Corruption is everywhere
The 51th Letter of an Autonomous Thinker

Amsterdam, October 3 2004

Dear reader, 

Once I talked a long time with a Columbian judge. He told me that he earned about a thousand dollars a month. But, I said, you have a beautiful car. Yes I live on the same level as my colleagues elsewhere and I know how to get more money.
The world is globalised, with the same education he got the same salary as elsewhere because he had the power to use his elevated position for his own profit. That is corruption, the use of power – often connected with high functions – to get benefits for yourself or your group.

Corruption is an alarming characteristic of our society. It replaces the art of reasoning, the making of decisions on the basis of arguments, by the power of the position and the result in money terms. Corruption is not an independent phenomenon but an integrated part of the free market in which all is concentrated on dead monetary profits and not on the needs of living people. Corruption prevents that big human problems as hunger, poverty and avoidable diseases are solved.

The Third World is not more corrupt then our rich world where corruption is institutionalised. Western judges get legally many thousands of dollars. Our masspeople are forced to pay taxes and too high prices and the elite decides what to do with the money that they amass in this way.
Of course there is also some illegal corruption in the West. The Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City were bought. Though there was some protest the Games were still held in that place.
My central argument was not used. Better decisions are not taken when the wives of important persons are given expensive fur coats or invited for shopping sprees to spend many tens of thousands of dollars, are not taken when influential people are invited to lavish diners, when leading people travel First Class (or with the Concorde) and sleep in five-star hotels so they can smell at a life style they do not encounter in their normal private life. The five million dollar spent in Salt Lake City to influence opinions did have result. But was it the best, the most honest, the wanted result?

Corruption is legalised in the Western World. The powerful elite gets always more than the masses. And that is exactly the definition of corruption, Surplus of power enables elitepeople to favour the own group. The not-controlled use of public or private money by people who have command over this money is one of the aspects of corruption that is permitted in the West. Western corruption is not less costly than the corruption in the Third World .

In illegal as well as in legal corruption power stands central. Actions must not ask for “more decent leaders or for  “better” decisions but must undermine the power which enables the elite to make laws that makes it not necessary to be as openly corrupt as in the Third World.

See also my Third Letter, Gatesian Corruption

Yours truly, Joost van Steenis


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