Could Blagojevich Take A Hint From India?
For decades, the average Indian citizen could vote for the governmental representatives of his choosing and then follow their foibles in the news—and that's where his access to government ended.
That changed three years ago this month, when National Congress Party president Sonia Gandhi maneuvered a freedom of information act through Parliament. Called the Right to Information (RTI) Act, it began as a provincial crusade in 1990, when disgruntled villagers in Rajasthan were underpaid for municipal construction work they had done (on a project that had been started in the first place in order to give poor workers a source of income against starvation!) and demanded to see town records of the working hours they had put on the clock.
Eventually, the town gave in, and fifteen years later, advocates had brought similar transparency initiatives to the national government. The three years since then have put the RTI through trial by fire. Officials who drag their feet on releasing requested information are fined for their obstructions, but as little as a third of this money has been paid. The English-language press has been slow to embrace the RTI as an investigative tool. Most petitions for documents are for small-time, small-town personal grievances rather than challenges of large-scale corruption. And then there's the matter of only a tenth of Indians even knowing the RTI exists. Nonetheless, the RTI has helped curb a culture of crookedness "straight of out Chicago ward politics." Meanwhile, in Chicago: graft superman Rod Blagojevich has done his best to keep the comparison apt by himself regularly ignoring his own state's FOI act.
New research links urban planning and political polarization.
- Canadian researchers find that excessive reliance on cars changes political views.
- Decades of car-centric urban planning normalized unsustainable lifestyles.
- People who prefer personal comfort elect politicians who represent such views.
Progressive America would be half as big, but twice as populated as its conservative twin.
- America's two political tribes have consolidated into 'red' and 'blue' nations, with seemingly irreconcilable differences.
- Perhaps the best way to stop the infighting is to go for a divorce and give the two nations a country each
- Based on the UN's partition plan for Israel/Palestine, this proposal provides territorial contiguity and sea access to both 'red' and 'blue' America
Science and the squishiness of the human mind. The joys of wearing whatever the hell you want, and so much more.
- Why can't we have a human-sized cat tree?
- What would happen if you got a spoonful of a neutron star?
- Why do we insist on dividing our wonderfully complex selves into boring little boxes
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.