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Behind Closed Doors

I’m sure most of you have either heard of or experienced closed door meetings in the organization you work for.  These meetings are called for a variety of reasons; however based on my own experience the main reason is when management is planning some type of organizational change they don’t want their employees to know about.  The topics can range forced layoffs to major organization restructure and can create a certain amount of uneasiness in the workplace, so steps are taken to conceal the order of business from the workforce.   They don’t want to present a plan or announce a layoff until all the logistics have been hammered out, a general consensus has been reached, and the timing is right.  Because closed door meetings tend to be so secretive it’s only natural that a climate of mistrust can develop between management and their employees.  This is especially true when the organizational change has a profound impact on the workers of the company.  I have personally experienced this first-hand from being on both sides of this closed door.

As a worker and manager I felt the impact of those closed door meetings.  More often than not the outcome of the deals cut behind closed doors left me scratching my head as a worker; questioning the wisdom of my managers.   It wasn’t until I was on the other side of the closed door that I realized how intense those meetings were.  There were times when the meeting became so heated shouting matches actually broke out between the sections heads over the transfer of workers to different shops, or the best strategy to increase production.  This was an opportunity for the managers from the different sections to openly voice their opinions on the subject being discussed away from the ears of the workers and without fear of reprisal. This is how it rolls in many organizations.  Each day major organizational decision are made in this manner and sometimes it gets ugly.

Back in 1787 when the Constitutional Convention convened in Philadelphia, the delegates were sworn to secrecy and when in session the doors were closed from the public and press.  The reason behind this was because a few of the delegates wanted to float the idea of scrapping the Articles of Confederation and crafting a stronger document that would not only protect the individual liberties of the people and but also create a partnership between the states and the federal government.  Out of this 4 month closed door session our Constitution was born.  For the first time in world history a group of enlightened individuals produced a document that made the people the masters or managers and the government the servant or employee.   It even included a clause (Article V) that permitted the people to come together and have their own closed door meeting if the government grew out of control or the people felt there was a need to implement some type of organizational change.  The founders believed in the wisdom of the people to set things right.

Today in Washington D.C. we see a number of meetings that are closed to the public.  Deals are being cut behind these closed doors that tend to favor special interest groups and hurt “We the People” in the end.  We’ve witnessed first-hand how closed door meetings work in Washington.  We have seen it with ObamaCare, the Dodd-Frank financial reform law, and now the debt ceiling debate.  In the end we pay the price while those friendly to our elected officials are protected from pain dispensed by a terrible law.  How did these roles get reversed?  How is it that the employees or the servants are the ones deciding our fate behind closed doors?  Are we not the employers, the masters of our government?  Our founders believed this to be so.  Today if we dare to speak of such concepts we are labeled as radical extremists.  How did it become so radical and extreme to desire to get back to our founding principles of individual rights, limited government, and states’ rights?  The answer is we the people allowed it to become so.  We fell asleep at the wheel and allowed our elected official to whittle away our liberties a bill at a time.  And most of these bills that became law were crafted behind closed doors.

Ask yourself how we con remain a representative type republic if the practice of closed door meetings is the norm.  The answer is we can’t.  Without open debate “We the People” in a sense are robbed from the opportunity to know the details and offer up our own solutions through our representatives.  It hampers our ability to constructively participate in the process because we do not have the information to base an opinion off of.  It creates a climate of mistrust.  Leaving the constituents in the dark does not advance the republic; it erodes away the foundation and will ultimately destroy it.  I somehow don’t believe this was the change people expected or desired from this administration.

Liberty forever, freedom for all!


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  • Steve Dennis July 26, 2011 at 5:20 AM

    Great post John! We have let the founding principles of this government slip away and I don’t know if we can get them back but we must try. Did you ever think that you would live to see a day when believing in personal liberty and freedom was considered radical ideas in the United States? It just shows us how much we have fallen.
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    • John Carey July 26, 2011 at 6:23 AM

      We have let it slip away. We are quickly becoming the servants and they the masters, and that’s not how it’s supposed to work with our constitution. Somehow over the years things got turned upside down in our republic Steve. We need to set us right side up again. I starts with educating ourselves.
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  • Infidel de Manahatta July 26, 2011 at 9:55 AM

    It takes eternal vigilance to keep our great form of government. We have slacked off and we need to pick it up and hold our leaders feet to the fire. We are not serfs to be talked down to by your lordly President.
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    • John Carey July 26, 2011 at 5:27 PM

      Many of the founders were worried about this…us losing our way and allowing the government to grow out of control. This is what has happened and now we need to rein it in. It’s going to take a great deal of work.
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  • Jim at Conservatives on Fire July 26, 2011 at 10:14 AM

    An interesting subject, John. I’m sure there are valid reasons for some meetings being held behind closed doors just as there are valid reason government secrets; but both are subject to abuse. Where to draw the line can not always be clear. Leaders will always find it easier to work behind closed doors. I don’t know how we control it.
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    • John Carey July 26, 2011 at 5:35 PM

      There are many valid reason for closed door meetings. However my belief is when it comes to a representative style government openness is the key. Thanks for the comment.
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  • Matt July 26, 2011 at 7:13 PM

    For my normal, short, snarky comment, allow me to say, so much for the most transparent administration evah!

    On the serious end, there out to be a federal “sunshine law.” Let CSPAN in, and let the cameras roll.
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    • John Carey July 26, 2011 at 10:05 PM

      I like the idea Matt. And he never intended for our government to be transparent. It was just another lie to sway the voter. Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me.
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  • LD Jackson July 26, 2011 at 9:13 PM

    I suppose there may be a time and place for closed door meetings. Considering the outcome of some of those meetings and the legislation that has came from them, I think my vote would be for more openness and honesty. If I remember correctly, that is part of what Barack Obama promised as he was running for President. That’s not working out so well, as far as I can tell.
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    • John Carey July 26, 2011 at 10:07 PM

      I believe we must have openness when debating the issues that impact our lives. This is how a representative style government is suppose to work Larry. Without it we walk down a very dangerous path.
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