What’s with all the secrets?

Why is there government secrecy? What good could come of such a thing? Why is any legislative meeting closed except that the politicians involved don’t want the general public to hear them speaking to each other frankly? And they don’t want us to hear them speaking frankly because then we might learn the truth. For us to hear both public and candid versions would perhaps double our useful information about the legislators in that meeting, maybe triple it, and that much information is too much and, so, illegal.

I once considered running for public office just so I could take a crack at total transparency. I wanted to make everything public and obvious, so there would be no private meetings. I wanted everybody to know everything. I didn’t have any expectations or specific outcomes in mind, and it’s not that I wouldn’t be on the take. I just wanted to see what would happen if all the parties to a deal had to say everything out loud, so to speak. My mother used to say, “Don’t do in the dark what you don’t want to come to the light.” Like that, except with no dark.

I was once involved with a nonprofit group in the Twin Cities. All the cultural food groups were represented, everybody had a pet fear about the outcome of all of it, and the politics were intense. After much confusion I began sending all my e-mails—sent, received and forwarded—to everybody in the group, so everybody knew everything. No more cliques, no more forgotten messages, no more private excuses. It was startling and wonderful.

Why is there a “black budget”? The existence of billions of dollars in expenditures that it’s illegal for me to know about means that I’m being robbed so the federal government can pay unknown parties for purposes also unknown, except we know the Central Intelligence Agency and many other government agencies and departments specialize in sneaky, lying, double-dealing deception. The CIA and the National Security Agency and the Defense Department and the Defense Intelligence Agency and the National Reconnaissance Office may use their untraceable billions to feed the poor and support democratically elected officials in other countries. They never have, but they could. Yes, maybe their representatives say something vague to some congressional subcommittee or other in a closed session, but who’s goofy enough to believe what any of that bunch says? Congress. And I’m supposed to go along with whatever dollar figure Wally Herger (R-Calif.) decides is best.

I know a guy who took his girlfriend to a party recently and met another woman who knocked his socks off. He could hardly take his eyes off her; for weeks afterward he thought about her most of the time. His hands were tied, so to speak, and still he knew how he felt about this other woman and in the interest of full disclosure he wanted his girlfriend to know. Not that he was gonna make a move, mind you, he just wanted both of them to know how he felt, so he e-mailed the woman and CC’d his girlfriend. That’s transparent.