Perception or not, corruption isn’t limited to Third World

corruption index

Transparency International, a German-based organization, recently released its world Corruption Perceptions Index for 2015.

Not surprisingly, North Korea, Somalia, Afghanistan and Sudan ranked near the bottom of the index, which measures widespread corruption in the public sphere, and also factors in instances of abuses of power, secret dealings, bribery, child labor, human trafficking, environmental destruction and terrorism, among other things.

Transparency International found that corruption was rife in 68 percent of the world’s countries: It would be interesting to see a similar index for US states.

If the actual machinations that go on with misuse of tax dollars, corporate incentives and lawmaker ethics, among many other things, weren’t both so well cloaked by those in power and so often overlooked by US citizens, it wouldn’t be surprising to see a number of states ranked somewhere around the nations of Eastern Europe in terms of corruption.

The difference between the US and other parts of the world isn’t a lack of corruption, it’s that our elected officials are better at hiding it, aren’t quite so ostentatious in showing off their ill-gotten booty and generally don’t kill those who threaten to expose them.

I’d imagine the same is the case in other so-called “first-world” nations such as Canada, the UK and France. Even highly ranked countries such as Denmark (No. 1), Finland (No. 2) and Sweden (No. 3), have problems.

They just have fewer issues than lower-ranked countries and their corruption occurs in a more “white collar” manner – say spanking new roads and public buildings in friends’ areas in exchange for laundered kickbacks along with incredibly generous government pensions, as opposed to naked looting of the government coffers and outright execution of opponents.

Like most things in life, it’s all in how you play the game.

(Top: Transparency International’s 2015 Corruption Perceptions Index. The darker the country the more corrupt the public sector; the lighter the less corrupt. Greenland, Antarctica and Western Sahara seem pretty safe.)

7 thoughts on “Perception or not, corruption isn’t limited to Third World

  1. I think the “perception” bit in the description is the important element here. The idea that Singapore and Hong Kong could be in the top 20 for low levels of corruption is debatable, to say the least. The United Arab Emirates, Bhutan and Botswana in the top 30 is just plain ridiculous. That is definitely game playing 😉

    • One of the first things I noticed as I moused over different countries was the UAE’s ranking. That it’s anywhere near, say, a Canada, is indeed ridiculous.

      Thanks in no small part to the legacy of the Ottoman Empire, getting anything done just about anywhere in the Middle East involves some degree of misconduct. Sometimes it’s not much more than slipping someone a little extra money or some contraband, but let’s not be deluded by government officials and their Potemkin villages.

  2. Here’s a link to goings on in the U.K.which illustrates your point to a T:

    Moving from the U.K.of the eighties to France was an eye opener where corruption was concerned – it was taken for granted, as a fact of life. Needless to say, membership of the European Union has brought the U.K.up to speed in this respect these days.

    Moving from France to Costa Rica brought cries of ‘Central America! The corruption!’ from friends….
    All I can say is that it is very like France….without the hypocrisy.

    • I actually respect the way things are done in places like Costa Rica. At least they’re upfront about it, rather than picking and choosing who they’re going to prosecute and then touting the occasional arrest as though they’ve slain the corruption giant.

    • Well, Russia is the exception, as is Australia, but you may be on to something. Of course, I think the more “advanced” the society, the better its officials are at covering up corruption, as well.

      • I agree with you, but life IS safer in those places for the average citizen, I think. Australia is sort of an exception, but the southern part of Australia would have to be compared to the northern part. 🙂

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