- Pages: 13
- Word count: 3226
- Category: Corruption
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The word corruption means the destruction, ruining or the spoiling of a society or a nation. A corrupt society stops valuing integrity, virtue or moral principles. It changes for the worse. Such a society begins to decay and sets itself on the road to self destruction. Corruption is an age old phenomena. Selfishness and greed are the two main causes of corruption. Political corruption is the abuse of their powers by state officials for their unlawful private gain. Over 1500 years ago the mighty Roman Empire disintegrated when its rulers became corrupt and selfish. Nations having a tyrannical powerful ruling elite that refuses to punish the corrupt within it, face the menace of corruption. A corrupt society is characterized by immorality and lack of fear and respect for the law. Corruption cannot be divorced from economics. Inequality of wealth, low wages and salaries are some of the economic causes of corruption. Employees often strike corrupt deals to supplement their meager incomes. A license-permit regime or scarcity of basic commodities promotes corruption. In societies where traditional, religious, ethical teaching and standards of morality are weak, corruption often thrives.
These values should be revived among their congregations and subjects and in this effort religious leaders and chiefs have an important role to play. Of late, the media has carried out a large number of stories of prophets who misuse offerings and traditional healers who abuse their patients. The judiciary, the law enforcement agencies and the education sector have an important role to play to fight corruption by changing the prevailing laws, punishments and the education system. Corruption has prevailed in all forms of government. Various forms of corruption include extortion, graft, bribery, cronyism, nepotism, embezzlement and patronage. Corruption allows criminal activities such as money laundering, extortion and drug trafficking to thrive. Corruption in several forms prevails all over the world with bribery alone crossing one trillion US dollars annually. A state of unchecked political corruption is known as kleptocacy, which literally means “rule by thieves”. At times, bribes are given to avoid punishment. For some people, being corrupt is a way to get what they desire. In societies which ignore corruption, it becomes a way of life.
People getting very low wages feel they have to demand bribes in order to lead decent lives. But they do not realize that corruption causes suffering to others. The consequences of corruption for social and economic development are bad. Corruption hinders economic growth and deters investment. The impact of development assistance is reduced and natural resources are overexploited causing further harm to a country’s environmental assets. Resources are diverted from sectors such as education and health to less important sectors or personal enrichment. The rule of law is eroded and the people no longer respect or trust the state. A few people manage to get rich at the expense of society as a whole, while the poor suffer terribly. In the long run unchecked corruption pushes more and more people into poverty which often destabilizes a society. Societies can fight corruption by letting the state know that they have had enough of it.
The authorities move very quickly when the press or the television highlights instances of corruption. Education spreads political and social awareness and these are some factors that help curb the menace of corruption. In general terms, corruption arises from institutional attributes of the state and societal attitudes toward formal political processes. Institutional attributes that encourage corruption include wide authority of the state, which offers significant opportunities for corruption; minimal accountability, which reduces the cost of corrupt behavior; and perverse incentives in government employment, which induce self-serving rather than public-serving behavior. Societal attitudes fostering corruption include allegiance to personal loyalties over objective rules, low legitimacy of government, and dominance of a political party or ruling elite over political and economic processes.
Values, Moral, Principals, and Ethics
What are values? Chippendale (2001), describe values as what is important in a person’s life, while ethics and morals prescribe what is or is not considered appropriate behavior in living one’s life. Principles inform our choice of values, morals and ethics. Shockley-Zalabak (1999), indicates that value is what makes something desirable or undesirable. What is moral? Chippendale (2001), states that it is everything that, based on the experience of the past; we have collectively agreed to be ruled by.
It is the norms, the rules, the customs, the laws, the commandments whereby out of the power of caring, the power of reflection, the power of language, and the power of habit, we establish social expectancies for moral sensitivity, moral intelligence, and moral agency. What is ethics? Chippendale (2001), indicates that ethics are the standards by which behaviors are evaluated for their morality: their rightness or wrongness. Clearly our values influence what we will determine as ethical. Shockley-Zalabak (1999), indicate that however, values are our measures of importance, where as ethics represent our judgments about right and wrong. What is principal? Chippendale (2001), defines principals as the source or origin of anything; a general truth or law comprehending many subordinate ones; tenet or doctrine; a settled law or rule of action; to impress with any tenet; to establish firmly in the mind”.
Difference between Good and Bad
It is usually assumed to be possible, and sometimes even desirable, for consequentialist to make judgments about both the rightness and the goodness of action. Whether a particular action is right or wrong is one question addressed by a consequentialist theory such as utilitarianism. Whether the action is good or bad, and how good or bad it is, are two others. Dininio (1999), states that in broad terms, corruption is the abuse of public office for private gain. It encompasses unilateral abuses by government officials such as embezzlement and nepotism, as well as abuses linking public and private actors such as bribery, extortion, influence peddling, and fraud. Corruption arises in both political and bureaucratic offices and can be petty or grand, organized or unorganized. Though corruption often facilitates criminal activities such as drug trafficking, money laundering, and prostitution, it is not restricted to these activities. For purposes of understanding the problem and devising remedies, it is important to keep crime and corruption analytically distinct. Corruption poses a serious development challenge. In the political realm, it undermines democracy and good governance by subverting formal processes. Corruption also generates economic distortions in the public sector by diverting public investment away from education and into capital projects where bribes and kickbacks are more plentiful.
Important aspects of social capitalism
Ledet (2011), states that it is important to disentangle the various aspects of social capital before generalizing about what it does or does not do. Two major aspects of social capital are recognized in the literature, social networks and values. Generally, membership in groups and other associations represents crosscutting and overlapping networks “that provide the human infrastructure necessary to accomplish economic, political, and social goals”. One of the most frequently mentioned values, or norms, of social capital is interpersonal but also recognized in the literature is a sense of political equality. By differentiating between aspects of social capital rather than aggregating them into a single measure, researchers have uncovered disparities in the way networks and values are related to government quality. From an institutional perspective, corruption arises where public officials have wide authority, little accountability, and perverse incentives. This means the more activities public officials control or regulate; the more opportunities exist for corruption. Rubio (1997) discusses ‘perverse’ social capital as the trust and reciprocity among members in anti-social activities such as corruption and terrorism. He explains that perverse social capital breaks down efficiency within society, rather than enhancing it by stimulating rent-seeking activities (e.g. corruption) and criminal behaviors which furthermore contribute to the strengthening of organizations which perpetuate this situation.
Defining quality of government is a relatively normative task, but at least one desirable characteristic of good government is that it is not corrupt. Political corruption increases government inefficiency and indicates overall government ineffectiveness. Uslaner’s explicitly defends political corruption as one of multiple ways to gauge government quality. He concludes that “good government and honest government do rest on social capital” but only when social capital is defined as trust, not associational life by arguing in favor of the superiority of trust over networks. Dinonio (1999) indicates that efforts to fight corruption include institutional reforms and societal reforms. Institutional reforms include measures to reduce government authority, increase accountability, and align official incentives to public ends. These measures target government institutions and processes in all branches and levels of government. Societal reforms, on the other hand, include measures to change attitudes toward formal political processes and to mobilize political will for anti-corruption reform.
Public corruption as a major problem
Myint (2000), indicates three important aspect of how corruption as become a universal problem. First, a consensus has now been reached that corruption is universal. It exists in all countries, both developed and developing, in the public and private sectors, as well as in non-profit and charitable organizations. Second, allegations and charges of corruption now play a more central role in politics than at any other time. Governments have fallen, careers of world renowned public figures ruined, and reputations of well-respected organizations and business firms badly tarnished on account of it. The international mass media feeds on it and scandals and improper conduct, especially of those in high places, are looked upon as extremely newsworthy, and to be investigated with zeal and vigor. The rising trend in the use of corruption as a tool to discredit political opponents, the media’s preoccupation with it as a highly marketable commodity, and the general public’s fascination with seeing prominent personalities in embarrassing situations have brought scandalous and corrupt behavior, a common human frailty, into the limelight of international attention. Third and the main issue, is that corruption can be a major obstacle in the process of economic development and in modernizing a country.
Corruption Case Study
Corruption is said to have been the keynote of the 2000 political elections in Puerto Rico. El Nuevo Día, one of Puerto Rico’s most influential newspapers, editorially charged incumbent Governor Pedro Rossello with permitting the most corrupt government in the last one hundred years. Several important convictions helped convey the image of corruption to the voting public. Millions of dollars in government funds, both federal and local, had been misappropriated. Many important high government executives as well as private contractors are now serving stiff prison sentences. The pro-Statehood New Progressive Party lost the race for Governor, the control of both houses of the legislature and many of the municipalities that they had controlled in past years. The Popular Democratic Party won the elections massively and decisively on an anti-corruption platform led by Sila Maria Calderón, who became the first female to be elected to the Office of Governor of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. The “Oficina del Contralor de Puerto Rico” is a special governmental unit that audits all other units from the three branches of government (executive, legislative and judicial). The “Contralor” is named by the Governor with the consent of the Legislature for a ten-year non-renewable term.
Results of audits of governmental units are published in the local media and referred, when appropriate, to the Justice Department for action. Some convictions of major political leaders throughout the years attest to the effective action of this office in combating corruption. The “Oficina de Etica Gubernamental” is another special government unit whose director is named by the Governor with the consent of the Legislature for a ten-year non-renewable term. The office investigates alleged violations to the governmental codes of ethics by government officials. It also requires certain government officials at the higher echelons to file annual sworn financial information reports. The office may establish fines for some violations to the codes of ethics and may also refer cases to the Justice Department for action. The “Oficina del Procurador del Ciudadano Ombudsman de Puerto Rico” is still another special governmental unit whose director is named by the Governor with the consent of the Legislature for a ten-year non-renewable term.
The Ombudsman’s mission is to receive and process complaints from citizens about poor service and abuses by any governmental offices. As a mayor act of anti-corruption theses offices were created by the appointed Governor Sila M. Calderón to help identify and fight corruption as soon as possible. All theses offices are available to the direct help of any citizen that has been affected by any governmental official and it has the responsibility to investigate every case that it receives. In 2002 theses offices began to file Federal and State charges against governmental official that committed corruption during previous years. Victor Fajardo one of the officials who served as the U.S. territory’s education secretary from 1996 to 2000, was arrested in 2002 with other nine persons. They were charged with participating in an extortion and money laundering scheme, receiving kickbacks of up to $4.3 million. Avoiding Corruption in the Educational System
Ochse (2004), indicates that presuming that an analysis of weaknesses has been conducted, development cooperation activities can be conducted in the following fields: civil servants should have clearly defined decision-making authority and a clear field of authority. In addition, salaries should raise staff above the poverty line, and incentives should be introduced, as should transparency in appointments, promotion and remuneration. Advise setting up a monitoring and evaluation system that should be complemented by training and upgrading.
Possible consultancy approaches could take the following forms: 1) Consultancy services on the development of criteria and standardized procedures for recruitment, appointments and promotion; transparency and performance-based recruitment; appointments and promotion improved through appropriate job descriptions and job profiles, stipulation of performance criteria, performance-based evaluation systems, public advertising of vacancies, documentation of the selection process, publication of personnel decisions. 2) Consultancy services on the development of systems to boost performance and of human resources development concepts. It is considered fairly certain that the level of income plays a part in the emergence of corrupt practices. Experience, however, indicates that salary rises are not in themselves enough to put an end to corrupt behavior patterns that are already firmly established. In order to effectively prevent corruption it is thus recommended that more appropriate remuneration be linked to the implementation of effective supervisory and control mechanisms. 3) Consultancy services on the elaboration and enforcement of codes of conduct as well as anti-corruption legislation and guidelines. Philosophical Analysis of Corruption
Corruption as a human act has moral and ethical implications and so can be analyzed from the ethical and moral perspectives. We can achieve such analysis against the background of the three dominant ethical systems: Deontologism, Teleologism/Utilitarianism or Consequentialism and Contractarianism. Man, the individual man, is the origin of every moral action whether good or bad. Corruption begins first in the individual’s heart, first as thoughts and then these thoughts are translated into concrete actions. When these acts are repeated over time, they become habits; these habits in turn become character and almost one’s second nature. One can become involved in acts of corruption through a variety of ways: personally carrying out corrupt acts, associating oneself with corrupt people through whom one can be influenced negatively, or participation in the use or enjoyment of the booties of corruption.
At this personal level, one can protect himself from corruption by the formation of good conscience, a conscience that warns you ahead of time, and condemns or praises the individual depending on whether his actions are good or bad. Apart from this, there is need to convince one’s self that corruption is a morally bad act. Without this personal conviction, it will be difficult to get the individual to steer clear of corruption. For the individual to protect himself from corruption he or she must also respect the laws of the land, be satisfied with one’s means of livelihood, and while looking for honest ways to improve on one’s lot. Maintaining a high standard of morality and refusing to comprise these standards, no matter the pressure around one, would certainly contribute to the individual’s attempt to protect one’s self from being corrupted. It is important to avoid the company and advice of those who are corrupted or want to get self benefit in a negotiation.
Ochulor (2008), gives us six very salient points that can help the individual acquire wealth in a moral way while also protecting himself from corruption. These include “self knowledge, the mind as a propelling force, specialization and education, seizing every opportunity, diligence and persistence plus self discipline”. It is our belief that if the individual studies and knows the implication of these principles and applies them, he or she can protect himself or herself from corruption and still make genuine wealth. Philosophy has an important place in the life of every individual, society and nation. A man’s life is not made secure by what he has, even when he has more than he needs. Though matter enters into the very composition of man, and though the material aspect of reality readily meets our physical experience, yet man is not only a material entity. Reality is also composed of spiritual and idealistic principles that are as real as the material. It is only an integrated emphasis and appreciation of all these principles existing in a mutually complementary and symbiotic manner, that can guarantee man an authentic existence and that constitute an authentic representation of the true nature of reality.
Like in any other society, corruption thrives in the United States. This is because of our collective derailment onto the philosophical lane of excessive materialism, selfish individualism, exploitative capitalism and atheistic humanism. Our moral values have thus been eroded and we have removed morality from the arena of our socio-political life. God too has been thrown overboard from our daily lives and when we do remember him, we do so hypocritically. We have sacrificed the common good on the altar of our insatiable selfish desires, and our ultimate happiness has been confused with the merely temporal, ephemeral and transitory. In Christian religious terms, we may say we have abandoned the living spring and dug up cisterns for ourselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water. Our nation lies in ruins because of our collective mistake. Unless we retrace our steps along the path of morality, the path of high ethical standards, and allow these to permeate our everyday lives, both as individuals and as a nation.
Chippendale, P. (2001). On Values, Ethics, Morals & Principles. A Values Inventory. Retrieved November 3, 2011 from web site: http://www.minessence.net/AVI_Accred/pdfs/ValuesEthicsPrinciples.PDF
Dinonio, P. (1999). Center for Democracy and Governance. A Handbook on Fighting Corruption. Retrieved December 14, 2011 from:
Myint, U. (2000). Corruption: Cause, Consequences and Cures. Asia-Pacific Development Journal Vol. 7, No. 2. Retrieved November 5, 2011 from: http://www.unescap.org/drpad/publication/journal_7_2/myint.pdf
Ochulor, C.L. (2008). Philosophy: A Fundamental and Basic Science. Calabar: Focus Prints and Publishers
Rubio, L. (2007). “Impasse social” Reforma July 15. Retrieved December 14, 2011 from: http://www.infodf.org.mx/iaipdf/extra/doctos/03%20Panel%201b%20Stephen%20Morris%20-%20Ponencia%20Ingles.pdf
Shockley-Zalabak, P. (1999). Fundamentals of Organizational Communication: Knowledge, Sensitivity, Skills, Values, Longman: New York. Uslaner, E. M. (2002). The Moral Foundations of Trust. New York: Cambridge University Press.