Friday, December 07, 2012

Corruption-- A Culture, A Way Of Life... But We're Better Than Sudan


I'm always arguing with my financial advisor about investing in Third World businesses. She's kept up a steady barrage for two decades that there are tremendous profits to be made in countries like India, China, Russia, South Africa, etc. My argument is that I've lived for years in the Third World and that I still travel in the Third World a lot and that if we can barely trust the U.S. stock market to be honest and transparent-- and "barely" is an extremely generous description-- then the stock markets in countries like India and businesses in countries like India, are absolute cesspools of corruption. The private sector, the public sector... the corruption is on a scale much cruder than anything on Wall Street; it's almost as bad as K Street and Capitol Hill.

Transparency International has their new Corruption Perceptions Index out and while the U.S. is less corrupt than Somalia, Myanmar and Afghanistan, it's not up there with the top tier countries-- like Denmark, Finland, New Zealand, Sweden, Switzerland, Australia, Norway, Canada and Holland --either. The U.S. ranks #19, just between Britain and Chile, comfortably ahead of Lesotho, Egypt, China, Iran and Jamaica, but not on the same scale of trustworthiness as Iceland, Singapore and Barbados.

The Corruption Perceptions Index ranks countries based on how corrupt their public sector is perceived to be and is urging governments to prioritize the fight against corruption. But in a country like the U.S., where almost no one is ever held accountable for public corruption and where systemic corruption is woven into the fabric of our political system... how is the government going to prioritize the fight against corruption? Both political parties are so mired in it-- and so beholden to those who finance their careers-- that it is inconceivable that the U.S. isn't destined for the trash heap of history, unable to deal effectively with the most basic problems for fear of offending greed-obsessed political financiers. The Republican Party is entirely based on corruption from start to finish, but the Democrats are almost as bad. Just this week alone, grotesquely corrupt slimebuckets like Joe Crowley (D-NY) and Rob Andrews (D-NJ) were elevated to party leadership status. That says it all.
Looking at the Corruption Perceptions Index 2012, it's clear that corruption is a major threat facing humanity. Corruption destroys lives and communities, and undermines countries and institutions. It generates popular anger that threatens to further destabilise societies and exacerbate violent conflicts.

The Corruption Perceptions Index scores countries on a scale from 0 (highly corrupt) to 100 (very clean). While no country has a perfect score, two-thirds of countries score below 50, indicating a serious corruption problem.

Corruption translates into human suffering, with poor families being extorted for bribes to see doctors or to get access to clean drinking water. It leads to failure in the delivery of basic services like education or healthcare. It derails the building of essential infrastructure, as corrupt leaders skim funds.

Corruption amounts to a dirty tax, and the poor and most vulnerable are its primary victims.

So, how do we counter the effects of public sector corruption?

Governments need to integrate anti-corruption actions into all aspects of decision-making. They must prioritise better rules on lobbying and political financing, make public spending and contracting more transparent, and make public bodies more accountable.

After a year with a global focus on corruption, we expected more governments to take a tougher stance against the abuse of power. The Corruption Perceptions Index results demonstrate that there are still many societies and governments that need to give a much higher priority to this issue.

A new Gallup poll found that the only group in America rated less trustworthy than used car slaesmen are Members of Congress. Does anyone even remember, let alone care about Jack Abramoff and Tom DeLay? Today Boehner is coddling a Mafia congressman from Staten Island, Michael "Mikey Suits" Grimm, and a congressman who he appointed to head the House Armed Services Committee, Buck McKeon, who is in hock for gambling debts to an agent of the Chinese government, Sheldon Adelson. And speaking of Adelson, he's the single biggest contributor to the Republican Party and he ties together the interests of China and Organized Crime. Amazing!



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