An old man’s dreaming
Best of 2019: Travelling with donkeys

Corruption deepens democracy’s crisis

DemocracyNEWS DESK
| Transparency International

BERLIN - As the year ends, we are reflecting on how corruption eats away at things we all care about, from fundamental human rights to socio-economic equality and environmental protection.

Around the world, corruption made headlines, sparked demonstrations and toppled governments in what should be a wake-up call for leaders to follow through on their commitments and make good on old promises as well as new, meaningful resolutions.

To give them some inspiration, here are three anti-corruption wishes we have for countries, the international community and our planet for 2020:

  1. People power to transform countries

Corruption is continually deepening the crisis of democracy in many parts of the world.

Our research shows that countries with higher rates of public sector corruption have weaker democratic institutions, depriving citizens of political rights such as the right to free and fair elections and the right to protest.

But protest they did: This year, people from the Arab region to Latin America lost patience and took to the streets to demand that their governments serve public interest.

We may see more protests in the coming year if political leaders don’t take urgent steps to eradicate corruption and make their countries a liveable place for all citizens.

In over 100 countries, they can turn to our national chapters for advice on long-lasting and inclusive approaches for strengthening their democracies.

  1. Advanced economies to end complicity in corruption abroad

We also need strong measures that go past national borders.

Relatively ‘clean’ countries are often enabling cross-border corruption by maintaining loopholes and failing to prosecute foreign bribery by corporations.

This has consequences for societies all over the globe. Foreign actors play a big part in fuelling and perpetuating corruption in Africa, chipping away at the region’s sustainable development.

In 2019, we focused on the part actors from the world’s most advanced economies, including those in the European Union, have in facilitating grand corruption and money laundering across continents.

We also explained why even top-scoring countries on our Corruption Perceptions Index cannot claim to be corruption-free.

You can count on us to continue calling out these countries for their complicity in corruption abroad.

Ending corporate secrecy and reining in banks and financial intermediaries of dirty deals are among our top priorities for 2020.

  1. Climate action to be free from corruption

Where corruption goes unchecked, this has devastating consequences for the environment, too. With 2019’s biggest (and arguably least fruitful) climate conference just a few weeks back, the impact of corruption on the climate crisis is still on our minds and will be in 2020.

From undue influence and lobbying to repressions against environmental defenders, corruption exacerbates the catastrophic consequences of global heating.

We were at the COP25 this year, and while the results have been disappointing, we will stay on it and keep advocating for clean climate finance.

It might not be too late to turn things around, but we can only do that if we make sure climate funds reach those who need them and free global climate policy from undue influence.


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Bernard Corden

Here are some more humanitarian exploits from this allegedly noble piss tank:

"When the rich wage war, it's the poor who die" Jean-Paul Sartre

Bernard Corden

I bet he never uttered that statement in front of the Jarrow marchers.

The irreverent alcoholic said....."We will fight them on the beaches." Meanwhile he was planning his escape route to Canada.

Bernard Corden

A country's economic success should be judged by its absence of poverty rather than the number of plutocratic billionaires it generates.

Paul Oates

Here's one for you Bernard.

‘The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings. The inherent virtue of Socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.’

-Winston Churchill, House of Commons, 22 October 1945

Paul Oates

Well Phil, I guess it depends on what coloured glasses you are wearing at the time as to how you see the world.

I don't hear about boat loads of would be immigrants desperately sailing to get to some of those nations presumably at the lower end of that list.

Bernard Corden

Dear Phil - I can recall Mark Latham from his book 'The Canberra Bubble' stating that if you take the extreme opposite view you will be much nearer the truth.

In places such as soulless Singapore, the entire social structure revolves around 'The Deal' and its hardly surprising that its most prominent feature at Marina Bay harbour is a casino.

Moreover, the naming rights on its many ugly skyscrapers are often acquired by notorious business and financial services conglomerates.

If I bothered shaking hands with any socially autistic scum-bucket from KPMG, Deloitte, PwC or EY, I would count my fingers afterwards and these are quite ethical compared to outfits such as UBS, Credit Suisse, Blackstone, Blackrock and KKR.

"Even the birds are chained to the sky" - Bob Dylan

Philip Fitzpatrick

I don't know about you but I found the notion that an extreme right wing organisation like the Heritage Foundation found Australia to be such a great place extremely disconcerting.

Closely followed by Ireland no less!

What on earth are we doing to ourselves?

Papua New Guinea can breathe reasonably easy, it comes in at 101 in the "mostly unfree" category.

Bernard Corden

It's also worth noting that Paul Howes and Noah Carroll have both ended up with KPMG, which was embroiled in the catastrophic collapse of Carillion in the UK.

Indeed the labour MP Peter Kyle exclaimed that...…."He would not allow KPMG to do an audit on the contents of his fridge."

Bernard Corden

The Heritage Foundation is more neoliberal than the American Enterprise Institute, the Cato Institute or even Brookings.

These and many other ruthless brigands along Massachusetts Avenue in Washington DC embraced the Friedman Doctrine and free market fundamentalism of the former Associate Justice of the US Supreme Court Justice Lewis F Powell Jr and corporate lawyer with Phillip Morris via his infamous Powell Memorandum in the early 1970s.

Several other acolytes included Bryce Harlow, a prominent lobbyist with Procter and Gamble and founding member of The Harlow Foundation, which was established in 1982 to advance business and government relations (regulatory capture) and reinforce its credo of....."Integrity in professional advocacy" which is merely Orwellian doublespeak...." War is peace, freedom is slavery and ignorance is strength."

Additional partners in crime included William Baroody Sr., the late John D Harper (Alcoa) and the education director with the US Chamber of Commerce, Eugene B Sydnor.

Another couple of corporate mercenaries include none other than George Schulz (Bechtel) and Dick Cheney (Halliburton).

"You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows" - Bob Dylan

"Society cares for the individual only so far as he is profitable" - Simone de Beauvoir

Philip Fitzpatrick

Bob Ellis predicted a Labor victory in 2013 based on his estimations of the talent in both parties. He said Labor had about 13 potential prime ministers and the Liberals had one, Malcolm Turnbull. He dismissed Abbott as a flake.

Upton Sinclair was referring to what is now known as crony capitalism. Crony capitalism is an economic system in which businesses thrive not as a result of risk, but rather as a return on money amassed through a nexus between the business and political classes i.e. through corruption.

Capitalism also requires, cheap labour, poverty, inequality, monopoly power, a deaf ear to such things as pollution and climate change and open markets without government interference.

In an ideal capitalist economy, there is no place for the elderly, children, and the disabled because they cannot provide labour.

Capitalists don’t see any advantages in providing services for them because they seldom have the money to pay for those services. In a similar way capitalists are not interested in adequately funding things like health, public transport, and education.

Capitalism also ignores things like pollution and climate change. For example, a mining company will strip the land of its resources, dump toxic water and pollute the air because they have no incentive to do otherwise because it costs money and lowers profits.

According to the Heritage Foundation, a conservative American think tank, there are currently ten most capitalistic countries in the world.

This assessment is based on four categories – Rule of Law, Government Size, Regulatory Efficiency, and Open Markets. Each of these categories has other factors within them such as Property Rights, Government Spending, Business Freedom and Financial Freedom.

1. Hong Kong
2. Singapore
3. New Zealand
4. Switzerland
5. Australia
6. Ireland
7. Estonia
8. United Kingdom
9. Canada
10. United Arab Emirates

Even though the United States is considered to be the epitome of Capitalism, it only ranks 18th on the Heritage country rankings.

Bernard Corden

Dear Phil - The late Bob Ellis lamented as much several years in his wonderful book entitled 'The Year It All Fell Down'.

"One of the necessary accompaniments of capitalism in a democracy is political corruption" - Upton Sinclair

Philip Fitzpatrick

The rising trend in conservatism seems to be going hand-in-hand with increased rates of corruption.

Is it just more blatant under conservative governments or is it actually on the rise? It's hard to tell.

The other thing that is travelling hand-in-hand with conservatism is repression and autocracy. You don't have to look any further than Australia to see this happening.

Australia is a different country compared to the one I knew when I was young and I'm not sure I like it very much.

Most of all I worry about my children and grandchildren.

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