Follow the money: From a movie, to Sunlight

There’s a new movie out soon — “August Rush” — that tells the story of an orphan musician in search of his birth parents (that’s not it in the short Youtube video above — more on that later). The movie is high on my 17-year-old’s list of movies to see, but looks like a fairy tale that glamorizes what is often a quite difficult situation.

Movies hold huge power in determining thoughts and actions on issues such as safe sex, abortion, etc. I haven’t seen it, but know I’ll want to weigh in on the issues whenever the Kid sees the movie.

In light of all that emotion, I appreciate Traci’s fact-based approach in her class blog to issues like these, which need to be discussed and considered before issues arise. Traci’s blog adds greatly to the conversation.

One of Traci’s main concerns involves the federal funding of Planned Parenthood. She thinks it should stop. In my view, federal funds are spent in many other questionable ways. Blackwater and Halliburton get federal money too.

Oversight by our society about how our tax money is spent is crucial. New technology and bloggers can help, if given the tools, and this fact makes Gordon’s focus on e-government hugely important. In 2006, a bill was passed to make a public, searchable database of federal contracts awarded. Bloggers and citizen groups helped pass the bill after some folks in the Senate tried to hold it up. (Reference: Christian Scientist Monitor)

In addition, the Sunlight Foundation is working to give ordinary wired citizens access to information on government spending, of time and money. The foundation is using all the tools at its disposal — Youtube (you knew I’d get to the above video sometime), Facebook, a wiki and a website. And it’s asking citizens to help analyze the data. At least one newspaper is highlighting the information as well. The crowdsourcing capabilities of this effort seem as if they have great potential — as long as someone is watching.

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