Monday, May 16, 2005

Transparency: Another Absolute?

As I was reading something over the weekend, I pondered the insertion of "transparency" into so many recent opinion and factual articles, with the unspoken assumption that it points to an absolute value, without which we are bereft of our basic human rights. In this scheme, we have a right to see everything, hear and know absolutely everything. Corporations, government, churches, clubs, families and individuals all need to become transparent to onlookers from the outside. Wait a minute! Do we really want to buy that one? Maybe it applies to some public agencies like the IRS, but I cannot claim a right to see your tax returns so that I can satisfy my curiosity about your income or your charitable deductions. Maybe we want to have something like voluntary or partial or owner-defined transparency. When and how did we slide into this new demand for transparency?