A century of sunlight and transparency, courtesy of Louis Brandeis, now on defensive

Photo: Brandeis University

Photo: Brandeis University

By America Blog’s Chris Trejbal – On Dec. 20, 1913, Harper’s Weekly published “What Publicity Can Do” by then-future Supreme Court justice Louis Brandeis. In it, he painted an image of transparency that still captures the imagination. “Publicity is justly commended as a remedy for social and industrial diseases. Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants; electric light the most efficient policeman,” he wrote.

Brandeis was concerned about a worrisome concentration of wealth and power in the hands of his era’s banks and industries. Parallels to the last few years require no elaboration.

Americans soon realized that his idea of sunlight could be applied more broadly. Government also functions best under public scrutiny. The chummy club of good ol’ boys who met behind closed doors and emerged only with conclusions would soon fade from the norm. Transparency and accountability became the new paradigm for government.

Or so we hoped.

Continue to full story.

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