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Friday, December 1, 2023

Your A, B, C and 1, 2, 3 of political economy: Corruption

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By Sarjo Bayang

Talking about corruption, someone said it is like a chunk of honey comb. That those who have it locked in their jaws cannot pronounce the name.
According to right thinking members of society, who may not always have any influence over matters, injustice is corruption by extension.

Laws become corrupt when they prevail without proper balance of justice. Legal injustice is a matter for the courtroom. Economic injustice raises moral questions.
Naming the devil and here comes one with many identities. Corruption traps are visible to curious observers every step of the way.
Without careful attention, many people easily fall into the trap of corruption and not knowing. Corruption and injustice are twin evils bearing slightly different names.

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Legal and economic injustice of corruption
Do we need dictionary meaning of corruption while our open eyes are face-to-face with unnamed elephant in the room everyone tries to ignore?
Considered from political, economic, social, and legal perspective, corruption is induced by injustice within society by diverse ways.

Legal injustice relates to judgment in the court room while depriving rightful owners their share of resources thereby giving undue gains to others is part of economic injustice. Alienation and other forms of segregation in society are attributes of corrupt social values.
Corruption is so rampant and yet, people pay blind eyes to some of its manifest. The vocabulary of statistics picks up corruption as it relates to incorrect or doubtful data. Corrupted data is considered invalid for realistic assessment.

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Advocates of civil society rights flag up issues born of corruption. When people are not treated fairly, perpetrators of the unfairness are no lesser corrupt than the rest in other domains.
By design or default, whenever some people gain undue advantage at the cost of others doing without, injustice is seen to be prevailing. The occasion permitting such unjust access or denial is corruption by extension of its infinite variety.


Abuse of public position for
personal interest is corruption
Taking undue advantage of entrusted position to divert resources for personal interest can affect others adversely. Corruption is not only a matter of economic interest seeking. Playing bias to create undue advantage for those being favoured is corrupt practice. Choosing to give favour without observing rules of fairness also counts as corruption.

When it affects resources and economic situations become an issue, corruption can be easily recognised. That is why people in charge of public resources attract so much attention and scrutiny. They are mostly associated with corruption unless proven otherwise.

Revenue collectors in some countries operate like private banking service. Not everything they collect from people falls in the book of accounts. Public trust is at lowest in matters of revenue collection. Some of the revenue collectors are openly corrupt. Their grabbing and amassing of money or material possession indicates that they operate with more than two little hands. Corruption cannot be ruled out without pains.
Everyone talks about justice delayed as justice denied. There is so much noise about injustice. What comes close to the lip and not often said by word of mouth is the ugly face of corruption.

Whenever there is outcry for injustice, due process of law is likely corrupted. But who dares to call our competent legal body corrupt without them asking you for proof with “evidence”.
Lawyers are strong brick layers in their own capabilities. Call them another name and face the challenge if you have no proof or evidence.


Bribery, corruption, and embezzlement
Those who give bribe are no lesser corrupt persons than the bribe takers. Illicit exchange of money for favour is the most visible practice in corrupt dealings. High scale corruption operates at other levels where the net is not big enough to catch size of fish involved.
Greasing the palm to make it soft is common saying in corruption language. Due process is largely flawed at very high cost to justice.

Roots of corruption can be traced extensively. Those entrusted with public resources are centre of attention due to the amount of shared interest.
Corruption is social issue and spreads branches in all other areas with human trace. Biased influences with unfair sense of consideration for others propel corruption.
In some countries, traffic accidents are largely caused by corruption. You may wonder how car accidents have link to corruption. Here is how.

Traffic controller blows the whistle and car driver is asked to produce documents. Lights and breaks get checked for any faults. No faults driver carries on. Another car is checked for similar faults. Something wrong with break and lights. It is during daytime and everything seems fine. Driver hands something by the left hand. Journey continues. One hour later a fatal car crash is reported. Whose fault?
Bribery, corruption and embezzlement can affect the entire economy. Bribe takers fill their personal pocket at expense of public revenue.

Over the long run, where will that place the economy?
Embezzlement of public funds is rampant financial malpractice. To keep many invisible hands in that illicit cash traffic can cause a business or whole government revenue at sinking levels. Corruption is the root to the few examples given and there are more.
Impact of corruption on the economy is beyond measure. Corruption affects business, society, legal system and the economy in vast ways.


Corruption in the legal system
By standard best practice and in principle, laws are meant to protect life and possession of everyone in society. You wonder what is there in the big book of laws for those of us without money or material possession that the law is to defend.

We have seen how money plays hands in defeating justice in matters between rich and poor. Rules are often bent down to knee level when the few in possession of money and material step on wrong side of the law. The same rules get tougher for those without means of taming the law.
If there is one word close enough to the lips, any sensible person would pronounce it as corruption. Others may still prefer calling it as eruption of justice.

The legal arena has good share of corruption and they are quick at defending it. Don’t you wonder why legal fees are lot more expensive than some other professional services cost?
To bend the rules that are made by other strong legal hands require toughness that the layman cannot stand.
Apart from challenge of interpreting the law to influence judgment, the legal tussle of bending rules in winning cases has much in it beyond eye level. We cannot all see through the thick layers that lawyers dare to erect their flag post.


Politics and corruption
It may be wrong to say that politics is corrupt but that is what most people think. Some politicians openly play bias in favour of those they call loyal supporters. They don’t hide their bias at all.
In project work, politicians sometimes take decisions by awarding contracts to whom they prefer by no account of merit.

Projects with high capital involved often require approval by politicians. That is where state ministers and top administration get their hands greased before the ink flows. Some of these are done behind close doors and those not part of the game may not get near enough to feel what flavour by smell in the kitchen. Association between politics and corruption is close tie.

When politicians allocate resources, they are more likely to give better share to those in their good books. That has become a norm to an extent nobody questions about it.
To suggest that politics is entirely a game of corruption may seem an extreme assumption. Some politicians know the boundary and strive to main fair balance in standard best practice. Just because some politicians are corrupt will not justify a sweeping statement painting all by same brush.
Thumbs up for our very genuine politicians serving best collective interest all the time. Why politics is associated with corruption, we may not have enough answers.


Global fight against corruption
Until formation of a global coalition in the fight against corruption began, the subject was a taboo.
Civil society is getting increasingly sensitised on corruption and the need for curbing it. Governments around the world are taking to task with rising pressure from the citizenry.
The year 1993 was when Peter Eigen a German found Transparency International, TI for short. Peter discovered corruption at various levels of government and the economy.

National Chapters of Transparency International make joint efforts to keep civil society informed. Over so many years now, the Corruption Index profiles nations around the world from least to most corrupt. There is hardly a nation on this planet without an element of corruption. The damage done by it is where big difference lies. For more about the global Corruption Index of nations and related matters.


Who is not corrupt?
Let those who feel clean throw their towel in the ring. Anyone guilty of bias has elements of corruption. Bias judgement and unfair distribution are norms in corrupt society.
You may choose not to be corrupt while someone uses your backyard as dumping ground of corruption. Society is soaked in corruption extensively. Traces of corruption when left to go on will grow in larger proportion. Injustice is a manifest of corruption by infinite variety. Least corrupt society enjoys greatest justice in many ways.

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