At the moment, it is fairly obvious that special interest play a very powerful role in politics. Winners and losers are determined by laws and regulations. There is a conflict of interest problem in the government. Providing transparency in terms of the relationships between donors, lobbyist, politicians and laws will provide clarity in terms intentions and motive.
Currently the SEC has conflict of interest disclosure laws where analyst, journalist, managers, and executives must disclosure their conflicts of interest in print as well as television. For example, if an analyst is bashing a company on television, they must disclose if they own or are being paid by the company or a competitor. If the analyst owns stock in a competitor, he would have a vested interested in bringing down the competing company. These disclosures provide some transparency in the very cloudy world of securities. We can do the same with politics. However all politicians have a vested interest to keeping these conflicts as convoluted as possibly regardless of their political party affiliations. We have passed laws to force conflict of interest disclosures but unfortunately those conflict of interests laws were later reversed.
So it is up to us. It is up to the people to keep them in check. We can develop a commonly used system to share disclosures and force politicians to disclose conflicts of interest. We should encourage the disclosure of the following:
- Donation conflicts (conflicts with donors who have vested interested in certain legislation)
- PAC conflicts (supportive PACS who have vested interested in certain issues that the politician may vote)
- Personal conflicts (ownership or vested interested parties in legislation)
- Family conflicts (ownership or vested interested parties in legislation)
We can create something as simple as checkmark system associated to the politician's name with associated conflicts. For example.
John Smith, Legislation: Subsidies for Water Utility Reimbursement
- Donation Conflict - Yes
- PAC Conflict - Yes
- Personal Conflict - No
- Family Conflict - No
Another solution would be to create a Conflict of Interest score or a COI score next to every politician's name on television or in print everytime that they speaking about any specific legislation. The higher the COI score for the topic, the higher the conflict of interest. Just some ideas for better governance. Transparency is the enemy of corruption.