It has become a new national pastime for folks to spend time bemoaning the rise of “partisanship” and to complain about how divided the country has become. This mantra has been bought hook, line and sinker by both the left and the right. Partisanship and petty politics are often blamed for all that ails us, even though the unsolved societal problems usually referenced as proof have been around for generations. Ironically, the political figures that tend to rail the loudest against partisanship are those that seem to practice it the most.<
It is a common refrain for liberals to say how easy it would be for new taxes of any kind to solve most of our long-standing problems and that anyone who refuses to rubber stamp this concept is a partisan hack. On the opposite end of the spectrum, many conservatives preach ad nauseam about how easy it is to slash our way to prosperity and that any government program with an ounce of waste is essentially garbage just as worthy of some back-alley dumpster as yesterday’s crawfish shells. Both sides have passion and conviction behind their arguments and see little reason to consider any other option than the one to which they loyally subscribe.
People in the real world are forced to pick a side and usually have limited trustworthy information on which to do so. Perhaps it is time to smoke out both sides and see once and for all who is right and who is full of it. Technology can help pave the way.
The state of Ohio implemented a new website a few years ago called www.OhioCheckbook.com. This groundbreaking site uses an affordable and user-friendly software system that puts all state (and most local) government spending online in an easy to use format. The information can be accessed and understood by anyone with a computer or phone and shared via social media with one click of a button. As a result, taxpayers in Ohio can not only buy a movie ticket on their phone in the carpool line…they can also see in real time governmental balances, contracts, salaries, debt, pension obligations and other spending units. Governmental accountability has evolved with the times in Ohio…it’s time for Louisiana to do the same.
The Louisiana Association of Business and Industry (LABI) is part of a growing coalition pushing hard for this to happen here also. All the information needed to learn more about the topic and how you can help can be found at www.LouisianaCheckbook.com. Check it out today and make your voice heard by taking that first step of signing the petition.
This issue should be good politics for everyone. It should be the one issue that finally breaks through the partisan gridlock and settles once and for all where the rhetoric stops, and reality starts.
Liberals should be excited to implement the checkbook.com model here in Louisiana because it should factually show how efficient government is today and how desperate it is for more money. Pension systems should want these details online to show how affordable they are just as much as local government should want to embrace this to justify their next tax referendum on the ballot. Conservatives should cherish the opportunity to identify those long-elusive specific cuts they hope to find and see this technological solution as the way to do so. The media should be going hog-wild to get this done as it would provide ample fodder to fill their pages and generate clicks. The only folks that should be opposing it are those that benefit from government spending your money in the dark of night.
Let’s let the facts speak for themselves. No more hide-and-seek and spin-laden press releases to explain how government uses the money we give them. Put it all out there in an easy to use website and let the people decide once and for all who is right.
This special session, bills will be filed to implement the checkbook.com model in Louisiana. LABI, along with many other business and good government groups, will be working hard to get it done… but we need your help to do it.
The status quo and other advocates addicted to that tired old “partisanship” excuse will find every reason under the sun to kill this without being honest about their rationale for doing so. Stories of it being too expensive are already being sold, though the architects of the Ohio model have made it clear those talking points are bogus. The Governor’s executive order calling for the special session seemingly tried to limit the ability to implement this reform with fidelity, but these obvious attempts to shield government spending at local, judicial, legislative, and boards/commission levels from taxpayer scrutiny should be rejected.
Accountability is the new normal. With technology, no one can hide from anything anymore. Camera phones are everywhere, and everyone knows secrets are one click away from becoming common knowledge. Regular people in the real world have learned to live under this new reality. It’s time for government to get with the program.
No excuses. The politicians need to quickly and vigorously implement www.LouisianaCheckbook.com or finally come clean with what they are hiding if they refuse to do so. It’s time to demand this level of accountability for government at all levels. It’s time to smoke ‘em all out.
Stephen Waguespack is president of LABI