DPI-665Politics of the Internet     April 4, 2012 Critiques of Transparency        Micah L. Sifry Audio: http://bit.ly/K3Z...
Topics for discussion• Do you agree with Lessig’s view of the  “naked transparency” movement?• Is more “gotcha” journalism...
What does campaign finance      disclosure tell us?• Lessig: “What does the fact of a contribution to a  member of Congres...
More Lessig• “There is little doubt that the answer to each  of these questions is, in some sense and at  some time--remem...
Yet More Lessig…• “All the data in the world will not tell us  whether a particular contribution bent a result  by securin...
What the data does tell us•   Money buys you viability•   The average person can’t run for office•   Much time spent on fu...
Is transparency anti-            government?• Fung and Weil: “Government transparency,  though driven by progressive impul...
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Critiques of Transparency

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In this class we studied the criticisms made by Lawrence Lessig and Archon Fung of the transparency movement. We also looked at what the data on money in politics can actually tell us about who holds power in the governing process.

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Critiques of Transparency

  1. 1. DPI-665Politics of the Internet April 4, 2012 Critiques of Transparency Micah L. Sifry Audio: http://bit.ly/K3Zm9o CC-BY-NC-SA
  2. 2. Topics for discussion• Do you agree with Lessig’s view of the “naked transparency” movement?• Is more “gotcha” journalism a problem we should worry about?• Is transparency a sufficient reform?• On what should trust in government be based?
  3. 3. What does campaign finance disclosure tell us?• Lessig: “What does the fact of a contribution to a member of Congress mean? Does a contribution cause a member to take a position? Does a member’s position cause the contribution? Does the prospect of a contribution make a member more sensitive to a position? Does it secure access? Does it assure a better hearing? Do members compete for positions based upon the contributions they might expect? Do they covet committee assignments based upon the contributions that the committee will inspire? Does Congress regulate with an eye to whether its regulation might induce more contributions?”
  4. 4. More Lessig• “There is little doubt that the answer to each of these questions is, in some sense and at some time--remember those qualifiers!--yes.”• “But there is also little doubt that it is impossible to know whether any particular contribution or contributions brought about a particular vote, or was inspired by a particular vote.”
  5. 5. Yet More Lessig…• “All the data in the world will not tell us whether a particular contribution bent a result by securing a vote or an act that otherwise would not have occurred. The most we could say--though this is still a very significant thing to say--is that the contributions are corrupting the reputation of Congress, because they raise the question of whether the member acted to track good sense or campaign dollars….The data says little else.”
  6. 6. What the data does tell us• Money buys you viability• The average person can’t run for office• Much time spent on fundraising• Economic interests give the most• The donor class is not like you and me• Prioritization of issues will tend to favor the interests of the donor class
  7. 7. Is transparency anti- government?• Fung and Weil: “Government transparency, though driven by progressive impulses, may draw excessive attention to government’s mistakes and so have the consequence of reinforcing a conservative image of government as incompetent and corrupt.”• Should we fear this possible outcome?

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