is clear that all too many people in any branch of "the system" are ineffective or harmful. Legislators often pass laws without considering the unintended consequences or which are driven by lobbyists for special interest groups. Neither they nor their staffs have the deep expertise to address all the key issues of today - from finance to technology. Meanwhile regulators are also influenced by the industry they regulate or lack the tools, expertise, and resources to be effective. Business, if uncontrolled, will sell unsafe food, pour toxic chemicals into lakes, falsify accounting to ensure large bonuses, or take advantage of the consumer. The justice system is seriously flawed. Education and health-care systems do a poor job of serving their consumers. Journalists have done a poor job of investigating and explaining many of these issues.

As a result, there has to be a balance of power, Civil servants cannot run business, but business cannot operate without oversight. Ultimately, the best oversight is that which we ourselves exercise. We can only do that if we have transparency and can see what is happening in each area. Shining a light on these activities is the only way to ensure that this happens.

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