Open government

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Idea Notes

  • All legislation should exist in both a precise, legal format and a plain-English format. Where the plain-English is unclear or ambiguous, the legalese prevails (and the plain-English should be amended to clarify); where the plain-English clearly contradicts the legalese, the plain-English prevails (and the legalese should be rewritten). (I think I originally got this from another Heinlein story, but at the moment I can't remember which one.) This would codify the present informal system of relying on judicial precedent, which appears to work reasonably well but can require significant research in order to determine how a law is to be interpreted.
  • All legislation should be online (a lot of work has now been done on this, but it is not yet a requirement as far as I know)
  • All legislation should be presented in a wiki-like format that is supportive of commentary and discussion (obviously the "master" copy of the legislation must not be editable, but if the "official" repository for any given body of legislation had links to pages which were editable, this would provide a central location for such discussion/commentary).

--Woozle 07:51, 1 Oct 2005 (CST)

Contest Submission

I submitted the following to the Since Sliced Bread idea contest (limit 175 words):

The problem is, briefly: incomprehensible laws, misinformation, lack of government accountability.

Solution: All legislation should be available (and searchable) online. All governmental processes (possibly excluding national secrets) should be recorded and accessible online. Printing and distribution costs are no longer obstacles in the information age.

Each piece of legislation should have some means (e.g. links to a topic-specific forum and corresponding wiki page) whereby ordinary citizens could discuss and comment on each law.

Records of each legislator's actions should similarly be available, with comment and discussion.

Although much work has been done towards this end, it is scattered among different government and private web sites; we need an effort to bring it all together so we are not split into dozens or hundreds of little groups discussing the same thing in different arenas; All voices should at least be findable -- searchable -- even if no one person would have time to read it all.

When citizens can truly interact with and shape their government, government can only improve how it treats its citizens.

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