“Our company provides services for a local government authority. We must often wait two or three months to receive payment for those services. Recently, though, I received a phone call from a government worker. He offered to speed up the payments—if we gave him some of the money as a kickback.”—JOHN. *
HAVE you ever been a victim of corruption? Perhaps not of the kind mentioned above, but almost certainly you have suffered the effects of corruption.
According to Transparency International’s (TI) 2011 Corruption Perceptions Index, * “the vast majority of the 183 countries and territories assessed score below five on a scale of 0 (highly corrupt) to 10 (very clean).” Two years earlier, TI acknowledged that its 2009 annual report exposed the pervasive reality of corruption: “It is clear that no region of the world is immune to the perils of corruption.”
“Corruption is the abuse of entrusted power for private gain. It hurts everyone whose life, livelihood or happiness depends on the integrity of people in a position of authority.”—TRANSPARENCY INTERNATIONAL
In some cases, the consequences of corruption can be disastrous. For example, Time magazine reported that “corruption and carelessness” were at least partially responsible for the very heavy death toll in the massive earthquake that struck Haiti in 2010. It added further: “Buildings rise with little if any input from engineers and plenty of bribes to so-called government inspectors.”
Is there a lasting solution to the scourge of corruption? To answer that question, we need to understand the basic causes of corruption. We will consider these in the next article.