Note: this is a repost of a much older post. But it’s still relevant, I think.
The thing about getting older (it seems) is that the blackness and whiteness of “morality” has lost some of its starkness. Of course, some might say that’s just the evil inhabiting my soul and blinding my eyes to what ought to be obvious; and if I’d only read this section of Paul’s epistle to a now-non-existent city, and submit myself to the authority of some self-appointed elders, it would all become clear.
And perhaps that works sometimes. But in general, my experience is that adherence to extremely rigid moral laws results in one of the following:
- if I cannot live up to them, I become despondent and rage-filled;
- and if I can, then I turn into a sanctimonious prig.
Neither of those seem like good outcomes. Perhaps that’s just me.
But the talk of morality does bring me to the topic of corruption: that plague and scourge of almost every developing country (and every other country, actually – corruption is universal, just like humans are universal). And according to some people: corruption is one of the main reasons why developing countries are still developing.
The Corruption “Equation”
Economists love equations. Corruption is no different – many papers will quote the following equation from a 1998 IMF paper by Robert Klitgaard:
C = M + D – A
Where “C” is corruption, “M” is monopoly power, “D” is discretionary power, and “A” is accountability.
Or, to put it into words: if you have the power to extort a bribe, and you can get away with it, you probably will.
At which point, we can all shake our heads and make noises about either removing the power or not letting people get away with it.
Here’s an infographic: