Show me the data

Without the facts and figures it’s impossible for governments to make decisions, like who to tax and at what rate. For example, if there is a mandate for the government to tax the wealthy at a higher rate the government have to respond to that mandate by either taxing the wealthy or by expalining why that wouldn’t deliver what people are looking for, quality of life.

They can find out which response to give based on information from the tax office. If there are a lot of wealthy people you may be able to get a lot of revenue into the government by taxing even a small percentage more. Then again previous taxes of that nature may cause their contribution to the productivity of the whole society to reduce causing the middle and lower incomes to also reduce.

Ideally we could rely on the government to make this decision without any oversight, we would be able to rely on the opinions of learned men to make these decisions for us. Then that need satisfied we could focus more on our more personal interests. Unfortunately, like us the government, economists and the wealthy themselves have their own personal interests they would much rather focus on. A fact that while obvious doesn’t immediately appear to have a satisfactory resolution.

I would suggest that we all learn how the tax system works only that’s completely impractical. We are only vaguely interested in the parts that effect us. How could we be expected to read complex documents for no personal benefit, particularly those who are work hard all week and come home to the different work of minding their children.

What I suggest is that the data the government use to make decisions is available in a raw format to the public minus the private data of our fellow citizens. That way those of us that have far too much free time can make that data easily accessible and searchable.

The idea has worked in practice, look at where all the speeches read out in the dail are catalogued for easy access. That doesn’t mean that every citizen is going to visit the site, only a small percentage will ever see it. However those small percentage could be anyone, anyone who is interested, anyone could find something in the data and spread it if they found it important.

All they would have to do is link to it on their facebook page.