Wednesday, December 21, 2016

A paper by John Joseph Wallis: The Concept of Systematic Corruption in American

I found this a few weeks ago and am just now getting around to posting it.

The author investigates how constitutions can help prevent the development of corruption, which he defines as the use of public institutions for personal gain. More specifically he looks at how the systemic design of a governing system can lock in place private benefits. Eliminating that type of corruption has been an ongoing goal of American government.

Whether it has been successful or not is another story.

- Click here for it.
Here's a taste - it contains a terrific look at the development of the governing systems that underlie our constitutional structure.
What I define as systematic corruption is both a concrete form of political behavior and an idea. In polities plagued with systematic corruption, a group of politicians deliberately create rents by limiting entry into valuable economic activities, through grants of monopoly, restrictive corporate charters, tariffs, quotas, regulations, and the like. These rents bind the interests of the recipients to the politicians who create them. The purpose is to build a coalition that can dominate the government. Manipulating the economy for political ends is systematic corruption. Systematic corruption occurs when politics corrupts economics.

In contrast, venal corruption denotes the pursuit of private economic interests through the political process. Venal corruption occurs when economics corrupts politics. Classical thinkers worried about venal corruption, too. They talked at great length about the moral and ethical corruption of entire peoples and societies, as well as governments. They realized, however, that venal corruption is an inevitable result of human nature. So they focused their intellectual enterprise on designing and then protecting a form of government that could resist systematic corruption. By eliminating systematic corruption, they hoped to mitigate the problems of venal corruption as well.


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