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Government Distrust

This is the third instalment of this series. Each instalment will be published independently and can be read independently. We are tackling head-on the 6 reasons why you should distrust governments, reasons that were kindly provided by the apparatchiks of The OECD A Bureaucratic Organization You Should Know.

Some time ago, we published the article In Government We Distrust and promised we will continue in that direction because of the massive amount of useless information (i.e. job security) that the apparatchiks from the OECD created. If you are interested in the original OECD article, search for the "Directorate for Public Governance and Territorial Development", specifically "Trust in Government". Let's make it happen.

OVERVIEW

In the original article the OECD explained that only about 40% of people trust governments and then it proceeds to enumerate 6 areas where governments can win trust back and the specific steps those governments should take. It goes without saying that no politician in their right mind would do anything even remotely close to what the OECD suggests in candid terms because that would be political suicide. However, this long litany of would-be "rationales" is perfect for our purposes because it allows us to highlight exactly what governments are doing and doing wrong on purpose. Thank you OECD for making our jobs of debunking governments so much easier! We could not have done it without you.

OPENNESS

The OECD says:

  • Open government policies that concentrate on citizen engagement and access to information can help increase public trust
  • OECD countries have put forward a number of mechanisms to support open and inclusive government, from access to information, to consultation processes, to full-fledged open government policies.
  • OECD countries report trust to be their main goals when investing in openness

Engagement and Information

Government policies are, by definition, high level "intentions" that may or may not be fulfilled. They almost never accomplish their goal or over time there are create unintended consequences nullifying their original intent or creating many more problems than they solve. In either case, the only thing that policies increase is the level of bureaucracy required to "administer" them.

The concept of "citizen engagement" is, of course, a deception tactic. The theoretical idea behind this concept is that citizens will have actual, real and direct input into government decisions. This is, of course, plain stupid. Democracy was created to prevent this eventuality. That's why there are so-called "representatives". Furthermore, why should only "engaged citizens" have a saying in policies and not everybody else. Who elected those citizens? Nobody! But if un-elected officials get to decide policy, this is nothing but a dictatorship. If "citizen engagement" (i.e. direct democracy) is so good, then why do we have indirect democracy? Why do we need politicians to represent us in the first place? Do you honestly believe that people who have made their career attempting to accumulate as much power as possible and lying all the way up (see Government Morality) will suddenly share or give power up? Not a chance.

Of course, the true idea behind the concept of "citizen engagement" is plain deception. What politicians want is to have people believing that they are making a difference and modifying government behaviour when in reality their only input is cosmetic at best. But it does wonders at election time! See, we "listen" to "engaged citizens" and we "act" accordingly. Vote for us!

Additionally, we have the wonderful concept of "access to information". Seriously? They are not joking, right? We challenge our readers to find a country anywhere on the planet where any "access to information" (such as the so-called "Freedom of Information" laws) actually operates as expected. Typically the bureaucracy will fight tooth and nails to prevent you to get any information at all. They will use all available tactics of which, bureaucracy is the most common. They will swamp you with documentation and delays. And then, there are the payments. Because, you know, although you paid for the creation of this information and you paid the salaries of the bureaucrats that created and "managed" this information and you paid for the salaries of the bureaucrats that are fighting you to prevent your access to this information and you paid the salaries of the bureaucrats that censored the information you requested, you still have to pay on top for the "copying" of this information. Make sense, right? We mean, in a Kafkian sort of way.

Open and Inclusive

Then we have the concept of "open and inclusive". We are still searching the internet trying to find out what is the operative and logistical meaning of "open and inclusive" because, you know, just because it sounds good it does not mean that it actually has meaning. Let's stop the deceit and call it the way it is. No government is open in the sense that no government is transparent. Governments (i.e. politicians) thrive in and on secrecy. No modern government (i.e. politicians) can operate without secrets. Let's get real, please!

And as to "inclusive", what exactly is its meaning? Because, you know, according to democratic principles everybody is represented by the politician that wins the election (whether this person voted the politician or not or didn't even bothered voting). But if by definition everybody is represented, who is excluded? Because, you know, in order to have an "inclusive" policy, somebody previously excluded needs to be included. Otherwise the term "inclusive" is meaningless… unless that's exactly what politicians mean. Could it be? Could it be? Nooooooo…. Politicians cannot be so devious. It must be our faulty interpretation of 200+ years of modern democracy. But don't you worry, we will find the problem any time soon. Meantime, make sure you get "included".

But that's OK you see, because government have logistical ways to make their governing "inclusive". One of such methodologies is "the consultation". The dictionary defines the word "consultation" as:

  • The action or process of formally consulting or discussing.
  • A meeting with an expert or professional in order to seek advice.

As you see, the definition is clear. A consultation is not a mandatory process and you are not obligated to take the advice given. But if the government is not obligated to do anything you say to them, why bother? Ahh grasshopper… excellent question. This is so because a "consultation" process is not designed to change policy; it is designed to be an escape valve. It is designed to provide people an outlet to vent their frustrations without endangering pre-determined policies. Furthermore, it is designed to bolster the image of politicians during election time by "demonstrating" how "receptive" they are to "peoples' needs".

Lastly we have the concept of "full-fledged open government policies" which belongs squarely in the realm of political science fiction. Again, we challenge any reader anywhere on the planet to find a single government that held at least once a "full-fledged open government policy" discussion, accepted it without changes and implemented it as is. We will wait laying down because if seated we are going to get tired of waiting. But then again, properly understood the concept of "full-fledged open government policies" simply means that you will fully-fledgely know what government policies are (unless they are secret, of course). What this simply means is that governments will announce whatever policies are convenient for their re-election and they will do so at a high level… leaving details to be ironed-out behind closed doors. Feeling more confident and trusting yet? Why not? The government is certainly putting the effort into it… don't you think?

Trust as goal

According to the OECD about 61% of the governments mentioned trust as the goal when implementing these "openness" initiatives. And we believe them. They want people to trust them. Without trust they can't perpetuate the system that maintains them in their jobs. The whole process is like a long con. First you establish trust over long periods of time and when the time is right, you strike and run away with the loot. The only problem with politicians is that when one runs away with the loot there is always another one there ready to replace him. We are actually enrolled in an neverending sequential series of "long cons" called the democratic system.

Note: please see the Glossary if you are unfamiliar with certain words.

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