Why Fight It?

Corruption must be fought because the costs are massive. At a macro-level they fall into one of four broad categories: social, political, economic and environmental. These macro-level characteristics have an impact on every citizen in a community. We may also impacted by corruption in our day-to-day lives as a result of the actions of corrupt individuals: in loosing a job opportunity to a lesser qualified person who happens to have the right connections, in the fixing of scales at the market so we pay for, but do not receive a kilo of a product and so on.

First lets look at Macro level corruption:

Social

The effect of corruption on the social fabric of society is the most damaging of all. It undermines people’s trust in the political system, in its institutions and its leadership. Frustration and general apathy among a disillusioned public result in a weak civil society. That in turn clears the way for despots as well as democratically elected yet unscrupulous leaders to turn national assets into personal wealth. Demanding and paying bribes become the norm. Those unwilling to comply often emigrate, leaving the country drained of its most able citizens.

Political

On the political front, corruption constitutes a major obstacle to democracy and the rule of law. In a democratic system, offices and institutions lose their legitimacy when they are misused for private advantage. Though this is harmful in the established democracies, it is even more so in newly emerging ones. Accountable political leadership can not develop in a corrupt climate.

Economically

Economically, corruption leads to the depletion of national wealth. It is often responsible for the funneling of scarce public resources to uneconomic high-profile projects, such as dams, power plants, pipelines and refineries, at the expense of less spectacular but fundamental infrastructure projects such as schools, hospitals and roads, or the supply of power and water to rural areas. Furthermore, it hinders the development of fair market structures and distorts competition, thereby deterring investment.

Environmental

Environmental degradation is yet another consequence of corrupt systems. The lack of, or non-enforcement of, environmental regulations and legislation has historically allowed the North to export its polluting industry to the South. At the same time, careless exploitation of natural resources, from timber and minerals to elephants, by both domestic and international agents has led to ravaged natural environments. Environmentally devastating projects are given preference in funding, because they are easy targets for siphoning off public money into private pockets.

Now let´s look at day-to-day / personal level corruption:

In many developed nations people may be impacted by “the old boy network” allows people of lesser ability to  get better jobs or advance in their career because they have the right connections, skin colour, age etc. This situation is annoying, but such examples tend to be even more widespread in developing nations where inequalities are greater and social mobility is much more restricted.

Where options are limited, access to public services are often controlled by gatekeepers. They may be official administrators with power, but they may just as easily be people with the right personal connections for those that can pay. Those that cannot pay in cash, may be forced to pay in other ways such as prostitution, or forced labor. The victims are often the easiest to exploit: children, women and the elderly.

Sources:

  • Information on macro-level is based on that supplied by Transparency International
  • Information regarding day-to-day personal level corruption is based on the readings, opinions and experiences of the author



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