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Political corruption is a major problem in our society. It has a long history dating back to the
very beginnings of government and rule. Those who work in branches of the government have
used their power and status in order to gain an unfair advantage over the common man. In some
cases they have even misused their power in order to make a monetary gain. Contrary to popular
belief, corruption is an extremely widespread crime that causes damage to countries, people, and
societies and it is carried out in many different methods.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents .2
Corruption: The Widespread Problem..3
References/Works Cited10

Corruption: The Widespread Problem

Corruption can easily be considered as one of the foremost greatest problems in our society.
It is an evil the takes root in every society and nation around the globe from western democracies
like the United States to strict regimes such as North Korea. This is not because government is
flawed, but because we as humans are flawed. Corruption stems from our own greed and grows
until it turns into a severe political issue, just as it has in countries like Mexico and India. In the
media most people accused of corruption are mainly congressmen, lawmakers, lobbyists, and
sometimes even a president. Sometimes they are accused of accepting bribes or manipulating
votes to tip the election in a certain direction. However, many people arent aware that corruption
takes place even on the streets with policemen and even such respected professionals as doctors.
In the end, corruption affects numerous branches of society from health, public safety, education,
and trade to name a few. Contrary to popular belief, corruption is an extremely widespread crime
that causes damage to countries, people, and societies that it is carried out and has been carried
out though many different methods over time.
One type of corruption rampant in Haiti, a small nation in the Caribbean, is bribery. In
January of 2010 a devastating earthquake rattled the city of Port au Prince on the island of Haiti
in the Caribbean islands. It was ranked as a 7.0 on the Richter scale and as the fourteenth most
powerful earthquake to hit any part of the world in the first decade of the 21st century. In total, it
is estimated that about 300,000 people died in the disaster that struck the island nation. However
the other thirteen more powerful earthquakes only killed a combined total of 165,000 (Wasow,
2011). This is only about half of the lives that were taken in Haiti. Many people might consider
this a terrible tragedy and attribute the deaths to high population density or the suddenness of the
earthquake. Though these might be contributing reasons, there is another culprit. Most people

who assumed it was these things would most probably be shocked to learn that this disaster was
caused by cutting corners in the city planning and failing to adhere to construction laws. The true
culprit essentially, was corruption. The only reason so many people died in Haiti was because of
bribery of builders and inspectors. In Haiti, most houses and buildings are built by paying off the
necessary officials and building without paying any heed to the building codes. This caused
about 60% of all buildings in the country to collapse or be severely damaged. In contrast, only
four months before the Haiti earthquake disaster, in September 2009, an 8.8 earthquake almost
100 times stronger than what hit Haiti struck the city of Concepcion and only killed one thousand
people (Wasow 2011). The difference between the two cases is that the city in Chile had
buildings that were built following building codes and standard procedure. Therefore one can see
that corruption is an issue just as big as cancer or genocide because the lives that corruption has
touched in Haiti can be counted in the millions just as cancer and genocide have. Although this
sounds very bad, but this is only just one example of how corruption has dramatically affected
peoples lives.
Another type of corruption that has caused many people to take action in India is
embezzlement the outright theft of entrusted funds. Many movements in India have been
created in response to this issue, most recently Anna Hazares anti-corruption movement. Many
officials who are in charge of distributing government funds for various governmental programs
oftentimes pocket the money instead of using it the way it was supposed to. One famous
example goes back to February of 2002, a scandal called the Adarsh Housing Society Scam. The
origin of the scam started with a request to the Chief Minister of Maharashtra, Ashok Chavan, to
allot land in Mumbai for the construction of a housing complex for the welfare of serving and
retired personnel of the Defense Services. However, instead of allotting the land many top

politicians and officers in the military bent the rules and gave themselves flats in the new
complex at lower prices than they would normally sell for. They essentially took the houses in
prime location for themselves. Media coverage on the Housing scandal grew in 2010 when many
began to question how certain politicians gained housing in the complex. The scandal grew out
of hand as it was revealed that the politicians took the flats for themselves. In the end it led to the
resignation of the Chief Minister Ashok Chavan. This is just one example of the many cases of
embezzlement cases that occur every year not only in India, but all over the world. In fact, there
are many cases of embezzlement in politics in the United States. Even though embezzlement is a
problem in many countries, it is just one type of corruption that is a little part of a large problem.
In history many people have taken power by force and through the use of military coercion.
One perfect example of this is Napoleon Bonaparte, who overthrew the French Directory in 1799
and took control. This event in history is known as the coup of 18 Brumaire, which is Napoleons
coup dtat by which he took control of the country (Wilde 2012). However, these days it isnt
so easy to just seize power of countries, especially in democratic countries such as the United
States where power is divided amongst many people and branches of government. Even so, some
people have come close to doing just that in U.S. history. The most famous example of political
corruption in the United States is easily the Watergate Scandal in 1972 (Watergate Scandal
2012). Then President, Richard Nixon, had people break into the National Democratic
headquarters in order to tarnish the reputation of the democratic candidates that were going to
run against him in the coming election by taping conversations and spying. By doing this he was
hoping to ensure his position as the President. Nixons unethical practices led to a downward
spiral of his reputation (Watergate Scandal 2012). After almost two years of numerous trials,
cover ups, and litigation the shamed president resigned from the presidency. What is remarkable

about all of these examples of corruption in history is the sheer scope of the possible
circumstances that each example plays itself out in. From the millions of commoners left dead or
homelessness in Haiti due to the corruption and greed of thoughtless city builders to the high
ranking bureaucrats left jobless because of a political scandal. Corruption is a serious issue not
just on ethical or criminal grounds, serious as they may be, but more so on the grounds that it
does so much damage to civilians and innocent members of society. It is because of this damage
that many civilian and non-governmental organizations against corruption have come up.
It is important to fight corruption wherever or whichever country it presents in. It ruins the
lives of the people that live in that nation and causes billions of dollars in losses for the
government and, by extension, the people of that country. Many nations have taken the initiative
to fight back against corruption and one such country is India. India has a widespread corruption
problem infecting all levels of government from law enforcement officers to airport security
officers to high ranking politicians, but India has also made many great efforts towards reducing
corruption. Kisan Baburao Hazare, commonly known as Anna Hazare, is an Indian social activist
and reformist who believes in transparency of government and the outlawing of corruption. His
anti-corruption movements garnered lots of support and media attention. Hazare is a prime
example of how corruption can be dealt with effectively to show results. In 1991 Hazare began a
movement called Peoples Movement against Corruption in his hometown of Ralegaon Siddhi
(NDTV 2011). By using nonviolent methods of protest like hunger strikes he was able to
procure a school, electricity, and development schemes for the farmers in the impoverished town.
A prime example of a successful activist against corruption, Hazare uses nonviolent means to
fight for his cause, but not all associations use the same approach. Many other countries have
tried to tackle this problem by setting up certain watchdog agencies in order to watch for

corruption. For example, the Council of Europe developed The Group of States against
Corruption, otherwise known as GRECO. GRECO was founded through an agreement between
17 European countries in 1999 and later grew to include 32 other countries around the world.
GRECOs main goal is to conduct evaluations of its member states and expose any corruption
that takes place. It then takes further steps to ensure that the country in question does whatever it
can to solve the problem. It is important for such agencies to exist in the world because it is the
only way for corruption to end before it hits an extreme level. Corruption has hit such extremes
in certain countries in Africa. According to some estimates, the Kenyan government could be
losing as much as 4 billion U.S. dollars a year due to corruption in their country (Mwachiro,
2010). In fact, according to the NGO, Transparency International, Kenya is ranked as the 154th
least corrupt country out of a total of 182 in its annual Corruption Perceptions Index. The
Transparency International is a NGO that monitors and publicizes corporate and political
corruption internationally. Transparency International is well known for its Corruption
Perceptions Index, which is a comparative listing of corruption worldwide (Figure 1,2). This
makes Kenya one of the most corrupt countries in the world. In a report by Transparency
International, it was calculated that there was a two in three chance that a Kenyan would be
expected to pay a bribe every time he interacted with the police. Sampled Kenyans reported that
more than a quarter of all petty bribes in the last twelve months were paid to the police
(Mwachiro, 2010). Kenya is an example of a country where corruption wasnt dealt with strictly
enough, where the chaos of the problem was allowed to run amuck. Kenya serves as an example
to the rest of the world of how bad a government can become if corruption is allowed to run
unchecked. The bottom line is though, it is important to fight back and keep corruption in check
lest it cause damage like it did in Kenya.

The most important thing we can do is come up with solutions as the problems present
themselves. The best way to do this is to prevent the conditions favorable for corruption from
happening. This can be done by preventing information deficits in order to keep the public
informed about the activities of public servants. This can be achieved by encouraging
investigative reporting by news agencies. In fact, this is a proven method. President Nixons
Watergate scandal was revealed to the public mainly due to the investigative reporting of Bob
Woodward and Carl Bernstein for the newspaper The Washington Post. Another solution would
be to increase the control there is over the government. This can be done in numerous ways such
as having NGOs to monitor the government, such as GRECO. One of the best ways to reduce
corruption is to remove the politicians incentives to embezzle funds and accept kickbacks. In an
article from The Economist, the political leader with the highest pay with respect to their
respective countrys GDP per person is one from Kenya (Leaders of the Fee World, 2010)(Figure
3). This is expected because Kenya has one of the highest corruption rates and the average
income of the people isnt very much. It makes sense then to assume that most of the money
made by politicians in Kenya is black money made from corrupt kickbacks and political
embezzlement of funds. It is conceivable to think that if politicians made more money they
wouldnt be so inclined to take the risk of accepting bribes thereby decreasing corruption in
countries. Another fix which is easy to do is to rotate government officials regularly from their
posts otherwise a government official who ranks highly will be tempted to use his or her power
to help others get jobs. In other words officials who spend too long in a certain position will
develop more relationships within the government and eventually lead to favoritism, cronyism,
and nepotism (Wasow 2011). One country that sets a good example of this is France. In the
French government, government officials in certain high ranking offices are required to rotate

every few years. It is unsurprising that France is ranked as the 25th least corrupt country out of
the total 182 that are scored on the Corruptions Perceptions Index because it takes these
precautions (Figure 1,2). All of these things can be done in order to improve the quality of life
for people in various countries around the world and also improve the government by removing
One of the greatest problems facing some countries today is corruption, and it is an issue that
many people are reluctant to address. However, it is one that must be dealt with because of its
widespread damage across the globe, but not only is it widespread, but it is also a problem that
has plagued nations for centuries. From early governments such as Napoleons French Consulate
that took control of France in the 1700s to even more modern examples such as the failure to
follow building codes in Haiti people have misused their power in order to make personal gains.
Corruption has survived for a long time in the world causing much suffering and loss of revenue.
It is a problem that can only be solved through activism, sanctions against the government, and
support from the public. Corruption is a widespread problem in the world that slows down
progress and hurts people, and through the use of various methods and organizations it is a
problem that can be solved.


References/Works Cited

Corruption Perceptions Index. 2011. Retrieved from

Economist Newspaper Limited, Leaders of the Fee World The Economist, July 5th, 2010, (accessed May 15th 2012)
Mwachiro, Kevin Kenya Corruption costs Government Dearly, BBC, December 3 2010, (accessed May 17th 2012)
NDTV correspondent, Who is Anna Hazare, NDTV, November 15 2011, (accessed May 15 2012)
The Office for the Special Envoy for Haiti. (2010). Key Statistics. Retreived May 15th, 2012
Wasow, Bernard, A (Very) Brief History of Corruption, The Globalist, March 10th 2011, (accessed May 12th 2012)
Watergate scandal. (2012). In Encyclopdia Britannica. Retrieved from
Wilde, Robert, Napoleon Bonaparte,, (accessed
May 17th 2012)


Table/Figure 1
Corruption Perceptions Index 2011 Part 1

Table/Figure 2
Corruption Perceptions Index 2011- Part 2


Table/Figure 3
The Ratio of a Political Leaders Pay to their Countrys GDP Per Person