Wednesday, September 24, 2008

A Corrupting Influence


Somalia is 180th out of 180. Iraq is second from bottom. Haiti fourth from bottom. And Afghanistan lies in 176th place.

No, it’s not the FIFA world rankings- but the 2008 Corruption Perception Index, published by the Berlin-based Transparency International.All the countries above have one thing in common: they’ve all experienced ‘interventions’ in one way or another, in recent years by the US. Surely something for supporters of US interventions in the affairs of other sovereign states to ponder.

The other revealing thing about the survey is the countries at the top. Among the top fifteen least corrupt nations in the world are Norway, Austria, Canada, New Zealand and Sweden- and- at number one- Denmark. All are countries with a relatively small gap between rich and poor- in fact Denmark and Norway are among the most egalitarian societies on this planet. The message is clear: if you operate a mixed economy with progressive taxation and a welfare state you are much less likely to have a corrupt society.

As to Britain- well - turbo-capitalism is taking its toll. We’ve fallen four places in the ratings, to 16th, with Transparency International reporting “The weakening performance of some wealthy countries… casts a further critical light on government commitment to rein in the questionable methods of their companies in acquiring and managing overseas business”. The more openly capitalistic Britain has become, the more corrupt we have become too. If we do want to climb in the top ten, and reduce corruption, then have to return to the sort of progressive economic policies we followed back in the 1960s and 70s.

7 comments:

Roland Hulme said...

Progressive economic policies like the three day work week and rubbish piling up outside our homes?

This article is misleading - that survey's only been carried out for 11 years, so Britain's performance has less to do with 'turbo capitalism' and more to do with over a decade of a labor government.

I mean, right now our prime minister isn't even ELECTED. Talk about corrupt.

jolies-couleurs said...

There are factors, other than income equality, that help explain the Nordic minimisation of corruption: freedom of information and government transparency being one.

However, on Roland's point, for the record economic growth from 1945 until Nixon's dismantling of the Bretton Woods post-war financial settlement was both higher on average than post 1971, and was more evenly distributed, in the U.S. in particular.

Three day weeks aside: we were a more equal society and just as happy (if not happier than now).

cramerj said...

Really - never 'when in Rome do as the Romans do'?
The real corruption is the ritual misrepresentation to obtain advantage - from doctors issuing certificates for 'depression' - spin from the government at the top.
Nowadays everyone follows the latest corruption.

Roland Hulme said...

Erm... I'll admit, I was only a baby in Britain, 1978, but do you REMEMBER Britain in 1978?

Happy? Yeah, right. That's why Maggie got elected in, because the people were SO happy with the way Labor was running the country.

Neil Clark said...

Roland: I'm sorry you've bought into the great neoliberal rewrite of history in relation to 70s Britain.
Britain was doing very well in 78-and North Sea oil was just coming on tap. If we'd have stayed on the same mixed economy path, we'd be much better off than we are today.
The great tragedy, as I've said many times before is that Jim Callaghan didn't go to the country in September 1978- Labour would have won and we wouldn't have had Thatcherism.

neil craig said...

None of the countries at the top can be described as not practitioners of fre markets & Singapore (#4) & Hong Kong )#12) are about as supportive of free enterprise as anybody & in regions where, unlike Scandanavia, corruption is a way of life.

Nonetheless you do make a fair pointb about income inequality. Whether income inequality is, over the long term, fostered by free enterprise is a matter of divided opinions. However crony/family/lobbyist rule certainly does foster both inequality & corruption. These seem to be at least as common in socialist countries as free enterprise ones, as Premier Sung shows and are certainly signs of interventionsit states. The previous S&L & current Wall St bail outs show how government intervention tends actually to help the wealthy. You are quite right that, whatever the cause, we are getting more crony rule in the UK.

The point about invading places causing corruption is well made. Quisling rule is hardly likely to be honest. Yet another proof that our policy of running other countries "for their own good" does no good.

douglasbass said...

I encourage you to write a post on Denmark, and what it does that gave it such high marks in this report.

I was pleased with Senator McCain mentioning the corrupt practice of "earmarking" as "the gateway drug of overspending and corruption" in the recent presidential debate.

And you don't want to know about the earmarks Senator Obama requested that helped his Illinois State Senate mentor, Emil Jones