Remember when you were in school, and you wrote one of your first essays? Your teacher probably pointed out that you should let your reader know where you’re getting your information. That way, you’re as transparent with the reader as possible. Look! These are the pieces I used to construct my argument. There’s no need to hide where I got my info. It all supports my argument, and you can check my sources, too, if you want to make sure they’re legit.
Transparency is a vital part of speaking honestly. But our politicians do a really bad job of it. Just look at the major political parties here in the US. They all have major party platforms, where they tell the nation what they think on big issues. But they don’t do what you had to do in your middle and high school English classes–say where they’re getting their information!
Individual politicians also do a really bad job of it, too. Take Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, for example. On March 3, he wrote a piece for Kentucky’s Lexington Herald-Leader, and in it, he called on states to buck the EPA on its proposed regulations of US power plants. He makes some bold claims:
Just consider how extreme this regulation is. According to a respected group of economists, the regulation could cost our country about a third of a trillion dollars in compliance costs and cause electricity price hikes in nearly every state.
In Kentucky, the regulation would likely shrink our economy by almost $2 billion and throw countless out of work. The commonwealth’s coal industry alone has already shed thousands of coal jobs during this administration’s tenure. And now, many more of the thousands of Kentuckians whose jobs are tied to coal — including many proud miners who just want to give their children a better life — are likely to lose their jobs, too.
We want to believe McConnell on his word alone, but in such a complicated world, we ought to know where he’s getting his information. Who are those economists? What’s really happening with Kentucky’s coal miners? As Gorbachev and Reagan said, trust but verify.
To that end, you can help. I’ve uploaded the text of McConnell’s op-ed onto the annotation service Genius and have begun the work of reverse-engineering McConnell’s sources. Come help me figure out where McConnell may have been getting his information–and how accurate his statements are. Transparency in government is what we ought to have–why should major politicians be less transparent than you were in middle school English?