Corrupt and (therefore?) also dirt poor
A few years ago the government of Georgia fired thousands of police officers. The action was instigated by the World Bank which loans money to developing countries for further economic growth. The Bank demands in such cases that anti-corruption measures be taken as one of the conditions for making loans available.
Shame, cried a chorus of criticists of the World Bank.
"In fact, it is understandable that when hearing this, you tend to first question whether this is reasonable or even justifiable", acknowledged Ad Melkert, at the time CEO of the World Bank, in an interview.
" But those officers apparently were regulating traffic in places where there was no need for regulating traffic. They only let trucks go through after they paid an extortion fee."
The firing of the Georgian officers led very quickly to an increase in economic activity. Entrepreneurs did not have to worry any longer that at the end of the day their profits would be diminished through corruption (read: theft).
Melkert: " You are giving an economic impulse by taking away a chunk of corruption."
Consumption .....Need ..?.(Urge)
Christians know that they are visiting here. Entrusted with a stewardship of things not their own.
.........At least that is the theory...
The eighth commandment is therefore very intimately connected with several of the other ones relating to envy, greed etc.
The command is not a passive one (Refraining from) but an active one and as such actively engaging in prevention of and creation of conditions not conducive to an environment of corruption.
Theft- and thus also corruption- affects people at a very deep level in various ways, for whoever steals, loses a whole infrastructure of relationships built on trust and mutual respect. The person certainly not in the least affected is the person who commits the offence
The economic fallout however carries a very steep price tag. If we only think of the incredibly complicated contracts we have to devise for all sorts of business arrangements; the whole industry of security services as well as legal profession, etc.
How disastrous that is, was put in a report by Transparency International (TI).
Wealthy Finland and Iceland are topping the list of least corrupt countries, according to the international organization. Dirt poor Haiti topped the list of most corrupt countries in 2006, followed by other poor countries like Burma, Guinea and Irak. Poor countries have the dubious honour of having maintained these top positions for years.
In an aside: Worldwide citizens are complaining most about fraudulent police officers. Over fifty percent of all Africans and more than thirty percent of Latin Americans had to pay bribes to police officers in 2006.
"Corruption is theft", says mr. Paul Verloop, secretary general of the Dutch Division of Transparency International and professor at the Erasmus University of Rotterdam. " For example, part of the aid money collected after the tsunami a few years ago, ended up in the pockets of people who were definitely not entitled to it. This simply meant that several projects did not get started or got started on a very reduced scale."
The former Soviet-states and Indonesia are countries with a relative high level of corruption. At the same time they show a faltering economy. Coincidence?
"I don't think so". according to Verloop. Many western companies that went to invest in the former Soviet-Union in the early 90's have since returned, often after great losses.
That things are slowly improving has to do with the fact that Putin correctly fingered corruption as the root of their problems. It is also one of the reasons that he still has serious concerns about relinquishing power. There is still a lot of mistrust to deal with: the infrastructure of trust and mutual respect so easily squandered is hard to win back. And it is no secret that the general population has no problems with a tight control if it means less corruption and therefore not surprising either that Putin still is one of the most respected leaders in the world with an approval rate in Russia of generally between 80 and 90%.
Ukraine on the other hand is a prime example of the opposite.
Verloop: " In those countries it really is almost impossible to find justice without having to pay for it. Which is detrimental for a just society and disastrous for economic reconstruction. Who wants to invest in a country where even government and the judicial system cannot be trusted? Corruption is destructive for every society. It undermines human rights and democracies, and at the same time handicaps economic developments, especially in the Third World."
Still, there are people and companies that participate in the bribes and side deals chicaneries because "that's how things are done here in this country or in this kind of business".
Verloop finds that kind of reasoning absolutely nonsense.
"These things only work when people participate. The people participating are the key. When they minimize the importance, they have the wrong attitude and they will be forever part of the problem. In order to stop corruption, companies from the developed world have to stop participating. It may cost in the short term, but it may be a lot cheaper in the long run."
Transparency International (TI) has no idea whether corruption world wide is increasing and how much money is involved. "Corruption is illegal and therefore most of it is hidden", says Verloop. " Our annual index is then also a perception index: we poll tens of thousands of people and they tell us what they say or experience."
What does increase at any rate, is the attention for corruption and the fight against it, according to TI. Which is good, because there is something that can be done against it. Corruption can be fought in different ways.
Raising wages can be an important way. Certainly in poor countries, where corruption is a way of supplementing an income that is very low. However this does not always fly as we know that rich people can be very corrupt too.
The most important thing is that the very idea of it has to change in the heads of the people. Systems of ethical requirements for jobs and positions have to be put in place and people will have to be taught the basic ethical rules in order for a society to function.
In the end this will all have a beneficial effect on the economy of a country and the well being of the inhabitants, argues Verloop. " Corruption disturbs the workings of the market interactions and because of it consumers miss out on the benefits of it.''
There are many more forms of theft that have and are still affecting us deeply.
Not paying for what you take by force or by lack of consent is also theft.
A company that fouls up the environment, pollutes the air we breathe is in breach of the eighth commandment.
This kind of theft has been going on for as long as we can remember.
It is said : The wages of sin are death. Nowhere is that more true than in our communities and in our relationships. All our relationships, our relational interactions die a slow death when these basic laws are violated.