While the recent sensationalized story in the media painted a bleak picture of state of corruption, there is a much undiscussed topic of “legalized” corruptions in many forms.
Undoubtedly, because such corruptions have somehow become “legalized” in some nations, the amount of them are rampant and costly.
I like to start a discussion of them here. I will take a stab at making an initial list. Commentors are welcome to add their own.
(1) political lobbying.
This is a billion dollar industry, legalized to peddle political influence for various things, good PR, endorsements, campaign funds, etc. It’s one thing to say, “vote for me, and I’ll ….” But many politicians and lobbyists are using more than “votes” to exchange for political decisions.
(2) Corporate-Government collusion.
It may sound fishy for corporations to somewhat “bribe” politicians. It may be also fishy for corporations and politicians to start working together, because that’s when public money and corporate money become mingled, and no one can really tell who’s paying for what and who’s getting the benefits.
Worse yet, corporations by working with the government, often get legal immunity from prosecution, for doing bad things against private citizens in the name of the government and the public.
For example: Recently, Snowden revealed that large tech companies like Google, Apple, Microsoft, AT&T, Verizon have been helping NSA to spy on pretty much everyone on the net. These companies undoubtedly got some favorable economic benefits. Google was lobbying for fat government contracts to provide Gmail servers. Of course, some of them excused their actions as “compelled” by the Government, but let’s face it, that’s also a “get out of jail free” card that they got from the Government. You can’t sue them for doing what the government wanted them to do. (even if they could have just said no).
Other examples are plenty: Government grants tons of money to companies for “development” projects, every where. At the very least, they are just corporate welfare. On the more shady side, it’s also political kickbacks, because many of the companies that do a lot of work with Government also hire EX-government employees!! For example, Snowden’s ex-employer Booz Allan have a lot of ex-government employees on their board of directors, earning WAY more than what they used to earn in the Government. You wonder why? Another example: Department of Interior, which is in charge of mineral rights to oil companies, have high ranking officials who used to work for oil companies, and oil companies hire some of them upon exiting the government (like a revolving door of kickbacks).
(3) Media-Government Collusion.
Well, media companies are also corporations, which are also people. They also collude with the government, big time. They may chase stories and scandals, but they are wise enough to work with the government, especially on “messaging” to the public.
Why? Well, media companies are also lazy and greedy, just like any other corporation. They want more money for less work.
So why dig at US government’s well protected dirty secrets, when it’s much easier to just take some rumors from the US government about foreign nations, and make up stories on it?
Wag the Dog, but you have to pet it nicely too.
(4) Privatized Penal System.
This is generally not discussed, but becoming prevalent in the West, where population of the incarcerated have ballooned. The governments overwhelmed by the cost, increasingly turn to “private prisons” for cheaper solutions. Invariably, this is a hand-waving of responsibilities. And invariably, abuse and corruption mounts.
First, instead of decreasing cost to the public, the private prisons bilks the public, while they hire lobbyists to keep lobbying the government for more money.
Second, even worse, abuse of prisoners becomes rampant in such legalized “racket”. Particularly, in immigration detention prisons and juvenile detention centers, where the young and the illegal immigrants are weak and vulnerable to abuses.
It might be bad enough to have corrupt officials running prisons on public tax money, it’s far worse to have corporations get into the racket and run amuck profiting on abuse.
Government punishing prisoners is a necessity of legal systems, but private companies doing it for profit, that becomes just another form of “slavery”.
(5) Protecting Dirty Secrets of Corporations.
It’s bad when governments want to hide dirty secrets, and every government has some. Thus, “transparency” is often important, to a degree that some legitimate secrets of national security should be protected.
But it’s really bad when companies’ dirty secrets are protected by laws, passed by corporate lobbying in the name of protecting business interests.
Particularly in US, traditional “trade secret” laws are now stretched far beyond the intended scopes. In the old days, “trade secret” just means some kind of recipe, secret formula, secret method, for making things. But now, “trade secret” laws are increasingly applied to protect vague “financial information” of corporations, even old data.
Such data are not particularly useful, EXCEPT when the data may reveal wrong doing of the corporations.
Yes, in a word, today, corporations are using “trade secrets” to hide their misdeeds, and to go after potential “whistleblowers”.
Company emails of stockbrokers discussing how to sell junk funds to clients, labeled “confidential”, are considered “business strategy”, and thus “trade secret”. Sure they went after a few guys here and there, but those were the few sacrificial lambs, where most of the others got away with it and are still making money with the same dirty scams (too big to prosecute).
Whistleblowers have little protection, and government don’t tell either. Indeed, Politicians who may get wind of companies’ confidential information are actually free to profit from disclosures to government. Boom! You get companies and politicians profiting by cheating the public. Not many politicians in US got stuck with worthless mortgage backed mutual funds. Yeah, that’s why.
The real “trade secret” in US these days, is that the public really doesn’t know what’s going on in their government and their corporations, which are in league with each other to cheat the public.
If you try to expose them, you are a “hacker” or even a “traitor” who stole the companies’ secrets, or exposed it to foreign nations.
(6) Medical Cost.
As a basic necessity in modern time, medical cost is out of control, because it’s another racket, controlled by pharma monopolies and special “masters” who just make up ridiculous numbers for fees to justify their own ridiculous salaries, all while the US government is hopelessly ignoring the extent of the problem.
It almost makes the open bribes in 3rd world hospitals look sane and tame by comparison. You can at least haggle with a 3rd world hospital doctor. You can’t haggle with some nameless “master” who send you a $5000 medical bill.