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Trying to eliminate it completely could result in more veiled forms available particularly to the rich and powerful corporations, a la the USA.

I suspect the drive to stamp out "corruption" basically makes illegal the kinds of patronage available to the poor or poorly connected, while leaving intact the political economy network of the well-connected. Old boys' networks, university alumni associations, and the like, are acceptable forms of what, when observed in other countries or in poorer social strata is called "corruption". Every so often, a member of the elite will be ritually punished for corruption as a way to hide the fact that corruption by another name is still rampant among the elite.

By laying out pros and cons we risk inducing people to join the debate, and losing control of a process that only we fully understand. - Alan Greenspan

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat May 15th, 2010 at 07:09:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I mean, which part of corruption - tax evasion, bribery, kickbacks, underground (non-taxed)economy, patronage, etc., etc is not found in the USA?

By laying out pros and cons we risk inducing people to join the debate, and losing control of a process that only we fully understand. - Alan Greenspan
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat May 15th, 2010 at 07:25:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, they all are. The point is that in the USA participants in corrupt activitiesgenerally have to be more discrete about it and the real opportunities for gain are pretty much restricted to those with some sort of power, economic or political. Those who "flaunt the law" stand a reasonable chance of being called out. I know some seemingly have the ability to get away with murder, but even the mighty eventually fall if they play the game too loosely and for too long.

I can swear there ain't no heaven but I pray there ain't no hell. _ Blood Sweat & Tears
by Gringo (stargazing camel at aoldotcom) on Sat May 15th, 2010 at 01:24:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In the Middle East you pay bakshis to civil servants when they have made decisions that you find favourable. Which is, of course, corruption. In the West, you award "consultancies" to civil servants when they have made decisions that you find favourable. This is entirely legal, above-board and counted as part of the gross domestic product.

Snark aside, there is little doubt that society works better for (almost) everyone when you don't have to pay kickbacks to junior civil servants like police officers and doctors simply for doing their jobs. There is also little doubt that it does nothing to deter the corruption of senior civil servants, including politicians. It just makes it slightly more sophisticated.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sat May 15th, 2010 at 07:38:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think that is letting the rampant corruption of the US civil service off the hook. Yes, of course there are hypocrites who loudly condemn one form of corruption that they are not accustomed to and silently but ferociously defend the forms of corruption that they directly participate in ...

... however, although we will never "stamp out corruption" so long as its human beings in position of authority, it is possible to fight it. The problem is that it needs a political movement to drive the process to the point of institutionalizing it, and then the institutions have to be defended from being undermined on a piecemeal basis. While political movements come and go, and some are effective enough at their peak to get improved institutions established, the long boring task of defending against piecemeal undermining is not something that movements seem to be very good at.

I would say "this is similar to the history of financial system regulation and de-regulation", except in the US they are two facets of the same history, so the similarities are due to the common history.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sat May 15th, 2010 at 01:14:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In the USA, they are getting rid of diversity admissions in the universities. Meanwhile, George Bush III graduates from Yale.
by Upstate NY on Sat May 15th, 2010 at 12:52:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, I think much of what we call "corruption" in the US is likely illegal or quasi illegal in other countries also, but it's often no more than low level bribery just to get someone to do their job.  We "participate" all the time when we pay a Telmex worker to move a line rather than wait the prescribed six months, or pay a CFE employee to repair a trunk electrical connection rather than do without electricity for three days. We consider it money well spent given the circumstances, and we also understand that given the low salaries paid workers by the government it's almost a necessity for them to supplement their income this way.

The more insidious forms of corruption are when, for example, town mayors, senators or presidents regularly steal enough tax money through elaborate fraud schemes to enrich not only themselves but also their extended families and friends for generations.  This type of corruption we have in the USA also, but I would argue that violations of the public trust are not as pervasive or as profitable in the US as in some other countries, particularly at the federal level.  I have a sneaking suspicion that more goes on at the local and state levels due to the lack of oversight.  We had several technical employee in our county a year ago who managed to steal $9 million by manipulating computer records and contracts. They did get caught, but much of the money may have ended up in India and the County Executive and several others lost their jobs. I've just read this article about the matter and it pretty much corroborates what's been said about corruption and lack of oversight in our local government.  One could see it coming.

I can swear there ain't no heaven but I pray there ain't no hell. _ Blood Sweat & Tears

by Gringo (stargazing camel at aoldotcom) on Sat May 15th, 2010 at 10:56:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Corruption in Spain's local government is endemic.

Since you can read Spanish, you'll love this one. I'd say there is an even chance this woman could become Spain's prime minister within 6 years <shudder>.

By laying out pros and cons we risk inducing people to join the debate, and losing control of a process that only we fully understand. - Alan Greenspan

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun May 16th, 2010 at 04:50:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Corruption in Spain's local government is endemic.

Since you can read Spanish, you'll love this one. I'd say there is an even chance this woman could become Spain's prime minister within 6 years <shudder>.

By laying out pros and cons we risk inducing people to join the debate, and losing control of a process that only we fully understand. - Alan Greenspan

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun May 16th, 2010 at 04:51:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
....could become Spain's prime minister within 6 years

Computerized voice:

Erase the thought!  Erase the thought! Eeeee raze thaaat thddkgjkjsldkkdf

Our knowledge has surpassed our wisdom. -Charu Saxena.

by metavision on Mon May 17th, 2010 at 05:20:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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