Corruption and Greed

Greed Keeps Public Corruption, Bribery Alive

Public corruption and bribery: The acts often stem from a government official’s desire for money or power being so strong that it’s eventually overtaken by good old-fashioned greed. It comes in many forms, including: money laundering, extortion, embezzlement, kickbacks.

Money and greed are powerful forces that become corrupting influences on people and their environment. As money is seen to equal power, the wealthy people therefore is seen to have more power, giving them more authority over the poor. This creates a separation in the different socio-economic classes, which ultimately creates inequality in a community. Because of this, greed comes into play, causing chaos as violence erupts in order for a person to obtain what they want. Corruption is seen as those who have higher authority are able to abuse their power and get away with it.

We are today so ensnared in the process of selling and buying things in the market place, that we cannot imagine human life being otherwise.

Because, consumption and consumerism dominate social discourse and political agendas of all parties, consumerism hogs the limelight at centre stage as the prime objective of life.

The stability of life is an illusion. No matter how rich you are, you can always imagine being infinitely richer. The greater your imagination exceeds your station, the more corrupt you are likely to get. While it is true that we can all admire power and money, we must also ensure to remain prone to admire ideals.

The Nationalist government is constantly boasting that the economic pie is getting bigger — how can it be true that most of us are getting smaller pieces? The answer, of course, is that a few people are getting much, much bigger slices! Although wages have stagnated, corporate profits have doubled. The living standards of workers have continued to decline contrary to classical economic theory. This is largely due to political intervention based on corrupt relations between corporate capital and the state. Are today’s corporations the modern-day version of the ‘mafia’? It seems that shame has vanished from our ‘civilization’! How can it be that nobody can be held accountable? It seems that nobody is responsible for anything anymore!

Soon we will be in the throes of an election fever. And it looks that here crime does pay — when it comes to breaking campaign finance laws. The political finance issue is huge and the mountain of money has turned into an ever-growing snowball. Will fines and penalties envisaged by law really serve as deterrents to such abuses or will they do little to hold back political operators? Any punishments, if afforded, will come long after the offending activity transpired and can be considered simply as an inconvenience. In my understanding, the word ‘criminal’ incorporates also anyone who uses ‘political means’ for the acquisition of riches or power. The aggressor has no right to claim anything that he has acquired through aggression.

Has institutional dishonesty become the norm? As producer and director Anthony Wall declared, ‘The behaviour of society as a whole and its institutions in particular, tend to reflect prevailing attitudes within its government.’ In today’s life, even market forces are frequently secondary to political factors, namely multiple forms of corruption in securing economic advantage. Political corruption cannot take place without the knowledge of the state administrators. It transfers wealth from national-public use into private or corporate gain. It reduces the legitimacy and trust of the government in the eyes of its people, while it also widens and deepens internal class inequalities and undermines ‘good’ governance. Finally, it creates a ‘culture’ of corruption that siphons public resources from social services and productive investment to personal wealth.

The war against greed trumps all wars as it lies at the root of it all. During the Xmas celebrations, the archbishop of Canterbury had warned that human greed is threatening the environmental balance of the Earth. For the purported ‘Christian’ nation that we boast to be, the passion of greed reduces religious doctrine to just many dusty rules. Did you hear any whisper of condemnation by the local church hierarchy regarding the prevailing ‘law of the jungle’? Neither did I!

Economic inequality is on the rise. The gap between the rich and the poor continued to grow. This is not only immoral but it also provides an atmosphere ripe for political corruption. Furthermore, this increasing subjugation of everyone, except those at the very top of the income ladder, is dangerous for any democracy.

I sincerely wish everyone to do well by doing good!!

“It is partly to avoid consciousness of greed that we prefer to associate with those who are at least as greedy as we ourselves. Those who consume much less are a reproach.” Charles Horton

Case Study: Africa

The African Union calculates that every year over US$148 Billion is stolen from the continent by its leaders. That works out to more than a quarter of the continent’s entire Gross Domestic Product lost to corruption every single year. The World Bank reports that 40% of Africa’s private wealth is held offshore. Global Financial Integrity calculates that Africa has lost well over US$900 Billion since 1970. That is far in excess of total Development Assistance given to Africa during that same time. More than US$300 Billion of Western aid has been sunk into Africa, yet most states are effectively bankrupt, weighed down by debt, and failing to provide even minimum public services.

A. Trade not aid

The President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame, advocates trade – not aid. Kagame is convinced that it is essential for Africa to end dependency on foreign aid, as foreign aid fuels corruption. Corruption is the second most prevalent crime on the continent. Leaders need to become more accountable to the taxpayers; more auditors are needed. Anti-corruption reforms are essential. As leaders steal seven times more than the total value of foreign aid poured into Africa each year, it is clear that far more valuable than any foreign aid would be to end the endemic corruption which is looting the resources of this great continent. Stealing from everyone Most African countries today have lower per capita incomes than they had at independence. More than half of Africa’s total population live on less than US$2 per day. Nahu Ribadu, the former head of Nigeria’s Anti-Corruption Commission, has declared that the best way to attack poverty is to attack corruption. The prerequisite to all efficient and effective government is the eradication of corruption. Corruption prevents a country from realising its potential. Corruption steals from everyone. It is calculated that every one of us pays at least 20% more for goods and services because of the costs of corruption.

B. Corruption impoverishes

Corruption discourages investment, retards development and increases costs to the consumer. As Robert Guest, the African Editor of The Economist observes in ‘The Shackled Continent’: “For half a century now, the continent has been deluged with aid, but this aid has failed to make Africans any less poor, it has bankrolled tyrants or idealists with hopeless economic policies, both types of aid have been wasted; doing business in Africa can be tricky. Bad roads, punctuated by roadblocks, manned by bribe hungry policemen, make it slow and costly to move goods, even short distances. Local firms, meanwhile, have been held back by arbitrary government regularities, dysfunctional legal systems and the difficulty for those without political connections, of raising capital. If Africa was better governed it would be richer.”

C. Predatory Officials

Guest’s conclusion: “Africans are poor largely because they are not yet free. They live under predatory, incompetent governments which… impoverish them in many ways: through corruption, through bad economic policies, and sometimes, as in Zimbabwe, by creating an atmosphere of terror…”

D. Many scandals
The former president of Cricket SA has been engulfed in a corruption crisis. The Arms Deal of 1999 continues to make headlines, along with the Travelgate abuse of public finances by members of parliament. The conviction on corruption charges of former National Police Commissioner, (and ex-president of Interpol), the Chief of Police suspended for corruption investigations, and traffic police under investigation for buying illegal licences are all examples of unscrupulous politicians who squander taxpayers money with impunity, stealing from the poor, in the name of uplifting the poor and endemic.

E. One person can make a difference

Under Nahu Ribadu, Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission secured 250 convictions and recovered over US$5 Billion in stolen public funds.

F. Stealing from the poor

Every week our newspapers are awash with scandals about elected officials and ‘public servants’ extravagant lifestyles and outrageous expenditures. Yet, despite the state raking in over R600 Billion in taxes each
year they continually run at a deficit. Taxpayers wonder where all this money is going when there are so many schools without books, children taught in the open air, hospitals short of medicines and hospital patients going hungry because the provincial government has not paid the service providers.

G. Looted treasury

The Auditor General of South Africa reported over R20 Billion in unauthorised spending for the last fiscal year. Only 3 of 39 government departments had clean audits. The Special Investigating Unit reports that at least R30 Billion was lost to government corruption last year. The finances of 5 provinces in South Africa are in severe disarray. Heading the list of provinces spending way beyond their means was Limpopo Province. Even with over R2 Billion overspent, the Limpopo government was not able to pay doctors, nurses, teachers, social workers, and other public sector employees.

H. Theft by inflation

A survey on inflation in South Africa (undertaken by Old Mutual), reported that in 1971 you could buy a car for about R1000. In 1981, the same amount of money would buy a motorbike. By 2001, the buying power of R1000 had so collapsed, that you could buy a bicycle. Now a good pair of running shoes could cost over R1 000. “Skimping the measure, boosting the price and cheating with dishonest scales…I will never forgive.” Amos 8:5-7 The devastating impact of unbacked currency/inflation on pensions and savings is criminal. Biblical Law requires that we use honest scales and honest weights – honest money backed by real constant value (Prov 20:10). “Shall I count pure those with the wicked balances, and with the bag of deceitful weights? For her rich men are full of violence, her inhabitants have spoken lies, and their tongue is deceitful in their mouth.” Micah 6: 11,12

I. Why corruption increases
“Why do people commit crimes so readily? Because crime is not punished quickly enough.” Ecc 8:11. Surely that is the common sense answer. Corruption is increasing in our society because criminals are not punished swiftly enough. God has instituted civil government as “an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the
wrongdoer” Rom 13:4. Civil government is called to be a minister of God’s justice: “To punish those who do wrong” 1 Pet 2:14.

J. Bankrupt
If the provinces were commercial enterprises, they would have been declared insolvent and liquidated to settle their debts. All too many politicians seem to view positions in government as an opportunity to enrich themselves at the public’s expense. The toxic mixture of politics, business and greed is sabotaging development, costing jobs and eroding the economy.

K. Corruption Worldwide
But this is not a problem only for the world. Patrick Johnstone of Operation World reports in The Future of the Global Church, that of US$ 390 Billion given to Christian causes worldwide, $25 Billion was embezzled. Up to 20% of the global Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is spent on bribery, over US$1 Trillion a year. Up to 50% of all aid to developing countries is stolen before it can reach its intended recipients. Worldwide, an estimated US$400 Billion is lost to corruption. Every year over 10% of humankind are forced to pay a bribe.

L. Banksters
Probably the greatest corruption and theft in history was perpetrated by bankers (now often labelled Banksters) who triggered the Great Recession of 2008, through unethical speculation and selling of worthless derivatives. The cost to the US economy was over 135% of its GDP. The cost to the United Kingdom was over 149% of its total GDP. The only people who have benefited from the Depression caused by the irresponsible speculative bubble, have been the Banksters themselves. “The Lord abhors dishonest scales, but accurate weights are His delight.” Proverbs 11:1

M. The cost of crime

It is estimated that approximately one third of all business failures each year can be traced to employee theft. Of course, when businesses close down, employees lose their jobs and families suffer. Yet it is estimated that almost half of all employees are guilty of stealing (often called shrinkage!). Now, obviously somebody has to pay for the cost of all this theft. You and I, and all other customers, have to share the burden of the Billions of Rands shoplifted, or stolen, by employees, or embezzled by civil servants. In addition, we have to pay for the increased insurance premiums, the additional security personnel and equipment necessitated by this stealing spree. It all gets added to the price tag of everything we buy. Of course, we also pay for the cost of crime through our taxes, and when supporting the police force, the legal and judicial system, and the prison service, which are all meant to protect us from the criminal elements of society.