Today, David Brooks’ column is not particularly memorable, as his often are. He is asking why we no longer trust the ‘elites’ in our culture. It’s a good question. And he offers a few good reasons (although the column overall is pretty thin).
I was surprised to see him address something I’ve thought for some time. Whenver I’ve tried to articulate it in front of others, I’m nearly shunned. Here’s what he says:
Fifth, society is too transparent. Since Watergate, we have tried to make government as open as possible. But as William Galston of the Brookings Institution jokes, government should sometimes be shrouded for the same reason that middle-aged people should be clothed. This isn’t Galston’s point, but I’d observe that the more government has become transparent, the less people are inclined to trust it.
I would add I think transparency is a disincentive to problem solving. Posturing becomes more important than exploring real solutions.
Here where I live, an out of town partisan brought a lawsuit against the City Council for breaking Florida’s ‘sunshine laws’. They apparently had emailed each other from personal computers and personal email addresses, the very act of which broke the law. After spending nearly a million dollars to defend the suit, and huge chunks of lost time by City staff, the litigant lost his lawsuit..
And so did the weary embattled City. These laws are overly broad and can impede progress. Brooks is right.