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Proviso Probe

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

GOV, what is corruption? why is it bad?

Sun-Times (Lynn Sweet) covers Senator Barack Obama denouncing corruption and ethnic politics in Kenya. There are ample references by Obama and Sweet back to Chicago.

Everybody feels obligated to say "corruption" is bad, even if defining corruption is more subjective. Here's the beginning of wikipedia's definition of "political corruption".
In broad terms, political corruption is the misuse of public (governmental) power for illegitimate, usually secret, private advantage.

All forms of government are susceptible to political corruption. Forms of corruption vary, but the most common are patronage, bribery, extortion, influence peddling, graft, embezzlement, cronyism,and nepotism. While corruption often facilitates criminal enterprise such as drug trafficking, money laundering, and criminal prostitution, it is not restricted to these organized crime activities.

BTW, I think its sematics to differentiate between "political corruption" and "organized crime". Wikipedia's entry on "organized crime" includes:
Organized crime is crime carried out systematically by formal criminal organizations. The Organized Crime Control Act (U.S., 1970) defines organized crime as "The unlawful activities of ... a highly organized, disciplined association...".

Some criminal organizations, such as terrorist organizations, are politically motivated. Mafias are criminal organizations whose primary motivation is profit. Gangs sometimes become "disciplined" enough to be considered "organized". The act of engaging in criminal activity as a structured group is referred to in the United States as racketeering. In the U.S., organized crime is often prosecuted federally under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), Statute (18 U.S.C. Part I Chapter 96 §§ 1961-1968).

Organized crime, however defined, is characterized by a few basic qualities including durability over time, diversified interests, hierarchical structure, capital accumulation, reinvestment, access to political protection and the use of violence to protect interests.

Someone once made the claim that the Village of Berwyn and the Village of Oak Park are about the same size and deliver comparable services. However, Berwy had more corruption and lower taxes.

What makes corruption bad enough that you object to it? If squeaky clean government cost more, would you pay for it?

The notion that the West wants African governments to be free of corruption seems dubious. Western corporations want to have it both ways when they transact business in the developing world. They want the efficiency of corruption in certain situations and the efficiency of good government in other situations.

I wonder if Senator Obama talked about how the West contributes to corruption in Africa.

BTW, what did you think of how the Sun-Times covered the trip? Does it seem weird Obama was on the cover of the paper three times last week?


  • I think it's hilarious that Sweet has had to cover Obama, whom she clearly despises. She has written several columns since he's been in the U.S. Senate that have not been exactly flattering. Lately she has toned down a bit. I guess he has placated her enough. He is known to call journalists to task if they dare write anything negative about him. So maybe he's given her a few calls and chided her a bit which has kind of softened her tone. Initially she seemed to really envy his status.

    By Blogger Provisoguru, at 2:18 PM, August 29, 2006  

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