L e v e l - 7

Tools For A New Political Economy

Public Information Clearinghouse

Initially I had conceived of this idea as mainly for producers and consumers of goods and services - as a way to manage that relationship in an informed way, based on people’s values orientation and hierarchy. Then I realized that this actually extends to all information in all areas of life, and has particular import for an accurately informed Direct Democracy. For example, what is the consensus around some concept or approach in a given discipline? What is the proven efficacy of a given treatment, medication or procedure? What independent confirmation of a set of facts is available from another source? How are sources of information rated, in terms of their historic veracity? What is the highest quality data available on a particular historic or current event? How can we have easy, fluid access to alternative viewpoints on a given topic, with tools to analyze those perspectives?

Right now the answers to such questions will be generated by the exhaustive diligence of the information consumer, or their trust in a given information authority or source, or whatever pops up at the top of a search engine result. And this is really not a good system, especially with respect to maintaining and informed electorate. Instead, independent, competing non-profit organizations, with oversight from both elected officials, citizens councils and
Daily Direct Democracy, can be implemented to offer not just the huge wealth of information available on the Internet, but portals to analyze, sort, prioritize and verify that information according to different methodologies, algorithms and self-defined preferences and values.

As just one example, here is how I had initially proposed such a clearinghouse could assist people in their search for products and services - clearly this is about big, deep data and carefully crafted searching and organization tools:

(Excerpted from
True Love)

I would propose that a clearinghouse be established for both consumers and producers, so that every layer of production, distribution and sales can be scrutinized through existing avenues of data mining and reporting. Anyone should be able to search that clearinghouse based on customized criteria, with an easy-to-understand rating system for each set of values. The goal would be to quickly and easily answer questions like these:

• How much labor does this company outsource, and where is it outsourced to?

• Does this service provider support fair labor practices? What is there record in this regard? Am I paying for sweat shops, prison labor, illegal immigrants, workers from oppressed populations if I spend my money here?

• Does this manufacturer participate in environmentally responsible methods?

• What was the outcome of lawsuits against this company, and how many lawsuits or settlements have there been for the last three years?

• Is it a public or private company? Who owns a majority of shares, who are the members of its board of directors, and what are the personal values, goals and ethical profiles of those owners and board members?

• Are executives and managers held accountable for implementing values-driven business plans? Is exploration of personal values part of the hiring and managing process?

• Were animals used in product testing? Are products harmful to animals?

• Has this corporation ever participated in bribing public officials? In drafting legislation? In lobbying efforts?

• What is this manufacturer’s overall record of reliability and cost of ownership for all its products?

• What level of customer satisfaction has been independently verified, and can it be sorted by demographic?

• How well are female employees compensated at this company compared to men? What about minority employees? Do they hire older employees? Have they ever forced out aging workers?

Pasted Graphic 1