Saturday, December 20

Corruption, once entrenched in government...

Richard Fernandez at Belmont Club notes that China's communist party is cracking down on corrupt party members.

Specifically, the Chinese version of the secret police have been showing up at a corrupt politician's home or office, bundling the accused into a car and taking him away.  The accused is tortured and always confesses.  This has now happened to about 75,000 party officials.

The accused's crime is not being too aggressive in carrying out the will of The Party, but plain old graft--typically taking bribes from developers in China's booming economy.

A second popular way communist party officials illegally enrich themselves at public expense is quite common here in the U.S: directing that public projects like roads or convention centers or other development be built on property owned by the official (or a relative), and pocketing huge sums of public money for selling that land to the government.

That story got me thinking about corruption in public officials:  Once it gets a foothold, it's almost impossible to stop it.  Reason is that only a politician with more power can direct the agents of the State to investigate and eventually arrest another corrupt politician.  This is problematical because if corruption has been an accepted practice for decades, the higher-ups are almost always members of that same club.  If they try to take down a lower-ranking official who happens to have evidence of corruption by his accuser, there's always a chance the higher-ranking guy will be caught in the same net.

The obvious solution is for top politicians wanting to look like they're rooting out corruption to only take on "little crooks" far from the center of power, since they're too far down the chain to be likely to have any solid evidence about the top man.

Of course you still have periodic anti-corruption campaigns, but they never root out corruption within several layers of the top, for the reason just explained.

And when the current leadership dies off, guess who inherits the top slot?  The corrupt leaders in the second tier who had just enough evidence on the corrupt top guy to avoid the last wave of show trials.

And thus it happens that once a government becomes corrupt, the chances of it becoming honest again are almost zero.

Sounds like that might explain a LOT. 


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