A corollary to Jeff Thurston's grammatically challenged geospatial thought for the day:
Let’s be clear: If government pays for geodata, then makes it available for free. Then it is not free. You ARE paying for it.
If you're paying for it, you own it, and should have the right to unfettered access to unclassified portions of it.
The National Institute of Health mandates open access to the published results of science it funds. Similar open access to all publicly funded research is currently the 12th ranked suggestion to Obama's future CTO. An equivalent policy for National GIS data is in my opinion, a must. I don't mean access to a service endpoint, I mean access to shapefile downloads.
I believe I will write my new Senator, Mark Udall (do I ever love typing that phrase!), and see if he's interested in doing something about it.
Update (2009-01-16): related, more thoughtful post here.