Attacking open source because it's democratic

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I get it. Anything the Democrats want, Republicans oppose. If Democrats make concessions toward Republicans, Republicans reject the concessions and make new demands.

But this is absurd.

The Electronic Government Fund has been one of the most effective expenditures of the last few decades. Not only has it helped identify projects that need to be cut, but in the process it has produced impressive open source software that makes American businesses more competitive.

Yet partisan "deficit hawks" are scheming to eliminate it, cutting the budget from a paltry $34 million to $2 million, barely enough to keep the lights on, starting now.

What would this cut kill? Take a look:

  • Data.Gov, which aggregates all government data sets in one location
  •, which identifies where government contracts are going. 
  •, which lets you learn about product recalls at the point of sale, as well as all other mobile government applications.
  •, which collects citizen input on programs and can lead to funding for good ideas.
  • The IT Dashboard, which we highlighted last week, allowing the tracking of government software projects.
  •, a wiki enabling coordination of work between government departments.
  •, which enables departments to launch their own wikis at no cost.

There's no excuse for this. Even the Tea Party Express wants this kind of government transparency and effectiveness. The only people who benefit from these cuts are lobbyists whose advantage lies in exclusive access to information. And if I were really a tribune of the people (as these new Republicans claim to be) I would be making some phone calls right now to see who came up with this harebrained scheme and how fast they can be fired.

Remember, we're not talking about deficit reduction here, or even a smaller government. We're talking about $34 million that has already produced some incredible tools for creating a smaller government and reducing the deficit. It's like stabbing out your own eyes in the name of better eye care.

The Sunlight Foundation, which has pushed for these kinds of programs for years, has just begun banging the drum to save the data and restore the cuts. We need to fight for these effective programs, and this good software, now, hard, because it's the only access to government most of us have.

And once that fight is won, we need to shed some sunlight on the asshats who got this proposal through to this stage, and make sure they're kicked out of Washington for good.

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I'd like to say, as a member the the tea party movement (not the tea party express) that most tea party members who understand what these things are do not want these things cut. Also, the Tea Party Express has been shunned by much of the tea party movement, anyway. This is coming primarily from the "old guard" republicans. Tea party members primarily want cuts in areas like the department of agriculture, education, commerce, housing and urban development, entitlements, etc. Libertarian (as opposed to conservative or moderate) members like myself also want cuts in defense.

I personally think that the idea of Open Source cant event fall under the democratic title. Open Source is, at least to a programmer, and ideal. It's a goal and a brilliant thing when it works right. The idea that it should be democratic or republican is foolish. Although it *could* be seen as a more democratic or republican, it shouldn't. Too bad some people cant see it that way.

I couldn't be more happy at this development. At last some of these bloated, unaccountable programs hyped and shilled by O'Reilly and the Sunlight Foundation are getting some sunlight and some scrutiny. You don't have to be in the tea party or the conservative movement to ask questions of the entire Gov 2.0 cult. Let's take "IT Dashboard" for example. A basic expenditure like "How much do all those consultants we're forced to hire to actually run and maintain this 'free' open source software actually cost?" Something like and others like and notably don't have any basic interactivity, no voting, no forums, no maps, no nothing. Not even a "like". Social media is what they *aren't*. wasn't really ever viable because wikis in government, like other settings, aren 't so usable and only serve the geek squad.

Lobbyists? The Sunlight Foundation is bankrolled by all the big IT companies of Silicon Valley. They're the lobbyists fighting for their pork here. The rest of us don't see any obvious advantage to all these proliferation of ostensibly "transparent" sites that bury transparency under an avalanche of fake openness.

There are many other dubious claims in this article -- there needs to be an impartial review of all these ecstatic open source claims -- and not by the Linux penguins and the bar campers and the script kiddies but by outside parties not wedded to the OS "solution".

I agree with Catherine. There are two sides to every coin, especially in politics. People hear "transparency" and "open source" get all excited, but ask around your neighborhood and find one person who has used it or found any use in it at all. In reality, open source and transparency are words used much too often by people who violate those very principles (i.e. Obama & Democrats themselves).

I'm a Republican who works in technology and advocates for transparency. I want as much transparency as we can get, but to call this an attack on open source because it's "democratic" is ridiculous. It is all too easy to label people by party. You can find good and bad in every party no matter what you subscribe to. There are lots of Republicans fighting for transparency! Just don't expect to read about it in the Post.

I would be more interested in seeing some assessment on how much these tools are actually used by the people. Isn't that why they are created? What good is anything done by the government is the people are not using it, or if they can't use it?

The claim that this is partisan would be better served if some statistics were included, or beter yet, a roll call.

The claim by Catherine and Unidentified that these tools are useless is overblown. Did you even really look at the tools? The utility varies but I am quite happy they are there. I would not expect large user communities because they have not been marketed heavily. Most Americans want the information digested and fed to them by some talking head from their part of the political spectrum, few Americans are willing to take the time to do the research themselves. That said, I think it is important that the information is available, even if the primary users will be journalists and those doing research.

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