Corruption may be the greatest threat we face

I have written before about the greatest long term risks facing our planet as noted by the World Economic Forum – the global water crisis and poorly reacting to climate change. I would add that population growth would pose further risk.

When I first wrote about this, a British missionary in Nigeria noted he would place corruption high on the list. Why? His reasoning is the leaders of countries throughout the world skim off the top and place friends and family in places of power to do the same. So, the majority of folks become disenfranchised as money and investment are compromised and go into the pockets of these leaders.

This disenfranchisement leads to terrorists being listened to until it is too late. It leads to leaders controlling the messaging often using people’s fears to control them. It leads to a breakdown in institutions to help people and guard against those controlling messaging.

After the missionary’s counsel and observing what has happened in the past few years, I agree that corruption is right up there with the more natural risks. A few examples might help illustrate why I fully agree with him.

South Korea has a flourishing economy with overt freedoms and investment. To the north, the North Korean people live hand-to-mouth and are the closest thing to the “1984” model we have on earth. Kim Jong Un controls everything from the messaging to the money and you dare not give the slightest hint of non-support.

Vladimir Putin is the most clever corrupt leader on the planet. He controls all messaging in Russia and actively wages cyber war adroitly using Social Media to sway pro-Russia sentiment. Some unknowing sycophants like our President praise him as a strong leader. He may be strong, but he and his oligarchy are quite wealthy at the expense of everyone else.

President Duterte of the Philippines is relatively new to the game, but his corruption leads directly to the genocide of anyone who has touched illicit drugs or openly disagree with him. The negative impact of this man on his country will continue to expose them to human rights concerns.

Corruption abounds with Erdogan in Turkey who used a failed coup (which he may have staged) to remove significant numbers of intellectuals, judges and government officials who shared opposing views. The corrupt leadership in Iraq after Saddam Hussein fell led to ostracized Sunnis allowing ISIS to take hold. Hosni Mubarak of Egypt was removed from office with US$80 billion while the average Egyptian lived on US$2 a day. President Mugabe of Zimbabwe was just removed in a coup after years of corrupt leadership and before he passed the official baton to his younger wife to do more of the same.

But, we in the western world should not pat ourselves on the back too much. We hide it better through lobbyists and funders of politicians. Make no mistake, these folks give money to curry favor. In the US, we have a billionnaire President with several billionnaires in his cabinet who rode a wave of a populist movement. This would be funny if it were not so sad. His followers need only look at the proposed Tax Reform bills that heavily help the rich in America at the expense of our future. He masks this subterfuge with bombast, lying and a sharply critical tone of dissent and the press.

The downside of all this corruption is the disenfranchised are impacted and have little voice. We are also selling out our future for the bottom lines of folks with more digits to the left of the decimal point. We must speak to corruption and not let it infiltrate further into our world and country. It impacts everything else we need to fix.


16 thoughts on “Corruption may be the greatest threat we face

  1. thanks for this, keith; i was thinking this morning about new ways to address concerns about the damage we’ve done to the environment and what the environment is now doing = sort of like payback…

    i pondered if our own bodies were looted slowly.. beings taking our hair and making clothing from it – or ropes! — and an eyeball here and there woulpd not kill us if the wound was repaired.. taking limbs would affect us greatly — but then the organs, ok, there’s a tipping point of no turning back – death would be premature….

    how can the world grasp that the tipping point has been reached and we have to stop looting our planet’s resources – as well as using it as a dump…..

    still no good options for internet – i will continue to load posts and read them offline – then comment when possible..


    • Lisa, with so much fossil fuel money flowing to politicians, they are blinded to mainstream science on climate change and environmental issues. As a result, our nation has ceded a place at the table on climate change issues. Fortunately, cities, states and businesses are replacing current US leadership. The US may just get disinvited to the next meeting. Keith

    • Hugh, thanks. We should not forget that Dante had a special circle of hell for graft. We have to make modifications to lessen the influence of money. I think one solution is for politicians to be required to wear logos of their funders like golfers or NASCAR. Keith

    • Janis, unfortunately the solution would require courage from our politicians which is in short supply. I gested a little in my response to Hugh, but that might help. Keith

  2. Note to Readers: In the US, a couple of keys to limit corruption. Eliminate dark money funding campaigns. If you want to fund a politician, then we should be able to see who you are. If you do not live in the voting district, you should not be able to fund campaigns from across the country. These two changes would remedy two horrible Supreme Court rulings that said these practices are OK.

    We need to shorten the election cycle. We should not have twenty month campaigns – that means no one is governing, they are just running for office. It also means the govern off their own rhetoric rather than data.

    If we are going to term limit the President, we should term limit Senators and Congresspersons. The latter can get three four year terms, with the former two six year terms. Having seen what we get with experience, I am more inclined to say we could live with term limits. A long time politician knows how the system can be used to his or her benefit.

    I would introduce a third party of moderate politicians who track better with Independent voters. This would make the Reps and Dems collaborate more because they would lose people otherwise.

    Finally, we need more women in politics. Two reasons. First, women have imperfections just like men, but they seem to be more willing to work across the aisle which is precisely what we need more of. Second, you rarely read of a women being accused of sexual harassment or assault.

  3. Excellent post Keith. I wish I believed Donald Trump is an unknowing sycophant, but his behavior is that of a skilled operative. He invites us to think he’s stupid and perhaps afflicted with dementia even as he adroitly controls the national debate.,

    • Rob, I do agree that he is clever about marketing and sales, yet his attention to detail that is necessary for managing things has historically been a flaw as it shows now. I also feel his extreme narcissism haunts his every move. I was reading some of the revolting interviews between Howard Stern and Trump. Stern summed it up nicely last year saying “I don’t know why Trump wants to be President” as he just wants to be loved. The President is often criticized, so it is not the right job for him. Keith

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