Last night (well, for me, the rerun just now) on the Daily Show, guest Bill Clinton claimed that sleep deprivation is rampant in Congress, due to Members running back and forth between D.C. and their home states for fund raising, and that it is responsible for some of the edginess in Congress.
Maybe this is an issue that the open knowledge / transparency community has failed to address so far. Sunlight needs to extend its campaign that urges Members to post their schedules on the web. We need to see our representatives’ sleep schedules too. Any Member sleeping fewer than 6.5 or more than 8.5 hours per day should just resign. This should be added to personal disclosure reports, along with who they are sleeping with, I suppose.
Now, more importantly, how can we use the Internet to give our elected officials more hours of sleep per day? This leads me to think that we’re not addressing political accountability in quite the right way. So long as it takes money to buy air time to get time in front of voters, basically eliminating meaningful competition, there’s an immense limit to the effect that more knowledge given to the public has. That is, in my experience, us techies have been addressing getting knowledge out and more accessible (bills, finance, CRS reports, etc.), and we’ve been doing that fairly well. But how can we use technology, in a neutral way, to decrease the need for ridiculous campaign expenditures? How can we make purchased air time less important? (For that matter, what are the major costs of campaigns anyway? I’m just guessing.)
I don’t have even the beginning of an answer to that question. Maybe someone else will…