Non-transparent government is bad, right? It's always better, not just more ethical, to let people decide for themselves, right?
Maybe not. And there may be macromememtic insights to be drawn as to why.
On Government Secrecy
We might take a page from The Bard with "murder will out, it is most foul." In other words, if a government is truly up to no good, then it will begin to appear in ways in which regular people can see. To take a macabre example, if the government were eating babies in horrid arcane rituals hidden deep within their dark star chambers, then we would at some point start to notice babies going missing.
If the government are being effective, aren't causing visible harm, and aren't costing too much money, then what does it matter? Throwing too many people in prison for specious reasons, starting wars, spending money on things we don't value, or just spending lots of money and we're not sure why are all things that we can observe from the outside, and then protest, which we're allowed to do in a democracy (2).
But even still, wouldn't it be better if the public could clearly and always see what the government are up to, even down to the last detail? (3)
Immunomemetic Deployment Opportunities
"We're the Government. We're here to help you." This may have become an ironic joke back in the 80s (thanks Ronnie Reagan...?) or perhaps before. The "Men In Black" (1) leitmotif goes back pretty far, i.e., that the government has all kinds of secrets which they believe would harm us to know, and which they are diligently and faithfully guarding...to keep us safe.
I'd like to know what they're doing with those dead extraterrestrial alien bodies. I just want to know. Press #7 to get to our Alien Extraterrestrial Division.
What we're seeing is a whole collection of interface memes (4) that each offers an opportunity to deploy an immunomeme, or leave a memetic loop open, incurring residual memetic debt.
"That Alien Extraterrestrial Hotline, they put you on hold for so long. 'Hot,' my ass!"
And of course all of these interface memes must be given memetic pathways, or to put it another way, not only do you have to have people to man(6) the phones, have forms made up for people to fill in, and have people to follow up on all that, maybe with special badges and logos on their cars and so on. That all costs money, money, money, and manpower (6) but more importantly, the organization becomes shot through with memetic pathways that don't serve the bureaucratic purpose for which it was created, or, more importantly, which better and more efficiently serves the good and health of the state.
In short, you're creating new memes the government must enact, memes the public can enact, immunomemes the public can enact, and probably most significantly a bunch of counter-immunomemes the government must have to react to all of these. It's costly to make them up, and it changes the shape of the memetic transfer matrices of the government.
There are other problems.
The Memetic Orgy's (7) Over
An organization which is full of memes and memetic pathways which are not directed inwards but outwards, towards a robust interface memeplex, is not able to devote as much of its memetic activity to internal affairs, in which as many as possible of memetic transactions pertain to departmental business, and participants experience a memetic orgy which gives a lot of memetic reward feelings to participants. This promotes feeling of satisfaction and ésprit de corps in the organization, and makes it such that every action of members promotes the objectives and solidarity of the group.
This is a good thing if the department is well-organized and well-suited to accomplish its mission (8). Again, if a government organ is doing good, or if it's doing bad, this should become visible (9) sooner or later.
Summary and Conclusions
Too much access by the public to government internal workings (10) changes the shape of the memetic transfer matrix of the organization under scrutiny. Memetic pathways must be created which do not serve the purpose of the organization, at least not directly. They may also compromise the ability of the organization to reach and maintain a state of memetic orgy, which cuts down efficiency.
If an organization does not meet its functional requirements, it may be best to repurpose it to what it is good at, reorganize it, or just disband it. Outside scrutiny may be counterproductive for the reasons described.
(1) Men in Black films with Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones
(2) And even other systems of government, e.g., "grievances before supply" (British Parliament vis-a-vis the Monarchy).
(3) Military and covert operations aside....? Whether we should even have covert operations is an entirely different question, perhaps for a future essay.
(4) Interface memes form a bridging contact between two supermemeplexes. The two supermemeplexes do not have perfect knowledge of each others' workings, so an interface memeplex has an encapsulating function, and effectively turns one or the other or both supermemeplexes into a "black box" vis-a-vis the other. (5)
(5) A contact meme is a kind of interface meme. It tends to be laden with stereotypes, is defined as one-way in nature, e.g., majority group vis-a-vis minority group, such as a way that the majority identifies minority group members, e.g., dress (can be religious, or just "poor" or "rich" or "foreign"), skin color or appearance, tell-tale actions, accents, languages, etc.
(6) Yes, yes, yes, of course women can man phones as well. It's just that men cannot "women" phones -- only women can do that. Can we put all that to bed now?
(7) A Memetic Orgy is like a critical mass sustained chain reaction, where every meme deployed resonates with practically every member of the group, who then deploy more memes which resonate. If an organization or group is able to divorce itself, even temporarily, from outside influences, it can achieve a rapid-fire memetic steady state which gives constant memetic rewards to all members during the time the orgy is taking place.
(8) Or any "useful" mission deemed worthy of continuing. Corporations may be renamed, or repurposed, for example -- this happens all the time. Whatever you're good at, keep doing, and if you're not good at anything, maybe try reorganizing, or just break up.
(9) Especially with a "strong" press. A topic for future essays.
(10) Or corporations, etc.