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God looks at the clean hands, not the full ones.
— Publilius Syrus, First Century, B.C.
Under neoliberalism corruption is the main engine of redistribution of wealth in countries outside G7. It is a vital instrument in establishing neoliberal dominance as corruption make it very easy to put country into debt slavery. And debt slavery is the goal of such institutions as IMF and World Bank. At the same time charges of corruption are used for penetration of neoliberals into the country and deposing any government that opposes neoliberal reforms. Essentially neoliberals changed Bolshevik's slogan about "exploitation of proletariat" used for destabilizing the governments, with charges of corruption of existing government in the country. Which serves the same goal. Reality here does not matter as corruption slogan is just a pretext for penetration into economics of the country.
After typical neoliberal coup detat, the resulting government is no less corrupt (if not more, see Ukraine Euromaidan saga) but is definitely more neoliberal and sell key state assets to Western financial institutions and global corporations for pennies on a dollar.
Corruption is a problem that has beset public and private institutions in any neoliberal regime, but is especially severe in developing countries. In a very fundamental way, due to emphasis of the ideology on green and plunder any neoliberal regime has ultimate level of corruption and in this sense of the word the USA is the most corrupt county every existed. Corruptions words differently in rich G7 neoliberal nation and debt-slave nations.
For rich nations, sadly, the word “corruption” has become inadequate to describe the many and varied practices of profitable abuse by the powerful and connected of other citizens. In this sense government controlled by large corporate interests is a pinnacle of corruption in the same sense as the best way to rob the bank is to own one. More proper term is “kleptocracy” because this is a system of governance, not particular behaviors within that system.
For neoliberal "debt-slaves" nations corruption first of all serves as a pump for retuning Western money to Western banks in the most quick and painless way, leaving the county with the debt from the foreign loan. As such it hindered economic and social development and make such a country essentially a colonies of transnational corporations with slave labor, sexual exploitation of women and minors and other vices.
...corruption literature emphasizes the relationships between high levels of corruption, high income inequality and increased poverty (Chetwynd, Chetwynd & Spector, 2003; Gupta, Davoodi & Terme, 1998; Banerjee, Benabou & Mookherjee, 2006; Chillarige, 2007). Researchers highlight the distributional consequences of corruption’s relationship to perpetuating unequal distribution of asset ownership and access to education; pointing out that corruption contributes to poverty and inequality through its impact on factor endowments and factor ownership (Gupta, Davoodi & Terme, 1998). While this research may serve to validate the corruption-causes-poverty narrative and corresponding policy package promoted by the international community, it is unforgivably remiss in its failure to connect the growing incidence of corruption to the larger context. That is, poverty and inequality continue to rise as a result of the global neoliberal policy framework, which is blatantly at fault for the major distortions of the same skewed factor endowments and ownership that these researchers rightfully attribute as the creators of poverty and inequality.
It is now a well established principle that governments cannot fight corruption alone and that neoliberal regimes actually actively "export" corruption into third world countries, as a part and parcel of their aid packages and actions of international corporations to penetrate the markets.
The private sector and civil society must be actively engaged in bringing to the light of such actions. But if the country subscribes to neoliberal doctrine, it is actually impossible to stop corrupt practices. National and local governments need carefully work with business and civil society to ensure that public procurements are conducted in a transparent and honest manner, but in reality public procurements is only part of the picture. The other part is that the lion share of foreign aid is stolen and is very quickly repatriated to western banks or wasted on projects detrimental to the country economic well being.
Many governments are also partnering with business and nongovernmental groups to enhance transparency in industries prone to corruption in order to avoid or at least limit western pushed "development projects" that just saddle countries with huge un-repayable debt. While effects are limited, these initiatives can help more efficient and effective use of public funds.
Private citizens and organizations can serve not only as watchdogs for government action, but they can also play a vital role in promoting integrity within their own spheres of influence. This principle has been enshrined in the U.N. Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC), the nearly universal — ratified by 158 countries and the European Union — and most comprehensive international anti-corruption treaty.
Weaker nations need a broad set of preventive and punitive measures, provisions for international corporations of obligatory return of all the proceeds of corruption. But first of all they need to tame their own neoliberal elite that serves as a fifth column of international corporations and ensure the flow of stolen money back to foreign banks.
In regards to the US spreading this neoliberal ideology around the world, Nile Bowie has a good article on the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement (TPP). The latter can be legitimately called a vast collection of corporate wet dreams rolled into one giant package. This obscenity was cooked up between corporate lobbyists & various corrupt congress stooges in backdoor meetings before being packaged and pushed across the world by US embassies & pressure groups. Nile Bowie gives a solid overview of what is currently known about it(Counterpunch, March 3, 2013):
Neoliberal Overload » CounterPunch Tells the Facts, Names the NamesOne of the least discussed and least reported issues is the Obama administration’s effort to bring the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement to the forefront, an oppressive plurilateral US-led free trade agreement currently being negotiated with several Pacific Rim countries. Six hundred US corporate advisors have negotiated and had input into the TPP, and the proposed draft text has not been made available to the public, the press or policymakers. The level of secrecy surrounding the agreements is unparalleled – paramilitary teams scatter outside the premise of each round of discussions while helicopters loom overhead – media outlets impose a near-total blackout of reportage on the subject and US Senator Ron Wyden, the Chair of the Congressional Committee with jurisdiction over TPP, was denied access to the negotiation texts. “The majority of Congress is being kept in the dark as to the substance of the TPP negotiations, while representatives of U.S. corporations — like Halliburton, Chevron, PhaRMA, Comcast and the Motion Picture Association of America — are being consulted and made privy to details of the agreement,” said Wyden, in a floor statement to Congress.
In addition to the United States, the countries participating in the negotiations include Australia, Brunei, Chile, Canada, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam. Japan has expressed its desire to become a negotiating partner, but not yet joined negotiation, partly due to public pressure to steer-clear. The TPP would impose punishing regulations that give multinational corporations unprecedented rights to demand taxpayer compensation for policies they think will undermine their expected future profits straight from the treasuries of participating nations – it would push the agenda of Big PhaRMA in the developing world to impose longer monopoly controls on drugs, drastically limiting access to affordable generic medications that people depend on. The TPP would undermine food safety by limiting labeling and forcing countries like the United States to import food that fails to meet its national safety standards, in addition to banning Buy America or Buy Local preferences
And here’s a couple of articles on the UK, that great paragon & lecturer of ‘good governance’ to the world, in particularly, Russia:
Eric Pickles, the Communities Secretary, today warned council chiefs not to resort to “under-the-counter pay-offs” to buy the silence of departing staff after it emerged nearly that up to 5,000 public servants have been granted severance payments in recent years, many involving gagging orders.According to freedom of information replies, more than 200 staff in Whitehall and 4,562 in local authorities had signed “compromise agreements”. The sums involved could be more than £400,000 for senior employees.
The Daily Telegraph puts the total cost of Whitehall severance payouts at £14m.
The figures emerged a month after the Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, outlawed the use of gagging orders which prevented NHS staff raising the alarm about poor patient care.
According to the Freedom of Information survey, 256 councils signed 4,562 compromise agreements with former staff between 2005 and 2010, most of which are understood to have included “gagging orders”.
Iain Duncan Smith dismissed demands for him to try to make ends meet on £53 a week as a "complete stunt" and insisted he had experienced life "on the breadline" as ministers confronted their critics over wider-ranging cuts to benefits.
The Work and Pensions Secretary was backed by the Chancellor George Osborne in arguing that welfare reforms were essential to helping recipients back into work and tackling Britain's previously burgeoning benefits bill. They believe the majority of voters - particularly lower-paid workers - back the Coalition's moves to trim welfare spending.
By last night almost 300,000 people had signed an online petition challenging Mr Duncan Smith to survive on £53 a week, or £7.57 a day, after he insisted he could "if I had to".
It was set up when David Bennett, a market trader, told BBC Radio 4 that the sum was all he had to live on after his housing benefit was cut - and Mr Duncan Smith responded by claiming he could manage on that amount.
[Jul 22, 2013] Peace and Conflict Monitor, Corruption 'Smoke and Mirrors' Symptom of a Diseased Neoliberal World Order
Corruption: 'Smoke and Mirrors' Symptom of a Diseased Neoliberal World Order
February 15, 2012
In critique of the corruption-causes-poverty narrative, Tara Ruttenberg exposes the international community's misguided attempts to combat poverty and inequality through the unfruitful anti-corruption policy agenda currently championed by leading development agencies.
In recent years, the international community has championed a development policy framework that emphasizes good governance and strengthening institutions to combat corruption, which they perceive to be a leading cause of poverty in the Global South. visual images Walden Bello (2010), the "world's leading no-nonsense revolutionary" has exposed this "corruption-causes-poverty narrative" for the sham that it is, rightfully redirecting the poverty debate back on track by stressing that neoliberal economic policies, not corruption, are to blame for the ill fate of the developing world. Following Walden's lead, and taking the neoliberalism-poverty-corruption conversation a step further, this paper argues that corruption must be seen as a direct symptom of a global neoliberal system that both promotes rent-seeking behavior and relies on it for its very survival. In the words of Douglas Dowd (2010), "If every thing has a price, every person has a price." And in a world driven by the exponential desire for things bred through capitalism and consumer culture, the system itself both requires and ensures that wealth creation and accumulation, by any means necessary, continue unabated. That said, why are we continuously shocked by individuals who seek profit by exploiting the system, when it is only a natural outcome of the system itself that they should be so inclined? After all, are they not the offspring of a neoliberal world order that exalts such rent-seeking behavior above all else, not least above the wellbeing of the vast majority of poor and marginalized populations who suffer the consequences? Must we label this corruption in order to blame and shame the ones who get caught and divert attention from the real issues lurking beneath the surface? Or is it time we reconsider the concept of corruption altogether by re-examining its systemic causes within the neoliberal world order?
These questions challenge us to examine corruption from both a systemic as well as moral perspective. Firstly, differentiating between the need versus greed motives behind acts of corruption tells of a two-fold systemic discrepancy; that is, between those who engage in needs-motivated corruption to fulfill their basic survival needs in instances where the system has been unable to provide, versus those who greedily exploit the system's loopholes for personal material gain above and beyond the satisfaction of their basic needs. Is it "right" to judge both motives as immoral and unjust, punishable by law? While both acts are considered corrupt from a legal standpoint – consider a poor, low-paid policeman accepting a bribe in order to afford groceries for his family (needs motive) versus a well-to-do municipal official pocketing government-allocated funds to make a down-payment on a new Mercedes (greed motive) – our challenge is to begin differentiating between the two in order to reframe the corruption debate within both a systemic and values-based framework. That is, wouldn't it be more reasonable to judge not the poor policeman who accepts the bribe, but rather the system itself as corrupt and immoral when it neglects and impoverishes large populations, leaving them unable to feed, house and clothe their families? Further, nepotism, or the favoring of relatives or friends in positions of power or material gain, might even be reconsidered as the most human face of corruption whereby exploiting the system to take care of loved ones can be seen as morally desirable instead of judged as perverse. On a larger scale, we are called upon to consider the ways in which our moral bias as a global human society has been diverted away from judging the inherent social ills created by the neoliberal world order through the same moral lens we use to judge, dishonor and punish acts labeled as corruption, when in fact the impact of the former (neoliberal policies) on poverty and inequality is much greater than the latter (corruption) (Bello, 2010).
As for the development policy implications of re-envisioning our understanding of corruption as an outcome of the system, and much to the dismay of today's global hegemons, the reality is that anti-corruption policy prescriptions will continue to be unsuccessful until they serve to redress corruption's root causes within a perverse neoliberal system, rather than attempting to treat its symptoms alone. Unfortunately, however, those in power and wealth care infinitely less about abolishing corruption than they do about maintaining the system that keeps them rich and powerful. After all, this would require a fundamental reprogramming of the way we as a global humanity understand our economic system and its inherently distortional impact on the vast majority of the world's population, including ourselves. This paper is a call for such introspection as a first step toward recognizing the social ills ingrained in the immoral system we have come to accept rather than challenge; celebrate when we should condemn. Only then may we begin to deconstruct a failed world order and reinvent a new socioeconomic framework that corrects for poverty and inequality while serving and strengthening the quality of life for all as opposed to the very, very select few.
The first section presents the mainstream policy understanding of the supposed links between corruption, poverty and inequality, juxtaposed against the unpalatable social implications of the larger neoliberal world order within which corruption is born and bred. The second section examines the moral-bias issue behind our programmed anti-corruption value judgments, forcing us to reexamine the way we perceive corruption and its position within the larger systemic context. Conclusions drawn from this work challenge the international community, policymakers and grassroots activists to shift their focus away from anti-corruption efforts and towards a comprehensive restructuring of the global socioeconomic order to treat the systemic causes of corruption, poverty and inequality, rather than attempting to bandage the symptoms of an increasingly diseased system.
Corruption: A Global Pandemic
According to the International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol), "corruption is any course of action or failure to act by individuals or organizations, public or private, in violation of law or trust for profit or gain''. This broad definition has been narrowed by anti-corruption policy expert Robert Klitgaard (2011), who defines corruption as the misuse of office for private ends; using public funds for yourself, your family, or close relations. He describes the propensity toward corruption as a formula of low risk, mild penalties and great rewards, whereby the corruption equation works as follows:Corruption = monopoly + discretion - accountability
Among other things, Klitgaard prescribes a policy solution framework that increases the risks of engaging in corruption, particularly by going after the "big fish" combined with systemic reform, good governance and transparency initiatives. These big fish he's talking about include government leaders across the globe, most notably those topping the corruption "lists of shame" publicized by anti-corruption organizations like Transparency International. According to their estimates, corruption absorbs $1.8 trillion world-wide, with $14.8 billion in Africa alone, equal to 25% of the entire continent's GDP (Transparency International, 2010; World Bank, 2004; World Bank, 2007). The ills of corruption have been treated like a global pandemic, perceived as "one of the world's greatest challenges" (Ouzounov, 2004, as cited in Stachowicz-Stanush, 2010), blamed for undermining social development and poverty alleviation, contributing to income inequality and "attacking the underprivileged population by benefiting a few people at the expenses of many cuts to social services like education, health care, affordable housing and public transportation" (Satchowicz-Stanush, 2010).
Similarly, corruption literature emphasizes the relationships between high levels of corruption, high income inequality and increased poverty (Chetwynd, Chetwynd & Spector, 2003; Gupta, Davoodi & Terme, 1998; Banerjee, Benabou & Mookherjee, 2006; Chillarige, 2007). Researchers highlight the distributional consequences of corruption's relationship to perpetuating unequal distribution of asset ownership and access to education; pointing out that corruption contributes to poverty and inequality through its impact on factor endowments and factor ownership (Gupta, Davoodi & Terme, 1998). While this research may serve to validate the corruption-causes-poverty narrative and corresponding policy package promoted by the international community, it is unforgivably remiss in its failure to connect the growing incidence of corruption to the larger context. That is, poverty and inequality continue to rise as a result of the global neoliberal policy framework, which is blatantly at fault for the major distortions of the same skewed factor endowments and ownership that these researchers rightfully attribute as the creators of poverty and inequality.
This points to the harder-to-swallow reality that corruption, while contributing marginally to these distortions as indicated in the research, is in fact itself an outcome of the neoliberal system, alongside this rising poverty and inequality, rather than their significant causal factor. In this light, blaming corruption as the cause of poverty and inequality is an entirely gross misunderstanding of a reality that ignores the Earth-sized elephant in the room. In other words, policymakers focus on corruption, which has conveniently been proven to marginally impact poverty and inequality, while failing to recognize the neoliberal system's causal role in exacerbating the social ills of corruption, poverty and inequality alike. As such, policy prescriptions like Klitgaard's that seek to harpoon the biggest fish in the sea of corruption will never reverse the growing trend of poverty and inequality when the biggest fish of them all, the corrupt neoliberal system, is still basking gloriously in the protected waters of its powerful keepers.
Most disturbing, however, is not the realization that neoliberal policies are the greatest contributor to poverty and inequality and that, resultantly, anti-corruption strategies will never solve the problem. In fact, this is actually old news when we read Marx, Chomsky, Dossani, Sader, Harvey, Klein, Stiglitz, Bello, Weisbrot, Dowd, and many other well-educated and informed economists and writers whose past and present deconstructions of capitalism and neoliberalism have voiced this concern for decades if not centuries. No, what's most disturbing is that no one is listening. The international community continues to turn the other cheek, investing time, money and energy in a development policy agenda coopted by the wealthy and powerful few whose vested interests require maintaining a class-based status quo they will defend at all costs. Where the international community could be making real progress to reduce poverty and inequality by listening to these authors and policy experts, they are instead misguiding the global policy agenda toward unfruitful ends. In the mean time, more and more people are broke, jobless, diseased, hungry, homeless, barefoot and dying.
Under Review: Misguided Moral Bias in the Corruption Conversation
Maintaining this unfruitful yet useful anti-corruption policy agenda requires engaging the moral heart-strings of an easily swayed global society; dismantling it, then, entails a fundamental re-moralization of how we understand corruption. First of all, we can agree that corruption is viewed through a moral lens, judged as unfair and unethical if not simply illegal – the equivalent of stealing from the poor (Alesina & Angelitos, 2005; Satchowicz-Stanush, 2010). "In developing and developed countries, people watch with frustration, cynicism and anger corrupt leaders amassing fortunes and enjoying a luxurious lifestyle while many are denied the most basic services" (United Nations, United Nations Development Programme, and Asian Development Bank, 2007, as cited in Satchowicz-Stanush, 2010). As a result, anti-corruption strategies increasingly top the development policy agenda, as the World Bank, IMF and the UN share in this understanding that eliminating corruption will help eradicate poverty, emphasizing that "the fight against corruption is therefore not only a building block for good governance and transparency in democratic societies, but also to poverty alleviation and true sustainable and social development" (United Nations, 2004, as cited in Stachowicz-Stanish, 2010).
Alesina and Angeletos (2005) write of the risk for public expenditures, particularly in developing countries, to be lost to corruption at the expense of the poor. Similarly, Transparency International reports on government leaders who have amassed outrageous wealth through illicit means, in the majority of cases channeling public funds into their private bank accounts. Names like Mohammed Suharto, former leader of Indonesia, Mobutu Sese Seko of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Alberto Fujimori of Peru, along with Libya's Muammar Gaddafi and Egypt's Hosni Mubarak present extreme cases, whose countries' poverty rates soared while their personal wealth skyrocketed into the hundreds of millions and multi-billions. Exposing these and other leaders successfully serves to arouse sentiments of shame, disdain and dishonor among the global public. We gasp at the sheer numbers on the page, incredulous in disbelief that an African, Asian or Latin American president could "steal" so much public wealth for private gain while the poor in his country suffer so terribly. Corruption has become a moral values issue, whereby we judge those whose incredible wealth has blood on its hands, in stark contrast with images of their countries' rampant poverty, widespread malnutrition and millions dying of hunger and disease. Perception has a narrow lens when it comes to corruption and its associated moral judgment.
Safe at home in their comfortable living rooms, middle and upper-class patrons mourn the loss of Steve Jobs of Apple fame, a billionaire innovator whose prosperous technological breakthroughs and marketing genius are a living model of why we can all still believe in the American Dream. Sure, we're aware that the production of cell phones contributes to environmental degradation through the extraction of copper, gold, palladium, silicon and other natural resources, requiring heavy energy output and water use, not to mention the well-known negative social impacts associated with the mining industry in developing countries, including human rights abuses, community displacement and water shortage. Furthermore, of relevance to our admiration for Steve Jobs, iPhone manufacturing in particular employs underage laborers in inhumane working conditions:
"On the other side of the world, a young girl is also swiping those screens. In fact, every day, during her 12+ hour shifts, six days a week, she repetitively swipes tens of thousands of them. She spends those hours inhaling n-hexane, a potent neurotoxin used to clean iPhone glass, because it dries a few seconds faster than a safe alternative. After just a few years on the line, she will be fired because the neurological damage from the n-hexane and the repetitive stress injuries to her wrists and hands make her unable to continue performing up to standard" (Sum of Us, 2011).
At the expense of these nameless workers, Steve Jobs and his corporate comrades have amassed incredible wealth and fame, and it is no exaggeration to say that throughout the US and Europe, populations mourned the loss of the decade's most admired technological innovator and his iEmpire; an empire built on some of neoliberalism's most prized economic strategies to the tune of labor outsourcing to developing countries irrespective of human rights standards, plus invasive, energy intensive mining practices to the detriment of community and environmental wellbeing.
How is it, then, that Jobs has come to be known as a celebrated tech icon while the "corrupt" leaders of Transparency International's lists of shame bear the burden of moral judgment, global shaming campaigns, jail time and legal retaliation? Why does our global moral lens not include those corporate billionaires whose wealth has also come at the expense of the poor? And what's more, these corporate billionaires' interests continue to be promoted and protected through Western governments and their powerful ownership of the international community, not least the World Bank, IMF, UN and WTO, the very same institutions in charge of global economics, poverty alleviation strategies and development initiatives across the developing world. With the fate of billions resting in the hands of these development agencies whose interests are controlled by the wealthy and powerful, the real prospects for poverty and inequality reduction are both dismal and terrifying.
Morally-speaking, Alesina and Angeletos (2005) present a perplexing conclusion requiring serious consideration, pointing to the heart of the matter concerning our value judgments on issues of fairness: societies consider inequality through rent-seeking and corruption more unfair than inequality resulting from productive effort and market competition, the pillars of a neoliberal economic framework. Why is it that we as a global society judge corruption as unethical and immoral, as "stealing from the poor" through its impact on poverty and inequality, while at the same time we continue to support a global economic framework that produces the very same social detriments? Why are "corrupt leaders" any more to blame for poverty and inequality than those who promote and impose on developing countries the policies of trade liberalization, privatization of enterprise, no state intervention, conditional loans and structural adjustment programs that have drastically increased income disparities and plunged millions of people into chronic poverty, unemployment, hunger, inhumane living conditions, and resultantly, death? As neoliberal policies and supporting power structures allow the rich to get richer, they do so at the expense of the poor whose already marginal share of wealth continues to diminish (Palma, 2011; Sutcliffe, 2005; Dowd, 2011) and whose meager hope for survival rests not in punishing leaders deemed corrupt, but through transforming the corrupt system itself and redistributing its wealth where it is needed most, dismantling the neoliberal world order by first recognizing it as the disease and then treating it as such. Instead, misguided corruption and anti-corruption efforts act as the smoke and mirrors diverting global attention away from the root causes of poverty and inequality, hijacking the hearts and minds of a morality-driven humanity and leading them to perceive corruption as the root of all evil, instead of understanding it as just another of the many symptoms of the neoliberal world order and the politics of power that ensure its survival. As long as our moral bias continues to turn a blind eye to the social ills of neoliberalism, this status quo will endure unabated with no hope for reducing poverty and inequality in the developing world.
This work has sought to demonstrate that in keeping with Western medicine's approach to illness, the international community's anti-corruption strategies treat the symptom of corruption rather than the cause; seeking to stifle the outcomes of a flawed system rather than rightfully treating it as the disease itself. The most significant conclusions relate to a re-conceptualization of our understanding of the corruption-causes-poverty narrative by calling for a re-moralization of the corruption debate within the larger systemic context of the neoliberal world order. Further, this forces a significant conclusion in the form of important questions: Why are we still relying on the international community as the arbiter of the global development policy agenda? If it is not in their interests to ever admit that neoliberal policies are the cause of poverty and inequality and therefore make the necessary changes to the global economic framework, why should we believe that they will ever do what is necessary to combat poverty and inequality? It is time we consider alternatives to the international financial and multilateral governmental institutions currently responsible for the fate of the poor so that we may begin making the changes necessary to reverse the growing trends of poverty and inequality across the globe.
 In the words of Naomi Klein, author of Shock Doctrine.
Alesina, A. & Angeletos, G. (2005). Corruption, inequality and fairness. Journal of Monetary Economics 52 (2005): 1227-1244. United States: Elsevier B.V.
Banarjee, A., Benabou, R. & Mookherjee, D. (2006). Understanding Poverty. London: Oxford University Press.
Bello, W. (2010). Is Corruption the Cause? The Poverty Trap. Counterpunch, May 2010. Retrieved 13 February 2012 from http://www.tni.org/article/corruption-cause-poverty-trap.
Chetwynd, E., Chetwynd, F. & Spector, B. (2003). Corruption and Poverty: A Review of Recent Literature. Washington DC: Management Systems International
Chillarige, Y. (2007). Corruption and Poverty Alleviation: An Empirical Study. Singapore: Singapore Management University School of Economics and Social Sciences.
Dowd, D. (2011). Inequality and the Global Economic Crisis. New York: Pluto Press.
Gupta, S., Davoodi, H. & Alonso-Terme, R. (1998). Does Corruption Affect Income Inequality and Poverty? IMF Working Paper. International Monetary Fund Fiscal Affairs Department.
Klitgaard, R. (2011). Corruption and Poverty: Interview with Robert Klitgaard Part I. Asian Trends Monitoring, August 2011. Retrieved 13 February 2012 from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_4eVARvi7gU
Palma, G. (2011). Homogenous Middles vs. Heterogenous Tails, and the End of the 'Inverted-U': It's All About the Share of the Rich. Development and Change 42(1): 8-153. Institute of Social Studies. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing.
Stachowicz-Stanusch, A. (2010). Organizational Immunity to Corruption: Building Theoretical and Research Foundations. USA: Age Publishing.
Sum of Us. (2011). Apple: Make the iPhone 5 ethically. Retrieved 13 Feb, 2011 from http://sumofus.org/campaigns/ethical-iphone/?sub=taf
Sutcliffe, B. (2005). A Converging or Diverging World? United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs Working Paper No. 2, October, 2005. New York: UNDESA
Tara Ruttenberg is Assistant Editor for the Peace and Conflict Monitor and PhD Candidate in Peace Studies at the University of Bradford.
Russian corruption hypocrisy fair
The Kremlin Stooge
- yalensis says:
April 3, 2013 at 3:09 am
In KIROVLES news:
Navalny announced on his blog that his case will begin in court on April 17.
The case/hearing/trial, whatever it is, will take place in the "Leninski" regional court in the city of Kirov, he published the information about the court's hours and location:
I guess Navalny is hoping that his supporters will flock there to support him. Maybe they will, I don't know. If the trial was to take place in Moscow, he would probably get a lot of supporters, but Kirov is kind of out there in the boondocks.
- yalensis says:
April 3, 2013 at 3:43 am
Actual event: At a party commemmorating 20th anniversary of "Novaya Gazeta", dissident journalist Evgenia Markovna Albats had her iPad stolen from her purse. All of the people at the party were dissidents and Opps!
Based on this event, Lev Sh'aransky wrote this satirical piece in his blog:
- Everybody suspected that the Kremlin was behind this theft. By stealing Evgenia's iPad, the thieves have beheaded the entire Opposition.
- Others see the "invisible hand of the market" at work here, because the iPad passed into the hands of [somebody better equipped to own it].
- The Brighton Beach intelligentsia was roused into action. Freedom House quickly issued a grant to investigate the crime. A brainstorming session took place in the cafe "Matr'oshka". In the best tradition of Sherlock Holmes and Hercule Poirot, it was decided to organize a masked ball and recreate the scene of the crime.
Suspicion fell upon Mikhail Gorbachov, aka Mikhail the Liberator. It is known that Gorbachov is broke, having spent all of that Nobel Prize money that he won for dissolving the Evil Empire. So they wouldn't put it past him to expropriate somebody else's iPad. Under questioning, the former President of Mordor became nervous but swore by the State Department that he had not stolen the iPad.
- The Brighton Beach crowd then learned that none other than Lekhaim Navalny had received an invite to the masked ball. It is no secret that Evegenia Markovna is soft on the young Oppositionist, and Navalny was always her favorite protege. Eventually these two entered into an unnatural sexual union. Based on this, Navalny was able to get close to Albats and, when she wasn't looking, slipped the iPad out of the purse of his vaginal patron.
In this matter, the Brighton Beach intelligentsia solved the crime in a very brilliant manner.
- kirill says:
April 3, 2013 at 9:41 am
"Gazprom (OGZPY) is valued at less than $100 billion for the first time since 2009 as concern Vladimir Putin's natural gas producer is being mismanaged fuels a rout in its shares."
What a piece of excrement journalist. This Halia Pavliva sounds like a liberast with an axe to grind. Why is an article about the share prices of Gazprom yapping about Putin? This article utterly fails to make the case the that Gazprom is badly mismanaged. Stock prices are due to the perceptions of lemmings who think that the TI "Corruption Perceptions Index" is an objective metric of corruption in Russia and not a circular joke that claims Nigeria and Russia have similar corruption levels.
This article makes a non sequitur comparison to Ecopetrol of Columbia, which pays out 80% of its net income on dividends whereas Gazprom pays out 25%. Oversight has nothing to do with Gazprom's performance. It is the MSM generated hysteria about shale gas that is being used to pretend that Gazprom's production is no longer important. Soon everyone and his dog in NATO will be producing shale gas from their backyards and the era of "energy freedom" will be upon the self-anointed angels of humanity.
- Ken Macaulay says:
If you thought Cyprus was bad, the excellent Ellen Browne has an article of what is floating around in the US regarding bank defaults. No real surprises to anyone who has been following the ongoing neoliberal crusade, but Browne lays it out explicity.
Essentially, speculators in derivatives are now the senior insured creditors – everyone else is f*cked. No protection at all…
…"No exception is indicated for "insured deposits" in the US, meaning those under $250,000, the deposits we thought were protected by FDIC insurance. This can hardly be an oversight, since it is the FDIC that is issuing the directive…."
As to how much may have to be paid out to those "senior creditors" before anyone else gets a look in.
"…… Bank of America's holding company … held almost $75 trillion of derivatives at the end of June. ….
That compares with JPMorgan's deposit-taking entity, JPMorgan Chase Bank NA, which contained 99 percent of the New York-based firm's $79 trillion of notional derivatives, the OCC data show…."
As a number of previous looks into the books of BoA , if even their is even the slightest shock to the vast amount of tax payer money constantly flowing into to prop it up, it will collapse in a spectacular fashion. It ratio of non-performing loans is vast, its management is a farce, & lives in a bubble of short-sighted greed.
Total derivatives/CDS/& other financial instruments of the major US banks vastly outsize the world GDP by several orders of magnitude, let alone the US.
To say this won't end well really is the understatement of this century…
It can happen here – By Ellen Brown
In regards to the US spreading this neoliberal 'philosophy' around the world, Nile Bowie has a good article on the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement (TPP), a vast collection of corporate wet dreams rolled into one giant package, which I imagine most have heard a bit about here. This obscenity was cooked up between corporate lobbyists & various corrupt congress stooges in backdoor meetings before being packaged and pushed across the world by US embassies & pressure groups.
Bowie gives a solid update of what is currently known about it:
Neoliberal Overload – by NILE BOWIE
And here's a couple of articles on the UK, that great paragon & lecturer of 'good governance' to the world, & in particularly Russia:
Eric Pickles condemns 'under-the counter pay-offs' as £14m bill for gagging orders for 5,000 axed civil servants is revealed
It's a stunt! Iain Duncan Smith dismisses demands to live on £53 a week
Hopefully the whole lot of these scum end up being the first against the wall when the revolution finally comes…
(Hitchhikers reference, not marxist by the way)
- kirill says:
As one can tell from the reporting on Russian corruption in the western MSM, there is no actual evidence that it is grotesque in comparison to the holy west. It is obvious that it is nothing like in Nigeria and India so the TI corruption index can be flushed down the toilet. So a huge number of stories that invoke this index can be flushed as well. The rest fail miserably at quantifying Russian corruption. All I hear is brazen, foaming at the mouth inanity such as that the Sochi Olympics and the Russky Island bridge are 60-100% corruption. This is not quantification, this is a joke like the claim that Putin has billions of dollars worth of secret assets (supposedly Putin owns RossNeft, LOL). The same goes for ER and bureaucratic corruption, give us some numbers and real examples. Instead the western MSM spreads rumour and innuendo.
I will repeat what I have posted before, if Russian corruption is so bad then how come various public works projects get finished in reasonable periods of time and with budgets not ballooning by astronomical amounts. This is a global constraint on all corruption solutions (to use mathematical jargon). You can't have your cake and eat it too. I heard a complaint that some stadium in St. Petersburg is way over budget, but when I checked it was no worse than SkyDome (now Rogers Center) in Toronto, Canada. St. Petersburg and Moscow (and many other Russian cities) are building subway stations at a regular clip that I can only dream of in Canada. I see no evidence of public works projects taking forever to finish like in India. I have been there myself and can tell that highway and railway projects proceed at a glacial pace. (There are counter-examples such as subway construction in New Delhi, but that does not detract from my point). Since the TI index compares Russia to Nigeria, how about public works in Nigeria? They are much worse than in India.Reply
- Misha says:
April 3, 2013 at 11:21 am
Whataboutism alert concerning the JRL promoted Paul Goble::
- Ken Macaulay says:
From what I have been gathering, the 'Nationalists' of this stripe's base constituency has been steadily shrinking after it was 'discovered' that their popularity was massively overblown in importance in the first place. Don't see them factoring in the Kremlin's decisions much at all these days.Reply
- cartman says:
April 3, 2013 at 1:26 pm
Adding Patrice Lumumba to their total, MI6 seems to be in the lead in extrajudicial murders.Reply
- apc27 says:
April 3, 2013 at 10:03 pm
Mark Adomanis in his latest article makes an interesting point regarding Putin's decision to order all state employees to close down all of their foreign bank accounts. (Before Misha starts complaining about promotion of unworthy sources, no, I do not agree with Mark, nor do I really care about his article, but he raised the point I wish to mention and it would be wrong for me not to say where I got it from.)
Mark does not like the law because, if successful, it will naturally increase the power of the state vis-a-vis elites, since it would bring under state's influence something the elites hold most sacred - their own pockets. That would make it easier for the state to behave in an authoritative manner without being held to account.
That is all true.
The question is, HOW else could the struggle against corruption possibly succeed? The state must have the power to tell bureaucrats "stop stealing" AND get them to listen or… or there is simply no point to that struggle in the first place. Of course, Western countries have not only hard coercive methods to hold their bureaucrats in check, but also soft ones: civil conscience, traditions, legal ways of doing business. It took them decades and centuries to get there. How else, without the threat of harsh sanctions, could Russia even hope to embark on this road?
How could the fight against corruption even begin, without strengthening the role of the state vis-a-vis the elites?
I find this question interesting, because if Putin is being serious about lowering corruption, that is the future dynamic. He must find the way to get bureaucrats to listen, when he tells them to stop stealing. If he does finds such a way, he would automatically become more powerful. I can already see it: Putin fails to deal with corruption - he is a corrupt and failed autocrat. Putin succeeds in dealing with corruption - he is a bloody dictator, craving yet more power.
It would be funny if it wasn't so sad.Reply
- Misha says:
Overhyped is a more accurate characterization – with a follow-up note on how (for example) someone with a primary concentration in economics and demographics might not be so adept in others areas like the analysis of foreign policy, media, sports and historical issues.Reply
- Alexander Mercouris says:
You touch on a very serious point.
The Russian authorities constantly get criticised for their corruption or their tolerance of corruption. However whenever they take action to root out corruption, be it to arrest Khodorkovsky, or to try to arrest Berezovsky or Borodin, or to crack down on state officials owning foreign bank accounts, it always gets represented in the west as confirming the country's drift to authoritarianism and dictatorship. The fact the Russian people overwhelmingly support these moves seems to have no bearing on the issue.Reply
- apc27 says:
The way these actions are twisted in the media is incredibly annoying, but a more fundamental question is of greater interest to me. Is it at all possible for the Russian state to fight corruption, without becoming more powerful in the process? Adomanis, with all his complaints, acted as if there was. Yet, when I try to imagine such a scenario, nothing come to mind. Can anyone posting here think of a scenario where the corruption was lowered, yet state's influence remained the same?Reply
- yalensis says:
I can think of only one such scenario:
Jesus descends on a cloud to rule the world!
Bad, dishonest, crooked people are sent to Hell and punished.
Good, honest, decent people (like all of us) are rewarded with cash bonuses.
Jesus then rules forever. Although I suppose that could be spun as an increase in state power, since Jesus would be an absolute monarch. (No more elections.)
The Moscow Times' Latynina Blows Her Wheels Next Stop, Bellevue The Kremlin Stooge
December 1, 2012
yalensis says:To Alexander Mercouris:kirill
With your interest in commercial law, you might find some interest in reading above leaked email threads. In my initial (hasty) skimming, I buried the lead. Apparently the essence of the matter concerns this NGO's (USRF) shift to working with the Russian Arbitrage Court, that was set up to deal with issues arising from Russia's entry into WTO. The emails show what could be interpreted as efforts to corrupt Russian commercial judges with American money. The NGO hopes that they can continue to function in Russia (despite anti-NGO laws), due to their new connections with Russian commercial courts and judges. They hope to use bankrupty law as a wedge into the Russian system.
Fortunately, most of the leaked correspondence is in English. On Politrash blog, many of his readers cannot read English and are demanding that everything be translated into Russian for their convenience. One commenter demanded that U.S. State dept start to provide Russian translations of all their hacked emails – LOL!So much for the endlessly discussed "Russian" corruption. This modus operandi you describe is typical western colonial meddling around the world. Africa is a prime target of Shell and other corporations who buy up local influence through bribery and intimidation. Clearly it is not just the corporate boardrooms that initiate this activity and western regimes are fully complicit.
bulochnikov - О вреде чрезмерной борьбы с коррупцией и надо ли давить танком борцунов с оной.
О вреде чрезмерной борьбы с коррупцией и надо ли давить танком борцунов с оной.
Какой то придурок из политологов написал, что надо всех борцов с коррупцией собрать на одной площади и задавить танком. Чем вызвал массовое возмущение свободолюбивой общественности.
Ну, всё таки танком их давить, это как то уж слишком!
Но конъюнктурный характер борьбы с коррупцией борцунов с антинародным режимом очевиден. Типа, раз есть коррупция, да здравствует революция! Типа, раз есть перхоть – всех пархатых на гильотину!
Давайте рассмотрим: так ли уж вредна коррупция?
Вы знаете, какая была самая коррумпированная страна в Европе с 15го по 20й век?
Там совершенно официально продавали и покупали офицерские и чиновничьи звания.
Покупались лицензии на пиратство в водах мирового океана. А Ост и Вест индийские компании имели собственные суды, тюрьмы, полицию и армию. Наши олигархи даже в допутинский период и мечтать о таких привилегиях не могли.
А вы знаете, какая страна в этот же период в Европе вела самую бескомпромиссную борьбу с коррупцией?
Там каждый год публично казнили визирей – крупных чиновников. В основном за коррупцию. В Турции султаны искоренили все наследственные привилегии, искоренив аристократию. Монархия в Турции была, а аристократии не было. Все визири и эмиры (генералы) были выходцы из простых солдат и чиновников, которые дослужились.
И каков результат?
Турция впала в застой, а Англия развилась до мировой империи.
И сейчас в наиболее быстро развивающихся странах – самый большой уровень коррупции.
Можно сказать, наблюдается прямо пропорциональная зависимость скорости развития страны от уровня коррупции.
Есть исключения среди так называемых "несостоявшихся государств", но в целом тенденция бесспорна.
В чём причина?
А в том, что законы, в силу особенностей их принятия, штука довольно консервативная. А по другому и быть не может. Закон, меняющийся каждый месяц, это уже не закон, а нечто иное. Про обычаи народа и властей и неписанные законы я и не говорю. Те не меняются веками.
Таким образом, быстрое развитие входит в противоречие с консервативной правовой системой.
И решаются эти противоречия коррупцией.
Почему коррупцией, а не взаимной кротостью и уступчивостью субъектов экономической деятельности и госуправления?
А потому, что быстроразвивающаяся страна развивается прежде всего экономически. И нужен экономический, а никакой другой критерий необходимости закрыть глаза на устаревший закон с целью отбора экономических проектов, ради которых и стоит пойти на нарушение закона.
Критерий простой: кто больше занесёт, тому и нужнее. И тот проект полезнее для общества. Потому, что даёт больше денег. Значит рентабельней.
Что будет, если искоренить всю коррупцию? А экономика впадёт в застой.
Представим: изобрели новый источник электроэнергии – атомную электростанцию. Которая, не смотря на свою потенциальную опасность, гораздо чище тепловых электростанций, которые являются одним из основных загрязнителей планеты. Компания хочет её построить. Крупный чиновник или политик должен или разрешить, или запретить строительство.
Что будет, если он разрешит?
А то, что он получит влиятельных врагов в лице угольных и нефтяных магнатов – конкурентов атомной отрасли, экологических организаций и запуганного ими всеми населения. Которое хочет, чтобы было дешёвое электричество, но чтобы станция располагалась не рядом с ними, а рядом с кем нибудь другим, кто живёт подальше от них.
И каков будет результат? Чиновник или политик в результате данного им разрешения, получит влиятельных и многочисленных противников и как следствие, скорый и неизбежный конец своей карьеры.
Должен же он за это получить достойную компенсацию?
Какой то американский железнодорожный магнат 19 века сказал на слушаниях в конгрессе относительно коррупции: "Это Моисей и другие законники выдумал всякие правила. Но при Моисее не было железных дорог. Именно поэтому он и водил 40 лет свой народ по пустыне. Я не представляю, как можно проложить железную дорогу, не давая деньги властям разного уровня и никого не запугивая".
И действительно, как не проложи дорогу, всё равно кто-то останется недовольным. Или потому, что его земли дорогой разрезали надвое, или потому, что дорогу проложили слишком далеко от его земли. (Вспомните про Химкинский лес!)
Если бы не было коррупции, до сих пор ходили бы пешком, как при Моисее.
Все наши чиновники вслух все против коррупции и за торжество закона, а шёпотом говорят, что если делать всё по закону, будет ещё хуже.
Мне кажется, они правы.
Вот Саакашвили сильно снизил уровень коррупции ранее очень коррумпированной Грузии. Так многие грузинские бизнесмены говорят, что стало хуже: там, где раньше всё решалось за час задушевного разговора за шашлычком с хванчкарой, сейчас требует больших денег на юридическое обеспечение сделки. И то велики риски. Да и нужные бумаги не подписываются годами. Правда, баба Лера с Илларионовым очень довольны. Везде пропагандируют.
Кстати, к чести наших силовиков, (и всего населения) все попытки подбить их на мятеж под предлогом того, что в стране есть коррупция, не дают результата.
И правильно: служивое сословие всегда служило "Богу, царю и отечеству" не спрашивая: "А тому ли богу мы служим? А достоин ли царь нашего служения? А не сменить ли нам отечество?"
Вы что, думаете, в Российской Империи мало крали?
Кстати, Суворов был ещё тот коррупционер. (И не он один). Суворов, в частности, всех прослуживших 10 лет и привыкших к дисциплине солдат, и при этом отличавшихся отменными физическими качествами, комиссовал от службы и записывал себе в крепостные. А баб, как более дешёвых, прикупал из денег, украденных на содержание вверенной под его командование армии. В результате к концу службы Суворов превратился из мелкопоместного дворянчика в крепостника с десятками тысяч душ. Причём, каких! Чудо - богатыри!
Может, кто то думает, что в США ненет коррупции?
Кто так думает, пусть вспомнит недавний случай, когда одному президенту банка, который довёл свой банк до банкротства, чем лишил пенсий несколько сот тысяч вкладчиков пенсионных фондов, не считая потерянных капиталов простых держателей депозитов, выплатили $160 000 000 только за то, чтобы он добровольно написал заявление об уходе на пенсию.
Это что, не коррупция?
Ещё какая! Наши казнокрады по стольку пока не воруют.
Причём, наши казнокрады и взяточники хотя бы понимают, что они преступники, а этот президент амербанка наверняка считает себя добропорядочным гражданином. Потому как коррупционер в законе.
Лучше бы он просто крал и взятки брал, нарушая закон. Может быть, замучила бы его совесть на старости лет, и он хоть церкву бы построил в родном селе во имя спасения своей насквозь прогнившей души.
Кстати: рейтинги коррупции, которые составляют всякие забугорные агентства и по которым в РФ коррупция на уровне Зимбабве и Сомали, на самом деле не рейтинги коррупции, а рейтинги недовольства населением уровнем коррупции. И определялись сии полезные рейтинги путём опроса прохожих об том, насколько их возмущает уровень коррупции в их стране.
И если в Узбекистане население считает коррупцию естественной и не возмущается, значит по этим рейтингам и коррупции в стране нет.
On the Poor Definition and Measurement of Corruption
July 12, 2013
Sadly, we've entered into a world where the word "corruption" has become inadequate to describe the many and varied practices of profitable abuse by the powerful and connected of their inferiors. Like the popular (and sadly apocryphal) accounts Inuit with their numerous words for "snow," we need more refined and granular terminology to describe various types of corruption. Hugh uses "kleptocracy" but that's a name for a system of governance, not particular behaviors within that system.
I'm reluctant to make an object lesson of a large scale and, within its limits, well researched report by Transparency International (see end of the post for the full report). It surveyed 114,000 people in 107 countries. The study concluded that corruption had risen in most countries since its last poll two years earlier (the countries reporting a fall in corruption were Belgium, Cambodia, Georgia, Rwanda, Serbia, Taiwan). On a scale of one to five, with one indicating corruption was not a problem at all and five signifying a very serious problem, the average response across all countries was 4.1.
Yet how did the survey define corruption? In practice, they only asked about two types of behavior: bribes and "when decisions to allocate public resources are distorted by money, power, access, or some combination of the above." So in cruder terms, it's pilfering of the public purse. But even then, the survey didn't hone in crisply on the issue (for instance, question 3 was "In your dealings with the public sector, how important are personal contacts and/or relationships to get things done" and question 4 was "To what extent is the country's government run by a few big interests looking out for themselves?").
Now in fairness, these questions might be taken as reasonable proxies for corruption. But the focus of the report on bribery, which is a big issue in many countries (over 1/4 of the respondents reported paying a bribe in the previous year, including 7% of the people surveyed in the US, 5% in the UK, 5% in Italy, 7% in Switzerland (?). France and Germany appear to have been exempted from this survey.
The problem is that this model of corruption implicit in this survey appears to be a developing country model of corruption, in which you can have abusive local headmen running towns of local offices as personal sinecures, and various levels of organized crime either controlling certain services or competing with government in providing "protection" (not that we don't have that happening in advanced economies too, but we see it as an anomaly). But in the US, we have institutionalized corruption, and it includes form that don't even register on the Transparency list.
To name some:
1. The revolving door, which leads to outcomes like regulations not being rigorously enforced or wink-and-nodding through rent-extraction mechanisms being waved in during rulemaking. This isn't a budgetary allocation, which is what Transparency worries about, but it's often more valuable.
2. The erosion of property rights. If you can't have your property rights upheld in court, you effectively don't have property rights. Homebuyers learned in the bust that if they have a mortgage on their house, their ownership rights are in fact seriously qualified even if you pay your mortgage on time. The media has reported on cases where homes with paid off mortgages have been foreclosed upon, or where servicers have refused to correct errors in their records, or similarly sent back validly submitted, timely payment and proceeded to foreclose. I have a colleague, an attorney and securitization expert, who says 10 years ago he had a problem with a servicer where he sent in two months payment while on vacation and was sure to space them out a little. Even so, two were credited to one month and the following month was treated as a missed payment. He was able to get it straightened out (with some damage to his credit report) but he says if that happened now, he is certain he would have been foreclosed on.
And how about being compelled to enter into one-sided contracts? You can't participate in society without having a credit card (if you have a job that requires travel, your employer will expect you to buy airfare and rent cars). How about a cell phone contract (you can semi opt out with a more costly prepaid phone).
And it isn't just small fry that are getting the short end of the stick. Investors in mortgage backed securities effectively had no ability to get courts to enforce their rights. Servicers have been systematically looting MBS via refusing to do modifications and via excessive charges of every variety imaginable (the few investors who have tried suing have had very little in the way of success; the big exception is bond guarantors, whose had stronger rights to pursue certain types of litigation than mortgage bond investors). Similarly, the business press relentlessly spouts the myth of shareholder democracy when the academic literature describes public companies as a classic principal-agent problem (as in the principal, meaning shareholders, can't adequately control their agent, so the agent does what is best for him, not for his nominal principal).
3. Government authority used to promote corporate interests at the expense of individuals, vitiating the right of free speech and peaceable assembly. I'm sure readers can add to this list, but here are some starters:
Government crackdowns on protests and surveillance of protestors, even when the issues at stake are still in play politically (Keystone is a classic example, or the criminalization of photographing of factories and labs where suspected animal abuse takes place). Remember the Bank of America chalk case?
Overzealous enforcement of intellectual property rights (Aaron Swartz is the case study here)
Despite the fact that their questions do allow for the idea of an oligarchical takeover of government, their remedies still assume the public has some sway. Transparency has a chipper section at the end where they say 2/3 of the respondents believe "ordinary people can make a difference" and 87% of the respondents say they'd be willing to "get involved" (I have to tell you, having done survey research, that this sort of question will elicit unrepresentatively positive responses. People are much more willing to say they'll do something than actually do it). But how much do you think these types of action will move the needle in the US or other advanced economies?
People in the US still shop at Walmart, for instance, and predictably, the measure most Americans said they'd take, signing a petition, is the least effective.
Perhaps I'm being too cynical, but there is a failure to recognize that the fish here are rotting at the head. Whistleblowers, even with whistleblower protections a matter of the law, are as a matter of course fired on trumped-up charges. Their concerns typically are either ignored entirely or are treated by management as an warning to tidy up the records. Overwhelmingly, large companies view performance as paramount and don't ask many questions of a manager or executive who delivers the goods. I've seen multiple examples of people who engaged in questionable conduct at Goldman and McKinsey back in the 1980s when both were seen as models of well managed, upstanding firms and the general standards for behavior were much more stringent than now. Looting and abuse have become pervasive and the only questions now seem to be of degree, not of kind.
At a minimum, I hope readers will help come up with more exact codification of the various flavors of corruption. Orwell was correct to focus on the debasement of language an important tool in subjugating a population. Confucius focused on exact terminology as critical to running a state well:
If names be not correct, language is not in accordance with the truth of things. If language be not in accordance with the truth of things, affairs cannot be conducted successfully. When affairs cannot be conducted successfully, propriety will not flourish. When propriety does not flourish, punishments will not be properly meted out. When punishments are not properly meted out, the people will not know how to conduct themselves.
Or the more common recap of this discussion: The beginning of wisdom is to call things by their proper names. We need to take our language back.
Transparency International's 2013 Global Corruption Barometer
57 Comments " Links to this post
July 12, 2013 at 5:05 amSkeptic says:
G4S faces fraud investigation over tagging contracts
this type of corruption… "He has also taken action within the justice ministry after disclosing that his own officials became aware in a limited way of some of the problems in 2008 but failed to take adequate steps to address them."
also includes Serco which I believe is the company behind Obamacare!jake chase says:
July 12, 2013 at 6:11 am
Corruption and language. "Orwell was correct to focus on the debasement of language an important tool in subjugating a population."
Ireland and many other countries are great examples of this where the Occupiers knew that to destroy the local language was very important to their occupation. Even today, Ireland has its sell out, state RTE broadcaster to spout Elite propaganda.
Many kudos to NC for hitting on the important facets of the Great Deterioration. Corruption and language are two important elements of this period and are little understood and poorly described by the language we use. NC really sees the Big Picture and how health, nutrition, agriculture, corruption, language, finance, etc. tie in. Many alternative sites see only their particular issue and fail to see the connections and commonalities.
The most obvious example is to call Holder's fiefdom The Department Of Justice. It is the exact opposite, The Department of Injustice (and Intimidation). Another obvious one, Department of Defense. USMC General Smedley Butler even wrote a whole book on this one and called it WAR IS A RACKET. So War Racket would be a good descriptive term for what we actually have. A USMC General twice decorated with the Congressional Medal of Honor should know!
Another obvious one is Home Ownership. In the vast majority of cases, it is Home Debtorship. Simple enough. Or how about Froud Stamps. Food Stamps, as they call them, are not about either Food or Nutrition but Fraud in Food. Another one is Infernal Combustion Engine.
Maybe some enterprising blogger or alternative institution might consider setting up a site as a clearinghouse for a new language, the Language of The Occupation. Victims of the Elite could contribute their own creations to such a language. For instance, who better to describe the language of Foreclosure or our Industrial Prison System than its victims and inmates? If you are not already a victim, you soon will be so start describing it in your own terms, not Theirs.
As for corruption, the US must be the most corrupt country with the trillions stolen domestically and internationally. Then there are all the War Crimes and Racket. US number one!July 12, 2013 at 9:42 amBanger
Nice writing job, but I think it nearly useless to ferret out subspecies of corruption in an effort to evaluate the American system.
We have a government operated for the exclusive benefit of large corporate interests. Every large corporation is operated from the exclusive benefit of its top executives. The actual passage and massaging of laws and rules is dictated by corporate interests, and corporation designated appointees handle implementation of the rules during lackluster sojurns from their business engagements.
Individual people sink or swim in this cess pool, and the only protection available to any of them is whatever money they manage to accumulate. Show me a person who expects to be protected by law or have his interests advanced by any State or Federal Government or Department or Agency. You'd have far less trouble producing a dog with three heads.
What these Departments and Agencies actually do is systematically oppress helpless individuals ensnared in an endless array of traps for the unwary.July 12, 2013 at 12:21 pmsgt_doom
Certainly looks that way.July 12, 2013 at 1:53 pmBanger
jc again makes come very cogent points!
And if I recall correctly, Transparency Int'l was originally financed/founded by the banksters (Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, et al., the usual suspects).
Corruption is simple; if it benefits the super-rich to the exclusion, and frequent mortality, of everyone else, that be corruption to the max!
With the fix in for LIBOR, interest rate swap ratings, currency exchange fixed, oil/energy prices fixed, financial manipulation through naked swaps, naked shorting of virtual stocks through the DTCC's Stock Borrow Program, and the fact that the banksters/oil companies own all the financial exchanges and clearinghouses (just check on the interlocking ownership of ICE, or InterContinental Exchange, the NYSE, the DTCC, etc., etc., etc.), everyone sure does appear rigged to this humble soul.David Lentini
July 12, 2013 at 12:39 pm
Indeed this ability to understand the grammar of modern power-relations is essential and, frankly, avoided by the American left as if it was a carrier of the plague. The issue is that the left tends to accept the mainstream narrative almost completely.
The first thing to do is to deconstruct the media narrative which is largely false. It is no accident that the American populace is dazed and confused–it is a deliberate project by the mainstream media/PR nexus.July 12, 2013 at 6:46 amBanger says:
I think the real problem is an underlying shift in culture fron one based on some sense of justice, i.e., ethics to which all are subject, to one based on power. We have become a Thrasymachian society, to borrow from Plato's Repblic, in which whatever benefits the stronger is just. Or more recently, it's the ethics of Ayn Rand.
In the Thrasymachian (Randian) world, property rights, governmental corruption, corporate theft all become meaningless: if it benefits the stronger party, it's just. Since modern economics places consumption, and therefore wealth, as the greatest good, the rich can do what they want. Just look at the writings of Richard Posner and others in the "Law and Economics" crowd-parties can pretty much do what they want, so long as there is "economic benefit".
Ironically, as Hannah Arent noted, the destruction of collective rights is ofen associated with a maturing of populist movements. She argued that political movements based on the rights of the masses often degenerate into individualistic movements that are ripe for transformation into fascism or corporatism. In a strage way, "left" and "right" have a way of meeting up. As Robert Maynard Hutchins noted, "In a contest between Hitler and people who are wondering whey they shouldn't be Hitlers, the finished product is bound to win."
The real problem is to move culture away from a myopic focus on economics to politics. We need to keep everyone (or the majority) focused on the values and behaviors that define democracy: justice, truth, and freedom. When we move away from that triad-especially worshipping freedom blindly-we weaken our commitment to democracy and drift toward tyranny.
We're alomst there now.July 12, 2013 at 12:20 pmsgt_doom
In fact, the focus on economics is an example of how the system uses misdirection. Essentially there is no such thing as economics as separate from politics–it is a subset, and a minor one, of politics, i.e. it is the chief way of allocating power. You are powerful to the degree you have money not a bad political system as a system but it is a political system first and foremost.
When the system features "economics" it neutralizes politics–the misdirection is that people are all looking at the economic system to give them something while the real players are stealing from them because they know the score.July 12, 2013 at 1:55 pmNicola
I forget the man who said this (a great Jewish-American thinker and popularizer of Thorstein Veblen), but economics is basically the institutionalization of the excuse as to the existence of inequality; why some are born with everything and most are born with nothing!Reply They didn't leave me a choice says:
July 12, 2013 at 6:47 am
I wonder, is there any academic material on classification and categorisation of corruption in its plethora of forms? It would be highly interesting to move this discussion rapidly away from "mere" anecdotes (as if those didn't matter to the people who suffer) and into the realm of wide understanding.Brooklin Bridge
July 12, 2013 at 3:42 pm
BeyondIntractability has a lot of academic and other research on corruption http://ow.ly/mUMEj, in particular corporate corruption http://www.beyondintractability.org/citations/26047 and political corruption http://www.beyondintractability.org/citations/26339July 12, 2013 at 8:13 amEleanor says:
A possible mistake in first line: Sadly, we've entered into a
wordworld(?) where…July 12, 2013 at 8:19 amMoneta says:
Love the quote from Confucius. I've known it for decades, but this post makes the meaning of "rectification of names" clear. Another way to say it is "call a spade a spade." But in this situation we don't have an adequate vocabulary for all the kinds of spades/corruption we are seeing.July 12, 2013 at 8:33 amF. Beard says:
IMO, the root of the problem is wanton money printing ant TBTF.
The reason why you tax is to redistribute. When people pay taxes they get implicated.
The reason why you want to limit deficits is because it forces the population to evaluate what it really wants and use its resources efficiently.
The only country in the world that can generate deficits without quickly getting penalized is the US because it has the reserve currency.
But as we can see this position comes at a price. These deficits mean that there is no need for America to evaluate the merits of projects. If it lacks resources, it will just get another country's resources by printing. This means that everything in its economy is misevaluated because there is no need to do it. Since taxes have been going down and the deficits are supported by money printing, this means the population is completely disconnected from the nation's finances.
The US system is disenfranchising the people. It can probably keep on doing this for quite a while but it will hit a wall. The 1% will end up suffering because even they are out to lunch, have no clue and are out of control.
One example… while the real estate bubble was expanding, there could have been more investment in the court system. With a zero deficit policy this would have limited the bubble because building courts would have sucked money out of the real estate industry. With a deficit policy, you would have gotten even more growth because more than 1 sector would have seen soaring. But since taxes have been coming down, the court system is probably seen as a cost and economies of scale meant more population per court was a good efficient thing.
But too small is not good and too big is not any better. Our systems have gotten too big for he people and they are still getting bigger. If we had 100 companies instead of 1, there would be more middle class. Therefore, the economies of scale efficiencies are killing us.
Easy money promotes finance and its ensuing M&A that leads to jumbo firms. Without TBTF policies, firms outgrowing their optimal size would be forced to break up, creating more jobs.
IMO, all the other problems are derivatives of money printing and TBTF policies. But it will probably get worse because austerity will not work and we'll start printing again without fixing anything.July 12, 2013 at 8:53 amMoneta says:
With a zero deficit policy this would have limited the bubble because building courts would have sucked money out of the real estate industry. Moneta
Nope. Don't forget that the Fed creates reserves as needed to support credit creation by the banking cartel. How about we eliminate that "money printing", hmm?
And even raising interest rates might not work during the boom because speculators profit off the spread between what they can buy at and what they can sell at. Moreover, interest rate manipulation is a very blunt tool and is likely to damage non-speculators too.July 12, 2013 at 9:10 amF. Beard
zero deficits policies are a constraint or else they would not take them away.July 12, 2013 at 10:10 amwashunate
Zero deficits are NOT good since deficit spending by the monetary sovereign is where new fiat comes from and some money creation is good.
What next? Are you going to suggest we return to a gold standard?F. Beard
July 12, 2013 at 10:28 am
I would counter that money creation is amoral (at modest levels). It is neither good nor bad. The value judgment is in its distribution.wunsacon
July 12, 2013 at 2:03 pm
Given that the government-backed credit cartel DRIVES people into debt, the government has a moral IMPERATIVE to at least provide the INTEREST needed!!!F. Beard
July 12, 2013 at 12:16 pm
>> some money creation is good
In an electronic world where you can subdivide and where there are already trillions of electronically defined money, you no longer need to create more.
As for people hoarding capital, a progressive wealth tax would encourage them to spend it.Moneta
July 12, 2013 at 12:32 pm
The banks only create the principal for loans, not the interest, which, if it does not come from the banks as even more debt, must come from the monetary sovereign as deficit spending.
And, btw, debt-free money is possible with both fiat and common stock.
And Federal taxation does NOT discourage hoarding, it makes it even more lucrative by destroying money and thus increasing the value of what remains.Moneta
July 12, 2013 at 1:04 pm
I guess they are not good for the US because it stops them from consuming effortlessly.
Why waste time and energy analyzing and planning when it can print and plunder other countries while they sheepishly keep on devaluing their currency and depleting their assets to serve it?
IMO, MMT will work and will continue… until Wall-e comes to life.F. Beard
July 12, 2013 at 9:19 am
And BTW, my intent was essentially to show how economies of scale and a focus on cost reduction all in the name of efficiency is leading to M&A, Big Corp. and then to TBTF.
Kill TBTF and firms will be forced to get to a more human scale… spin-offs and more jobs over time. The problem is that in the short-term the restructuring from spin-offs and bankruptcies would entail more layoffs or a recession… but you know, we can't have one of those.Moneta
July 12, 2013 at 10:06 am
Economies of scale and efficiency are GOOD. The problem is that the profits thereof are not justly SHARED with the workers as they would be without the government-backed credit cartel.
"Kill TBTF …" Moneta
Of course. But one should do that according to principle. One such principle is that the monetary sovereign (e.g. US Treasury) ITSELF should provide a risk-free storage and transaction service for its fiat that makes no loans and pays no interest and NOT provide deposit insurance or a lender of last resort to the banks and credit unions.washunate
July 12, 2013 at 10:23 am
I never said economies of scale are bad. I just said that they can only reach a limit. When TBTF policies are instituted, chances are we've past that point.July 12, 2013 at 10:25 amMoneta
I think this position is too preoccupied with deficits. They just don't matter.
12 months is such an arbitrary and short time period that it's simply irrelevant.
What matters is how the money is spent, not whether cash flows net out to zero. The government doesn't even use GAAP based accrual accounting. It's a cash-basis reporting of revenue and expenses where the revenue (taxation) is completely unrelated to the expenses (spending). The government has an unlimited supply of the unit of measurement of the deficit (dollars).July 12, 2013 at 3:02 pmF. Beard
I agree 100% that the important factor is how the money is spent. But deficits do matter as long as we are not spending it properly.
Furthermore, if they matter for other countries, they matter for the USA. Why? Because our global financial/monetary systems are still based on measures that care about deficits.July 12, 2013 at 8:42 amsufferinsuccotash, stupor mundi
You can't participate in society without having a credit card (if you have a job that requires travel, your employer will expect you to buy airfare and rent cars). Yves Smith
Actually, a debit card will do. And the US should have a Postal Savings Service to provide those for all citizens.F. Beard
July 12, 2013 at 10:26 am
Um, that's exactly what we did have for more than half a century.
Note that one reason for scrapping the bank in the 60s was the enactment of reforms in the private banking industry. A century ago it seemed necessary to protect depositors from crooked and/or irresponsible banking institutions, especially customers of the socalled "immigrant banks" set up in big-city ethnic neighborhoods.
But thanks to tougher banking regulations, the PSB was–it appeared–no longer needed. Hoo Ha.diptherio
July 12, 2013 at 11:49 am
Thanks for the history lesson and a reminder that bank regulation is NOT the solution since it will eventually be repealed anyway.
I don't know why people still think that despite 317+ years of trying without success that central banking can be made to work properly.
Hint: A money system based on usury for stolen purchasing power CANNOT be made to work properly UNLESS God is mocked and He isn't.July 12, 2013 at 9:35 amwashunate
Here's what the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy has to say (in part):
In fact, corruption is exemplified by a very wide and diverse array of phenomena of which bribery is only one kind, and nepotism another. Paradigm cases of corruption include the following. The commissioner of taxation channels public monies into his personal bank account, thereby corrupting the public financial system. A political party secures a majority vote by arranging for ballot boxes to be stuffed with false voting papers, thereby corrupting the electoral process. A police officer fabricates evidence in order to secure convictions, thereby corrupting the judicial process. A number of doctors close ranks and refuse to testify against a colleague who they know has been negligent in relation to an unsuccessful surgical operation leading to loss of life; institutional accountability procedures are thereby undermined. A sports trainer provides the athletes he trains with banned substances in order to enhance their performance, thereby subverting the institutional rules laid down to ensure fair competition. It is self-evident that none of these corrupt actions are instances of bribery.
The wide diversity of corrupt actions has at least two further implications. Firstly, it implies that acts of institutional corruption as a class display a correspondingly large set of moral deficiencies. Certainly, most corrupt actions will be morally wrong, and morally wrong at least in part because they undermine morally legitimate institutions. However, since there are many and diverse offences at the core of corrupt actions, there will also be many and diverse moral deficiencies associated with different forms of corruption. Some acts of corruption will be moral deficient by virtue of involving deception, others by virtue of infringing a moral right to property, still others by virtue of infringing a principle of impartiality, and so on.
The article is long and probably worth reading in full (I haven't yet), but it doesn't quite seem to get to what Yves is asking for. More research is required.Susan the other says:
July 12, 2013 at 10:18 am
The good news is I think most Americans 'get it' that whatever particular language is utilized, something is wrong. Public opinion isn't driving public policy. Rather, the problem is that we haven't (yet) figured out how to translate public opinion into political action.
July 12, 2013 at 10:26 am
Contemplating the flavors of corruption. They were once much stronger. We are all thieves descended from even more savage thieves. So naturally, over the course of our "civilization" we have tried to mitigate the slaughter. With legal code. When you're bored surfing, go to your state government web site and browse your state statutes. It's as fun as reading the dictionary! Therein you can find a description of every naughty act ever tried by our justice system. But you will not find the guts to actually prosecute.Susan the otherJuly 12, 2013 at 10:38 amsufferinsuccotash, stupor mundi
We need a new certification. Like an organic food guarantee. Which nobody believes, but never mind. So far the only certification is for the felons – that somehow they will always be bailed out. So we need our own guarantee of a bailout. It can't be based on being defrauded because the whole system is puffery. It could be based on minimum expectations without fine print exceptions. And backed by the taxpayer, since the taxpayer backs everything else. That would at least level the playing field.July 12, 2013 at 10:40 amfrom Mexico
A must-read for anyone trying to make sense of what is miscalled "corruption" in the supposedly "developed" world.
July 12, 2013 at 11:16 am
From the book description:
The existential motive of all oligarchs is wealth defense… Moreover, the rule of law problem in many societies is a matter of taming oligarchs.
It sounds like the author is deeply into materialist territory, along with folks like Machiavelli, Hobbes, Bernard Mandeville, Adam Smith, Michael Parenti and C. Wright Mills.
Some days I'm in that camp, but other times I find myself drawn to the more spiritualist theorizing of folks like Immanuel Kant, Reinhold Niebuhr, Hannah Arendt, and Joan Silk.Phrase says:
July 12, 2013 at 12:08 pm
Both are camps are valuable, really. When I think about politics I think in Machiavellian and systems analysis terms. Why? Because it always works with only very minor exceptions.
Having said that the materialist perspective offers us nothing in terms of solutions only more of the same with different characters and a slightly different dynamic. What offers us a possibility of real change, particularly in this historical period, is spirituality–which I might define differently.
July 12, 2013 at 1:29 pm
@ from Mexico
"Some days I'm in that camp, but other times I find myself drawn to the more spiritualist theorizing of folks like Immanuel Kant, Reinhold Niebuhr, Hannah Arendt, and Joan Silk."
I do appreciate Yves blog, and the above post. … However, sometimes i need to try to formulate a broader vision of the context within which such illegitimate, illegal, immoral actions move with such impunity.
Has civil society lost the ability to imagine and entertain a vision of a time when the a real world context (pluralistic at that) , would mirror for ex., … Rene Forst's 'right to justification', … propelled by free safe investigative journalists given global distribution in the name of transparency, accountability, and that master-word, democracy ? … The case of Michael Hastings is truly alarming -- … And yet the disenfranchised are demonstrating even though public policy furthers elite global neoliberal agendas maintained by the manipulation of different fear factors.
But, the reason for my response was just to share the name , and the work of, a cultural anthropologist … Arjun Appadurai, "Modernity At Large: Cultural Dimensions of Globalization" (1996)
… " The new global cultural economy has to be seen as a complex, overlapping, disjunctive order that cannot any longer be understood in terms of existing center-periphery models (even those that might account for multiple centers and peripheries). Nor is it susceptible to simple models of push and pull (in terms of migration theory), or of surpluses and deficits (as in traditional models of balance of trade), or of consumers and producers (as in most neo-Marxist theories of development). Even the most complex and flexible theories of global development that have come out of the Marxist tradition (Amin 1980, Mandel 1978, Wallerstein 1974, Wolf 1982) are inadequately quirky and have failed to come to terms with what Scott Lash and John Urry have called disorganized capitalism ( 1987).The complexity of the current global economy has to do with certain fundamental disjunctures between economy, culture, and politics that we have only begun to theorize.'sgt_doom
I propose that an elementary framework for exploring such disjunctures is to look at the relationship among five dimensions of global cultural flows that can be termed (a) ethnoscapes, (b) mediascapes, (c) technoscapes, (d) financescapes, and (e) ideoscapes "
Arjun Appadurai's writings are a recent find for me. I am very interested in the idea that visual culture has replaced print culture. I'm still working my way from Deleuze's 'control society' of self-imposed censorship to a more current vision which Appadurai's ideas are currently shaping. … Imagination, and aspiration unlock transformative motivated energy in me. … best regards -- … phraseJuly 12, 2013 at 2:00 pmMoneta says:
Please never mention C. Wright Mills, a real fraudster and redirection specialist if there ever was one!
Ferdinand Lundberg, in his classic book, The Rich and the Super-Rich, makes a highly valid point about Mills when he points out that Mills completely ignored the most important socioeconomic study of that time, and probably still is, the TNEC study (Temporary National Economic Committee study, major parts of which are still confidential to this very day, and was the causal factor for the lawsuit brought against 17 investment houses of Wall Street [US Government v. Morgan et al.]).
Nor, I believe, does Mills ever mention any of the studies undertaken in congress by the greatest populist and Real American from Texas, Wright Patman.
July 12, 2013 at 11:29 am
You will notice that often the trees that grow the fastest to be the biggest have distinct characteristics:
- In time, they destroy and/or crowd out other trees.
- As a whole, they are usually OK in their early days but get uglier with time.
- They get uneven quickly. Some branches are so big they create an imbalance that is sure to get hit with a good storm. Some branches are fine and others rot away or have no leaves.
- They become prone to lightning and other ravages from storms
- They become full of parasites
- Their life expectancy is shortened because they suck up the minerals too quickly.
- They are the ones the builders plant and other impatient types.
Now guess which country we can compare this tree to…
So what kind of tree would you like to plant?BangerJuly 12, 2013 at 12:03 pmBanger s
Yves, sometimes you come up with some great articles that get to the heart of matters and this is one of them. This subject is very important and needs a lot of thought. The problem I have though is the question: what do we mean by corruption as a general idea? I'm not sure we can define it. The word itself comes from the Latin to destroy. So corruption is about destroying society and here I'm not sure we can say that the definitions you give actually destroys society.
I see things from a systems viewpoint. As I see it the system (which is society) actually works very well. All the things you cite here are things that contribute to the robust nature of the system. If you are familiar with Washington it bears a lot of resemblance to organized crime in a highly sophisticated way. There are operators, fixers, consiglieri, and even hit men along with the obvious actors covered in the mainstream media and all of them act to maintain the stability of the system. Each of them wax and wane in power depending on all kinds of external forces that they have, over time, learned to adapt to and game. Washington, from the point of view of Washington, works very well. And let's speak frankly here, even though the public is now pretty convinced that there's something very rotten in Denmark there is no real effective movement for reform or changing the system other than a strong nihilist component on the right that serves as an effective tool for the power-elite.
Even you, about as smart a commentator as we have on the internet, really has no clue on how to change things or what course to chart to move towards fundamental reform of the financial system that is pragmatic and not just a lot nice items on a bucket-list. Without thoroughly understanding the nature of this regime and how it enforces its will through various institutions including the entertainment industry and particularly the mainstream media we have no hope in countering the current system which remains, as we speak, utterly immune to real change.
Only by admitting our powerlessness can we begin to gain power first through knowledge (I think we are getting there) but very slowly–we still refuse to see the real lineaments of power in all its frightening aspects–you have to deconstruct everything, all the myths the state heaps on us through the various ways it has of manufacturing consent. I maintain that every issue we face from economics to external threats serve the function of controlling the public and have nothing to do with reality. This is easily discovered by the most elementary inquiry into the assumption of the mainstream narrative which crumbles into dust like the famous Wicked Witch scene in the Wizard of Oz.Moneta says:
July 12, 2013 at 1:11 pm
there is no real effective movement for reform or changing the system other than a strong nihilist component on the right that serves as an effective tool for the power-elite.
Action-reaction. Maybe that is the accelerant.July 12, 2013 at 2:25 pmUlysses
Ultimately I agree. The whole situation has a aura of perfection–it certainly is cool as a human artifact. Nihilism leads to major social realignment–it is fundamentally unstable and may well be the crack we are all waiting for.July 12, 2013 at 3:10 pmBanger
"The crack that we are all waiting for"– maybe. Certainly the corrupt elites have pretty much captured and neutralized all of the traditional methods of translating public outrage into meaningful political action. Here in the U.S., for example, participating in our two-party system (except in rare instances at the local level) is to maintain a kayfabe deception, cleverly supported by the MSM, that citizens actually have a meaningful "choice."
The notion that Dianne Feinstein and Mitch McConnell "oppose" each other on the senate floor is pure delusion. They both oppose the interests of most Americans, while steadfastly advancing the interests of the 0.01%
The MSM maintains an illusion of meaningful political dialogue by focusing on purely social issues, like gay marriage, that have no impact on the plutocrats' bottom line. Plutocrats like the Koch brothers, wasting billions on trying to stop gay marriage, only help to maintain this delusion.
We need to focus on identifying the handful of plutocrats who control the system, exposing their vulnerabilities, and toppling them from power. They won't respond to "political pressure," except to make the politicians they own do a better job of suppressing the righteous anger of the people.
David Hume was correct when he said in 1742: "For so great is the natural ambition of men that they are never satisfied with power; and if one order of men, by pursuing its own interest, can usurp upon every other order, it will certainly do so and render itself, as far as possible, absolute and uncontrollable."
The plutocrats' power in our present system is almost absolute and uncontrollable. We cannot reason with them, we cannot vote for better and less corrupt politicians to "reform" the present system. The present system is beyond reform. This doesn't mean that a constitutional republic couldn't be restored here in the U.S.– it simply means such a restoration will never happen as long as psychopaths like Jamie Dimon continue to walk free.July 12, 2013 at 4:09 pmUlysses
The genius of the American system was the idea of checks and balances, i.e., that any one faction would have to overcome considerable practical obstacles to establish and maintain control. The great thing is that, for the most part, it worked pretty well despite some periods of considerable larceny and schemes. But because the interests in the country varied greatly with locality and sector combinations were difficult to establish and maintain.
That balanced approached has been gamed–in my view the deal-breaker was the growth of the CIA and related institutions that operate beyond all the three branches of government as a practical affair. Now a unified coherent and very robust system is in place almost unassailable in its power. At the same time, the people are becoming more skeptical of the media and their governments. When the Boston incident, for example, happened several people expressed doubt about the official story–this is very unusual because the mainstream media suppresses all alternative views on all major issues. Where do these ideas come from? As this skepticism spreads the power of the State will diminish thus encouraging a skeptical view of the mainstream narrative is more essential than advocating for individual issues.July 12, 2013 at 4:47 pmLambert Strether
Excellent point! Challenging the MSM "narrative" is critical.July 12, 2013 at 3:20 pmBanger
Step one. But "powerlessness" over what?July 12, 2013 at 4:18 pmsublimejah
Powerlessness over the system as a whole–it is very robust and interconnected system at this point the result of thousands of efforts. We(by that I mean the community of dissidents) cannot intrude into the government; we have no voice and no power at present because we are unable to make any section of the system feel pain by our efforts and indeed we don't even have real community as, for example, the African American community had in maintaining the Montgomery bus boycott. The power-elite don't, right now, even need our support or consent–they can, in my view force almost anything down our throats using already established techniques. You know, if things get dicey, just create enemies and external threats.
As I've said many times, the essential work is to de-legitimize the system, question their version of reality and point out the fakery that is at the heart of our political discourse. Unless that is done rigorously at every chance we will remain powerless.July 12, 2013 at 1:27 pmHugh
"The original idea behind this volume was to examine only the Progressive Era, but Americans began grappling with corruption long before the 1890s.As it turns out, Progressive Era reformers and twenty-first-century economists think about corruption in a way that is, in one critical dimension, 180 degrees removed from the concept of corruption that prevailed until the mid-nineteenth century. The title of McCormick's essay, "The Discovery that Business Corrupts Politics," captures the essence of the modern concept of corruption, or, as Shleifer and Vishny define corruption, "the sale by government officials of government property for personal gain" (1993, p. 599)….
What I define as systematic corruption is both a concrete form of political behavior and an idea. In polities plagued with systematic corruption,a group of politicians deliberately create rents by limiting entry into valuable
economic activities, through grants of monopoly, restrictive corporate charters, tariffs, quotas, regulations, and the like. These rents bind the interests
of the recipients to the politicians who create them. The purpose is to build a coalition that can dominate the government. Manipulating the economy for political ends is systematic corruption. Systematic corruption
occurs when politics corrupts economics….
Title: The Concept of Systematic Corruption in American
Author: John Joseph Wallis
URL: http://www.nber.org/chapters/c9977July 12, 2013 at 1:27 pmJackrabbit
Lobbying and campaign finance are two forms of legalized bribery. Citizens United legalized political corruption for corporations and showed the complete corruption of the Supreme Court which decided it. Astroturfed political organizations, the manufacture of "popular consent", are another form of corruption in politics. The hiding of contributors to these and other groups gives cover to their corruption.
The media are corrupt, even a lot of the blogosphere is. It is all propaganda all the time, just segmented and tailored to different audiences of rubes.
Universities are corrupt. They no longer fulfill an educational mission rather they are purveyors of the status quo. They are corrupt in their corporate structure, in their alliances with other corporations, and in their foisting of debt on to their students.
Academia is corrupt. There is the whole publish or perish thing that results in most of academia's research product being worthless and useless. This is even before we get to the quack sciences like economics. Academic economics is completely corrupt. The dominant politico-economic system of our times is kleptocracy. Yet almost no academic economist will acknowledge it let alone make it central to their point of view.
The judicial system and the judiciary are corrupt. How else to explain our two-tiered justice system? The great criminals of our times, the largest frauds in human history, are not only not prosecuted, they are not even investigated. And how can anyone take the Supreme Court to be anything but corrupt? This is an institution that except for a couple of decades around the Warren Court has, for more than 200 years, always been on the side of the haves against the have-nots, for the powerful, against the powerless, pro-slavery, pro-segregation, and anti-worker. How can anyone take decisions like Bush v. Gore or Citizens United to be anything other than corrupt, politics dressed up as legal thinking?
In a kleptocracy, all the institutions, at least those controlled by the rich and elites, are put into the service of the kleptocrats to loot or justify and defend looting and the looters. So corruption is endemic and systemic.July 12, 2013 at 1:32 pmRamon Creager
A related question (and one that is more interested to me) is how the ground was prepared for today's corruption over the last 20+ years. Over that period, our society seems to have drunk a toxic cocktail of selfishness (consumerism/careerism/cronyism) and fear. Is it any wonder, then, that we now have a unhealthy respect for power along with (quelle surprise!) an abusive hierarchy/neo-aristocracy that claims legitimacy – with a straight face – through a transparently corrupt pay-to-play/vote-with-your-money faux democracy.July 12, 2013 at 2:17 pmBanger
Words to this crowd are maleable tools, and thus having a conversation with them is as meaningless as playing Scrabble with an opponent that has all blank tiles. Take Obama's 'transparency', for example. If Obama can say with a straight face that the super secret FISC is transparent, then the word has lost all meaning. You may think it means something; but to him it means "Don't worry, trust me." Or the abuse of the word 'relevant', of which redifinition into its opposite meaning "legally" allows the NSA to secretly spy on everyone's communications. Or the attempts to redefine 'journalist'. Or the redefinition of toxic carbon fuels as 'clean', to enable one to bless that which we should condemn (fracking, etc.). When this happens all pretense of good faith are gone; you have a better chance arguing with an adolescent. I don't know of a single word that describes this pervasive rot. Perhaps 'Orwellian'.
One thing that we could do is stop participating in this charade. Stop voting for Democrats because they are not Republicans, & vice-versa. Any attempt to fix this problem from within this thoroughly corrupt, rotted system is doomed to failure (thanks, Obama, you really drove that point home). Deny the institution its veneer of democratic legitimacy. That would be a start.July 12, 2013 at 4:22 pmJim
In general this is the right direction–but the focus ought to be on the single institution that allows this situation to persist, i.e., the mainstream media in which I include the entertainment media. They all need to be rigorously critiqued and challenged. They are the ones who are a conduit for the PR firms who represent the major corporate oligarchs and K Street hustlers.July 12, 2013 at 3:52 pmF. Beard
What combination of generosity and cruelty is necessary to take down a corrupt regime?
It seems like a difficult task to get that mixture right.
What roles do vengeance, anger, ressentment, selflessness and love have in this process?July 12, 2013 at 4:02 pmallcoppedout
"The beginning of wisdom is to call things by their proper names. " Yves Smith
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; a good understanding have all those who do His commandments; His praise endures forever. Psalm 111:10
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction. Proverbs 1:7
"The beginning of wisdom is: acquire wisdom; and with all your acquiring, get understanding. Proverbs 4:7
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. Proverbs 9:10
But yea, let's call the banks what they actually are – a government-backed usury for stolen purchasing power cartel. But that's not easy to do in our usury-soaked, credit-swilling so-called "society", is it? Unless one understand which side the Angels are on?July 12, 2013 at 4:41 pm
Susan has us all as thieves descended from more savage thieves. True – but we can do better. 2.5% of UK males between 16 and 64 will have been a high-rate offender at some time and a third of us get a List One conviction by 30. Having nicked a fair few ordinary criminals I'm pretty convinced we don't handle the stupidity and lack of opportunity plus mental illness of many of these at all fairly.
The goon my dog could outsmart who nicks your television to get a fix for his girlfriend (he takes your hoover from his mum too) eventually gets prison. The bank clerk who lies to you about PPI or just adds it to your loan account without asking gets her bonus – the same being true of the restaurant manager who recycles unfit food that gives you food poisoning. The list of petty corruption is very long and punishments and the way we deal with such very unfair long before we get to the mega-corrupt we knight for running banks.
Wittgenstein would want us to define corruption through our many uses of the term in its forms of life. I could nick 'Finn the tea-leaf' more or less at will, but no one has been arresting 'Brenda the bank clerk' en masse, or the poisoning floozie putting two-week out of date food in front of her customers to get her bonus for two week in Ibiza (two victims die in agony).
A key feature in Wittgenstein is that our enquiries create complexity even as we think we are unraveling the knots we think are the problem. I'd suggest our banks and many other sales outfits create a culture for corruption and law that ensures this cannot easily be regarded as criminal. I believe trying to define corruption is likely to miss what an established definition will do in the embedded confusions of practice unless we free practice from presupposes of its immensely manifold connections, regrouping the entire language (Big Typescript 423 – sort of).
Most of the law concerning our corporations, banks and politics has been written so as to be of no account to those who can cover their tracks and practice psychological rationalisation. Hardly surprising when our money system is designed to legalise theft. Our question marks are not in deep enough. Corruption is embedded in us by what is there to soak up in practice.
'Finn' doesn't do burglary dwelling these days. Instead he does borrowing from shops and other commercial premises – this is as a result of him weighing the likely penalties and risk of being caught. I am not sure Obama or Cameron do any more.
A Devastating Diatribe, May 31, 2003
It would be an understatement to say that author Haley does not like Lyndon Baines Johnson. And despite the fact that his book is an unrelenting tirade against all things Lyndon, it provides a useful service in reminding the reader of how Johnson trampled and double-crossed friend and foe alike in his single-minded lust for power.
I am fairly conservative politically, but I am open-minded enough to recognize and oppose corruption whether practiced by liberals or conservatives. In my lifetime, Johnson, Nixon, and Clinton have been shining examples of the worst impulses in American presidential politics in which greed and lust for either power or money ended up overshadowing any of their real achievements.
Haley shows that Johnson was a man of few real principles, neither liberal nor conservative, but rather a man who usually always wanted to know which way the wind was blowing before taking a stand on any important issue. Johnson was a man who used all his powers of persuasion and veiled threats to get what he wanted and woe unto anyone who stood in his way. He was a man who knew and used the old adage "It's not what you know, but who you know" to Machiavellian extremes. But he was also a man of sometimes great political courage who would rarely give an inch once he took a stand. He hated those who opposed him, nursed resentments, and wreaked revenge on those who crossed him in the least as most of his enemies and many of his friends learned to their sorrow. From the earliest days, he was involved with corrupt Texas politicians from the local to the state level and swam in the seas of corporate corruption with the likes of the infamous swindler Billy Sol Estes and others of his stripe.
Admittedly, the conservatism of the author is the conservatism of a bygone age and the reader will recognize that the book is meant to be a partisan attack on Johnson. Some of the attacks on Johnson are made solely for political reasons as Johnson was clever enough to outmaneuver Haley's ideological brothers and sisters. But Johnson surrounded himself with enough scummy characters and got involved in so many underhanded political AND business deals that he deserves the rough treatment given him in Haley's devastating diatribe.
No matter your political leanings, your eyes will be opened when you read A Texan Looks At Lyndon. The book is well-written and often riveting in its allegations and revelations, but it loses one star for occasional hysteria. If US or Texas politics interests you, then I highly recommend this.
You have been warned, July 31, 2000
Haley wrote this book (and published it himself) in 1964 basically as a campaign tract for Barry Goldwater. In the intervening years it has become a classic of its kind,a philippic, to use M.E. Bradford's term, tracing the illegitimate rise to power of Lyndon Baines Johnson. If you're politically naive, this book will grown hair on your chest. It's an unblinking, fearless portrait of Johnson's wheeling dealing and underhanded methods to achieve the power, prestige, and money he craved all his life. Haley names all the names and lays out facts and figures for the reader to make up his mind. And the reader winds up shaking his head in utter astonishment. The best part of the book is that detailing Johnson's eventual election to the U.S. Senate in a contest with former Gov. Coke Stevenson. The election was clearly Stevenson's, but through the machinations of George Parr, the notorious Duke of Duval County, the results were turned around in LBJ's favor. Investigators later found that among those voting in the primary were people who didn't live in the county anymore and people who weren't alive at all. But the results stood.(An interesting and amusing aside: when Haley ran for Texas governor in 1956, he approached Parr and said, "I'm Evetts Haley. I'm running for governor, and if I win, it will be my privilege to put you in jail." Parr's reply: "I believe you will." Parr, the Artful Dodger of Texas politics for years, eventually killed himself.)
At times the book grows tiresome, especially in the Bobby Baker and Billie Sol Estes scandals, where Haley turns a virtual torrent of names and numbers on the reader as to be sometimes confusing.
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The Fight Against Corruption