01 Jul 2020
We are all bathing in numbers. If we breathe to hard or go to certain areas, we’ll become a statistic.
Yet, I shall advocate for more data, not less. The first time I prattled on about numbers in front of an audience, I lost the audience – but the numbers stayed with me for a lifetime. In the early 1980s, our nation experienced 58,000 deaths on highways per years. The number of dead per year on American highways roughly equaled the number of dead US service members in the twenty years our nation fought in Vietnam. The Coronavirus killed 58,000 within the first two to three months of the outbreak.
When we make data personal, when we see video, when we hear people voices and see their eyes, data becomes real. The power we feel touching a single name etched on black granite outweighs emotional impact of a number. Nerves connect the fingertip to the tear duct. What my eyes see, dries my throat.
Action starts with one name. History remembers names.
Movement to laws and convictions requires data. History also remembers numbers.
You and I have a contract with each other. You and I have a contract with our shared government. It starts with We the People and includes justice, domestic tranquility, providing for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity. In contract law, we make an exchange. Right now, our only obligation is paying taxes. Other nations and communities also require a labor component, some nations require voting. We do not. The citizen pays taxes and the government, our government, provides justice, domestic tranquility, common defense, and general welfare.
How are we doing on that?
How do we best honor our contract?
How do we enforce the contract?
How do we know if the contract is working?
Follow the Money
The least obvious answer involves following the money from the United States Treasury down into our communities.
Follow the money into our communities. While a lot of metrics exist to measure the impact of funding on justice, security, and welfare, these metrics start with data and specifically data about money. We etch the single dollar bill as the smallest tick mark on our measuring stick.
We trade tax dollars for justice, security, and welfare, a basic paraphrase from the preamble to the United States Constitution. We once demanded, and maybe still demand, that dollars establish and maintain justice, that dollars provide security, that dollars promote general welfare. Frankly, we demand these benefits from our shared government, but the humble dollar bill factors into our efforts and our measures of efficacy.
Transparency in governance means that we can follow the flow of money into our communities.
Transparency in governance means we argue over the efficacy of public funding based on a common and public set of facts.
Transparency helps ensures economic justice for our citizens.
Transparency in governance is a tool we possess to expose injustice with public funding.
Transparency foils some corruption.
Transparency deters other corruption.
Transparency stands sentinel on our public officials.
Flip Flop Flip
29 March 2020
Treasury Secretary Steven Munchin stated that the $2T CARES Act will provide aid with full transparency.
10 June 2020
Mr. Munchin testified before the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship: “We believe that that’s proprietary information, and in many cases, for sole proprietors and small businesses, it is confidential information.” 7 million business signed up to receive a publicly funded loan/grant program. We each signed acknowledgements and authorized disclosure of our data.
19 June 2020
Mr. Munchin reversed his statements regarding the confidentiality of PPP data. It is still incomplete as data for fund recipients below $150,000 will be aggregated and summarized by industry. Loans/grants for larger values will be presented in brackets – X to Y and A to B.
The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), funded by the 2020 CARES Act represented about $660 billion in available grants and loans. There should be reports and graphs. What would I like to see in a graph or a picture about these data during the summer of 2020?
I’d like to know how well the PPP funds benefited all citizens. It is ALSO about economic justice.
I want transparency. Do you?
If you also want transparency about public funding and public data, make a noise, share this content, say something.