Wednesday, March 22, 2006

What is corruption ?

What about corruption ? Is it such a bad thing ? Well if you ask me, the answer is a strong no.
Although corruption is a very strong signal of a bad thing. But corruption in itself is not as bad as people make it out to be.

My definition of corruption is from a libertarian perspective. It occurs strictly when a private person or firm needs to "grease the wheels" of government to get something done.

A work colleague told me of how a rich uncle wanted to open a paper mill in Indonesia. The business looked great on paper, it would provide paper products to consumers and generate employment. But.. in Indonesia, you need a rubber stamp from some minister or bureaucrat to go ahead. The solution for his uncle ? ? A briefcase full of money paid as a bribe.

Now maybe back here in Australia, a person wants to build a home in a certain way that doesn't meet strict council regulations and building codes. It would cost them additional thousands of dollars to redesign their home to comply, and its money that they might not have. The only way they can afford a home is perhaps to spend a few hundred bribing a council official to approve the home.

In fact, I challenge readers to give me examples of where corruption occurs that does not involves government power. The AWB example occurred namely because Saddam Hussein and his socialist Ba'athist government controlled all imports. The only way to sell Australian wheat to Iraqis was to incorporate a premium in the purchase price, which was then sent back to Iraq as a kickback to the dictator.

My last post below dealt with the media mentality towards holding ministers and public servants accountable. Accountability is a very nice sounding word, and I'm sure its very reassuring to many people to think that we have the mainstream media to "keep the bastards honest". The general ideology behind this is that we can give government power over every aspect of our lives, and the media will root out ineptitude and corruption.

My mentality is to keep the bastards out of power. And not through some naive method of trying to vote in a party full of perfect super-intelligent, impeccably honest boyscouts through elections. These party's do not exist, every political party is full of humans, and humans often make mistakes and are really bad at making decisions for other people. Once you give a government control to regulate others lives and businesses, those other people will have an incentive to lobby, bribe or just plain defy government to carry on in their daily lives.

My plan is to have as much liberty and freedom in society as possible, so that government will wield as little power as is absolutely necessary.

Whenever the media try to create a fiasco, the issue boils down to either:

  • a storm in a teacup - it isn't reasonable to expect anybody government to be aware of a particular problem. E.g with unfairly deporting someone, because there may be thousands of other cases for the government to review.
  • ineptitude - maybe it was reasonable for the government to be aware, but they were too lazy or not capable of dealing with the issue.
  • corruption - they knew of a problem, and were complicit in it for their own gain. This could be for money, prestige, media coverage, helping out friends and cronies etc.
So I've explained above that there will always be ineptitude in a government. They are human like us and they often make mistakes. When government is big and has its tentacles in every aspect of our lives, they will make even more mistakes. Ineptitude should be expected. Corruption is no different. Whilst a robust and free media CERTAINLY help reduce corruption and add to the likely costs of getting caught, the only way to remove the incentive is to get government out of our daily lives and our businesses.

They should stick to police, defence and upholding our rights and liberties.