The Human Truth Foundation

Corruption - The Abuse of Power by Politicians

By Vexen Crabtree 2017

#corruption #democracy #politics

Corruption (2012-2016)1
Pos.Higher is better
Avg Score1
1Denmark90.8
2New Zealand90.6
3Finland89.4
4Sweden88.2
5Norway86.0
6Switzerland85.8
7Singapore85.2
8Netherlands83.4
9Canada82.2
10Luxembourg81.6
World Avg43.05
q=176.

Corruption is the abuse of public office for private gain2. There are many forms of corruption. Politicians can sometimes (1) steal money (theft or embezzlement), (2) accept bribes (such as backhanders for awarding government contracts to companies), (3) give bribes (i.e., for electoral support or support in the mass media), (4) improperly coerce others (extortion), (5) give positions of power to friends and family without fairly seeking other applicants for those jobs (cronyism), or (6) grant favours to friends and family (nepotism) such as buying services from them at inflated prices (graft). The least corrupt countries between 2012-2016 were Denmark, New Zealand and Finland1 and the worst were Somalia, N. Korea and Afghanistan1.


1. Corruption and the Social And Moral Development Index

The chart on the right shows the best countries. The data comes from Transparency International, who publish annual statistics on corruption. The values given show the average over the latest 5 years for which data is published (2012-2016), in accordance with the Social and Moral Index's long-term approach. The Social and Moral Development Index concentrates on moral issues and human rights, violence, public health, equality, tolerance, freedom and effectiveness in climate change mitigation and environmentalism, and on some technological issues. A country scores higher for achieving well in those areas, and for sustaining that achievement in the long term. Those countries towards the top of this index can truly said to be setting good examples and leading humankind onwards into a bright, humane, and free future. See: Which are the Best Countries in the World? The Social and Moral Development Index..

2. The Undermining of Democracy

#corruption #democracy #politics

In 1997 the new Labour prime minister, Tony Blair, swiftly got into hot water over whether there were connections between a £1 million donation his party had received from the boss of the Formula One motor-racing business, Bernie Ecclestone, and the subsequent exemption of Formula One from a ban on tobacco advertising which was being introduced at that time by the EU. [...] More than a decade later, by which time Blair had stood down as prime minister, official documents were released showing that he had in fact instructed his ministers to seek a permanent exemption for Formula One.

"The Fate of the West" by Bill Emmott (2017)3

Democracy should not mean "the best politics and policy that a billionaire, a banker or a technology monopolist can buy" and such a phenomenon soon undermines democracy4. Despite this, corruption is rife in some countries, and sometimes local practices encourage it, such as paying minor officials below a wage on which they can live5.

Corruption undermines democracy in a number of ways. It distorts public priorities, by channelling investment into projects where the rewards of corruption are largest and easiest to conceal. It breaches the trust between the people and their elected politicians. And it undermines confidence that the electoral process can be used to change people's lives for the better, rather than feather the nests of those elected. Corruption is much more prevalent in developing than developed countries, partly because of limited economic opportunities [...] and inadequate salaries, and partly because of the absence of a strong culture of public service and public interest. However, it is also colluded in by businesses in the developed world, in their eagerness to secure lucrative contracts abroad.

"Democracy: A Beginner's Guide" by Beetham, David (2005)6

3. Full Results (2012-2016 Average)

#corruption #politics

Corruption (2012-2016)1
Pos.Higher is better
Avg Score1
1Denmark90.8
2New Zealand90.6
3Finland89.4
4Sweden88.2
5Norway86.0
6Switzerland85.8
7Singapore85.2
8Netherlands83.4
9Canada82.2
10Luxembourg81.6
11Australia80.8
12Germany79.6
13Iceland79.2
14UK78.0
15Belgium76.0
16Hong Kong75.6
17Japan74.2
18USA74.0
19Ireland72.6
20Uruguay72.6
21Austria72.2
22Barbados71.5
23Chile70.4
24France70.0
25Bahamas69.8
26UAE68.6
27St Lucia68.3
28Estonia68.2
29Qatar67.4
30Bhutan64.2
q=176.
Corruption (2012-2016)1
Pos.Higher is better
Avg Score1
31Botswana63.0
32Portugal62.8
33Cyprus61.6
34St Vincent & Grenadines61.5
35Israel61.2
36Taiwan61.2
37Poland60.8
38Spain60.0
39Slovenia59.4
40Dominica58.3
41Cape Verde57.8
42Brunei57.7
43Lithuania57.4
44Malta56.6
45Grenada56.0
46Costa Rica54.8
47S. Korea54.6
48Latvia54.0
49Mauritius54.0
50Rwanda52.6
51Hungary52.4
52Georgia52.4
53Czechia51.8
54Malaysia50.0
55Namibia50.0
56Slovakia49.0
57Jordan48.6
58Bahrain48.4
59Croatia48.4
60Saudi Arabia47.4
q=176.
Corruption (2012-2016)1
Pos.Higher is better
Avg Score1
61Cuba46.8
62Oman45.8
63Ghana45.8
64Turkey45.4
65Lesotho45.2
66Romania44.8
67Kuwait44.2
68Italy43.8
69S. Africa43.6
70Montenegro43.2
71Sao Tome & Principe42.8
72Macedonia42.2
73Solomon Islands42.0
74Greece41.8
75Senegal41.8
76Bulgaria41.4
77Brazil41.2
78Serbia40.8
79Tunisia40.2
80Bosnia & Herzegovina40.0
81Jamaica38.8
82Burkina Faso38.8
83China38.4
84El Salvador38.0
85Suriname38.0
86Mongolia38.0
87Liberia38.0
88Trinidad & Tobago37.8
89Zambia37.8
90India37.6
q=176.
Corruption (2012-2016)1
Pos.Higher is better
Avg Score1
91Sri Lanka37.6
92Panama37.4
93Morocco37.2
94Peru37.0
95Benin36.8
96Colombia36.6
97Thailand36.6
98Maldives36.0
99Philippines35.6
100Algeria35.2
101Armenia35.0
102Gabon35.0
103Albania34.4
104Egypt34.2
105Argentina34.2
106Niger34.2
107Indonesia34.2
108Djibouti34.0
109Bolivia34.0
110Malawi33.8
111Kosovo33.8
112Moldova33.8
113Ethiopia33.2
114Mexico32.8
115Ecuador32.6
116Belarus32.6
117Mali32.2
118Tanzania32.2
119Vietnam31.4
120Dominican Rep.31.4
q=176.
Corruption (2012-2016)1
Pos.Higher is better
Avg Score1
121Ivory Coast30.8
122Timor-Leste (E. Timor)30.8
123Togo30.4
124Sierra Leone30.2
125Mozambique30.0
126Guatemala30.0
127Mauritania29.8
128Guyana29.6
129Pakistan29.2
130Gambia29.0
131Honduras28.8
132Nepal28.6
133Azerbaijan28.6
134Madagascar28.4
135Lebanon28.2
136Russia28.2
137Kazakhstan28.0
138Nicaragua27.6
139Iran27.2
140Nigeria26.6
141Ukraine26.6
142Comoros26.4
143Cameroon26.2
144Uganda26.2
145Kyrgyzstan26.2
146Paraguay26.0
147Kenya26.0
148Bangladesh25.8
149Papua New Guinea25.6
150Laos25.4
q=176.
Corruption (2012-2016)1
Pos.Higher is better
Avg Score1
151Guinea25.0
152Central African Rep.23.8
153Tajikistan23.6
154Congo, (Brazzaville)22.8
155Congo, DR21.6
156Myanmar (Burma)21.4
157Zimbabwe21.0
158Cambodia21.0
159Chad20.4
160Burundi20.2
161Eritrea19.8
162Angola19.4
163Guinea-Bissau19.2
164Syria18.8
165Haiti18.8
166Yemen18.4
167Venezuela18.4
168Uzbekistan18.4
169Turkmenistan18.2
170Libya16.8
171Iraq16.6
172S. Sudan13.8
173Sudan12.2
174Afghanistan10.8
175N. Korea08.8
176Somalia08.4
q=176.

4. Other Challenges That Democracies Face

#commercialism #democracy #government #politics

Corruption is just one challenge facing democracies:

Democracy does not work well in all circumstances7; it faces challenges from every level of society. These must be continually resisted on every front8.

  1. Large corporations and multinationals can defend their own interests and use their effects on the economy to sway governments in an undemocratic manner9,10. Powerful industries spend huge amounts of money on producing fake science, fake news reports and manipulative "lobby groups" to influence policy-makers: oil11,12,13 and tobacco13,14,15 lobbies are infamous for this. Newspaper companies have far too much power16,17, sometimes running campaigns as part of political deals with various parties and damaging democracy in the process.

  2. Voters themselves need to be educated and well-informed in order to vote wisely18,19 but they do not do so, often voting on short-term and shallow issues that are not in their own long-term interests20,21, making some worry if democracy at all can continue to function20. Many democracies witness a continual decline in the numbers of people who bother to pay any interest in politics, let alone to vote22. A constant threat is the 'majority rules' impule, that can lead to the 'tyranny of the majority' or 'mob rule' situations in which outisders and minorities become unfiarly persecuted23,24,25.

  3. There are problems with political parties and governments. Short-term policies such as increasing spending keep governments in power26 whereas wiser, long-term policies are less popular with voters. Highly motivated activists can exert undue pressure on governments27. Dictators, bigots, fascists and separatists can all be voted in along the same lines as anyone else28. Some governments come to abuse power, and, single-issue-parties and ethnic/separatist parties prevent the equality-of-opportunity and balance that should come from government. Finally, politicians themselves are sometimes corrupt.

In short, constant vigilence is required to prevent "democracy´s own weaknesses lead[ing] to disaster"27 , and a system of balances and checks must be maintained, to ensure that the democratic system is not going astray.