November 6, 2005

Speaking of Corruption and France...

The Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index for 2005 came out on October 18th. Commissioned by Prof. Dr J. Graf Lambsdorff of the University of Passau, this a quite a detailed look at corruption on a national scale based on research by 10 national and international institutions organizations. You could probably spend hours reading and following all the links in the report!

-- The TI Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) ranks countries in terms of the degree to which corruption is perceived to exist among public officials and politicians. It is a composite index, drawing on corruption-related data in expert surveys carried out by a variety of reputable institutions. It reflects the views of business people and analysts from around the world, including experts who are locals in the countries evaluated.

--The CPI focuses on corruption in the public sector and defines corruption as the abuse of public office for private gain.

Read the FAQs here

One detail that may stand out to the Chant readers is that France ( a favorite country of most of this site’s frequent visitors) is more corrupt than the United States. Thats right, France! Yes its close but France IS more corrupt than America.. Its funny because there are factions in America that think France is such a stellar, fantastic county what with their passivist-no-Wal-Mart-anti-American beliefs. Yet they suck more than America, at least as far as corruption is concerned.

A good part of the world and many Americans themselves view the US as an immoral, pseudo imperialist, bully who rolls into town, beats down native peoples and imposes its globalist/military/cultural ways on everyone. They don’t like us and they don’t like our polices. America has made mistakes. But other countries are just as naughty if not more so and are often down right criminal.

In reality, its France that’s more corrupt and therefore LESS moral than the United States. I believe you can interpret the corruption list as viewing those countries towards the top more as moral, and those countries towards the bottom as less moral.

It makes sense right? I mean if you take bribes, commit extortion, lie, engage in Enron like accounting practices you can’t really be said to be a moral government can you? Certainly there exists good and bad people in the governments of all countries, but the proportions vary considerably.

Now lets return to France. Let me point out that France “hates freedom.” That’s right, you read correctly. I actually said it, oh yes, read it again to make sure. They don’t have the religious freedom we in America have. The French despise this expression so much, like Craig mentioned in his post, that the actually passed a law against it in an attempt to “preserve French secular traditions from Muslim fundamentalism.“ Shockingly intolerant is it not?

So in fact France is just as bad, and often worse than the USA, and the two are far less corrupt than all the countries in Africa.

The ill-founded war in Iraq doesn’t make America as corrupt as, say, Chad. And an administration that opposes gay marriage isn’t immoral because its just a belief with equally valid sides; some people think gay marriage is immoral, but stealing money, extorting people, regardless, are for sure forms of corruption.

W., Karl Rove, leaking CIA agents names is certainly scandalous, but remember, we have a far higher percentage of competent officials that keep our government running smoothly. Many African officials commit numerous crimes on a frequent basis that don't get as much press because they're not the world super power.

Imperialist European nations can’t be responsible for EVERY thing wrong on that continent, but thus far, no African Bill Cosby has stepped up to speak the truth.

Lets address the African issue brought up by the CPI. First lets look at some content of the report regarding wealth:

Wealth does not determine progress against corruption

Wealth is not a prerequisite for successful control of corruption. New long-term analysis of the CPI carried out by Prof. Dr. Johann Graf Lambsdorff shows that the perception of corruption has decreased significantly in lower-income countries such as Estonia, Colombia and Bulgaria over the past decade. In the case of higher-income countries such as Canada and Ireland, however, there has been a marked increase in the perception of corruption over the past ten years, showing that even wealthy, high-scoring countries must work to maintain a climate of integrity. Similarly, the responsibility in the fight against corruption does not fall solely on lower-income countries. Wealthier countries, apart from facing numerous corruption cases within their own borders, must share the burden by ensuring that their companies are not involved in corrupt practices abroad. Offenders must be prosecuted and debarred from public bidding. The opportunity for ensuring sustainable progress also lies in the hands of the World Trade Organization, which needs to actively promote transparency and anti-corruption in global trade.

The lessons are clear: risk factors such as government secrecy, inappropriate influence of elite groups and distorted political finance apply to both wealthy and poorer countries, and no rich country is immune to the scourge of corruption.

Transparency International urges the following actions: By lower-income countries * Increase resources and political will for anti-corruption efforts. * Enable greater public access to information about budgets, revenue and expenditure

Hmmm. It doesn’t say anything about giving Africa money as a way to ease corruption.

--According to Transparency International, the African state (Chad) is marked by political instability, human rights abuses and weak press freedom.

--Africa is the most corrupt continent in the world, --The watchdog organisation says that out of 44 African nations covered in its 2005 corruption perceptions index, 31 of them scored less than three —“a sign of rampant corruption” — on a scale of zero to 10. --But the main responsibility for change is among Africa’s ruling elites, he says. “The prime changes have to happen in Africa itself but it does seem to be getting worse.” --“The country is marked by political instability, human rights abuses and weak press freedom,” the body says. --When countries improve governance and reduce corruption, they reap a“development dividend” that, according to the World Bank Institute, can include improved child mortality rates, higher per capita income and greater literacy.

Now the goal of Live 8 was to

“...double aid, fully cancelling debt, and delivering trade justice for Africa...”

But will this help? Over a $100 billion has been given to Africa since the early 1970s and look how much that has helped.

And here is an excerpt from make poverty history, website which is linked to a Live 8 website:

Poverty will not be eradicated without an immediate and major increase in international aid. Rich countries have promised to provide the extra money needed to meet the internationally agreed poverty reduction targets. This amounts to at least $50 billion per year and must be delivered now. Rich countries have also promised to provide 0.7% of their national income in aid and they must now make good on their commitment by setting a binding timetable to reach this target.

Here we go with the money thing again even though we know that hasn’t helped much in the past.

The site does acknowledge that the way aid is distributed needs to be changed:

However, without far-reaching changes in how aid is delivered, it won't achieve maximum benefits. Aid needs to focus better on poor people's needs. This means more aid being spent on areas such as basic health care and education...Aid should support poor countries' and communities' own plans and paths out of poverty.

But what is the plan for how to implement these changes? They just talk about throwing money at the problem with no set strategy.

The site does mention corruption, but it doesn’t place the appropriate blame. It just talks about how poor people suffer but not who (African governments themselves) is primarily responsible:

Corruption is an issue which affects both rich and poor countries, but it is the poorest people who suffer most from it. Poor people in developing countries expect the aid and debt relief received by their government to be spent in ways which actually improve their lives. Similarly, taxpayers in rich countries expect finance to poorer countries to be spent on fighting poverty. MPH believes corruption must be tackled in order to make poverty history,
and that a number of actions, by both developing countries and rich countries, will help to fight corruption.

“A number of actions”? What does that mean? Where is the talk about how African governments are the most corrupt in the world and how they’re incompetence is crippling their people?

You won’t see any talk about that because this site isn’t interested in laying out all the facts, they want their agenda implemented and don’t want to face certain truths.

Debt relief doesn’t make a country wealthy, but it also doesn’t help end corruption which is Africa’s biggest problem.

Thirty years from now are we going to be saying the same things about Africa? Is it still going to be in retched poverty, corrupt beyond any nation in the western world?

Most likely.


Laura said...

Hmmm....where to begin?

I don't understand why France's government being more corrupt than we are makes it unreasonable to prefer certain aspects of French culture and deplore others. And it doesn't make the U.S. look better to compare ourselves. All you're saying is, yeah okay our government is corrupt, but we shouldn't worry about it, because France is worse.

Frankly, France should be worse. We should be better than any country in the world, since we are the ones throwing our military weight around the world and telling other people how to govern themselves. If we are putting ourselves in a position to be leaders in the world, than we should be beyond reproach.

Then you go on to talk about the corruption in Africa as though the corruption caused the poverty. I think it's more accurate to say that it's the other way around.

Think about it Tyler, if people could get out of poverty and make a better life for themselves without being corrupt or immoral, don't you think they would? Furthermore, you are talking about people who don't have the luxury (and never doubt that it is a luxury) of morality. Quite frankly if I had to choose between morality and survival for the people I love, I can't say that morality would win. It is easy to say that people should suffer rather than do something immoral, or corrupt. And it's even easier for an American to say it. And who's to say what's moral? Is it moral to let your family starve to death?

It may sound incredibly idealistic to say that given the choice people would be moral, and I am aware that some people are just bad people, who are determined to hurt and take advantage of other people at any cost. This is why corruption exists even in countries that have the luxury of morality and don't have staggering poverty.

Poverty isn't easy to end, and there are no easy answers, and maybe just giving aid in the form of debt relief isn't enough. But, I don't think that anyone can doubt that African nations need help to end this cycle of poverty and corruption. And even if we don't agree on which causes which, I think that we can both agree that the two feed off of each other. Poverty leads to corruption which in turn leads to deeper poverty. Or, if you prefer, corruption leads to poverty, which in turn causes more corruption. There has to be a way to break that cycle.

And speaking of morality, is it moral to not act in the face of such devastating suffering? Could you look at a child suffering from starvation and tell that child you don't want to give him a meal because it's not your responsibility, because their parents failed to provide decent nutrition, you shouldn't help them? It's easy to not want to help impersonal masses of "poor people" but when you take it to that personal level it becomes much harder. And you are kidding yourself if you think it's not personal. Watch a child die of starvation, Tyler. Or see a child so lethargic from starvation it can't even keep flies from laying eggs in its mucous membranes. This is what people in Africa live with every day. Are you saying you wouldn't steal money or food do something corrupt to keep that from happening to your child?

And while we're at it, let's talk about how devastating starvation can be. Starvation causes brain malfunction. Your brain needs food to develop properly. So, how can you expect that a nation full of starving people would be able to figure out a way to fix the problem themselves?

This is just more of that same old bullshit we've been hearing for years. Poor people are poor because they are lazy, so we shouldn't help them. Let me ask you, Tyler....have you ever had to borrow money from anyone? Have you ever had to ask for help when for some reason or other you fell short? If you are like everyone else I've ever met, then you have. Would your friends or family or even a bank, say gee you must be lazy or you wouldn't need this help? No, of course not.

In the long run, helping to end poverty in Africa helps everyone, just like helping poor Americans out of poverty helps America. It leads to improved economies and people who can be moral and who can demand the same from their government. If you can't bring yourself to think help should be given simply because it is wrong to let another human being suffer if you can help end their suffering, then look at it this way. Helping end poverty will eventually help you. Without poverty, taxes would be lower, since people would be able to care for themselves without assistance. Without poverty, crime decreases, without poverty healthcare becomes more affordable, since you aren't helping to cover the costs of people defaulting on medical bills.

Oh, and in terms of religious freedom, yes we have it here, for the most part. But, if we keep up the way we're going, with a government bowing to the wishes of the religious right, we won't. And it won't just be us queers feeling the results of the religious right's oppression. They want to end birth control and abortion. They want to teach "intelligent design" in our schools and bring prayer back to the schools while they're at it. If things keep up the way they are going, religious freedom will be a thing of the past.

Erin said...

Germany is less corrupt than the US. So if we follow this logic about corruption equals morality, then obvioulsy Germans are more moral than Americans.

Personally I think it's the beer. If we drank more beer we'd have less corruption. Denmark is #4 on the least corrupt list and I know for a fact that Danes drink A LOT of beer. Germans drink a lot of beer and the French do NOT. They drink wine. And those Russians, whoa boy, they drink VODKA! And speaking of that, what do the Chinese drink anyway?

Think I'm being silly? Damn right! What does corruption have to do with morality? And what does morality have to do with being a good leader? Jimmy Carter was a very good person, great morals (everyone seems to agree on this), no corruption to speak of, and was a lousy president. Clinton banged an intern, but I think he did a great job (of being president, but not at picking women - Monica? Really!). Dubya "holier than thou" Bush has kept us all in the dark about a lot of things and many would say he has the "right" morals. But is he a good leader for the country?

The corruption index seems to really only point to how much a particular country's tax payers are getting screwed. Yeah, we're getting screwed less than France and 140 other countries! I think I'll raise a beer and toast the 16 countries who screw their tax payers even less!