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ChrisGraley (29.65)

unabated corruption is eventually self-defeating.

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September 07, 2010 – Comments (25)

This is one of those posts where I'll probably piss people off on all sides, but as usual, I don't care.

 

I'll start off with the statement that without corruption, communism would have actually worked. It was a grand idea. Everyone should share equally in the wealth. There were other contributing factors to the failure of communism, but the main failure was unabated corruption. The apathy of the working class was also a big factor, but I would argue that labor became apathetic only when they figured out that rewards were not connected to effort. If the system worked as it was sold, labor would be even more enthusiastic to work harder since the rewards should have been greater compared the rewards of basic labor in a Capitalist system.

What perpetuated the corruption? Power. Communism needed a huge amount of people in power to make sure the people got what they deserved. Despite the best intentions of any of those people, they are going to insure that they take care of themselves before the rest of the population. Once they get a taste of putting themselves first, it becomes really easy to push the people farther and farther down the food chain.

How does this relate to all other corruption? Well it demonstrates that any corrupt group will do what they can get away with until they can no longer get away with it. In other words, corruption is eventually self-defeating. The problem is that innocent people pay for corruption even in the fall-out. Now some of you will argue that we need government to step in and regulate before that fall-out occurs. I'll argue that we are just handing over power and corruption to government to take advantage of as long as they can before the same collapse.

So what is the answer?  You have to dilute power as much as possible and give it to John Q Public. I am amazed on how we as a group can pick out a pump and dump stock in less than 5 mins and yet some of us feel that we need a government agency to protect us from these scammers. The regulating body costs more than what they are protecting us from. This isn't even including the corruption that comes with that power.

As Alstry says, we live in a digital age. The collective mind on the internet can successfully police fraud at close to zero cost. It can police it even better once we remove our political biases in our own posts, but I believe that we are at least 5 to 10 years away from that.

Can less be more? I think so. Is there any alternative answer that will work by handing over power to anyone to look out for us? I think not. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

25 Comments – Post Your Own

#1) On September 08, 2010 at 12:21 AM, alstry (34.92) wrote:

Your posts are getting better and better....what the heck is going on...?

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#2) On September 08, 2010 at 3:15 AM, MGDG (34.70) wrote:

I don't have anything to add but a Rec.

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#3) On September 08, 2010 at 3:34 AM, TMFUltraLong (99.95) wrote:

Greed is, for lack of a better word.... good!

UltraLong

PS... and apparently now it's legal!

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#4) On September 08, 2010 at 5:19 AM, mhy729 (32.22) wrote:

You can replace "corruption" with "parasitism" in your title and it would be equally valid.

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#5) On September 08, 2010 at 9:07 AM, russiangambit (29.12) wrote:

Corruption thrives in places where there is lack of information and transparency. Ever wondered why the govenment is so non- transparent? Why everything is so secret?

Of course, you are spot on with your post. In palces like Russia and India coorruption is thousands of years old. Power changes hands, the corruption remains. I don't know if it can be conquered. May be it could be tamed at best.

 It is sad to see how fast greed and power corrupted US as well. 

 

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#6) On September 08, 2010 at 9:49 AM, outoffocus (22.75) wrote:

You are absolutely right and if you piss people off then good. We need to piss a few people off.  We are too fat and happy. 

So what is the answer?  You have to dilute power as much as possible and give it to John Q Public.

I can imagine that many people will dismiss this statement as libertarian.  But when you go back and look founding documents of this country (Constitution and Declaration of Independence) you'll find that this is exactly what our founding fathers were trying to accomplish.  This is probably why the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence isn't really covered in detail in public schools. 

We have the proper system in place to accomplish this, but we, John Q Public, have allowed this system to be flat out violated by the 2 party political system. We were never designed to be ruled by 2 ruling parties. The 3 branches of government were setup to prevent this type of 2 party collusion.  

Either way, good post.  Not only do I agree with your statement that we are 5 to 10 years away from people waking up from their political brainwashing, but I believe we will have to experience some really hard times in the process.  One could only hope we'd figure it out once we put the republicans BACK in office in november, but that would be too much like right.

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#7) On September 08, 2010 at 9:53 AM, russiangambit (29.12) wrote:

> One could only hope we'd figure it out once we put the republicans BACK in office in november, but that would be too much like right.

And what republicans do to make it right? They are arguably more corrupt than democrats.

I agreed with the rest of your post. you are very right about the level of propaganda and brainwashing in the US. It puts USSR to shame.

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#8) On September 08, 2010 at 10:04 AM, outoffocus (22.75) wrote:

> One could only hope we'd figure it out once we put the republicans BACK in office in november, but that would be too much like right.

Russian, you misunderstood me.  What I meant was that once we put the repubs BACK in office and they continue to screw this country up, I would hope that John Q Public would figure by then out that both parties are corrupt.

Its like GWB said, "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice...and you can't git fooled agin".

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#9) On September 08, 2010 at 10:26 AM, edwjm (99.87) wrote:

I trust that outoffocus and others are aware that George Washington steadfastly refused to be identified with any of the political parties of his day.  To this day he remains the only U.S. President who was truly independent of political party.  With the partisan politics of today resulting in almost all votes being strictly along party lines, the voter really has only three choices: (1) Democrat, (2) Republican, (3) throw your vote away.

 I wonder what would happen in this country if the Senate with its ineffective proceedural rules were abolished, and all members of the House were elected nation-wide.  Would the representation better reflect the people?  

Or would the same power-hungry types of politicians still manage to hold control to perpetuate the brain-washing and corruption? 

It has been said that people get the government that they deserve.  If the electorate remains so clueless, do they deserve any better than what they have?

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#10) On September 08, 2010 at 10:35 AM, starbucks4ever (97.43) wrote:

ChrisGraley,

I think the problem was not so much an excess of bureaucracy, as the lack of political competition. I am sure things would turn out much better if we had not one, but two Communist parties, with identical programs, identical think tanks behind both parties, but with different leaders. Ever wonder why the American establishment maintains two parties which are essentially identical?

russiangambit,

The corruption problem in Russia is much easier to solve than in India because India is decentralized. As for Russia, the only thing you need is to have an honest Prime Minister, who will appoint an honest president, who will appoint honest governors, who will appoint honest mayors, and so on - all the way down the food chain. Of course there is a 40 Billion dollar question how to get an honest prime minister :)

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#11) On September 08, 2010 at 10:40 AM, russiangambit (29.12) wrote:

> It has been said that people get the government that they deserve.  If the electorate remains so clueless, do they deserve any better than what they have?

I thought about it quite a bit actually in my day. And I don't think so. This is the thing with the crowds, even if not everybody is clueless the crowd always wins if promised some free goodies. So, what is left for people who see the truth of it?  That is why multiple parties are the answer so that like minded people can band together and be heard. But 2 parties system is an oligopoly on power and not a democracy.

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#12) On September 08, 2010 at 10:53 AM, russiangambit (29.12) wrote:

> As for Russia, the only thing you need is to have an honest Prime Minister, who will appoint an honest president, who will appoint honest governors, who will appoint honest mayors, and so on - all the way down the food chain

Well, the current one - Medvedev is honest as they come . If he'd be anymore honest he'd be dead. So what?

This experiment had already be done,actually. Tzar Peter I was  anti-establishment at the exterme. He couldn't stand thieves and corruption. But it looks like he couldn't find any honest people among all of russian nobility to do his bidding (?). And  those who he took from the common folk became even more corrupt. Of course, you can argue that if he weren's as mad and cruel and didn't have all these wars going on he could've done a better job. But I think the end result would've been the same. A few other tzars tried afterwards since they were german by blood and germans like order, but to no avail.

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#13) On September 08, 2010 at 11:23 AM, starbucks4ever (97.43) wrote:

I can't agree with such fatalism. I know personally several people who wouldn't steal under any circumstances, and I'm sure that most of us have such friends and acquaintances. It follows that either Medvedev has had a very unusual experience in that he doesn't know a single person who is unconditionally honest, or, maybe the rumor about his honesty has been slightly exaggerated. I also find his difficulties in appointing good people especially pathetic when the average guy whose name you pick at random from a list of prison inmates will be more honest than Putin. 

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#14) On September 08, 2010 at 12:30 PM, JakilaTheHun (99.93) wrote:

I would actually say we're largely on the same page on this.  My belief is that corruption is one of the top destroyer of economies worldwide.  Societies filled with corruption tend to stay poor precisely because there are no incentives to innovate and bring new products to the market, because corrupt officials will steal the labor of one's work. 

I would not view any 'government intervention' as corruption, by definition, however.  Rather, corruption happens in the private sector just as well.  Though, governments normally have more potential to grow big, bureaucratic, and bloated than private companies do.  Moreover, governments often lack the same incentives as individuals operating in the private sector.  Hence, there tends to be greater risk of corruption in government.

But I can name more than a handful of corporations that have taken company resources and doled it out in a corrupt manner (not in the interests of the shareholders).  

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#15) On September 08, 2010 at 2:55 PM, Slider08 (44.54) wrote:

What ultimately dooms communism is its foundation in bastardized economics, though its naive assumption of a world sans corruption doesn't help. There's no way communism can work in any mildly complex economy -- it just isn't robust enough. It discards money-as-a-unit-of-account, which provides immediate aggregate feedback on what to produce and what not to produce, and replaces it with the best guesses of those in control.

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#16) On September 08, 2010 at 3:29 PM, angusthermopylae (38.77) wrote:

I'm not advocating armed insurrection, but an example of Chris's point is close to home, both in distance and time:  The Battle of Athens, TN.

In this particular case, the usual, unabated corruption ran into a new demographic--hardened war veterans.  Ignoring the whole gun-ownership take on the situation, I think it sums up the progress of corruption pretty well:

--Those in power push harder and harder to maintain their power (Soviet communism, Jim Crow laws, British empire in India, Bush-Cheney, South Africa in the 80's)

--Eventually, they "cross the line" beyond even hiding their actions. (Mississippi burning, "Let them eat cake", Tienneman square)

--Someone or some group is angry enough, determined enough, or armed well enough to  push back (Freedom riders, Ghandi, African National Congress, returning war vets...)

--If the power structure topples, the New Boss (same as the Old Boss) takes power "for the greater good"...then goes to step 1.

Not every example given is indisputably corruption...but then again, it's hard to tell the difference.  And just because the corruptors haven't fallen yet doesn't mean they're right...just better at surviving.

Human nature...ain't it grand?

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#17) On September 08, 2010 at 8:35 PM, ChrisGraley (29.65) wrote:

Slider08, while you are exactly right that the bastardized economics killed communism in it's previous form. But you don't need price control for communism. You can still have communism and allow the free market supply and demand control prices. 

That is, you can do it in a world without corruption. Which doesn't exist.

Without free market competition, there is a disincentive of labor to be productive. Without productive labor, there is a need for price control. It's kind of a viscous circle. You hit the nail on the head about the need of feedback from the free market.

Anyone that knows me knows that communism is against about everything that I stand for, but I think that even communism would work in a world sans corruption.

The problem with communism or most other forms of government is that you have to give people power to control policy. This power leads to corruption. The only solution I can see is to dilute power as much as possible and hand as much power as possible over to the population.

I truly believe that our founding fathers had this in mind in the design of our country, but I don't think they went far enough to limit power and corruption. 

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#18) On September 08, 2010 at 9:11 PM, angusthermopylae (38.77) wrote:

I truly believe that our founding fathers had this in mind in the design of our country, but I don't think they went far enough to limit power and corruption.

Perhaps it is simply impossible to go far enough...in any group of people, no matter how altruistic the group is, there are those who will subvert, twist, or simply bend the process to their own ends.  Bureacracies are like coral--they may grow slowly, but they do grow no matter what...and they always first serve themselves.

Take Andrew Jackson, for example.  Depending upon your interpretation, as an early president, he was either a) a government-fighting, Fed bank-busting man of the people, or b) a self-serving good ol' boy who surrounded himself with cronies and sycophants.  (My humble opinion is that the two are not mutually exclusive...but try getting anyone to support that position...)

I tend to subscribe to the view that government is a necessary evil--"necessary" because more harm than good usually comes out of it (even the Nazis had the trains running on time), and "evil" because, like a particularly effective guard dog, you never know when it'll turn around and rip off your arm.

Best to keep small children and well-meaning idiots away from the beast--they usually end up getting eaten for pulling at the wrong end.

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#19) On September 08, 2010 at 10:21 PM, starbucks4ever (97.43) wrote:

"in any group of people, no matter how altruistic the group is, there are those who will subvert, twist, or simply bend the process to their own ends.  "

This of course is always taking place. But in addition to ulterior motives, people also have a set of beliefs. At any rate, people in the government usually do. Yes, every once in a while you get a hopeless sociopath like Putin or a simple-minded crook like Somosa who couldn't care less about ideas. But such cases are relatively uncommon. A typical politician wants to get his name in the history textbook more than he wants another hundred thousand dollars. And therefore having an honest government is rare but not impossible. But of course it requires a system of checks and balances. The ruling class must be structured in such a way that everybody is watching everyone else. 

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#20) On September 08, 2010 at 11:10 PM, ChrisGraley (29.65) wrote:

zloj, I totally disagree.

I think that most politicians feel that they can skim off money and get their names in the history books as being angelic.

You can prove me wrong though, name a US politician in the last 50 years that was the exception to the rule. 

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#21) On September 08, 2010 at 11:22 PM, angusthermopylae (38.77) wrote:

It doesn't even take a sociopath, or even real greed.  For example, suppose a governor is elected from the new Idealist party.  His platform, to which he stringently adheres, is to be the ideal governor in every decision.

A vacancy opens up in some state position.  After winnowing down the candidates, he's left with two equal options:  Candidate A, who has a great reputation but the governor doesn't know personally, and Candidate B, who is also a great guy and an old friend

With all else being equal, it's perfectly logical for the balance to go in favor of the govs old friend.  After all, he knows and trusts this guy/gal, right?  And political outcomes (charges of cronyism) won't play into his decision...because he's the ideal governor.

And thus, a new lobbying arm opens up--getting to know the governor, his family, his friends, his staff, his clubs...because  it was that one little bit that made the difference.

When the next appointment opens up, there will already be a shield or layer of viable candidates near to hand...and anyone outside the system will probably never be considered.

As time goes by, the cycle will be ever-deepening, with candidate lists being filled with those who were able to game the system a little more than their predecessors...because they had more time to arrange contacts.  Sure, they may all believe they are the best, but the wild-haired idealist who cares the most will be left out because someone else cared a little more about career planning instead.

As you said, zloj, the only way to really keep things on a more even keel is to have everyone watching everyone else:  The press, the public, opposing parties, the ACLU, even conspiracy nuts.  They all have a hand in ferreting out Bad Things(tm) the ruling class does.

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#22) On September 08, 2010 at 11:52 PM, ChrisGraley (29.65) wrote:

angus that's one thing that I can't come to grips with is the failure of the press.

They have incentive to expose corruption but they don't seem to cash in. Sometimes even when the political connections should almost demand that they should expose things.

I understand they have political affiliations and I understand that ratings are more important than ethics, but I can't understand the media not calling out blind lies to boost ratings and gain power.

There seems to be a hidden hand of control that I can't asertain.

Any opinion? 

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#23) On September 09, 2010 at 8:01 AM, angusthermopylae (38.77) wrote:

There seems to be a hidden hand of control that I can't asertain.

Same here, and any approach I try to explain the apparent failure of the press ends up containing unprovable or biased assumptions:

--Is it money and sponsorship?  But how many corporations really care that much about individual news stories?  Supposedly, News Corp. of Fox has a part owner who is also funding the group building the controversial mosque.

--Public apathy?  But a quick look around Teh IntarTubes shows lots of people are still opinionated as ever...and would suck up a corruption story like a spunge.

--"The decline of journalism"?  What does that even mean?  How and in what way has it declined?

 

Maybe it's not cyclical, but more a matter of "progress", for lack of a better word.  Between neocons who worked every narrative like a propaganda coup, the whole Iraq WMD fiasco, and a long history of tempest-in-a-bottle stories like Clinton's sex scandals, news outlets are just at an all-time low.

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#24) On September 11, 2010 at 8:45 PM, sentinelbrit (85.17) wrote:

Well, I wish I had listened to you on KV-A. Nice one!

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#25) On September 14, 2010 at 10:28 AM, fransgeraedts (99.92) wrote:

Dear Chris,

absolute power?

Well, Djengish Kahn had something like it. Maybe Emperor Augustus, the really early chinese kings, Louis the 14th had a shot, Hitler and Stalin came close  .... but Obama? (or Bush (1,2), or Clinton or Reagan?) .. or an american congresman? or a state governor?  Absolute power? May i smile? laugh? giggle?

Of course absolute power corrupts. That is why in a democracy there is no such thing. People get to vote their representatives in and out of power; there is a division of powers at the root of the system; checks and balances are everywhere. But the most important fact is this: many many of the powers that used to be invested in the state have been divested: we call them individual freedoms, and never before in the history of human kind those freedoms have been as large as now.

What you are asking for Chris has alreday been done. It started in the 15th/16th century and has continued up until now.

However, the idea that we somehow could do without the state....could do without the monopoly of violence, the monopoly of taxation and the democratic proces to control it.... is naive to say the least.

The state is the guarantor of those same freedoms! without that state we would klose them all! overnight!

So, yes, it is very encouraging that we are developing other forms of collective intelligence besides democracy......

And maybe those forms will over time make it possible to devolve even more power into freedoms....but that will not make the state, laws and regulations superfluous. The simple and sad truth is that we will always need a state to combat and punish criminal and fraudulent behavior!

For example: for the financial disarmament that i believe is necessary (see my post) we cannot do without laws, regulated exchanges and oversight.

A much more interesting question would be why some democratic states are much more prone to corruption then others? Italy, Greece, the US?

fransgeraedts

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