After the recents events that occurred in Rome where the police discovered links between the local government, including the ex-mayor Gianni Alemanno, and the mafia, I decided that it would be interesting to take a deeper look at corruption in modern societies, a terrible phenomenon that is ruining democracies all over the world. This post will be briefly analyzing what are the causes of corruption.
Europe is ill. Everyday the newspapers talk about political corruption in Spain, France, Greece or Italy which has been recently extimated to be one of the most corrupt countries in Europe; recently the Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi released an interview in which he pointed out that:
“I will do everything I can so that, finally, in Italy, people who steal will pay for it, to the last cent , we won’t give discounts to anyone.”
but what does encourage people to go to “the wrong side” of justice and push them to act against their own political system? When analzying the different causes that may exist we have to differ between those factors which affect the demand for political corruption and the those that act as a supply of it but here are the causes that are going to be discussed: a large increase in the level of taxation in many countries, a large increase in the level of public consumption and finally a huge increase in economic controls and regulation from the governments. In those countries without honest bureaucracies, the invasive role of the State may have a more immediate impact on corruption than in those countries with well-fuctioning intitutions.
When there is an abundance of regulations, those who want to open a new business or even the politicians who want to develop their activities and increase their political parties’ influence, they may ask to those officials who are in charge of giving the authorizations to “turn a blind eye” on it and let them do whatever they want ( naturally in exchange of money or favours).
Another important factor, as mentioned above, is taxation: in fact, taxes based on clear legislations which do not require contacts between taxpayers and the inspectors tend to lead to corruption much less than when there is no transparence in laws. There are cases where corruption became so evident in the taxation system (Peru and Uganda) that the governmental institutions had to replace the existing administrations with new ones.
The last cause discussed here is corruption in public expenditure. This idea will be easier to understand with the concept of “commissions”: at times, public projects have increased the presence of corruption in a country because the high level public officials are those who decide whether a public project is going to be done and financed or not, therefore, some of them may let some individuals (or political groups) get “commissions”, that is to say that a specific individual is going to have the permission to start his public project.
In conclusion, I would like to quote a famous American writer, William Gaddis, author of different fictional and non-fictional works, who once said: “Power doesn’t corrupt people, people corrupt power” . This is the main idea of this post: it is up to the people in power, chosen by the citizens (or not, as it may happen in some cases), to decide whether or not they are going to respect their promises and try to fight against corruption, no matter what. This quote will have sense if the future generations will grow up with new morals and this must be the task of the families themselves, the parents above all, and of the education system who must teach the youth how to behave in the right way in such a rotten world.
- Vito Tanzi (May 1998). Corruption Around the World: Causes, Consequences, Scope and Cures. Retrieved 26 December 2014, from http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/wp/wp9863.pdf
- James Politi ( 21 December 2014). Renzi’s reform dreams comes up against a corruption nightmare. Retrieved 02 January 2014, from http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/133c03a6-8645-11e4-b248-00144feabdc0.html#axzz3Oou6UmR3.
- Melissa Eddy (5 December 2012). Greece and Italy Are Listed Among Corrupt in Europe. Retrieved 08 January 2014, from http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/06/business/global/06iht-corrupt06.html?_r=0