Everybody likes to rail on about corrupt politicians these days. They sling mud at their opponents, do sleazy things and try to get away with it, hang out with lobbyists, and give special favors to their political friends. Come election time, challengers from the outside always promise to end the corruption that’s inside and bring a fresh start. Then the same thing happens a few years later. Why are our politicians so corrupt?
(joshuahedlund, August 15, 2011 at postlibertarian.com)
Political corruption is the use of legislated powers by government officials for illegitimate private gain. Misuse of government power for other purposes, such as repression of political opponents and general police brutality, is not considered political corruption. Neither are illegal acts by private persons or corporations not directly involved with the government. An illegal act by an officeholder constitutes political corruption only if the act is directly related to their official duties, is done under color of law or involves trading in influence.
Forms of corruption vary, but include bribery, extortion, cronyism, nepotism, patronage, graft, and embezzlement. While corruption may facilitate criminal enterprise such as drug trafficking, money laundering, and human trafficking, it is not restricted to these activities.
The activities that constitute illegal corruption differ depending on the country or jurisdiction. For instance, certain political funding practices that are legal in one place is illegal in another. In some cases, government officials have broad or poorly defined powers, which make it difficult to distinguish between legal and illegal actions.
Government leaders still abuse their political power to extract and accumulate for private enrichment, and use politically corrupt means to maintain their hold on power.
Political corruption in the form of accumulation or extraction occurs when government officials use and abuse their hold on power to extract from the private sector, from government revenues, and from the economy at large. These processes of accumulation have been called extraction, embezzlement, and rent-seeking, plunder and even kleptocracy (“rule by thieves”), depending on the extent and context. Extraction takes place mainly in the form of soliciting bribes in procurement and government projects, in privatization processes and in taxation. Military procurement is known to be particularly affected by extractive political corruption worldwide, because of the involvement of top-level politicians, national interests and secrecy.
Extracted resources (and public money) are used for power preservation and power extension purposes, usually takes the form of favoritism and patronage politics. It includes a favoritism and politically motivated distribution of financial and material inducements, benefits, advantages, and spoils. Techniques include money and material favors to build political loyalty and political support. Power-holders can pay off rivals and opposition and secure a parliamentary majority. By giving preferences to private companies they can get party and campaign funds, and by paying off the governmental institutions of checks and control they can stop investigations and audits and gain judicial impunity. Furthermore, by buying loyal decisions from election commissions and by buying votes they can secure their re-election.
Political corruption takes place at the highest levels of the political system, and can thus be distinguished from administrative or bureaucratic corruption. Bureaucratic corruption takes place at the implementation end of politics, for instance in government services like education and health. Political corruption takes place at the formulation end of politics, where decisions on the distribution of the nation’s wealth and the rules of the game are made.
Political corruption is usually also distinguished from business and private sector corruption. This is only a matter of academic classification, however, since the bribes offered by private companies, domestic and international, are frequent and significant corruption drivers. Our focus is not on the supply side of corrupt transactions, but on the demand side. Most definitions of corruption also emphasize the demand (state) side, for instance in stating that corruption is “abuse of public authority and power for private benefit”.
(U4 Anti Corruption Resource Center at U4.no)
Political corruption, abuse of public office, and similar terms are used to distinguish one type of thievery which is associated with a most serious breach of trust from thievery of other types. This type of thievery is a problem which has been faced in many countries over time. Sadly, in some countries politicians engaged in such thievery go unpunished, as the longer the cancer of corruption is allowed to grow, the harder it is to remove.
Even when a politician’s criminal activity becomes too blatant to be swept under the carpet without turning the carpet into something with the topography of the Rocky Mountains, the police, the relevant prosecution services and, when things have gone very far wrong, even the judiciary, may tend to have a hard time finding so much as the corrupt politician’s wrist to give it a slap with a wet noodle. That is the height of injustice, but it tends to be found wherever there is political corruption which is allowed to grow for more than a short period of time.
Corrupt politicians will stop at nothing when looting a country and they tend to be more brazen and to show more contempt for established rules and protocols and even the constitutions of their countries as time goes on. They manipulate legislation and those who are asked to implement it. They work to eliminate the checks and balances which are designed to protect society from tyranny. They eliminate independent honest individuals from oversight positions on public authorities and replace them with those who may at best be compliant, if not complacent, incompetent and equally corrupt. They and their cronies lie about the role of independent boards of public authorities and try to convince the gullible that independent boards serve no purpose other than to do the will of the corrupt politician.
Corrupt politicians often try to ensure that either there are no laws at all, or exceedingly weak laws at most, relating to political corruption. If they are pushed into passing laws against political corruption or find them in place when they are elected, they tend to ensure that any agencies which might be called upon to detect and prosecute corruption are starved of resources or staffed by incompetents, the corrupt or simply party hacks. Corrupt politicians may try to ensure that those appointed to official positions relating to the detection and prosecution of political corruption owe them in some way, or are at risk of being brought down if the corrupt politician is prosecuted.
Corrupt politicians work hard to distract voters, no matter the consequences of the distraction. They turn what is supposed to be a life of public service into life as an organized crime boss. They are likely to refuse to do anything practical against, and may covertly or overtly encourage other types of crime, as things like bank robberies and street robberies are likely to distract people’s attention from the thievery of their politicians. Similarly, they may encourage incompetent policing and prosecution services and may sponsor soft prisons, “just in case”.
(Beating political corruption, Aristophanes Duckpond Posted on Sat, Feb 7, 2011 at caymannewsservice.com)
Freedom of the Press is no longer seen as a constitutional protection to expose the excesses of government but as a way to protect the media from any and all criticism no matter what is said or published. Most new-media journalists use government as a means to a particular end that they promote through the entertainment industry, selection of what news will be reported, the interpretation of the news that is reported, the suppression of contrary opinions, and the willful destruction of all opposing worldviews.
Politicians have always tried to control the flow of news and interpret what they couldn’t control. The Internet Age has made this more difficult. With deregulation, the media gatekeepers began to disappear. They no longer could control the flow of information. Real news reporting from the Left became a mission to search and destroy the opposition by a steady stream of misinformation, personal attacks, and outright lies. Truth became irrelevant and an obstacle. Socialism and Marxism, masquerading as Progressivism, had to be protected and promoted no matter what the cost. The Fourth Estate, the news media, aligned itself with a political agenda to promote a government-centered ideology that is destructive of true liberty and without moral restraint.
(Gary DeMar , American Vision, June 7, 2011 at 6:09 am at americanvision.org)
So endemic has corruption become in some countries – frequently, the poorer they are the more corrupt their politicians and public officials tend to be – that some aspiring politicians have actually been known to make significant “investments” in finding themselves in positions of influence. Politicians’ substantive pay is not usually anything to shout about. The “bonus,” the kickback worth several times the salaries of politician lies in the fact that their position of influence allows for the selling of state services at bumper prices. The significance of this, of course, is that it raises serious questions about the motives of so many politicians who use the hustling to proffer altruistic motives for seeking election when in fact their only real motive is to plunder the state.
In some cases patterns of conspicuous consumption and ‘good living’ coincide with entry into politics to provide a dead giveaway. Most of the corruption-related scandals are associated with relationships between public servants and businessmen, the former driven by considerations of both greed and poor pay and the latter by preparedness to pay well mostly for the privilege of acquiring official favors and circumventing their obligations – mostly financial ones to the state.
An interesting feature is the extent to which Transparency International Corruption Report lays the blame at the door of the international business community for the scale of corruption in poor countries. Some businesses, it seems, place a high value on corrupting officers of the state and while their respective annual reports and accounts are unlikely to show it, there are numerous cases in which corrupt public servants are on the permanent payrolls of people in the various business communities. Here too, suspicions of corruption invariably envelop public servants whose life styles cannot be sustained on their public service salaries.
Corruption – mostly transactions involving state functionaries and businessmen – has become so commonplace that discussions on the issue tend to dwell on issues of scale rather than whether or not the practice actually exists. Those commentators with an interest in defending the status quo would of course contend that the scale of corrupt practices is rather less than is said to be the case though when one thinks of the opportunities for corrupt practices across the spectrum of state resources and services which are in demand, we can do more than speculate as to the real scale of corruption.
Then there is of course the issue of whether or not our state bureaucracies are not themselves tailor-made for corruption. One can find numerous examples of basic services – licenses, permits, certificates etc, the preparation of which is preceded by fairly routine procedures but the acquisition of which is enmeshed in thickets of bureaucracy that have the effect of inflating the value of these services and attaching bribes and kickbacks to their acquisition. Oddly enough, despite the fact that the complexity of these systems is often linked to corrupt practices, little if any effort is made to render them less complex. Who among us is not familiar with those state agencies that attract long queues, large crowds, endless delays and needless paperwork, all of which, deliberately or otherwise, are tailor-made for corrupt practices?
Interestingly, states on the whole have little appetite for the scandal associated with revelations of corruption, particularly when high officials including politicians are implicated. If finger pointing and suspicion often tends to go in the direction of persons in authority the blanket of guilt all too frequently descends on lesser functionaries who cost the political administration little or no political capital. This too is an issue with which we are familiar. Considerations of mistrust hopelessly compromise the credibility of official investigations while suspicions about the veracity of corruption investigations are even more deeply entrenched by the frequent exoneration of those who, ironically, are best-positioned to become involved in corrupt practices.
From the standpoint of what is perhaps best described as national moral fiber there has long occurred a coming to terms with the reality of bribery and corruption, the acceptance of the practice of kickbacks and backhanders as a norm rather than an aberration. That, perhaps, is the most disturbing thing of all.
(Corrupt politicians and functionaries of the state by STABROEK STAFF, FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 27, 2009 atstabroeknews.com)
We, common men fight for the removal of institutionalized corruption by revolting against system because we blame it. But, we forget our responsibility for nation. In democracy power lies in the hands of voters (common man). So, a problem of this sort must NOT have come up, without our own involvement in it. Corruption is an epidemic, everyone agrees. But, how many of us are ready to forgo corrupt means, today and now ? Each one of us want the world to be good; we want every other Indian (except ourselves) should quit corruption. After all who on earth doesn’t like earning a few extra bucks!!!
When the question of personal interest comes, each of us not only support corruption but actually engages in corrupt means. But we blame others for corruption in society. Our politicians are made the scapegoat. No, doubt most of our politicians are corrupt. But, it is we who choose corrupt over honest.
(Vishwesh Jha at wakeindianow.com)


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