On air: Is corruption just a way of life?

‘Life is a corrupting process from the time a child learns to play his mother off against his father in the politics of when to go to bed; he who fears corruption fears life.

It’s a subject that’s rarely out of the headlines, it affects nearly every nation on earth – rich and poor – and it’s (arguably) endemic. What is it? Corruption: the misuse of governmental powers by officials for illegitimate personal gain. No nation is immune from its tantalising grasp.

Berlin-based corruption watchdog, Transparency International, have released their annual Corruption Perceptions Index. It’s basically a global score card to see which nations have been playing fair and square.

New Zealand is top of the class as the world’s least corrupt nation; Somalia, like last year, comes in last. Joining Somalia at near the bottom are Burma, Sudan and Afghanistan; perhaps the latter comes as no surprise given this year’s controversy over the presidential election result.

Today, Hamid Karzai has been inaugurated for a second term as President of Afghanistan. But earlier this week US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, piled on the pressure, saying: “There is now a clear window of opportunity for President Karzai and his government to make a compact with the people of Afghanistan to demonstrate clearly that they’re going to have accountability and tangible results that will improve the lives of the people.” But it’s not only poor and war-torn countries that suffer from corruption.

Earlier this year, the Mother of all Parliaments – Westminster in the UK – was embroiled in an expenses saga that provoked anger and ridicule, as well as several thousand newspaper column inches. It also cost many political careers. The UK’s score on the corruption index has deteriorated in recent years.

But with corruption so prevalent in so many countries in the world, should we just accept that corruption is a way of life? That given the chance to speed things up, slow things down, open or close doors, is it just human nature for people to help things along in whatever way they can?

We want your stories of corruption as well as your opinon.

103 Responses to “On air: Is corruption just a way of life?”

  1. 1 T
    November 19, 2009 at 04:12

    The first step in doing this is to give whistleblowers protection. There are numerous examples in the States of people who need to be heard. But if they talk they could be sacked, thrown in jail, lose their career. Or, even be killed.

  2. 2 Tan Boon Tee
    November 19, 2009 at 04:21

    Like it or not, we are all greedy to some extent. It is a matter of degree, not of kind.

    Corruption has been the strange bed-fellow of greed in human history. It would be quite impossible to eradicate, though plausible to reduce.

    Strict rule and severe punishment could be a way, as in the early years of Communist China (though corruption saturates the nation nowadays). But I believe proper education and instilling the right values at young could do a better job.

  3. 3 Elias
    November 19, 2009 at 04:21

    The old saying “money is the route of all evil”, and “power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely”, and this is the way its been ever since man inhabited the earth. Each country and its peoples have a destinct culture which encourages them to behave one way or the other ie: for good or for bad.
    As stated New Zealand are the least corrupt, its because they dont have a large population and everything they do in their normal lives, they are least enticed with corruption. One way may be is to implement much stiffer fines against the offender, and have him or her shamed publically.
    It is a fact, people in power wether Lawyers, Bankers, Police, Politicians and so on, in every walk of life, may well succomb to corruption.
    Its a loosing battle to stamp out corruption all together, wherever and whenever they are found out the punishment must be more severe to suit the crime. The higher the person position, the least is the punishment against him or her, this is the way it is and this is the way it will be in the future.

    • November 20, 2009 at 11:05

      We used to teach our children manners,honesty, chastity, grammer,how to behave in public,like be a lady or a gentleman how to save for a rainy day and be able to provide for a family if your’re lucky enough to have one,how to present your self when applying for a job,like in dress and manners.Where have all the standards gone When one sees church leaders acting like criminals,and sexual perverts Al capone looks like a boy scout,politition who are supposed to lead nations not steal the tax funds to live like wealthy lords ,thier greed is beyond coprehension.We blame children for going off the rails when the go after drink drugs and sex when they get the example from lawyers ministers of religion,polititions,judges,school teachers and worst of all parents GOD help the human race. Discusted

  4. November 19, 2009 at 06:55

    By legislating openness. Have a strong Official Information Act (or equivalent) and pro-actively publish data and improve internet access to the population. The public must be exceedingly precious about their OIA, democracy and government transparency. Finally, people should be held to account.

    Here in New Zealand we have room for improvement. We recently jailed for six years for bribery and corruption a former MP.

  5. 6 subra
    November 19, 2009 at 07:17

    Corruption is a real cancer leading to bad governance. Those benefitting from corruption must be severely dealt with and stiff prison sentences must be imposed.
    In Mauritius the Government refuses to divulge contracts signed with foreign companies, stating that it is State secret. As a result the people are paying very high prices for petrol and other commodities bought under those secret contracts.
    There is a body legally constituted but appointments are made by the Prime Minister. This body isn’t independent and can’t act to punish ministers involved in corruption. Only small fish are caught in the net. the sharks are swimming in the deep waters and enjoying from their corrupt activities.

  6. November 19, 2009 at 07:23

    I also think a proportional legislature (New Zealand uses a Mixed Member Proportional system similar to Germany) will help, if there are parties that have libertarian views. In New Zealand that role is performed by the Greens who are left-libertarian. On occasion the far-right wing ACT party also plays that role (they are naturally right-libertarian I think but often pander to populist authoritarianism).

    These are just measures that can be taken to improve the official situation. Ultimately it’s a matter of culture, and such measures would have to be persisted with for at least a generation before a culture can change for the better. It’s particularly problematic with cultures where gift-giving is the norm (when is a gift a bribe?).

  7. 8 scmehta
    November 19, 2009 at 07:54

    You say “life is a corrupting process” and “corruption is as old as time itself”; by that, you appear to imply that we the humans have anthropogenic flaws i.e. we tend to get ethically worse with the passage of time. But, according to the anthropic principle, we are supposed to be developing into more & more intelligent beings. Thus, after analyzing the above two hypothesis or theorems, it construes, that, the more intelligent we get the more corrupt we become. This interpretation or the Q.E.D. is absolutely wrongly derived, and is in negation of the true/honest/pure spirit of the Nature.
    In fact, the crux of the problem is that most of us don’t put our intelligence to honest/sincere and humane use; instead, we use it for crooked/manipulative and unethical purposes to get us personal gains, at the expense of the others.
    Hence, in order to curb this unsocial and exploitative tendency, akin to parasites, we must frame such fool-proof rules and regulations as would not allow the corrupt practices to thrive or go unnoticed; and for that we do need anti-graft agencies for doing the dual job of ‘hawk-eyed watch’ and ‘stringent/deterrent ruthlessness’, for exposing the corrupt, and bringing them to book for suitable punishment.

    • November 19, 2009 at 15:19


      Good observation. And here we could actually join the topic of yesterday with this topic of corruption. I agree with your statement that we no longer put our efforts to sincere use, but what are those “uses”. Does the images and principles taught by media and social networking teach concepts of mutually beneficial relationships, or do they make us better at being corrupt?

      There must have always been a tendency to move towards corruption though. Nearly every religion ever devised has a few of the same basic core concepts. “Don’t steal”, “Don’t lie”, “Don’t Kill”, “Treat others how you want to be treated”, and “help out the less advantaged”. So obviously it wasn’t intuitive to humans to just do these things. They need the guidance and threat of a deity in order to abide by these rules. I am always shocked and amazed by people who think being atheist means being able to commit the most egregious crimes. “If there is no god, what is to stop you?”

      So I would guess to ask you what trait or activity is considered “honest and sincere” and what are considered “crooked and manipulative”?

    • November 20, 2009 at 02:35

      S.C. Mehta, Sir, We are of one mind — We accept the fact there is corruption in every Nation — When people are lethargic Politicians make hay for themselves.

      You are right when you say that we can have proper legislation in place to control the corrupt forces.

      Why not we of like minds join together and do something about it.

      Internet is there for us.


      • November 20, 2009 at 10:55

        Legislating against corruption? There is a saying that locks are to deter honest people; the dishonest would always break them. We are living in an ultra materialistic society that has lost all human values. Today education is geared to grabbing maximum material wealth. Herein lie the seeds of corruption. Intelligence and sophistication merely help to create a facade of honesty. MPs who pocketed thousands of pounds of tax payers’ money explain it away by saying that they have done so within the rules, while it is corrupt to the core. The same conduct in a Third World parliament lacking in such sophistication would be called corruption and the perpetrators would pay the price.

  8. 12 pmose
    November 19, 2009 at 10:03

    take the mp,s scandal power corrupts ,these people cant be prosicuted because they are the system, if there was a shred of hope to end the corruption it would have been in the queen,s speech,but as the royal ,s have had there share of of expences
    scandals , it looks like we are stuck with the fact that we cant do anything about,
    corruption .

    as long as there there is a honky and a free supply of money there will be corruption


  9. 14 claudine
    November 19, 2009 at 12:18

    It is difficult to reduce corruption since greed in the nature of all humans, especially when important people like Police men are poor, too.

    Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew got it under control because he had a vision, and paid everyone well enough to be not corrupt.
    Still, corruption can still be found, even here in Singapore, but if caught corruption can be a very expensive game.

    Over time and with a new generation properly educated corruption can be minimised, but how long would that take in a country like Afghanistan where war not philosophy is the daily truth.

    • November 20, 2009 at 02:15

      You said it with these words ”new generation properly educated”

      We must educate the people and make them aware of their power to ”recall” an elected representative — if he or she fails to legislate the way want them to.

  10. November 19, 2009 at 14:04

    I think the best way to get rid of corruption is by paying our employees well, and when i say employees i mean those at the base of the heirachy. Such people are the first to make a company grow and the first to kill it. would you believe the an ordinary police man in Ghana takes 5 Ghana cedis from a driver without correct document or for violating traffic regulations and let him go just because the salary gap between the recruit, who does all the donkey work and his boss at the office is a master servant one.Now if this policeman stops 20 cars a day then he makes extra 100 Ghana cedis that means 3000 Ghana cedis a month which is almost 10 times what he takes. hmm!, I wonder who in the policemans shoe will refuse such an offer.

  11. November 19, 2009 at 14:14

    Corruption, along with so many other of “todays issues” has no more increased lately than has the Earth gotten bigger. This goes, at least somewhat, to yesterday’s comments about the media age. Information is simply more available and e-vailable and technology simply allows for catching and outing corruption much more quickly. Although my next point has nothing, per se, to do with corruption, I believe the principle is the same. I frequently hear how there are “more gays now than ever”, and the is also just as absurd of a notion, there are simply more people finally living honest lives and admitting to it. Man has always been corrupt, and unless there is a fundamental genetic change, there will always be a great deal of corruption.

  12. 18 patti in cape coral
    November 19, 2009 at 14:41

    I feel like corrupt officials are like roaches. If you see one you can stomp on it and kill it, but for every one that you see there are millions. There are measures that can be taken to minimize the problem, but they have to be ongoing, and you can never get rid of it completely.

  13. 19 gary
    November 19, 2009 at 14:44

    Some governments are very corrupt; all are corrupt by degrees. It is incorrect however, to blame these transgressions on elected officialdom. The people with power make the government and not the reverse. Larceny is the most common crime and it is usually accomplished by lying and thus for many economic activities, the most profitable purchase is the power to lie to the masses. Politicians needn’t even seek out opportunities for wrong doing; they are thrust upon them. Government is a response, not a stimulus! Governments are corrupt because they are subsets of the corrupt, upper echelons of their country’s society. Organizations are always perfectly defined by their selection rules. Folks are constantly arguing about types of governance as if they would or could be arbitrarily selected. They cannot. Representative governance is the norm! Exceptions are not long lived.

  14. November 19, 2009 at 14:57

    Corruption is “a” way of life. It is not “the” only way of life. Yes any one of us can look around and say, “but they are doing it”. But joining them is not correcting the problem.

    Corruption is like “candy” to the diet of the future. Sure you can survive on a diet of peanut butter cups and caramel popcorn, but your health will fade way too fast. The same can said about governments that keep looking the other way or flat out accepting corruption. It will rot the teeth of your justice system and destroy the health of your society. One day it will seem like your people are on top of the world, then next none of them will be able to afford a house.

    Living in a community is a system. Whatever you use to fuel it will have to be accounted for the entire way through the system.

  15. 21 Roy, Washington DC
    November 19, 2009 at 15:33

    Greed is part of human nature. Even the USA has significant political corruption, with our system of bribes…excuse me, “campaign contributions”. Those who have the money set the rules, and they aren’t going to do anything to hurt themselves.

    • 22 adam, cleveland ohio, us
      November 19, 2009 at 18:52

      I must agree with Roy. Freud, Machiavelli and others have stated throughout time that we as humans are intrinsically corrupt, this is not an excuse though. The more we stand up against corruption the better we may become. Even if it’s only one person at a time, every little difference now can leave an impact for tomorrow

    • 23 margaret
      November 19, 2009 at 19:25

      Roy has nailed it! Money buys power and influence–it is rife in USA politics. Money buys 6 well paid lobbyists per Congressperson who want to strike down the health care bill–and it buys a lot of negative advertizing, for example. Outsourcing so much of what government should be doing (such as that related to the war in Iraq) to private contractors like Blackwater that just so happen to be supportive of your political views and candidates costing the tax payers billions more than government employees would with no oversight or accountability is another example. People formerly in the big banking industry continue to be in power positions high up in our government, etc. And there’s plenty of lyin’ and cheatin’ and propoganda to throw onto the pile. Thankfully we are not having to bribe our local policmen, firemen, or members of the military!

      Margaret Tacoma, WA

  16. 24 steve
    November 19, 2009 at 15:35

    Absolutely. There is corruption in every government, in every nation, at every level, but in some places it’s just not as obvious. While in third world nations you can get arrested and be expected to pay a bribe to police officials, here in the US, politicians make money from lobbyists. Certain localities are notorious for having more corruption, like Louisinia, or Illinois. The past 2 governors of IL are either in jail, or will be going to jail. Chicago is notorious for corruption.

    Anyone ever see the movie Changeling with Angelina Jolie? It’s based on a true story about a serial killer and government corruption, the Police Department refused to look bad, so they would throw women into insane asylums if they spoke against the police Department. The Mayor of LA was also in on it…

    Corruption, like death and taxation, is inevitable so long as we involve human beings in our governance.

    • November 20, 2009 at 01:59

      Organized Crime. So long as crime is organized the society has no chance.

      The ”watch dog” of the society allowed crime to be organized.

      Does this mean Facists are right ? — Single_All-Powerful-Leader !

  17. 26 William Rojas in Chile
    November 19, 2009 at 15:56

    it’s hard to realise that every country in the world has at least a degree of corruption. the misuse of political power seems to change people as they become president of a nation.
    however, I think that this situation won’t dissappear if nations work by their own. they have to work on it as a team, as a entire world battling this problem. It’s going to be difficult though, and that’s why i think that we would need help from a anti-corruption body which could helps us to pull this off.
    I don’t think we have to accept corruption as a way of life at all. We have to join forces and battle against it. -of course i we wanted to-

    • November 20, 2009 at 01:52

      Yes, you had your Agusto Pinochet. And you have a president who suffered at the hands of Pinochet and yet did not want to interfere when Pinochet was cornered.

      There we can see a honest and clean person.

      But we cannot expect some institution to do our work and bring in place a system w/o corruption.

      We, must strive, unite, and do the needful to leave a better society for our children.

  18. November 19, 2009 at 16:00

    Money is the root of all evil. Highly placed officials need to be squeaky clean if corruption is to be reduced radically. As long as people could be bought and are prepared to accept bribes and are unethical to the core corruption and nepotism will thrive. This is an universal malaise which is very difficult to cure. The ends justify the means is an oft-quoted saying! How true! One country where corruption is really frowned upon is Singapore. The Singaporean elder statesman, Lee Kwan Yu is responsible for the very high ethical standards of this city state. Thanks to him the country has grown in every sense of the word with bribery and corruption almost non-existent.

    • 29 patti in cape coral
      November 19, 2009 at 19:02

      Hi Pancha – I would say the love of money is the root of all evil. Don’t blame the money! Although I would say there’s nothing wrong with some platonic affection for money.

      • 30 Ronald Almeida
        November 19, 2009 at 22:11

        Money is only a medium of exchange. It is greed which is usually the result of an intrinsic insecurity or fear that is really detrimental in humanity.

  19. 31 Dinka Aliap Chawul,Kampala-Uganda
    November 19, 2009 at 16:10

    If we dont address root cause of corruption such as dictatorship,tribalism,nepotism,insecurity & lack of strong system in combating corruption then it will just eat us alive.There4 we must not be so ignoramus when come to tackling this virus in the society.

  20. 32 Gary Paudler
    November 19, 2009 at 16:12

    I don’t buy the assertion that greed is inherent in human nature and I think that corruption is not a single pathology since we see it in a wide variety of forms; there probably should be many different words to describe it’s myriad manifestations, just as the Inuit have many names for the variations of snow: There’s the legalized form enjoyed in the US where a company can spend a million dollars supporting political campaigns and reap a billion dollars’ worth of favorable legislation and there’s the feed-the-family variety in marginal societies where government functionaries can expect to not receive a pay-check and an elaborate top-to-bottom mechanism of subsistence corruption pervades and there’s the money mining we see in some African and Asian countries where high office is nothing more than a chance to strip-mine all resources, including cash.
    I think that a component is our blind conviction that “competition is good”. By that simplistic principle we accept that to gain advantage while somebody else fails is natural, even noble and a measure of superiority. As long as money is the only currency by which we measure our notion of success, then we, as a society, will remain in the thrall of profit at all costs.

  21. 33 Kelly from Chicago
    November 19, 2009 at 16:13

    Corruption is part of human nature. It seems common sense to say that while corruption increases with instability and poverty, corruption also begins naturally as more and more power/authority is gained. I think poverty and instability probably increases the likelihood of corruption among regular folks. Politics seems to be an area where one cannot succeed if one doesn’t toe the line of corruption at least a little.

  22. 34 Tom K in Mpls
    November 19, 2009 at 16:28

    At the higher levels in the US, the corruption legal. It is done by the promise of a job with very high pay after the deed. It can be long term or a short lecture tour. The riskier ones are government contracts given to friends or family. Anyone willing to take cash is an amateur.

  23. November 19, 2009 at 16:33

    But, not in all Countries around the Globe.
    I do think it is now-in most of the african countries and also in europe.

    I live in Uganda, Curruption is a way of life-when it comes to the Government Officials and the rich Minority as well.

    That’s the way it is anyway!!

  24. 36 María, Buenos Aires
    November 19, 2009 at 16:37

    My country and corruption have cohabited since its origins. We Argentineans are used to turn on the TV and hear a corruption scandal on the news. We hate it, we protest every day on the streets abut it…But we can’t end it! We should clean up all the political system, the police, all the institutions….
    Corruption exists because WE are corrupt. And people that want to make the difference are devoured by the system. Though we hate it, we have learn to live with it, and we’ve eventually adapted. Here we call it “la viveza criolla” (creole ingenuity)…the natural Argentinean capacity of taking advantage of every situation. These includes from the cab drivers that charge more on turists to our President that buys Patagonian land very cheaply and sells it to foreigners at astronomical prices.. Clearly, a substantial social reform should be made from its inside.
    Our melancholic way of being doesn’t help!!!! But this makes us professional complainers and protester, that never let polititians at ease! And we’re also full of NGO’s that vigilate corruption in institutions and denounce it in the media…

    Corruption is our way of living, we don’t like it, but at least we protest!! (latins…)

  25. 37 Colin Sundaram
    November 19, 2009 at 16:39

    19. 11. 09

    It is not something adopted by looking at others it is inherited by birth. The tendency to possess anything valuable is latent in the mindset of everyone except a marginal few. Look around the world since genesis to collect evidence of man’s urge to own/have more and more. Why all the wars were fought in the past? For nothing but to increase wealth. What I’m arriving at is that the greed factor in human mind is inherent. A few centuries ago almost all sea faring nations in Europe allowed piracy and the Kings or rulers were given a certain percentage of the loot. It was acdeptable then. Whenever people are in positions of power where they can take away/embezzle money and wealth for personal accumulation almost all the time majority get in the act of taking it. In India corruption is endemic because we even bribe our pantheon of Gods and Goddesses and they accept whatever we offer them to get our wishes come true. The size/quantity/quality/etc of the bribe is dependent on the magnitude of the issue to be resolved favourably. Corruption in the high echelons of the society is not considered a big crime. Example wherever in the world monarchies exist corruption exists with impunity. When powerless people are caught for corruption they get punished for the crime. Until slavery was abolished in the U S it was not considered as an abuse of human rights today we consider it as something eggregeously bad. In reality in certain parts of the world corruption is less and some other parts it is deeply rooted in the soceity but it is everywhere. Madoffs are found all over.

  26. November 19, 2009 at 16:46

    Corruption is somthing that learn not born with. And if try hard enough we can erase this practice.
    I do live one of the most corrupt nation on earth according to Transparency International yet you will not find this practice on privet company. This practice is well know on public sector and the International NGO.
    International NGO engourges corruption in Somalia, that is fact. It something every body in Somalia knows.

  27. November 19, 2009 at 16:46

    Dictatorship is the main cause of corruption. A dictator is someone who frauds elections. Corruption starts with the President and works down the chain. Implement fraud-proof voting systems, eradicate dictatorship, eliminate corruption – result – prosperity and the abolition of poverty – simple.

    But the West and China do not want this.

    Mr Alex Weir, Baghdad and Harare

    • November 19, 2009 at 17:22

      Mr. Weir,

      Lots, in fact billions of people around the world would disagree with you. In fact many are striving to one day make it into a “dictatorship” known as “Heaven”. 1 ruler, one set of laws, people who don’t follow those rules are sent to a torture chamber where they are cruelly punished for eternity.

      We here in the US have seen a democratic government that over the past 8 years resulting in the deaths of tens of thousands of people at the hands of corruption. It was so thinly veiled that most people couldn’t believe that it because it was happening so openly. Energy moguls meeting with vice presidents to inspire a war that seemed to suit no security purpose. As the rats jumped off the sinking ship they all yelled, “I told them it was wrong, but WE did it anyway.” So corruption is not a result of the type of government, but of the type of people who enforce the rules. A dictator can be a compassionate, concerned, well intentioned person who only wants the best for his people. Just as a Democracy can be that 51% of the people feel that the other 49% should be killed.

      • 41 Ronald Almeida
        November 19, 2009 at 22:22

        I agree with you. For e.g. a Dalai Lama kind of dictator, who even the people would welcome. Or some philanthopic king of old.

  28. 42 Audrey in Mombasa Kenya
    November 19, 2009 at 16:54

    Corruption is not a way of life. I can say this with conviction because I and many of my friends were brought up in homes where integrity is the most admired quality. However, when we come together as acommunity, we all just somehow melt into the ‘usual way of doing things’.
    As many have said, it is because, in countries like mine, Kenya, it is hard to make top leaders accountable for what they do and they know it. Whistleblowers have to flee the country yet, they are the few brave people who can actually save the lives of the millions who are dying of hunger just because some politician wanted to provide for his whole make a few extra millions for his baby daughter’s shopping spree in New York.
    Corruption is not a way to live. Especially if Africa is to grow economically.

    • November 20, 2009 at 00:28

      Audrey, we love you for saying about how we were brought up at home with integrity instilled in us.
      And we fall in line and march the way others are going.
      Ok, how about trying to hold the reins and get them to trun around a little towards our way sans corruption ? eh !

  29. November 19, 2009 at 17:01

    One of my favorite phrases comes from my favorite author, Terry Pratchett, who says “if you are willing to steal something small for a good reason, eventually you will steal something big for a bad one.” Corrupt individuals rarely start out with that intention, but often get “caught up” in situations. A small bit prime example is at the very agency where I work. My predecessor managing the food bank began with a bang, really doing a great job until he got caught up in what has been labeled a “culture of corruption”, where he was giving out most of the food to a few clients and friends and diverting funds in order to “help” the people who had become his favorites. As a result, more than half of our clients regularly went without. He did not begin by intending to defraud the organization, nor did he initially intent to hurt the clients, and I suspect he didn’t realize the full implications of his actions, but that’s how it starts.

  30. 45 rob z.
    November 19, 2009 at 17:30

    Corruption is part of human nature;as long as people look for a short-cut or an easy-way-out,someone will give it at a price.Wether it be work,politics,or material goods.
    That’s why laws exist,to try to keep things fare,or atleast make things appear fare.So far the rich and powerful still have the upper hand in reality.
    Rob in Florida.

  31. 46 James
    November 19, 2009 at 17:40

    Hamid Karzai’s no fool! The aid he is receiving is coming with strings attached. From a country who practice corruption like a religion! Look! These people see us! We’re not fooling anyone! Most only deal with us because they have too!
    Real aid to the world would be not spending trillions of dollars going to the moon, but feeding all those starving kids in America, give real health care to all Americans, spending real money on schools. Give things away not looking to get something in return, or making a dollar… It’s all connected! The terrorist would have to hate someone else and leave us alone. It’s as easy as doing as we love to say! “treat others as we want to be treated” It will never happen at the hands of man!

  32. 47 archibald
    November 19, 2009 at 17:43

    It is one way of life, certainly, and a prevalent one at that, but, it is a choice, not the only way. There are low levels:1) Corruption in the form of favoritism and expediency related to amounts of money put into the right hands and is a public institution in most countries at all levels of society,2) Total departure from established constitutional or societal guidelines and complete disregard for anyone or anything affected, resulting in a breakdown of the first level, rendering societal harmony into total survivalist chaos. The first is mostly sustainable and has been in effect for centuries. The second has also been present for centuries, but, has been proven time and time again to be unsustainable and absolutely detrimental to human progress.

  33. 48 billy wachakana from kenya
    November 19, 2009 at 17:47

    corruption is a way of life in Kenya. wherever one goes even just getting a clearance from a secretary he has to give some money.

  34. 49 Denise in Chicago
    November 19, 2009 at 18:02

    I’m from Chicago and unfortunately our state has a long history of political corruption. It’s shameful and embarrassing. These politicians should be jailed.

  35. 50 Peter Gizzi UK
    November 19, 2009 at 18:08

    Corruption has become a way of life enhanced it seems by globalisation. It is more noticable in some countries but in my opinion they are all at it.

    In the UK the saying “It’s not what you know but who you know” still applies all too often. How many have been promoted for their perfomance in bed rather than the work place? How many in The BBC are their because of family or politacal connections?

    Finally if Tony Blair becomes president of The European Council will that have been achieved by merit or what?

    Why was today’s subject changed? Corrupt influence or what?

  36. 51 Bonduh Jerome
    November 19, 2009 at 18:19

    Certain results to certain entrance exams in certain countries are compiled before the writing session even begin, Certain are goods are sold before their safety is being check, you can squeez through a police check point by handing the officer a Kola. That is not part of life it is corruption


  37. 52 Mohammed Ali
    November 19, 2009 at 18:23

    Thank to President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf is fighting this crippling disease in our country Liberia. In time past, wwe would have been the last on the list but now we have climb to 97 which is an achievement.
    Corruption is not a way of life but a mean through which wicked people pepertuate their wickedness.

    • November 20, 2009 at 00:15

      Liberian President promised to eradicate corruption when she came to power.
      We hear she is doing a damn good job.
      There stands a woman proud and erect on an anti-corruption stance.
      Why can’t our shifty eyed men do it.

  38. 54 Alan in Arizona
    November 19, 2009 at 18:25

    It’s all about the poverty or forced poverty! I remember when I was in High School ( mid 70’s) in El Paso, Texas. I went to Juarez with a group of friends in a couple of cars. Sitting at a stop light an old man rode up on his bicycle and crashed into one of the cars. He immediately started screaming and 2 seconds later the Police were there. The driver ended up paying the old man $20 dollars and $20 to each Policemen to let him go. We had to pool most of our money as a group and ended up driving straight back across the border when it was all over. We had heard of this type of thing and luckily we had a couple of Spanish speakers in the group. It could have been much worse. So even though I still live close to the border I haven’t been to Mexico in 30 years. No matter how Americanized Porto Penasco or any other place maybe there. The Mexican food north of the border is just as good. When I vacation, I don’t go anywhere that has a questionable Government or a propensity for high amounts of crime. Yes I’ll stick with Western Europe.

  39. 55 nik_from_Russia
    November 19, 2009 at 18:36

    I know what is it corruption it is almost everywhere around here and if you want to get something from authorities it is much easier just to pay certain amount of money to representatives(bureaucrats) than struggle against system (all procedures is made increadable difficult so it is completely impossible to get something from state easy you can pay either with your money, either with your nerves)

  40. 56 Willi Scherer
    November 19, 2009 at 18:37

    One would think that if anyone felt that strongly about the public interest they would serve reguardless of pay or perks… The question here in this country (USA) is that repesentative governance has been relegated to a back seat and in its place Money which buys the politicos via lobbies. The contract with America has gone the way of the dodo and in its place we have gotten the “best” political system money can buy… All this with the added hypocrisy of “term limits” and political pandering of the worse kind i.e. politicians pandering to each other in order to maintain “power” however flimsy that “power” may be. American politics has over the passed 25 years evolved into a secondary money laundering operation, right up there with the drug cartels. In the end it is the electorate which is culpable via indolence, ineptness and indifference we get the government we truly deserve based on this lethargy. When a “key” senator who represents less than 150 thousand voters can obfuscate and obstuct legislation which impacts 235 millions of citizens and who is in the pay of the very organization who is against said legislation what kind of laws or programs do you think will result???

  41. November 19, 2009 at 18:38

    Corruption is linked to morals and ethics.So if corruption is a way of life,perhaps we should have a closer look at our morals and ethics? most posts accuse governments of corruption;but surely the wife who cheats on the housekeeping is corrupt,the person who takes a couple of days off work as sick,when they are not,is corrupt.Corruption is a criminal offence both in statute and natural law.How to beat it? Teach better morals and ethics to our young,and instil them by example.

  42. 59 John Smith - Jamaica
    November 19, 2009 at 18:39

    Corruption is not endemic to any one state/ political or social way of life. Corruption is merely using ones position to gain a personal advantage and both individuals and nations have been guilty. Major world powers are willing to trade favours with dictators to battle a common enemy….highlighting the fact that corruption is just the way of Human existence.

  43. 60 Richard in Los Angeles
    November 19, 2009 at 18:49

    I’ve done business on every continent on the planet – except Antarctica and Australia — my observations –

    Corruption comes from greed – everywhere.

    Corruption is blocked by effective indignation.

    Indignation is effective when people know (free press – protected from govt reprisals) and people have power (real democracy )

    In USA (ranked nbr 19 in the survey) we have fairly free press (e.g. Democracy Now and/or this program) but pretend democracy. A small part of the population votes based on intelligent analysis of issues, many more vote based on emotional reaction to manipulations. Thus the vote is controlled over who has the biggest advertising budget – and thus senators vote for their contributors, not for the desires of thoughtful voters.

    Going into Iraq war phone calls to congress were running 100:1 against the war, but the government went ahead for the reasons described.

    • 61 Josh in Woodburn, OR USA
      November 19, 2009 at 19:35

      Very well said RIchard. Indignation can be very powerful. What it really comes down to is: Who do politicians see as their constituency? Common people or campaign contributors?
      When we do not educate ourselves and stand up for ourselves, we are, in a sense, complicit in the corruption. Real democracy is not just a matter of systemic changes, but more so personal changes of education and world view.

    • November 20, 2009 at 00:05

      But what could the people do when inept Junior George Bush, ‘Crook’ Cheney and Tony Blair got together to make war and money.
      See what happened to the British Weapons Inspector, Dr David Kelly — He was murdered to shut him mouthing ”There (Iraq) are no weapons of mass destruction”.
      The billions spent on these wars could have paid twice over for a ”free” health care system for the whole population of US of America.

  44. 64 Danoski from Nigeria
    November 19, 2009 at 18:53

    We’re supposed to have either been created from dust or evolved from bacteria, right? Either way you look at it, we’re essentially dirt.

  45. November 19, 2009 at 19:02

    When I think of corruption, I think of people who have power and want more power. Perhaps a better way of putting it is: “junkies with unlimited drugs”. Government officials mainline their habit at the expense of other peoples livelihood and/or lives. Like a junkie, they have an addiction that must be fed. Eventually, they will get caught, because they are greedy and will make mistakes along the way and draw attention to the flawed scheme.

    According to the 2009 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI), Afghanistan ranks 1.3, which places them in the 90th percentile (a whole lot of corruption). On the other hand, the United States ranks 7.5, which places us in the 30th percentile (just a little corruption). If corruption is absolute, the situation is already out of control. Therefore, having a little corruption is like being a litte dead.

    The United States has widespread corruption throughout the government, housing industry and investments. Therefore, I cannot end this without mentioning Bernard Madoff, whose $65 Billion Ponzi scheme resulted in the largest investment fraud ‘ever’. He deceived people for years (1980’s) before he was caught. Even though he was sentenced to 150 years in prison, he is 71 years old and won’t put a dent in this sentence. Ah yes, where is time when yoou need it?

    • November 19, 2009 at 23:56

      What Ida says, above, of govt officials is true all over the world.
      Yet no nation has taken any action to stamp out corruption, except a few that set in place ineffective laws which makes us, or rather BBC, think corruption is a way of life.

  46. 68 Robyn, Lexington KY
    November 19, 2009 at 19:04

    Unfortunately I think corruption is a way of life. Here in Kentucky it starts at the local levels and works up to the state levels. I think more accounting audits and imposing laws would help cut down the corruption. Recently 4 people who ran the local airport board spent a great deal of money on themselves, they were caught and are currently being prosecuted. Making people more accountable and running outside checks on operations would lower corruption rates. Inforcing more laws against lobbists might help too. I am not sure you could stamp it out completely.

    • November 19, 2009 at 23:51

      I agree in toto with this statement :

      ”Making people more accountable and running outside checks on operations would lower corruption rates”.

      Let’s force them to do it. Today’s communication systems favour us.

  47. 70 Eric in France
    November 19, 2009 at 19:08

    Corruption starts when you are doing something illegal or immoral, but you know you can get away with it. The typical example of the moment is the on-purpose hand of that French football player yesterday evening. He is a wealthy player for whom the ends justify the means. Therefore when some government officials claims that those things happens, they just support corruption as well. It is the same than when one corrupted official says that part of the UN aid disappearance is part of life.

    • November 19, 2009 at 23:47

      Yes, UN supplies go missing, millions of dollars went missing in Iraq, further millions are going the wrong way in Afghanistan, elections are stolen in Iran, Afghanistan and Zimbabwe and United Nations keeps mum.
      Politicians do not legislate against themselves.
      And corruption becomes a way of life as BBC puts it.
      Inept people pay.

  48. 72 Peter in jamaica
    November 19, 2009 at 19:10

    Unfortunately the one thing that all of us have in common is greed and selfishness. It is what, most scientists and doctors state, separates us from the animals. It’s also what keeps us from living in harmony as inhabitant of this world. So yes, sadly it is a way of life everywhere more so in some countries than others.

    • November 19, 2009 at 23:42

      Ok, all people have every bad quality in us. We also have the ”will” to control those bad ones.
      Not all of us are liars, thieves, fornicators, crooks and what not.
      Corruption can be weeded out if we truly legislate against it w/o loopholes in the laws.

  49. 74 Josh
    November 19, 2009 at 19:19

    Corruption is a choice people make, some for survival (underpaid police for example), most from sheer greed. However, it is always a choice, and thus can be stamped out. It will not, however, be stamped out by way of mere governmental laws. There may be little overt bribing and corruption at a lower level in my country (US), but there is plenty of corruption that goes on at high levels that falls just within technically legal boundaries.
    The answer is a matter of character and personal change. Until people can follow the spirit of “Truthfulness is the foundation of all human virtues”, then the doors to true and lasting prosperity will remain closed. Trust is imperative to long term economic growth, and laws and punishments alone cannot create the necessary personal change to rid us of corruption.

    • November 19, 2009 at 23:38

      Laws are there to impose guidance and punishment. Politicians can be kept under control if the people ”will” it.
      Do we have the will or not is the Qn !

  50. 76 David in Portland, OR
    November 19, 2009 at 19:20

    It seems to me that the question, whether corruption is a “way of life” implies that human beings are somehow genetically predisposed to make certain choices, but what the question ignores is that choices are made within an economic and social system — i.e., capitalism — which we did NOT choose. What I hope is that humanity’s political development one day matures to the degree that our body of scientific knowledge has and that we will thus find a way of reordering society so that the profit imperative is not the determining factor in our lives. On a planet of billions of human beings, obviously there will be the proverbial bad apples in the barrel, but I don’t believe that corruption would be a “way of life” to the extent that it is today.

  51. November 19, 2009 at 19:26

    I think it is interesting to note trends in corruption. Southern countries are more corrupt than Northern. Cooler countries less than warm climates. Richer less corrupt than poor. Christian less corrupt than Muslim. White cultures less corrupt than non-white. English speaking cultures less corrupt than French colonies.

  52. 78 Tom D Ford
    November 19, 2009 at 19:39

    I think it is a libel and slander to describe all humans as inherently corrupt.

    In fact I would even argue that Corruption only works because most people are not corrupt, most people are honest and treat each other with respect, and that decency is used against them by a corrupt rotten few.

    I don’t think that we can justly blame all people for the corrupt practices of a few.

    I doubt that humanity would survive if all were corrupt, we would have killed off everybody long ago.

    I think that a few corrupt people justify their systems of wealth redistribution by saying that all humans are corrupt and I think that they are wrong, even extremely wrong.

    I just don’t believe that all are corrupt, most are not.

    • November 19, 2009 at 23:33

      Of course, mostly people are good and honest.
      Because of crooks and liars that dominate politics the good people refrain from participating in politics.
      That’s why we say we got to find a method of keeping the crooks out.
      We must force them to legislate for a governing body that would impose declaration of assets and drastic punishments.

  53. 80 bjay
    November 19, 2009 at 19:40

    Ye , are we fallable in part ? Who would measure up for our tangled needs and wants? Our glans and the lucid minde in the way.

  54. November 19, 2009 at 19:49

    one has to wonder how the collapse of the banking system in the west is somehow overlooked as corruption at the highest levels in all western countries. it is highly hypocritical to point the finger at developing countries as we in the west plunder wealth that could have been used to rebuilt the economies of third world countries many times over.

  55. 83 bjay
    November 19, 2009 at 19:52

    Ye , are we fallable in a sense .

    Who would measure up for our tangled needs and wants?

    Our glans and the lucid minde in the way.

    That is how the cooky cramble.

  56. 84 Tom D Ford
    November 19, 2009 at 19:58

    I agree with the last guest about naming the Corporations and individuals who are corrupt. Good idea, though probably very dangerous to do.

  57. 85 MOS
    November 19, 2009 at 19:59

    Almost everyone in the US has been affected by the recent corruption at multiple levels of our supposed regulatory agencies that take tax dollars to monitor the financial institutions, lending and banking corporations, Wall street, etc. We have lost our homes, lost our jobs and continue to struggle as a result of the corruption, the greedy and cruel, shortsighted, narcissistic practices of our financial sector and the blind eye turned toward it by our corrupt government. Every US government regulatory agency I can think of has been corrupted by the fact that they have been infiltrated by industry insiders from the industries they are supposed to be regulating. There is an obvious conflict of interest here and it is a problem that continues to erode away at the quality of our lives, at our dignity, at our children’s futures and continues to create suffering, not just here but across the world. As well, our government which is riddled with ineptitude, not just at the regulatory level but by lobbyists with powerful monetary influences over congress, etc. As a result our government wastes time and tax dollars with bipartisan distractions and nothing ever gets done, positive change is crushed, the common American is pushed aside to make more room for the oppressive and destructive economic powerhouses such as the multibillion dollar corporations that created the economic situation we’re in now, or the insurance industry that continues to crush the healthcare reform effort. All this is done on our dime by politicians who we pay to represent us but instead work for corporate America and continues to ruin our country and the quality of life which was fought long and hard for by our forefathers. What makes it worse is that every time you turn around there’s some loud mouthed republican claiming that privatization and reducing government is the way to go. They actively work to make our government look inept so that they can achieve this.

  58. 86 Alan in Arizona
    November 19, 2009 at 20:26

    It’s interesting how John Wolfman above, brakes it down. If we approach it like that, you have to wonder why those areas are more corrupt. Is it because other parts of the world have consistently taken advantage of those lesser areas over the past few centuries, giving rise to hate and disdain of more advanced cultures. Might they feel a need to screw all others to better their lives due to generations of poverty induced by colonization, exploitation and in most cases racism and bigotry. I think much of it goes back a long way!

    • 87 Ronald Almeida
      November 19, 2009 at 22:41

      I understand what you mean. I remember after the partition of India and Pakistan there was so much blood shed, loss of life and property on both sides of the border that the people who experienced it became very different in their morals and ethics after that.

  59. 88 Barney
    November 19, 2009 at 20:50

    Could Hong Kong’s anti-corruption commission be a model for other countries? It’s called the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC).

    The Wikipedia entry for ICAC says that “Hong Kong has been transformed from a graft-ridden city into one of the cleanest places in the world, as recognised by international institutions such as the World Bank, the Heritage Foundation and the Transparency International.”

  60. 89 Roy
    November 19, 2009 at 21:01

    the difference between the corruption I witnessed in Venezuela, before the Govt. cracked down and the corruption here in the US is, here in the US there really is no excuse for it.
    The cops who take kick backs here and the politicians are making good money, and are just abusing their power.
    In Venezuela the Govt. officals are on a pittance, while it is no excuse it is at least understandable, but now those officals have been fired and the dozen or so ex pats I know there without papers are having a hard time staying in the country, so it is changing.
    I found it rather interesting I was pretty much the only caller to admit to been involved in some type of corruption, everyone else was so outraged about it, it certainly isn’t the real world I know !

  61. 90 Ronald Almeida
    November 19, 2009 at 22:48


    A tiger is powerful enough not to be devious but a snake that has to creep has no choice.

    Rich well regulated countries with well paid govt. officials and employees feel no need to be dishonest. They have also been inculcated in certain ethics or morals that are not necessarily applicable to other nations and cultures.

    In developing countries like India, often people consider it as indirect taxation. The officials are usually not paid enough so they collect it from the citizens who need their services. The Businessmen hide their incomes and do not pay their taxes. So the govt. does not earn enough revenue to pay their employees better. It is a vicious circle often brought on by systems foreign to the indigenous culture.

    The less rules and more freedom a system is based on, the less will be the corruption. Too many laws and regulations only motivate people to find ways to circumvent them. To the extent that society begins to believe that it is not only proper but their right to be dishonest. Multi cultural societies usually lacking a homogenous unity and respect for the state tend not to think of the greater good but only concentrate on the advantages of their own family and friends.

    In affluent countries the corruption exists only in the higher echelons and not usually noticeable or even known. In poorer countries it is rampant at every level and clearly visible.

  62. November 19, 2009 at 23:15

    Corruption is NOT a way of life, but an inherent quality of ordinary people.
    Corruption is absent where good leaders are. This is commonsense.
    Every profession has a legislated controlling body, except the legislators themselves.
    Crooks and Liars together with ”Loud Mouths” in politics shuts out the decent people from among the silent majority.
    Democracy is NOT the best form of governance, but is the best known to us.
    If only we could find ways and means of filtering the crooks out of politics we can have peace and good people governing us.
    See how even Gordon Brown, the PM of Great Britain, could not resist grasping a little on the side under the ”Expenses of MPs”.
    But there are people of principles w/o greed motivating them.
    Let’s look for them. .

    • 92 Ronald Almeida
      November 20, 2009 at 13:30

      Why look for them? You are one aren’t you?

      ‘Don’t follow leaders
      Watch your parking Metres”- Bob Dylan.

      Sorry… Contradiction! I followed Bob Dylan till he went round the bend with his, ‘Slow train coming!’

  63. 93 Justin Durueke
    November 20, 2009 at 00:46

    Corruption is a very big problem to the human society. Corruption results to bad governance and government. In most African countries, the government purposely keep people in poverty so that these people can be paid to sell their votes during elections. Corruption eclipses good governance and its effects are better imagined than experienced. Corruption is so endemic in developing countries and is now accepted as a way of life in most countries. Corruption can be faced head-on if all the countries of the world come together in this fight. The developed world should lead by example and avoid double standards. The governments in Africa should desist from providing safe havens for corrupt policemen, governmental officials, judges and professors.

    • 94 Ronald Almeida
      November 20, 2009 at 11:42

      It’s a vicious circle. It’s bad governance that leads to corruption. I may be wrong but sometimes I believe Chaos with no government may be better in the developing world. After all nature functions without outside interference.

  64. November 20, 2009 at 07:07


    I am Philip from Mumbai.

    Corruption in India is part of the everyday life. Politicians pass bills banning meetings that disrupt the flow of everyday life, or pass strictures on damaging public property or defecating in public and strictures on builders not permitting them to build beyond a certain height or on what is the square foot rate to be. The list goes on and on, there is no end to it which extends to land grabbing and falsifying land deeds and records.

    After these laws or rules or strictures are passed by the politicians they themselves contrive to over ride them and encourage their “vote banks” to go against these laws, rules and strictures and oppose any action that may be taken against the offenders.

    All that I have enumerated is only the tip of the ice burg as it also involves prostitution, trading in women and children, with murder thrown in for good measure where the culprit goes scot free because of the political involvement.

    Thanks for listening to me,


    • 96 Ronald Almeida
      November 20, 2009 at 11:35

      Philip, I’ve lived many years in Mumbai and know the problems you are talking of. But you must realize that most Mumbaiiets are themselves responsible for it since they contribute to it in one way or another. Most of them accept it as normal.
      One cannot complain or blow the whistle on anybody, if one is involved in it oneself. Who will bell the cat or cast the first stone?

  65. 97 George Williams Bangirana
    November 20, 2009 at 07:40

    I do not want to believe that Corruption can be elevated to the level of being a way of life.
    It is simply society rottten. How to fight it is a complex issue.
    In Uganda, there are lots of anti corruption legislations and institutions but they are simply paper tigers.
    In our setting, It is just lack of political will to fight it that nurtures the vice.
    Dictatorships will always be corrupt. The best way to tackle it is to fight dictatorships in any form. Even the ‘Benevolent’ dictators breed it. Look at today’s Uganda- I have no words to express what is happenning here.

  66. November 20, 2009 at 08:54

    Corruption is not to be the way of life, however greedy people see this as a way to manage through.

  67. November 20, 2009 at 09:59

    Spains Politicians face 730 cases of corruption (19 Nov 09)

    Attorney General Cándido Conde-Pumpido has said that the number of presently open cases of corruption against politicians totaled up to 730, with 594 judicial proceedings and as many as 136 investigations open in the Spanish judiciary. This number is close to about 1 percent of 66,000, which is equal to the total number of mayors and councilors in Spain.

  68. November 21, 2009 at 09:59

    Have any of you looked at bloody Malaysia now. Police killings are rife but always with brazen cover-ups. Is there no respite for honest citizens?The govt.is more racist than Nazi, Ku Klux and money collected from taxes goes only to bloody Malays who are not indigenous but more recent arrivals from neighboring Indonesia posing as Bumiputras. No acceptance of Chinese or Indian migrants whom history tracks back thousands of years.We are oppressed without freedom,educational rights, working rights,homes seized with forced eviction.It is worse now with young Malay Turks at the helm.
    With the police,army and judiciary under Malay administration there is no hope for non-Malay citizens for democracy.What is needed is a strong country like the USA, China or India to come here and set up democracy properly. Not UK which created this mess postwar.

  69. November 21, 2009 at 15:29

    Since the beginning of time the only people who benefit from corruption are the corruptors. They are a tiny minority and the vast majority of people benefit nothing from corruption. That is why it has remained a societal problem down the centuries and continues today to be so.

  70. 102 piscator
    November 21, 2009 at 19:38

    Everyone goes on about Karzai and Afghanistan being incorrigibly corrupt, but just think about the situation.

    President Obama has said that in future the US will make sure that it’s aid money is properly spent. Admitting that up to now it hasn’t been IE for seven long years.

    Now, the US presence in Afghanistan is headed by some quite bright lads and lasses, who know the score exactly. Do you really think that these people would give all that tax payers dosh to criminals if they could stop it being wasted? Or more radically, would they give it at all if they knew they couldn’t stop it being wasted? Crime always goes exactly to the top, and all of the leaders imposed on countries by the US to stop graft, have always been admitted to be the spiders in the middle of the web after their demise.

    It seems clear to me that the US gives out all of this money, knowing that it will be misappropriated, because people at the very top of the chain are instrumental in the corruption. Karzai too pays someone, and I’ll bet you will have heard of him. High ranking Americans have already been accused of stealing millions from Iraq. Tune in some time soon to find out whose is the biggest finger in the Afghan pie. I don’t know who it is, yet but I’m confident that the news will break some time in the future. Nothing hides forever.

  71. 103 Elias
    November 22, 2009 at 19:34

    Its all very well when someone profits from corruption and is found out, like in the case of British Members of Parliament. The offenders very nicely agreed to return the money taken by them and henceforth remained in Parliament. Well then if a burgler who stole from a house and went before the Judge, it would be reasonable for the burgler to return the stolen items so that he would be excused of his crime. People who benefit from corruption are no different to criminals, for they too have commited a crime and should not be excused from it.
    The case of the Afghan elections when it was determined it was rigged, what was the result?, the Prime Minister remained to continue in that position.
    Theres no two ways about it, the law is for all.

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