Demand Governmental Transparency
A disturbing trend has quickly evolved in the Trump White House. Not content with repeated bashing the news media and presenting easily debunked falsehoods as “alternate facts”, the President and his staff have begun the task of suppressing dissent within the Administration itself and especially with regard to the agencies falling within the jurisdiction of the Executive Branch of our federal government. The aim here is to provide desired spin on information available to the American public pertaining to controversial issues of national and world importance.
In the weeks since his inauguration, and to some extent even in the period leading up to the election last November, President Trump, in areas such as climate change and energy policy, has repeatedly expressed views that run contrary to those resulting from mainstream scientific study and international agreements designed to deal with the implications of that research. The EPA, USDA and other agencies have been instructed to refrain from public disclosure of much information pertinent to our daily lives and potential dangers the future might hold depending on policies being pursued by our government now.
With regard to climate policy, the GOP’s dogged denial of science in this arena precedes the Trump Administration and has not appreciably changed with his ascension to power. His cabinet selections for head of the EPA, Department of Energy Secretary and Secretary of State all point towards pursuing policies in this arena diametrically opposed by the vast majority of scientists closely studying these issues. By restricting the flow of information reaching the public, the Administration can craft policies designed to benefit oil, coal and other non-renewable, environmentally damaging industries at untold future cost in terms of environmental degradation and the deleterious effects of climate change which threaten life as we know it on this planet.
Feeding the greed of these major corporations by allowing them to avoid the true burden they place on society in terms of the poisoning of land, air and water, along with the accompanying health problems they cause, is obviously made easier with a populace subjected to misinformation combined with general ignorance of the issues involved. In other words, they are to all intents and purposes treating us like mushrooms – keeping us in the dark and feeding us the organic fertilizer produced by male bovines. This method of keeping secrets from the public – supposedly for our protection, but really to benefit others at our expense – is not new to the Trump White House. He and his staff just seem to be trying to perfect it to a degree that some of his predecessors only dreamed of.
By stifling public discussion at the same time as it takes action to revive plans for pipelines such as Keystone-XL and DAPL, the Administration is demonstrating the sort of moral compass that led to the secret bombing of Cambodia by Nixon, the Iran-Contra shenanigans under Reagan and the invasion and occupation of Iraq by George W. Bush. Plenty of examples exist of Democratic Administrations guilty of similar deceptions, but the Trump team seems to almost brag about what it’s getting away with (so far, at least). The American people deserve better from our government.
Agencies such as the EPA, DOE and USDA, as well as the other regulatory agencies of the federal government, were created to enable much needed regulation to prevent excesses committed by private capitalist corporations from doing serious, often irreparable, harm to many people living here, paying taxes and providing a society in which it is relatively safe for them to conduct business. If such abuses weren’t constantly occurring, these agencies would not have been created to begin with. Weakening the agencies and removing the regulations will not be met with beneficial results for most of us. To the contrary, deregulation will lead to even more abuses of people and the environment, even greater degrees of economic inequality and an increased sense of powerlessness among the people as a whole. Not exactly what most envision as Making America Great Again.
These regulatory agencies are in place to protect the people from predatory business practices , not to be additional tools for the oligarchs to use to more thoroughly control and exploit us. They need to be allowed, or rather ordered, to keep us well informed of the information they have available in order that we may make educated choices to better our lives and society as a whole. Resources must be made available for these agencies to adequately research and enforce regulation to the same ends, not to make America Great Again to primarily benefit a tiny privileged minority running a few mega-corporations to profit from the fruits of the labor of the rest of us.
So far, actions taken by the Trump Administration, with the tacit approval of the GOP-controlled Congress, appear to be meeting the specific campaign promises used to gain votes and “win” the election. The GOP agenda is gradually beginning to take shape, though it has not gotten very far in terms of actually accomplishing the dismantlement of the ACA, workers’ rights and the social safety net that people like Paul Ryan and others have been seeking for decades. The fact that they think it necessary to hide their true aims at the same time as they hide their individual corruption in trying to accomplish their goals indicates they fear they would be removed from office if not given prison sentences if their actions were widely publicized. In the absence of information from regulatory agencies, the Congressional Budget Office and other mainstream avenues of oversight, we will become more dependent on leakers, whistleblowers and investigative journalists than ever before to give us the information we need but our government chooses to hide from us.
We need to demand much more transparency in the conduct of our business by elected and appointed officials. They demand the ability to use surveillance to restrict our freedom and civil liberties in order to keep us safe from terrorists and such. They need more oversight by the people whose interests they purport to represent than they currently allow. The trend to lessen oversight of our elected officials needs to be reversed quickly – lest what little democracy remains for us is totally removed from our grasp. The President, his cabinet, our legislators at all levels of government and our judicial officials all need to be made accountable to us. Tax returns and other such indicators of the way in which these people conduct themselves need to be made more accessible for public discussion. These people need to be able to prove they deserve our trust. They are not worthy of such trust without further verification merely because they say so. Refusing to answer questions that may incriminate oneself is not an unlimited right any more than freedom of speech enables one to incite others to riot without criminal repercussions. We need to know who and what we are voting for in advance – not just left to vote with so many unanswered questions and hoping for the best afterward.
Donald Trump is the President of the United States. That is a position with great power as well as great responsibility. The United States is not a reality TV show, nor is it Trump Enterprises. We need to show him the limits to his power and influence. The demonstrations held across the nation since he took office may be starting to get the message across – to him as well as to Congress – but it’s way too early to tell and way too early to let up on the pressure. So far, he has demonstrated a marked desire to rule, but no desire whatsoever to lead – both with regard to people living in this country and those living abroad. We need a leader far more than a we need a ruler.
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