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Category Archives: Law and Legal

About Corruption and Transparency

Corruption is rife and all pervasive, though many allegations are nothing but political mud-slinging. Luckily, in countries like Macedonia, it is confined to its rapacious elites: its politicians, managers, university professors, medical doctors, judges, journalists, and top bureaucrats. The police and customs are hopelessly compromised. Yet, one rarely comes across graft and venality in daily life. There are no false detentions (as in Russia), spurious traffic tickets (as in Latin America), or widespread stealthy payments for public goods and services (as in Africa).

It is widely accepted that corruption retards growth by deterring foreign investment and encouraging brain drain. It leads to the misallocation of economic resources and distorts competition. It depletes the affected country’s endowments – both natural and acquired. It demolishes the tenuous trust between citizen and state. It casts civil and government institutions in doubt, tarnishes the entire political class, and, thus, endangers the democratic system and the rule of law, property rights included.

This is why both governments and business show a growing commitment to tackling it. According to Transparency International’s “Global Corruption Report 2001”, corruption has been successfully contained in private banking and the diamond trade, for instance.

Hence also the involvement of the World Bank and the IMF in fighting corruption. Both institutions are increasingly concerned with poverty reduction through economic growth and development. The World Bank estimates that corruption reduces the growth rate of an affected country by 0.5 to 1 percent annually. Graft amounts to an increase in the marginal tax rate and has pernicious effects on inward investment as well.

The World Bank has appointed last year a Director of Institutional Integrity – a new department that combines the Anti-Corruption and Fraud Investigations Unit and the Office of Business Ethics and Integrity. The Bank helps countries to fight corruption by providing them with technical assistance, educational programs, and lending.

Anti-corruption projects are an integral part of every Country Assistance Strategy (CAS). The Bank also supports international efforts to reduce corruption by sponsoring conferences and the exchange of information. It collaborates closely with Transparency International, for instance.

At the request of member-governments (such as Bosnia-Herzegovina and Romania) it has prepared detailed country corruption surveys covering both the public and the private sectors. Together with the EBRD, it publishes a corruption survey of 3000 firms in 22 transition countries (BEEPS – Business Environment and Enterprise Performance Survey). It has even set up a multilingual hotline for whistleblowers.

The IMF made corruption an integral part of its country evaluation process. It suspended arrangements with endemically corrupt recipients of IMF financing. Since 1997, it has introduced policies regarding misreporting, abuse of IMF funds, monitoring the use of debt relief for poverty reduction, data dissemination, legal and judicial reform, fiscal and monetary transparency, and even internal governance (e.g., financial disclosure by staff members).

Yet, no one seems to agree on a universal definition of corruption. What amounts to venality in one culture (Sweden) is considered no more than hospitality, or an expression of gratitude, in another (France, or Italy). Corruption is discussed freely and forgivingly in one place – but concealed shamefully in another. Corruption, like other crimes, is probably seriously under-reported and under-penalized.

Moreover, bribing officials is often the unstated policy of multinationals, foreign investors, and expatriates. Many of them believe that it is inevitable if one is to expedite matters or secure a beneficial outcome. Rich world governments turn a blind eye, even where laws against such practices are extant and strict.

In his address to the Inter-American Development Bank on March 14, President Bush promised to “reward nations that root out corruption” within the framework of the Millennium Challenge Account initiative. The USA has pioneered global anti-corruption campaigns and is a signatory to the 1996 IAS Inter-American Convention against Corruption, the Council of Europe’s Criminal Law Convention on Corruption, and the OECD’s 1997 anti-bribery convention. The USA has had a comprehensive “Foreign Corrupt Practices Act” since 1977.

The Act applies to all American firms, to all firms – including foreign ones – traded in an American stock exchange, and to bribery on American territory by foreign and American firms alike. It outlaws the payment of bribes to foreign officials, political parties, party officials, and political candidates in foreign countries. A similar law has now been adopted by Britain.

Yet, “The Economist” reports that the American SEC has brought only three cases against listed companies until 1997. The US Department of Justice brought another 30 cases. Britain has persecuted successfully only one of its officials for overseas bribery since 1889. In the Netherlands bribery is tax deductible. Transparency International now publishes a name and shame Bribery Payers Index to complement its 91-country strong Corruption Perceptions Index.

Many rich world corporations and wealthy individuals make use of off-shore havens or “special purpose entities” to launder money, make illicit payments, avoid or evade taxes, and conceal assets or liabilities. According to Swiss authorities, more than $40 billion are held by Russians in its banking system alone. The figure may be 5 to 10 times higher in the tax havens of the United Kingdom.

In a survey it conducted last month of 82 companies in which it invests, “Friends, Ivory, and Sime” found that only a quarter had clear anti-corruption management and accountability systems in place.

Tellingly only 35 countries signed the 1997 OECD “Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions” – including four non-OECD members: Chile, Argentina, Bulgaria, and Brazil. The convention has been in force since February 1999 and is only one of many OECD anti-corruption drives, among which are SIGMA (Support for Improvement in Governance and Management in Central and Eastern European countries), ACN (Anti-Corruption Network for Transition Economies in Europe), and FATF (the Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering).

Moreover, The moral authority of those who preach against corruption in poor countries – the officials of the IMF, the World Bank, the EU, the OECD – is strained by their ostentatious lifestyle, conspicuous consumption, and “pragmatic” morality.

II. What to Do? What is Being Done?

Two years ago, I proposed a taxonomy of corruption, venality, and graft. I suggested this cumulative definition:

The withholding of a service, information, or goods that, by law, and by right, should have been provided or divulged.

The provision of a service, information, or goods that, by law, and by right, should not have been provided or divulged.

That the withholding or the provision of said service, information, or goods are in the power of the withholder or the provider to withhold or to provide AND That the withholding or the provision of said service, information, or goods constitute an integral and substantial part of the authority or the function of the withholder or the provider.

That the service, information, or goods that are provided or divulged are provided or divulged against a benefit or the promise of a benefit from the recipient and as a result of the receipt of this specific benefit or the promise to receive such benefit.

That the service, information, or goods that are withheld are withheld because no benefit was provided or promised by the recipient.

There is also what the World Bank calls “State Capture” defined thus:

“The actions of individuals, groups, or firms, both in the public and private sectors, to influence the formation of laws, regulations, decrees, and other government policies to their own advantage as a result of the illicit and non-transparent provision of private benefits to public officials.”

We can classify corrupt and venal behaviours according to their outcomes:

Income Supplement – Corrupt actions whose sole outcome is the supplementing of the income of the provider without affecting the “real world” in any manner.

Acceleration or Facilitation Fees – Corrupt practices whose sole outcome is to accelerate or facilitate decision making, the provision of goods and services or the divulging of information.

Decision Altering Fees – Bribes and promises of bribes which alter decisions or affect them, or which affect the formation of policies, laws, regulations, or decrees beneficial to the bribing entity or person.

Information Altering Fees – Backhanders and bribes that subvert the flow of true and complete information within a society or an economic unit (for instance, by selling professional diplomas, certificates, or permits).

Reallocation Fees – Benefits paid (mainly to politicians and political decision makers) in order to affect the allocation of economic resources and material wealth or the rights thereto. Concessions, licenses, permits, assets privatized, tenders awarded are all subject to reallocation fees.

To eradicate corruption, one must tackle both giver and taker.

History shows that all effective programs shared these common elements:

The persecution of corrupt, high-profile, public figures, multinationals, and institutions (domestic and foreign). This demonstrates that no one is above the law and that crime does not pay.

The conditioning of international aid, credits, and investments on a monitored reduction in corruption levels. The structural roots of corruption should be tackled rather than merely its symptoms.

The institution of incentives to avoid corruption, such as a higher pay, the fostering of civic pride, “good behaviour” bonuses, alternative income and pension plans, and so on.

In many new countries (in Asia, Africa, and Eastern Europe) the very concepts of “private” versus “public” property are fuzzy and impermissible behaviours are not clearly demarcated. Massive investments in education of the public and of state officials are required.

Liberalization and deregulation of the economy. Abolition of red tape, licensing, protectionism, capital controls, monopolies, discretionary, non-public, procurement. Greater access to information and a public debate intended to foster a “stakeholder society”.

Strengthening of institutions: the police, the customs, the courts, the government, its agencies, the tax authorities – under time limited foreign management and supervision.

Awareness to corruption and graft is growing – though it mostly results in lip service. The Global Coalition for Africa adopted anti-corruption guidelines in 1999. The otherwise opaque Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum is now championing transparency and good governance. The UN is promoting its pet convention against corruption.

The G-8 asked its Lyon Group of senior experts on transnational crime to recommend ways to fight corruption related to large money flows and money laundering. The USA and the Netherlands hosted global forums on corruption – as will South Korea next year. The OSCE is rumored to respond with its own initiative, in collaboration with the US Congressional Helsinki Commission.

The south-eastern Europe Stability Pact sports its own Stability Pact Anti-corruption Initiative (SPAI). It held its first conference in September 2001 in Croatia. More than 1200 delegates participated in the 10th International Anti-Corruption Conference in Prague last year. The conference was attended by the Czech prime minister, the Mexican president, and the head of the Interpol.

The most potent remedy against corruption is sunshine – free, accessible, and available information disseminated and probed by an active opposition, uncompromised press, and assertive civic organizations and NGO’s. In the absence of these, the fight against official avarice and criminality is doomed to failure. With them, it stands a chance.

Corruption can never be entirely eliminated – but it can be restrained and its effects confined. The cooperation of good people with trustworthy institutions is indispensable. Corruption can be defeated only from the inside, though with plenty of outside help. It is a process of self-redemption and self-transformation. It is the real transition.

Concept of Corruption

Mismanagement– is one of the causes of corruption in any society, especially in the underdeveloped countries. Public officials who are responsible for the governing of public funds are not competent and reliable in their management of these funds. Public officials; therefore, used the public treasuries as if it were their private funds to enrich themselves and award misleading contracts to the highest bidders.

Inequality of wealth- inequality increases corruption in a society. In a society where there is a huge gap between the rich and the poor, especially in the Third World countries; the rich always have greater advantage over the wealth of the land, which he can used to buy power and influence both legitimately and illegitimately. The rich-the ruling class or individuals-can also have the advantage to give bribery, use power or “connection”, which they have in their midst to influence law-implementing processes (bureaucratic corruption) and to buy constructive interpretation of the law (judicial corruption). As inequality increases, according to Meltzer and Richard, most of the population will be relatively poorer and likely will demand more extensive redistribution through higher levels of progressive taxation.

Selfishness and Greed-these are two most causal factors of corruption. Almost all motives of corruption cases have some selfish interest and greed attach to them. Selfishness and greed keep tempting the mind of an individual person to engage in corrupt related activities. Public officials, who are in charge of controlling the economic resources of a country, can be easily seduced by greed and selfishness to loot public monies for themselves and their families. The leading character before doing an act of corruption is being selfish and being greedy, while at the same time forgetting others.

Corruption is an endemic disease. Its forms prevails all over the world with bribery alone crossing one trillion US dollars annually. Mismanagement of public funds, inequality of wealth, and selfishness and greed are some of the major causes of corruption in our societies. These causes are mostly associated with underdeveloped countries, where government is weak and brutal, and where power is abused to serve the interest of the ruling class with less or no concern about the lives of the poor masses.

Black Money And Culprits

Black money refers to funds earned by individuals or companies on the black market, on which income and other taxes have not been paid. The total amounts of black money that are deposited by Indians in the foreign banks are unknown. This issue was lightened up by Swami Ramdev, a spiritual saint and social activist who has gained much acclaim around the world due to his meditation and yoga practices. After some giant scams like 2G, Commonwealth and Coalgate, black money issue was brought up by opposition parties.

It is said that many of renowned business tycoons, politicians and film stars have their bank accounts in different foreign banks and if brought back, can make Indian economy better. The problem is how to bring back black money and what punishment can culprits get if they found guilty? According to a very well-known and talented Corruption Matters Advocate Mr. Kislay Pandey­ Supreme Court of India, “A Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) has suggested implementing some strict legislation and controls to prevent this practice in future such as to regulate the cash economy and also there is a need to change some existing corruption laws and regulations. Furthermore, we need to implement deterrent penalties for tax offences to deal with the menace.”

Furthermore, there is a need to start newly fast-track courts to conduct trials for all those black money culprits and make sure that the hearings are held and quick judgments are announced after the investigation. Government needs to act fast irrespective of culprits’ designation and party background. According to a recent report published in this week by Special Investigation Team (SIT) on black money, out of 628 account holders in the Swiss bank, almost half of accounts are found with zero bank balance. What it suggests? The government needs to take action before account holders can reach to their accounts.

Fighting Effects of Government Corruption

For whatever reason, maybe the Media is bought off, the Nationwide Media is not interested in a (REAL & TRUE) story that proves without a doubt that our Government, and our Legal System is CORRUPTED; from start to finish; where there is proof of almost everything corrupt in writing, on Government stationary. I still do not know, for sure, what Government Agency or Agencies attempted to end the battle with me by causing, however they did it, my Ford Expedition to drive into a concrete bridge abutment between 55 & 65 Miles per hour on August 13th of last year in Maumee, Ohio, the very day that I was supposed to go to Tax Court against the IRS, in an issue that I had already won in the Senate Finance Committees Hearing on IRS abuse of the American People. For proof go tohttp://www.endtheirs.org. I was about to finally be able to get Court Records; even if it is Tax Court; of actual IRS’s Court documents for proof beyond a doubt, hell I already have enough evidence to hang an ELEPHANT, and to force the IRS to fight the evidence I had in writing. When you get to the point with the IRS, and almost any Government Agency, where you can prove 98.5% of the proof, in writing, of the corruption, they just ignore you. Breaking their own Laws. If you get a chance, go to and look at the Government documents. By the way, I believe in GOD and Jesus, so you’re not allowed to kill anyone; especially yourself; and there is no way in hell that I would ever drive my Ford SUV into anything, let alone a concrete abutment at “60” mph and eliminate myself. I truly believe, in my mind, that I eliminate whoever was causing me problems, not do myself in. I’m positive that I was saved by GOD, and the four best children in the World, though this crash.

A survey conducted by World Development Report some year ago, business man in surveyed countries said that the main problem with Government Corruption was that it increases risk and uncertainty. The risk declined dramatically if corruption produced reliable outcome. If all player have to play 10% and could treat of getting their license entrepreneurs could treat this as just one more tax, factor it into their calculations of profit and so could invest with confidence of sure gain. The quality of institution seems to be the most important factor for the growth of a countries. If the institution work moderately well, progress is possible even if money is skimmed off at the top. But if the institution are incapable of enforcing any right, corruption will hasten economic collapse. So far Indian economic is concerned the slow progress is the result of lack of decision making at higher level. Many politician who take money but could not enforce their will because of powerful lobby of bureaucrats at many place and a democracy like India, voice of media, voice of opposition could suppress the wish of the leader. India’s economic growth on an average 6% GDP despite considerable corruption is because of the stability and the liberalized measure taken by the present govt., gradual privatization of various sector, reducing bureaucratic intervention in routine work & other measure adopted by govt. In brief it can be concluded that corruption and economic growth has no clear correlation. Strong institution, political stability, fast and reasonability in decision taking are some of the requirement for fast economic growth and effect and motivate Local Police Breaking The Law.

All about Political Donations and Corruption

A separate problem, particularly in Germany and Austria, is that some commercial banks are still owned, if only in part, by the state. Some critics feel these hybrid banks tend to fall between the best practices in either private or public sectors. Campaigners complain these banks lack transparency and suspicions of corrupt practices linger.

In a number of countries, commentators have expressed continuing concern about persistent ‘petty’ corruption, often of a municipal nature, over permissions for planning, parking, food hygiene and even medical treatment and a wide range of activities that effect ordinary people trying to go about their everyday lives. In the United States the stream of allegations against the Los Angeles Police Department has become so serious it is a national rather than local issue.

In Greece TI conducted a revealing survey   that indicated that 45% of Greeks had been obliged, at some point, to cash bribes to various public sector services to get their cases dealt with. Healthcare and Planning and building permissions were particularly problematic. 95% of those surveyed were convinced that Greek public life was corruption ridden and 53% said the situation was getting worse.

Corruption Works

To explain corruption here I’m going to concentrate on lower levels of corrupted authority in the private and public sector. Private sector organizations tend to be more efficient than public sector equivalents because a profit making private business won’t last long with out customers actively choosing to purchase products or services from them for reasons such as those being better than the competition’s products or services. Whereas in the public sector, a lot of the time the consumer doesn’t have much of a choice or a say. Such as how the American police force is run, there seems to be a lot of room for improvement which just doesn’t seem to be being worked on, there are too many horrifying examples of American police brutality out there.

So let’s say there is a new multi-million dollar road paving contract up for grabs and the city council has to hire a company to get the job done, obviously wanting to keep the tax payers and voters happy all the while. Organizations who want the contract have to submit a ‘bid’ (how much they’ll charge, and a contract stating what they’ll do) for the job and the council chooses which ‘bid’ to pick.

Bidder one is a relatively small time fish, ‘Paver Joe’, he submits a small price for the job and sees this as an opportunity to grow his business rather than make a profit. His contract is a little unprofessional and the work isn’t a guaranteed professional job, but it’ll save the tax payers a lot.

Bidder two is ‘Pavers Inc.’, they’ve done this kind of work before, there company is very professional and can guarantee a perfect job done but at a significantly higher price. The tax payer knows they’ll get their roads done, but at an expected sacrifice of funds.

Bidder three is ‘Corrupt R us’. They submit a price only a little higher than Paver Joe’s price, and look extremely professional with flashy brochures and Armani suits. They also present all this to the council at Palm Beach golf and spa resort, all expenses paid and bring the family. Open bar too. After the speeches about the company, drinks and of course the part of the contract that states they give bi-annual reports which will happen here again at the resort, so see you back in a few months if you pick us. All is very comforting and seems reliable.

Bidder three gets the contract. During one of the bi-annual reports, a talk is given about how the pavers came across some problems in the road and it’s they have to do the excavation procedure according to paragraph 12 of section 2b and it’s going to cost an extra $2 million, but guess what, fortunately you hired us and we managed to lower the suppliers charge and it’s only going to cost $1.5 million. So thanks to your great choices you’ve just saved the tax payers half a million dollars! Along with a few more instances like this, the price of the contract can double or triple.

Information of Different Corruptions Cases

In the case of one African country, there is evidence of corruption in several sectors: tax and customs bureaus, the state peanut, the development bank, and perhaps in social services like education. Several donors have made much of the foregone revenues due to inefficiency and probably bribery in customs and taxes. But before we equate foregone revenue to social costs, we must ask who gets the money that is now foregone and how they are spending it. The foregone revenue does not disappear from the face of the earth, nor perhaps even from the country in question. There are redistribution effects, most likely undesirable ones. But as old “revisionist” writers on corruption used to say, perhaps the most dynamic economic elements of the society are those who benefit from this kind of corruption, leading to more economic dynamism.

We must also investigate the extent to which various kinds of corruption “block” economic activity, or in contrast the extent to which there a “market price” with low transactions costs and low uncertainty. Sometimes a corrupt equilibrium has long delays, sometimes what looks like bureaucratic efficiency.

We should focus on the external support and incentives generated by corrupt activities of various kinds, not the amounts of money that changes hands. As they used to say of government officials in Mexico, “They waste a million to save a thousand.” Of particular importance is corruption that undercuts financial and banking systems or systems of justice. The external support can be huge here. A corruption activity leads to policy distortions.

Construct an Anti Corruption State

The helpline number is active from 8am to 10pm and works all-round the week. The helpline is active from January 9, 2014. The helpline will have police assistance as well, to serve the common people. The vigilance department is also set to look into the matter. This will help the common people of the state to become powerful and nab the corrupt people in time.

Arvind Kejriwal formed AAP and fought assembly polls from Delhi. Common people welcomed the new party whole heartedly and thus a stunning victory of 28 seats out of 70 seats followed. To form the government, it shook hands with Congress to get the majority , for government formation. The party formed the state government, and Arvind Kejriwal became the youngest chief minister of the state.

AAP’s campaign to reduce corruption from its grassroots seems to get a new light. Since its assumption of office, AAP and Kejriwal are introducing new ways to make the state corruption free. The introduction of this helpline is a step further towards better a better state that AAP desires. Kejriwal once stated that “whether it is Sheila Dixit or some minister from the Congress, Bharatiya Janata Party, or my own party, no one will be spared”, when asked about what his plans are to act against corruption.

After the assembly polls, AAP is next targeting the Lok Sabha elections. They are having high hopes that AAP can make it big in the next Lok Sabha elections as well. Though they have not confirmed the list of candidates for the next elections, but will do it within 2 weeks in all likelihood. They are yet to declare the prime ministerial candidate that will be out after the poll results. The next big election will witness leading parties getting into a heated battle, along with the newly emerged party as well. BJP, Congress and AAP all are ready for it. Now it will be interesting to see who will take the winning position.

Must know about Corruption Landscaped

It has now become necessary for any big construction to combine waste water treatment and recycling, planting and up keeping trees and greeneries in at least 15-20% of campus area, rain water harvesting, using solar technology for water heating, a proportionate park/jogging area and if possible, a swimming pool fed from the treated waste water, the latter to be used for gardening too. The next logical step would be to incorporate solid waste disposal, treatment and recycling at an earmarked isolated distant place for which the dwellers might have to pay and also reap the harvest.

We shifted to place called Dhanori, Lohegaon in 2010. On the right side of the apartment, there was a hillock at an approximate distance of 3 Km. Between my apartment and the hillock, there were some bungalows, otherwise the land looked to be rocky and barren.

One day in June, 2012, I opted for that particularly secluded area behind my apartment building for my morning walk. I found that a narrow inroad has been laid across the barren rocky land and a national private undertaking had acquired 105 acre of barren land to build a micro city. There were big banners and hoardings. The most satisfying aspect was that, efforts were afoot to plant trees and shrubs all around the protected area. I went up to their construction office. There a patch of land was carpeted with green grass, large number of shrub pots were placed all around and there were two dining table size rocks placed strategically. I sat on one of them to take rest for a while before beginning my return morning walk.

Whenever I had the pleasure of sitting aloof in a peaceful surrounding, some pertinent questions begin to brainstorm. Anna movement on Lokpal and Ramdev’s movement on black money were the talk of the times when I came to Pune. I was myself trying to find a clue about persons playing with huge amount of black money. Now that foreign banks are under surveillance, what would be the modus operandi of earthling such enormous amount of black money running into billions and the way they are switched into the white category.

The answer was shouting all around me. This land must have been bought in hundreds of million rupees while on the paper just a meager amount would have emerged. The input cost and the selling cost will only break-even showing only marginal profit. Hundreds of millions of rupees would become thousand of millions of rupees overtime. But now, it would be exchanged with diamonds, platinum and gold so that it could be stashed in as little secure place as possible.Oh! that’s why gold price is sky rocketing!

Having said all these, what the citizen of India is getting in return. An environment friendly place to live very near to places where they are earning their bread. A barren rocky place is getting turned into a beautiful and environment friendly landscape.

Corruption landscaped. Isn’t it? The strange ways of the nature which made it possible for man to transit from unearthing eatables in primitive days to eating fast food on streets and culinary delights in five stars; living in caves during stone age and now living in a multistoried building with the most advanced amenities; from bullock carts to BMW; from donkeys to air-buses and finally getting an almost new heart, kidney and the liver to win the 100 year marathon.

Business Corruption

Certain enterprises would seem more inclined to take a higher moral ground when it comes to money. Sectors like government, education, healthcare and religion. However, as we are all too painfully aware this is just not the case.Here are some examples:

–Recently, we’ve heard of politicians who cheat, are influenced by lobbyist “donations,” and help their political and business friends make big bucks. They’ll put their friends on the payroll, give publicly financed scholarships to their families, violate ethics rules, steer money to certain industries, and not behave in the public interest. They will compensate themselves generously and look out more for government workers than the public at large.

–We have seen “for profit” education placing profit above education. Recently we’ve heard about major corporate educational institutions duping applicants, falsifying job placement reports, saddling students with unconscionable student loan debt, misleading students and graduates about the value of their educations, and generally fleecing the taxpayer.

–There have been instances of healthcare providers charging outrageous fees which are then billed to Medicare, Medicaid, private insurers or the patients. Recent scandals identify providers charging for services that haven’t even been delivered, or are redundant or unnecessary procedures. The government’s practice of paying claims without prior verification has come under scrutiny.

–Scandals among religious leaders and their organizations are rife. We provide generous tax exemptions to these organizations and they collect donations from their members, but many are so greedy that even this isn’t enough. They financially fleece their flocks and spend lavishly on themselves and their cronies.

Of course these are just illustrations. There are many ethical, honest, fair, moral businessmen, politicians, and religious leaders. Unfortunately, far too many do not consistently evidence these attributes and our perceptions are influenced accordingly.

A Cheatin’ Nation

A lyric in a popular country song by Hank Williams says “your cheatin’ heart will tell on you…” (Your Cheatin’ Heart, 1952). Well, it seems we’ve become a nation of cheaters. But do these cheaters have a heart? And, will it tell on the perpetrators? Or, will we have to rely on watchdog agencies, audits, regulatory bodies, media reporters, whistleblowers, public outrage, and the like?

I’m not a moral purist or absolutist, and, I completely understand that the profit motive has spurred progress, development, and incentivized business. However, I also believe that trust is important for the efficient conduct of business, and that cheating will lead to inefficiencies, cost and price distortions and loss of faith in essential private, governmental and societal entities. We all pay a price for dishonesty and deception.

How Corrupt are We?

A report issued by Transparency International, the “Corruption Perceptions Index,” (New York Times, October 26, 2010) is cause for concern. The Berlin-based organization defines corruption as “the abuse of entrusted power for private gain.” It incorporates such problems as illegal Wall Street practices, kickbacks, private money and influence in the political process, unethical corporate behaviors, etc.

The report reveals that while we’re still perceived as more honest than most countries, the perception of our overall integrity continues to erode. In 2010 the United States is ranked number twenty-two out of 178 nations. (We are no longer in the top twenty least corrupt nations.) The U.S. ranks below countries such as: Britain, Canada, Barbados, Qatar, New Zealand, Denmark, Singapore, Germany, Norway, Hong Kong, and Chile. However, we’re still well above Russia, Iraq, the Congo, Angola, Sudan, Afghanistan and Somalia. We still rank in the top 20%, but as the survey reports nearly three-quarters of the countries in the index have “serious corruption problems.”