Open government is part of freedom
As Americans, we oftentimes take our freedom for granted. It’s not something we think about much.Of course, there are those traditional times when thoughts of freedom come up. Times like Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Veterans Day and other random occasions. But mostly, we know we’re free and we know how lucky we are to have our freedom.An open government, access to public records and the public’s right to know, are all part of that freedom, and invaluable pieces of the puzzle that were assembled by our forefathers when they drafted the Constitution and Bill of Rights more than 200 years ago.Every year, the Colorado media sets aside a week to recognize the state’s Sunshine Laws. The goal is to draw attention to the importance of open government and freedom of information.This is indeed an interesting time to talk about this subject.In a few weeks, the world will shift its attention to the most oppressive government on the planet. The spotlight will be centered on China and the Games of the XXIX Olympiad. As athletes from around the globe complete for the most prestigious medal in sports, we must not overlook how the Chinese government operates. The Beijing Olympics will provide us with a powerful reminder of how special it is to live in a free country.The Sunshine Laws of our country serve as an example that the best government is an open government. In the simplest and most profound definition, we have a government of the people, by the people and for the people.As our insightful forefathers sat down to create a document that would shape the United States, they were careful to consider the importance of their decisions. A government of checks and balances was paramount as they developed the Constitution. They were uncompromising in their belief that an open government, open records and freedom of information for its citizens was vital for a nation to be truly free.In August, when the Olympic Games open in Beijing, freedom won’t be on our minds. However, one of the greatest reminders of freedom comes from looking elsewhere. China is a country of unimaginable pollution, poor living conditions and an iron-fisted government.The contrasts between the United States and China should never be understated.During Sunshine Week, few will give any thought to our open record laws. Even if we rarely think about these Sunshine Laws, hopefully you recognize the importance of an open government and access to public information.Especially when we can look at China and see such a poignant example of a country devoid of freedom and where the government never operates in the sunshine.A public’s right to know is an integral part of a free country.Open government, open records and freedom of information are all parts of the Constitution and the vision our forefathers had for a free country.With our nation’s Independence Day at hand we should give thought to just how fortunate we are to have our freedom. The people of China are not so lucky.
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