A Crisis of Transparency

Our country’s institutions are suffering from a crisis of transparency—or rather, the lack thereof. Everyone likes to pay lip service to transparency, but it is amazing how few actually follow through on those proclaimed values.

Let’s start by pointing out why transparency is so important. Any group, from a small team up to our whole society, has to be built on trust. That’s how we transcend being just a collection of individuals and become something more, when we trust one another to do what needs to be done, and we work together. If I don’t trust my teammate, then I have to do it all myself. But I can do a lot more with a teammate that I trust than I can by myself! Trust is built on transparency. If someone is not telling me the truth, or they are hiding things from me, then it is impossible to trust them. The group starts to break down. When we are open and transparent and honest about what we’re doing, good things happen.

But wherever you look, transparency seems to be at an all-time low.

Today, transparency in government is a punchline. It seems like the more a politician talks about transparency during election season, the less important transparency will be during his or her term in office. Very few people want to tell the American people the truth about what problems we face.

In business, there are just as many hucksters and charlatans as ever. They have never actually provided any real value to anyone, but they lure in hardworking people with promises of easy success and fast fortunes. They teach people to look at how to get a dollar first, without ever thinking about how to solve a real problem in the customer’s life. The business becomes all about sustaining itself and getting as much money as fast as possible, instead of creating a sustainable business that helps others and creates value for other people. For those companies, talking about the customer and his or her problems is just a marketing ploy to get you in the door, instead of the driving purpose and mission of the business. That’s not transparency.

And in the NFL, where I played for 18 years, there is a complete lack of transparency. The recent Ray Rice saga is just the latest, most visible example, but this is nothing new for the NFL. The league covered up the effect of concussions on NFL players for decades, has covered up the use of performance enhancing drugs and pain medication, has covered up anything that might distract people from just sitting back to enjoy the game on Sunday. Commissioner Roger Goodell’s press conference last week to talk about the league’s domestic violence policy was a master class in saying nothing and avoiding the problem. That’s not transparency.

Put it all together, and it makes me angry. I’m angry that these people are so selfish and short-sighted, worrying only about instant gratification. They want to keep the gravy train rolling without actually taking on the very real problems we face.

That’s not what I believe in. That’s not what America is about. We are about taking on our problems head-on. Our country is built on the idea that together we can figure out the answers to any problem, but in order to solve them people first have to be honest and transparent about what those problems are.

Tell your friends and family to join AMAC, to call for real transparency and honesty in this country. That’s the only way we’ll get answers.

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Paul Van Why
5 years ago

Transparency in government is fine, we need it, but the media is another story. When an event happens they do not tell the whole story but only the bad side. They help incite riot. The recent story of the beheading in America and the stabbing of a second person. They never told that the second person would have been beheaded except a permit to carry holder shot the perpetuator before he could finish the act. He did live. The media is judge and jury before the facts are known and even then do not tell the whole truth.

Rick B.
5 years ago

Eric Holder’s departure from the Justice Department will hopefully bring some much needed transparency to that organization. Hopefully the next Attorney General will be an unbiased enforcer of the laws, not an arbitrary chooser of which laws to ignore (for political gain).

5 years ago

In “business there are charlatans and hucksters” — I think he meant IN GOVERNMENT.

Lincoln Sorensen
5 years ago

AMAC needs to grow as quickly as it can. We need to promote membership at every turn. AMAC has the fortitude to have a man as honest and honorable as Mr. Tarkenton on it’s panel. That says a lot. The integrity of this country and the conservatives within it are running out of time. We need a large organization so our voices will be heard in the future. I agree there is corruption in both parties, but Obama’s intent is to eliminate one of the parties and it aint the liberals he has targeted. We need Dr. Ben Carson, Condoleeza… Read more »

5 years ago

The only thing that is truly transparent is how crooked ALL politicians, both parties, are. Maybe now, more people will notice that the only agenda these politicians have today is pushing their power and control on the citizenry and of course, to accumulate as much personal wealth as possible. It doesn’t even seem to matter even when they get their fingers caught in the cookie jar of greed. They snub their noses at honesty, morals and religion. A few examples in front of a firing squad would probably improve their dispositions … for a while anyway!

Retired Navy Chief
5 years ago

I have not supported AARP ever in the twenty five years I have been eligible. They never expressed ideas that supported the Constitution and were from the beginning more interested in insurance, investment and other money gathering schemes than they were in the needs of the elderly. I have been very pleased with AMAC.

Amac supports the same positions that I do in public policy. It is refreshing to see that they offer themselves as an alternative to the “overseer mentality” of AARP.

5 years ago

Good article by Fran Tarkenton. Police officers in Ferguson wearing bracelets of support for their fellow officer are being told to remove them which equates to their freedom of speech being censored. The Justice department says the police need to be transparent and when they are very transparent, in supporting their own, it becomes racist and undesired transparency. Like Tarkenton says, a lot coming out of government on transparency is “lip service” and it continues with our lop-sided Justice department.

Joni Schwarting
5 years ago

I am just thrilled about AMAC! The lady at Shopko vision center here in Norfolk NE referred me to you. I am 55 and have boycotted AARP and refused to enroll. When they were promoting Obamacare I was suspicious that they had there hand in the bag with the rest of the bunch.
AMAC offers us a huge choice, truth and honesty. Its refreshing in a time of confusion and mistrust. Thanks so much! I certainly will be promoting you to everyone I know.

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