Government Accountability

Back-room deals and closed doors are not the stuff of free governments. Our work is making governments more transparent and accountable to citizens.

<p>Back-room deals and closed doors are not the stuff of free governments. Our work is making governments more transparent and accountable to citizens.</p>

It’s a familiar story: a sports team convinces a city to issue millions in bonds, with promises that parking revenues will be sufficient to pay back the debt. Parking prices increase, while the lots fill to only 60 percent capacity even on game day.

Trust but verify. That's how Ronald Reagan described his philosophy of dealing with the Soviet Union on nuclear arms reductions. It should also be our philosophy when it comes to how government spends our money.

As taxpayers we are required to send our money to various levels of government through a plethora of taxes and we are asked to trust that the money is spent wisely and in our common interest.

As Ronald Reagan famously noted, Entrepreneurs and their small enterprises are responsible for almost all the economic growth in the United States. Why is it, then, that every year we see more proposed government regulations that make it harder for small businesses to open and operate?

Weirdness seems to be taking over the minds of normally sane people when candidates including Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney claim to believe that agricultural subsidies are necessary for food security. Are markets so wildly inefficient that unless government pays the farmers, they will quit producing food and well all go hungry?

Did the Maricopa County Sheriffs Office recent use of Racketeering Influence and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) funds to send staff members to Honduras violate the law-enforcement purposes to which such funds are limited?

Did the sheriffs highly publicized saturation patrolscomprised of nearly 200 deputies and posse memberstrespass the jurisdiction of the Phoenix Police Department? The feud between the Sheriffs Office and local police departments, bereft of coordination or agreement over priorities, threatens to devolve into law enforcement anarchy.

Arizona's racketeering or RICO laws generate millions of dollars each year for local police and prosecutors by allowing their offices to seize and keep money and property allegedly used in or generated by criminal activity. The RICO laws require prosecutors to meet only the most minuscule of legal burdens in court before being allowed to pocket the proceeds.

Most economists are content to remain in the ivory tower and most politicians are content to let public opinion lead. Vaclav Klaus, a Ph.D. economist and President of the Czech Republic, has led public opinion and acted on his convictions. Today, the Czech Republic is one of the freest and fastest growing countries in Europe.

A recent editorial in the Arizona Daily Star takes the view that payday loans should be outlawed in Arizona, as scheduled, in 2010. Payday loans are very small loans that accept future paychecks as collateral and charge high fees and rates of interest. .

Two political rivals have united behind the idea of putting more information in the hands of taxpayers. John McCain and Barack Obama have joined with two other senators to introduce S 3077, the Strengthening Transparency and Accountability in Federal Spending Act of 2008.

This follows on the heels of a law passed in 2006 that created the website, USASpending.gov, up and running right now and full of good information, as the Arizona Republic has pointed out.

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