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Corruption is the misuse of entrusted power (by heritage, education, marriage, election, appointment or whatever else) for private gain.

Posted 1 year ago in News and Politics.

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What is corruption?

 

The simplest definition is:

Corruption is the misuse of public power (by elected politician or appointed civil servant) for private gain.

In order to ensure that not only public corruption but also private corruption between individuals and businesses could be covered by the same simple definition:

Corruption is the misuse of entrusted power (by heritage, education, marriage, election, appointment or whatever else) for private gain.

A much more difficult, scientific definition for the concept ‘corruption’ was developed by professor (emeritus) Dr. Petrus van Duyne:

Corruption is an improbity or decay in the decision-making process in which a decision-maker consents to deviate or demands deviation from the criterion which should rule his or her decision-making, in exchange for a reward or for the promise or expectation of a reward, while these motives influencing his or her decision-making cannot be part of the justification of the decision.

 Major corruption comes close whenever major events involving large sums of money, multiple ‘players’, or huge quantities of products (think of food and pharmaceuticals) often in disaster situations, are at stake. Preferably, corruption flourishes in situations involving high technology (no one understands the real quality and value of products), or institutions that are chaotic. Think of civil war: who is responsible and who is the rebel? Natural disasters like earthquakes, floods, droughts. The global community reacts quickly but local government might be disorganized and disoriented. Who maintains law and order? Or maybe the purchase of a technologically far advanced aircraft, while only a few can understand the technologies implied in development and production of such a plane. Mostly , the sums of money involved are huge, a relatively small amount of corrupt payment is difficult to attract attention. Or the number of actions is very large, for instance in betting stations for results of Olympic Games or international soccer-tournaments which can easily be manipulated. Geo-politics might play a role like e.g. the East-West conflict did in the second half of the 20th century, in which the major country-alliances sought support from non-aligned countries.

Fighting corruption takes place in many ‘theaters’:

  • political reforms, including the financing of political parties and elections;
  • economic reforms, regulating markets and the financial sector;
  • financial controls: budget, bookkeeping, reporting;
  • Public supervision: media, parliament, local administrators and councils, registration;
  • free access to information and data;
  • maintaining law and order;
  • improving and strengthening of the judicial system;
  • institutional reforms: Tax systems, customs, public administration in general;
  • whistleblowers and civil society organizations (NGO’s).

We know that corruption will not disappear from society. Our efforts are meant to restrict corruption and to protect as much as possible the poor and weak in our societies. In the end all corruption costs are paid by the consumer and the tax-payer. They need protection.

Characteristics of Corruption

Discussion of corruption is extremely difficult as it is a hidden phenomenon in our societies. Both parties in exchange of power for privileges want to keep their transaction secret. That makes it so difficult to establish how wide and deep corruption penetrated our economy and social life. Moreover, what for some is no more than ‘a friendly turn’ is for others ‘misbehavior’. What in one place can be friendliness is unacceptable elsewhere. Normal behavior at a particular hour of the day may be unacceptable at another hour.

Let us have a look into some of the characteristics.

  1. a) Recipients and payers.
  2. b) Extortion.
  3. c) Lubricant of society.
  4. d) An ethical problem.
  5. e) Poverty reduction.
  6. f) Small is beautiful.
  7. g) Culture.
  8. h) ‘Kindness among friends’.

 Corruption is the abuse of entrusted power and elected authority for private profit.

Worldwide complaints are heard about politicians and public officials who accept bribes and enrich themselves privately at the expense of the common citizen. This may be at the expense of the employee and the employer; consumer and producer; renter and tenant; the one applying for a permit to do something, or asking exemption from an obligation to pay or to deliver a product or a service. All those cases may be considered to be abuse of power and authority for one’s own benefit.

Complainers forget that necessarily there should also be payers who benefit from that abuse of power and authority. The other side of the coin shows payers assuming that their ‘gift’ to a politician or a public official, may in return deliver profitable preferential treatment or delivery.

Please note that repeatedly is stressed the behavior by public officials and politicians. Often the last ones are forgotten. Anyone who wants to fight corruption and safeguard integrity in governance should not only prevent politicians and public officials from unlawfully accepting gifts, but should also fight the ‘high and mighty’ that abuse their power and authority to give privileges such as land rights, permits, diplomas, allowances, money, against a reward.

All over the world we see, generally speaking, that accepting bribes is publicly denounced. The parliamentarian accepting bribes for using his influence and legislative power to endorse proposals profitable to some, is condemned in public by everyone. However, in private, those who gain from those profitable proposals praise his approach as realistic. For them he is the perfect representative who recognizes that ‘there is no escaping from corruption, if you don’t want to lose the competitive struggle’.

 

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