[FoRK] Corruption, was: Re: From Meccania to Atlantis
sdw at lig.net
Thu Jan 7 01:29:46 PST 2010
Time, Jan. 11, 2010, pgs. 14-15:
"$35 Billion: Amount of money embezzled or misused by Chinese officials
from January to November 2009, according to a government audit."
"461: Number of murders in New York City in 2009 as of Dec. 27 -- the
fewest since the city began keeping records in 1962."
"150: Estimated number of U.S. Ponzi schemes that collapsed in 2009, up
from 40 in 2008."
Stephen Williams wrote:
> Ken Ganshirt @ Yahoo wrote:
>> --- On Wed, 12/23/09, Stephen Williams <sdw at lig.net> wrote:
>>> Just my opinion, based on many factors. All easily
>>> disagreed with. Place your bets.
>> Thanks for the list. Food for thought.
>>> Corruption is a way of government, and business to a large
>>> extent. Not a good base for anything.
>> Just so. But are they *more* corrupt than any other jurisdiction?
>> Compared to, say, the United States, for example?
> Overall, the US is hardly corrupt at all. You have to have a pretty
> distorted lens to believe that it is. In fact, I have never
> personally observed any instance of corruption by anyone in business
> or government in the US, and I've seen a lot of both. If I had, I
> would have reported it instantly. Sure, it happens. In New Jersey
> especially it seems. But it is very rare in terms of people involved
> and detectable impact. Sure, billions are spent with questionable
> justification, not enough competition, etc. Still not above noise for
> most people.
> The recent debacles have mostly been about lax regulation / criminals
> of various kinds / insane risk blindness, not corruption in general.
> The closest I can see to widespread corruption was that the Wall
> Street traders of certain kinds had collectively decided that certain
> things were valid, reasonable, and proper when clearly they were not.
> I can completely understand that each individual thought that since
> "everyone was doing it" and no one had stepped in to say it was wrong,
> that it must be OK. A big, fat, stupid mistake, but not clearly
> widespread corruption.
> The actual losses are due to loss of trust causing people to sell, bid
> less, etc. Corruption can't really exist because it would cause a
> similar loss of trust. Sure, we have criminals, and if they are in
> the wrong place without enough openness, they can pull off a lot
> (Enron, Madoff), but still that is not government corruption.
> Real corruption doesn't stand long usually and it's big news: NJ, the
> Chicago senate seat up for sale, Delay et al, etc.
>> >From the outside, there are some of us who view the US as at least
>> as corrupt as many of the countries Americans typically hold up as
>> egregiously corrupt. You'all just do it with more style.
> What's your proof?
> Someone I know who traveled from Russia recently recounted how the
> person next to them in the customs processing step was being held up
> because their reason for travel was to accept an award. Mexico police
> are regularly found to be working for drug cartels. Canadians... Ha,
> just kidding. Because of the one party system, more or less feudal
> control over villages by authorities in many cases, and various other
> bad characteristics, corruption is a daily issue for probably millions
> in China. While we may have suspicions fairly frequently, any solid
> proof would be instantly acted upon. China's one part frequently
> seems to ignore corruption for as long as possible.
>> The bureaucracy charges license fees. They are frequently used as
> In the US? It may feel that way, and it may in effect be that way,
> however it is not explicitly that way. Examples?
> I've only had to pay an usual tax once, when I shipped rather than
> carried a backpack from Canada to the US. Otherwise, I have paid only
> typical personal and corporate income tax and sales tax. Oh, I now
> pay $30 /yr. for a business license.
>> The politicians, on behalf of your big buinesses and constituencies
>> with vested interests, negotiate free trade agreements that aren't.
> There are mistakes, and there are deliberate attempts to favor certain
> constituencies, however actual corruption A) doesn't happen in illegal
> ways too often, and B) doesn't survive too long, usually not more than
> an elected term or two. I can't comment much on free trade
> agreements. It's a good idea in general, messy in specifics I
> suppose. I wonder why we don't have any Mexican or Canadian truckers
>> The politicians are owned by their largest contributors. When a
>> senator needs millions to get elected, does anyone really believe the
>> big contributors are doing it for altruistic reasons?
> There is a lot of influence flow of various kinds, however businesses
> are legally barred from supporting politicians directly for a reason.
> They have to encourage their owners / employees, but cannot coerce.
> Money is a major influence, and so are votes. It's a bit like
> representatives vs. senators, little people vs. the fat cats or the
> many vs. regional distribution.
> Politicians are allowed to be influenced. That may even be good in
> most cases. It is only illegal generally when it is explicitly quid
> pro quo, i.e. "Pay me $40K and I'll vote your way." Keep in mind
> that, generally, the contributed money doesn't go into the pocket of
> the politician anyway, it goes to a reelection / travel / ad fund.
> The government pays the politician and their staff salary. Sure they
> get some benefit in meals, nice trips, etc., but it can't go directly
> to a mansion or whatever.
> Politicians still have to get elected. If they ignore the bulk of
> their constituents to vote the corporation's way, they'll get voted
> out. The next politician will reverse the damage. If they buy an
> argument and try to convince their constituents and then vote the way
> that both now want, there's nothing wrong with it. If we, the people,
> allow them to pull a fast one and convince us to go along with
> something against our interests, then shame on us. And there has been
> a lot of shame to be had in the last 10 years. Too bad we can't react
> faster, have even more openness to figure out the truth sooner, etc.,
> however there are conflicting needs to balance. Sometimes it sucks,
> but those are the breaks. It never seems to be the case that the
> problem goes on forever. We always have another party or others who
> can get pretty vocal, drum up support, protest, etc. Piles of money
> are not necessarily competitive with a good idea and great
> representative and strategy.
>> Where do you think China's businesses learned how to screw people?
>> They have learned well from businesses in the West. Why do you think
>> we have so much consumer protection legistation? Hint: because we
>> need it. We should hardly condemn them for using normal Western
>> business practices when doing business with the West.
> Consumer protection legislation, like much legislation, creates
> appropriate feedback and back pressure between and action and
> consequences. It is about the elimination of situation where one
> person acts and another pays. I don't think that their existence is
> evidence of the necessary badness of people, just in creating a proper
> functioning set of rules for a business market model.
> I wasn't talking about corruption in China's businesses at all. That
> is mostly self-limiting: If a factory screws me, I'll never order from
> them. I'll post a message and they'll never get another order. They
> know that. There are criminals we have to beware of, such as the dog
> food and formula ingredient cheating, and probably-ignorant people
> cutting corners (lead-based paint, etc.), but little corruption that I
> know about.
> I was talking about locals dealing with corruption to do business,
> live, exercise freedom, etc.
> What percentage of US businesses do you think are corrupt, and in what
>> Sorry to pick on just one of many factors but I'm curious why you
>> think this one applies particularly to China when I don't see it
>> being any more (or less) corrupt than its peers (India, USA, Russia,
>> UK, any global business). Just another opinion, of course.
> India is famous for red tape, and corruption I suppose. It must be at
> least a little better now. I doubt there is any serious corruption in
> the US, Canada, Australia, NZ, any of "core" Europe, Iceland, or even,
> these days, South Africa, etc. Russia seems far better in most
> industries, but who knows. Both India and Russia are seriously
> exporting software development and other tech support, customer
> support, etc. If there is corruption, it has to be hands off to avoid
> souring that kind of business.
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