Corruption over the longer term

A major Anti-Corruption Conference is being held today on London. As the host, Prime Minister David Cameron has already announced what Britain is going to do — or at least is going to try to do — and this is to create a register of all foreign companies owning properties in the country and of their personal beneficiaries. The register would mean “corrupt individuals and countries will no longer be able to move, launder and hide illicit funds through London’s property market . . .”.

Will we ever get rd of corruption? Unlikely. Every man is basically selfish and thus “every man has his price” even if it’s not always for money. Offers of promotion, sex or reputation will do just as nicely for some. Corruption is endemic and will always exist at some level or another. But will it be at a high level or a low level? That’s the crucial question. There’s a two-part answer, one ancient and one modern.

It is now being shown by evolutionary biologists from careful experiments that many higher animals can count, and compute and compare end-results. This applies whether we are talking of intuitive feelings of right and wrong results in mathematics but also of fair comparisons — in fact, the basis of common law in our own species.

The modern part of the answer is that we now have the Internet. There can now be little doubt that, on balance, secret information is exposed sooner or later by hackers or whistle blowers. It is not so much that the innermost deception is always revealed in detail but that so much else gathering around the periphery is leaving a ‘black hole’ on which our basic intuition can act.

Despite the fact that we hear of corruption more than ever before we can be reasonably positive about driving it down to low levels over the longer term.

One thought on “Corruption over the longer term

  1. Optimism on a reduction in corruption as a % of population or in toto seems to include two assumptions:

    the system of information feedback and adequate behavioral controls by a central authority remains intact (think Singapore)


    economies don’t undergo chaotic breakdowns where barter, theft, black markets, etc would proliferate

    I hope those assumptions are correct. If not, the environment would be increasingly victimized as billions scrambled just to survive, plus predation on ‘outsiders’ would increase as wagons were circled.

    My 2 cents.


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