Corruption: A Comparison
Corruption is the compromise of principles in order, usually for personal gain. As such, it is correct to refer to the selfish acts of individuals that deviate from loftier goals of the government as corruption, and it is correct to refer to the selfish acts of Costa Rican governmental officials as corrupt.
Of course, a government that does not espouse high goals can, by definition, not be corrupt, so the most corrupt officials are not necessarily those who take the most for themselves, but those who take despite espousing high principles that they themselves violate. Despite these facts, I cannot see how you can possibly characterize Costa Rican government as the most corrupt in the world. That honor would appear to apply to the United States of America.
What country espouses loftier goals or fails so miserably in achieving those goals than the USA? In what country do the elected representatives off its government pay lip service to one set of goals while acting on another? What government is comprised of more legal representatives who employ one agenda to lure voters while employing another to further a secret agenda than the government of the USA?
While I detest what the Tea party has done to cripple US politics, I must say that I respect the fact that they are uncompromising in their “mission” to vote as promised, although their claims of “mandates” when many were elected on slim majorities of the small fraction of people who bothered to vote are seriously flawed, and their claims of representing the common people, rather than the ultra wealthy whose interests they actually represent, are completely bogus. Of course, in US politics, corruption is more politely referred to as “compromise.”
Now, I am not saying that all compromise is bad – it is essential in getting most things done in an environment where laws must be enacted and there are opposing groups who are attempting to enact them. It is when one compromises his own core ethics or morals that compromise rises to the level of corruption. In US political life, there is none who isolates himself from the influences of power for very long, none who won’t agree to a vote on one bill for the vote of another on a pet bill.
Compromise begets compromise until most of the freshman morals are eventually corrupted – Mr. Smith wises up fast after arriving in Washington or is quickly replaced by the party – look at what the GOP is doing now to those who do not vote with the party loyal.
Technically, what we call “democratic” government, actually representative government, requires compromise and is, by definition, “corrupt” to an extent. If I were to point a finger at a government that were to be considered “the most corrupt”, I would look no farther than government that we consider (by our definition) the “most democratic”. That government, for me, would be the USA.
The difference between a government like that in Costa Rica and the US is that in the US the corruption has been made acceptable as part of the cost of doing business and incorporated systematically into governmental procedures.
Here (in Costa Rica), we have the more obvious form of commerce, the exchange of money for services. In the US, the cash changes hands via PACs, through party election committees and by lobbyists before presenting as free vacations and other gifts for politicians. Here, the corrupt governmental official knows when he has sold out – he knows that he is corrupt. In the US, the system has become so refined that the official may believe that he is serving the public when he is serving himself better. Somehow, here (in Costa Rica) it seems more honest.
Thanks to Gray for his thoughtful response to an earlier post related to corruption on Sept. 12, 2012 13:36.