John Klossner

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Klossner: 18 wonderfully goofy ideas from the Open Government Dialogue

I recently spent a couple afternoons reading through the many submissions received during the brainstorming phase of the Open Government Dialogue. This was before the site was commandeered by some single-issue Web crawlers who eventually flooded the site with their, well ... single issue. (For a more extensive description, go here).

But in the good old, innocent days, the Open Government Dialogue site provided a wide variety of suggestions for improving our government. Here are some that caught my eye (Note: I apologize for missing any newer entries. This being the Internet, things change quickly, and my recording of one moment on a Web site will almost certainly eliminate later worthy candidates):

TELL THE TRUTH — That's it. tell the truth. But I think we should send this person a copy of the movie Rashomon first.

RELEASE EXTRATERRESTRIALS DATA — Disclose all secret information on extraterrestrials, including their birth certificates.

ANGER — A call for the administration to resign. I didn't look closely — was this submitted by Rush or Glen?

MAKING SUBMISSIONS SIMPLE — Submit ideas in 500 words or less. Or, as it will be called, "the Twitter Grande rule."

SOCIAL MEDIA MADE EXCLUSIVE — Government use of social media should focus more on small groups of smart people arguing with each other. I believe this idea has already been implemented. They call it the Kennedy School.

BAR CODE ENTIRE GOVERNMENT STOCK — Bar code (and inventory) every object owned by the federal government. The bar code can be smartly fitted into Henry Waxman's mustache.

SIMULATED GOVERNMENT TRAINING — Create a government simulator for legislators. Or make all their Sim City scores public.

IT'S ALL ABOUT ME — This person would like to know what the government knows about him or her. Based on a reading of this proposal, I know that this person failed high school English.

TEACH MARRIAGE COUNSELING SKILLS TO GOVERNMENT — This person, a marriage councilor, would like people to speak in non-absolutist terms. But what if one political party wants to see a Merchant Ivory film and the other wants to see a Judd Apatow flick?

CREATE A GOVERNMENT CABLE CHANNEL — Create a government cable channel devoted to delivering news and information about the government. I believe this idea has already been implemented. They call it the Kennedy School.

GETTING CREDIT FOR IDEAS — People who provide good ideas get recognition. I found this one a little self-referential. If you provided the good idea of giving recognition to the other good ideas, should you get bigger recognition?

ESTABLISH A GOVERNMENT INTRANET — Create a Government-wide Intranet. The proposal states that this Intranet will "facilitate vital information sharing and collaboration across the entire U.S. federal government." But federal employees will still have to use the regular Internet to access YouTube.

LEGALIZING POT / BACKING OFF OF THE DRUG WAR — Calls for legalizing or re-classifying marijuana and cannabis. Before the Obama birth certificate issue came up, this may have been the most popular proposal. Maybe these folks and the birthers should get together and form a marketing firm.

ELIMINATE ELECTORAL COLLEGE — No unintended humor here, but I found the debate in the comments section to be rational, respectful and informative. Unfortunately, like the Electoral College, I worry that these qualities might also be arcane.

REDUCE THE EFFECTIVENESS OF THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT — Wait: By reducing the effectiveness of the federal government, we'd be increasing the effectiveness of the federal government? But then we wouldn't be reducing the effectiveness of the federal government ... wait ...

And my top 3:

No. 1: CUT DOWN ON NUMBER OF PENS USED IN BILL SIGNINGS — I need a little more information here: Should we have two presidential pens? Should there be a decoy pen in case of theft? Should there be a specific Secret Service position for carrying refills?

No. 2: WINDMILL IN IOWA — Build a giant windmill in Iowa, for tourism and alternative energy purposes. Not a bad idea, but then they'd have to build something for each state, and I worry that the giant clown in New York State would scare my children.

No. 1: FREE PIZZA ON FRIDAYS — I'm kind of surprised that this didn't get a more positive response, scoring a miserable -42. Who could possibly be against free pizza?

Posted by John Klossner on Jun 17, 2009 at 12:18 PM

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