Introducing the Karlin Corruption Index (KCI)

Following on the ground-breaking and globally acknowledged Karlin Freedom Index (which is of course by far the most objective, accurate, comprehensive and plain awesome democracy measuring tool available to political scientists today), I’m now revealing the Karlin Corruption Index (KCI) which rates transparency based on my own readings, personal impressions and bigoted prejudices. As with the “democracy indices” (Freedom House et al.), the current corruption indices – the most prominent of which is Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) – just don’t do all that of a great job. Let me explain why.

First, let’s have a look at the very language of corruption. Contrary to what one might expect, almost all linguistic terms for bribery are either neutral or even positive and are related to some of (1) “gift”, (2) small “tip” or tip, or (3) “greasing” i.e. a way of making things flow smoother, (4) “understanding”. I suspect the reason is that corruption, as long as it’s systematized, cannot unravel a state by itself, and in some cases even creates positive effects. Arguing to absurdity, a “gift economy” society of the type seen in hunter-gathering societies, kibbutzim or hippie coops would probably be given a 0/10 for transparency by the CPI’s methodology. But does that really mean anything?

Similar critiques can, in part, be extended to states. In highly regulated countries, giving kickbacks may be the optimal way of running businesses, employing people and generating growth (e.g. Russia, Italy). In highly stratified societies, increasing public spending to improve social mobility – even if part of that spending is siphoned off and contributes to more corruption – may be the socially just decision (e.g. Venezuela). In economically backwards nations, purposefully turning a blind eye to copyrights and IP violations may lead to faster development (e.g. 19th C Germany, China)*.

Second, I must stress that corruption isn’t a concrete number, it’s a vague, fluid and opaque-by-definition social phenomenon that can mean any number of different things in different cultures. Relying on the subjective perceptions of “experts” and businesspeople, as in the Corruption Perceptions Index, is suspect, since they come with their own sets of biases and tropes: lack of attention to statistics and opinion polls; very optimistic assumptions about free markets; disregard for cultural context and popular stereotypes; non-appreciation of the fact that “legalized corruption” is still corruption (e.g. what passes for lobbying in the US would be regarded as corruption in many European countries); etc. Check out this comment thread at A Good Treaty’s interview on this blog for a good discussion of the failings of the CPI.

Now I could go on with the caveats, but as they’re all rather boring and self-evident, it’s time for the succulent part: the actual Karlin Corruption Index country rankings themselves. As with the CPI, 10 is best, 0 is worst. The ↑ and ↓ arrows indicate the trend.

10

Only a few countries like Sweden make it here, though so do many small communities strong in Asabiya.

9

Clean countries with relatively little corruption such as Germany (↓), Canada and Australia, as well as US states such as Massachusetts.

8

These are countries where corruption begins to acquire big dimensions amongst the elites, but remains small at the lower rungs. The United States (↓) is here because privileged corporations enjoy extensive government largess, often at the expense of ordinary citizens (especially in the defense, oil, and financial services sectors). For the skeptics, The Quiet Coup by Simon Johnson is required reading.

The trends are negative. Corporate influence (disguised under Tea Party populism) is growing under the “socialist” (LOL) Obama administration: the overturning of corporate funding limits on political campaigns, BP’s requisitioning of Louisiana police to suppress freedom of speech, and the uncontrolled growth of the privatized anti-terrorism sector are just three examples that come to mind. Though these might not make it into the considerations of the experts and businesspeople gauging US “transparency”, I don’t think that makes it any less corrupt for all that.

Though the elites feed off the public trough, corruption is much less prevalent at lower levels. In countries like Russia or Mexico, corruption in institutions like the traffic police is the rule; in the US it isn’t even an exception – it’s practically unheard of. That’s because in rich, socially cohesive nations, corruption is simply too expensive for simple people. For this reason, I think the US is still above a 6 at the very least, and probably above a 7. But as the popular saying goes, the fish rots from the head. If the economy stagnates and corrupt elites continue misleading the public with “spontaneous” Astroturf organizations, then who knows, by 2020 you could be driving down Route 101 when a policeman pulls you ever and asks if you want to “reach an understanding”.

Other countries in this category include the UK (↓), France (↓), Japan and Israel (↓), where things are ostensibly all prim and proper but the elites live by different rules from the rest in the darker corners. US states like Texas, New York, California and Ohio are probably in this category.

7

In this category corruption becomes more brazen amongst the elites and discernible (but far from prevalent) in the lower levels. Examples would include Brazil (↑), Poland (↑) and Korea. Credit where it’s due: Saakashvili might be a semi-authoritarian warmonger, but he’s cut corruption in Georgia from near failed state levels to almost respectable. Most of the Visegrad region, the East Asian tigers, and the American Deep South would be in this category.

6

Corruption amongst the elites is brazen, most government contracts go to the well-connected, and the elites live by laws very *visibly* different from those of the commoners. At everyday levels, corruption becomes hard to miss: traffic policemen can be bribed; grades can be bought. That said, society functions and there certainly remains substantial room for success based on purely meritocratic achievement.

Even a year ago, I’d have put Russia (↑) into the 4-5 range below. However, the (never-ending) “war on corruption” is no long just talk (as it was under Putin). It is fast producing real results. Regional governors, especially the most entrenched (and corrupt) ones are being fired and replaced by younger technocrats associated with Medvedev’s “civiliki” group, with Luzhkov being just the latest example. There are plans to cut 20% of bureaucrats, replacing them with government e-services. The fast growth in the average bribe size is a positive sign: it indicates that the risk premium for giving and taking bribes is growing.

But wait a second… the situation might be improving, but wasn’t it Zimbabwe-like to begin with, according to the CPI? I really doubt it. Corruption just isn’t that common in everyday life (in 2010 only 15% of Russians paid a bribe, which is roughly comparable to countries like Bulgaria, Turkey and the Czech Republic, but certainly not to sub-Saharan African nations where it’s typically more than 50%). As for the elites, corruption in that world is certainly pervasive and fairly damaging: e.g. about 50% to 2/3 of allocated funds are lost in the road construction sector. But that said, there’s a fair bit of exaggeration towards the apocalyptic side, as with the $8bn Sochi “road of beluga caviar” – which was actually also a railway with dozens of bridges and mountain tunnels. Despite Stanislav Belkovsky’s unsupported assertions, there’s no evidence or reason to believe Putin has amassed a $50bn fortune. Though I’m of the 1988 cohort, I still remember the time when Yeltsin’s “Family” were more or less openly stealing from the state budget. Back then Russia would have scored a 3-4 on this Index. My impression is that the current guys at the very top are relatively clean and that fiscal transparency has come a long way.

This category also includes Italy, though it could be one level higher and there are of course wide regional variations (Sicily: 4-5, the North: 6-8). AFAIK, its one serious attempt to root out structural corruption in the early 1990’s fizzled out, and Silvio Berlusconi – who unlike Putin we actually *know* to be a corrupt billionaire – isn’t exactly the best poster boy for transparency.

My inclusion of China (↑) here will also be controversial, since there are any number of anecdotal tales about the unholy alliances springing up between regional Communist Party heads and ruthless businessmen to dispossess peasants of land, erect shoddy infrastructure, etc. But on the other hand the country still functions well, large-scale corruption is punishable with the death penalty (there’s a little disincentive!) and the central Party is composed of relatively clean technocrats.

Other countries in this category include Turkey, South AfricaRomania and Cuba. Historically, the post-thaw Soviet Union was in this category until its dissolution. I think most of Latin America would be in the 4-6 range.

5

At this level corruption is very brazen amongst the elites and prevalent in everyday life. Social mobility is becoming severely constrained amongst those without good family connections or a particular talent for palms-greasing.

Russia has been in this category since the early 2000’s and has (arguably) only exited it recently. If this article is halfway accurate, Greece belongs here. I think that in the past two years Mexico (↓) has deteriorated from 5-6 to this level because of the subversion of its police force and parts of the political and judicial structure by its narco gangs. As they haven’t seen Russia’s recent high profile anti-corruption campaign, Ukraine and Belarus probably remain at this level. Venezuela (↓) does provide middle-income country type social services and has greatly expanded them in the last ten years (i.e. the majority of money is not stolen as claimed by anti-Chavez critics and neocons). However, there’s been little progress on corruption and the problem appears to be getting worse.

Other countries in this category include India, Iran (↓), India and Kazakhstan.

4

As we move down to this level a kind of neo-feudal world is beginning to emerge, in which doors begin to get fully close to the unconnected. The elites cannot be held accountable by the courts; wealth, power and political connections determine everything . I think Azerbaijan and Egypt belong here, as does 1990’s Russia.

3

The stealing becomes ever more systemic, the elites ever more unaccountable: examples include Saudi Arabia, where corruption is institutionalized in the flow of huge oil rents to privileged members of the House of Saud (even the country is named after them!), and Nigeria, where most of the revenues from the oil boom of the last decade appear to have been diverted to politicians’ bank accounts. Other countries in this category include Iraq (↑), Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan.

2

These are the countries run like personal fiefdoms, neo-feudal monarchies in all but name. The best example here is Equatorial Guinea, which is almost the definition of oil kleptocracy – the President and his buddies rake in all the petrodollars to their Swiss bank accounts, normal people live in a squalor undifferentiated from their Cameroonian neighbors. Other countries in this category include Zimbabwe, Turkmenistan and North Korea.

But keep things in perspective. Living in societies with a KCI of 0-3 has been the lot of the vast majority of humans in history.

1

When there’s anarchy, the concept of corruption becomes rather meaningless. This is what it looks like: “In eastern Congo, $1 billion in gold is being extracted and exported annually, yet because the government lacks control over the territory the revenues for the national Treasury last year were a mere $37,000.”

Everything becomes a matter of connections and “understandings” between people, and such is life in Congo, Somalia and Afghanistan.

0

* I recommend the book Kicking Away the Ladder by Ha-Joon Chang on copyrights and IP issue in developing nations.

EDIT: This article has been translated into Russian at Inosmi.Ru (Представляю Индекс коррупции Карлина).

Comments

  1. Thanks for an entertaining post. The only thing left is to bribe the right people and get your index promoted (eg. in Foreign Policy or WP). Maybe pay the media who is going to use it :)

    I am not sure about Australia, though, Certainly, I never paid bribes in Australia, but neither had I ever been offered a job corresponding to my education & training here.
    You may want to read eg. this story. The last paragraph refers to 35 bribery cases in which Talbot was involved, and in just one of them, afaik, the hearing of which the guy (and with him anyone who could have been asked to testify) avoided, this case involved more than $100 millions in bribes.

  2. Interesting and thought-provoking post, Anatoly. Thanks for your attempts to categorize and make sense of complicated realities.

  3. Think you may have missed the mark here Anatoly (not that you don’t make several valid arguments). I would place Russia far lower but I would also place the USA lower. The Ukrainians and Kazakhs could only dream of being as good at engineering corruptions schemes as the Russians are. Also, you may want to consider the countries that lead

    If I get time, I will post a response to this at TRM. In the meantime, I recommend you take a look at the report on corruption from the [Russian] Association of Lawyers this year – rusadvocat.com/doklad2010.doc

    • Thanks for the link. I read the intro and the last two chapters on regional corruption and conclusion, and skimmed through the rest. Some preliminary impressions:
      (1) What on Earth is the methodology they used in their Influence Index to ascertain that political power is distributed: 55% special services, VVP 13%, “criminal” 12%, Internet 5%, Medvedev 2%?
      (2) Agreed on their point on political schizophrenia: that under Medvedev both authoritarian and liberalizing trends were strengthened.
      (3) Their corruption transfers / shadow economy = 50% of GDP isn’t a new figure, but AFAIK was originally estimated as such in INDEM’s work back in 2005. I think C. S. Sigsbee & V. Konovalenko make some valid criticisms of the methodology here under “Our Comments on the Results of INDEM’s Business Corruption Research”.
      (4) The report, of course, doesn’t make for uplifting reading. That said, it appears the main source of their for the continuing growth in corruption is that the numbers of are complaints is rising. The two aren’t necessarily related. (On document search жалоб- appeared on almost every page, the word опрос only once).
      (5) Looking forwards to your post given your professional experience with the subject.

      UPDATE: Another thing that came to me. Isn’t being “good at engineering corruptions schemes” actually a hint that corruption is less prevalent where its necessary? (After all the whole point of making things more complicated is to confound investigators and the courts if it comes to that, right?).

  4. Mark Sleboda/the Scythian says:

    What else would you call lobbying but the legalized and legitimized corruption of the political system by moneyed special interests? Money gain access, power, and favours. There are over 100 registered lobbyists per member of Congress in Washington, DC.More evidence to me of the unrecognized level of top-down elite institutionalized corruption at the heart of US society – the government level.
    http://ftp.iza.org/dp2313.pdf

    Similarly, what one often pays gifts or ‘bribes’ for in Russia on the individual level- such as bringing a box of chocolates (female) or bottle of cognac (male) to a bureacrat in Russia when you really need a document processed faster than ususal – is simply legitimized, monetarized,and legalized in the US (Paying more for expedited service) – reinforcing the capitalist logic and class divide that those with more money get more, faster – even from public services.

  5. Giuseppe Flavio says:

    Being Italian, more precisely from Sicily, I think I’ve to add my comment about corruption. One common argument made about corruption is that it is higher in highly regulated countries, implying (and often explicitly stating) that corruption can be solved by deregulation. This argument is wrong because it misses the fact that regulations exist for a very good reason, that is to say to prevent behaviors that are damaging for the society. Corruption hinders development because it allows damaging behaviors, so using deregulating to reduce corruption is like curing a flu by shooting the patient.
    As an example let’s compare home loan regulations in Italy and USA. Here, if someone wants to get a loan he doesn’t qualify for because of his low income, then he has to pay some bribes and falsify a lot of documents and he needs to be a very accomplished fraudster. In US, until recently one had simply to apply for an undocumented loan (AKA “liar loan” for good reasons) and lie about his income. The outcome is history now.
    Also note that while heavy regulation means heavier government, deregulation doesn’t necessarily imply lighter government. A case in point is again the US where home loans are deregulated (or badly regulated) but there is a heavy government involvement in the market (Fannie & Freddie), which is something unheard of in “statalist” Italy.
    This introduces my second point about how much corruption is prevalent at the lower level in the US. Liar loans proved that, given the opportunity to commit a fraud and get away with it, most “lower level” Americans enjoyed it. Frankly, I can’t blame them too much.
    Americans saw Bob Rubin legalize Citigroup as Treasury secretary to later become one of the big fish with all the bonuses involved, so why shouldn’t average Joe and Jane do the same, only on a smaller scale?
    As for Berlusconi, that compared to Rubin looks like an amateur, if he’ll insist in his energy policy, that implies good relations with Russia and Libya, then I expect more smear campaigns and corruption allegations.

  6. The factors that determine a society’s degree of corruption seem to be 1) the average level of inborn conscientiousness of the population and 2) the harshness and frequency with which corruption is punished. Sweden is entirely coasting on 1) right now, while the Chinese government is actually trying to improve its score through 2). European states don’t even execute serial murderers anymore. Of course in the very long-term 1) is influenced by 2). The least corrupt, most law-abiding countries of the present hanged people even for minor offenses since the dawn of history until just a couple of centuries ago. I’m sure that this helped breed certain traits out of their populations. I’m not saying this because I love cruelty, but to illustrate the general point that it’s hard to get something for nothing.

    You’re right about the nebulousness of people’s perceptions of what constitutes corruption. Do most Americans consider G.W. Bush’s acceptance at Yale and Harvard Business School to be an example of corruption? Probably not. Well, in the old USSR if a powerful father succeeded in getting his talentless kid accepted at Moscow State University or the 1st Moscow Medical Institute, absolutely everybody regarded that as corruption. And said so frequently.

    • I think the Yale / MSU comparison is good for illustrating another thing. Had Bush been a non-legacy kid from a working class background, he’d have certainly failed to get in, even with SATS scores at around the 90th percentile (I’m no fan of Bush but I think his lack of intelligence is mostly a fabrication). But thanks to the “legalized corruption” typical of the US, greasing your chances by being high up in the social hierarchy, being a legacy, etc, isn’t regarded as something that’s very bad and wrong. In the USSR / Russia a major reason why corruption is considered to be high is that the standards by which it is judged to be so are unrealistically (?) high and therefore frequently broken.

      Interesting questions for considering: What was the corruption level of apartheid South Africa? The Confederacy? What about Stalin’s USSR? I for one really can’t say.

      • I remember when Steve Sailer dug up the results of an IQ-like test that Bush took while serving in the Texas Air National Guard. Steve interpreted those as showing an IQ in the mid-120s, which is roughly the level of the average medical doctor, maybe even higher. I formed my opinion of W’s intelligence the way most people did – by listening to him talk on TV. He does not sound as smart as the average MD to me at all. Could W’s IQ have been lowered by drug use after he took that test? It’s a possibility.

        “What about Stalin’s USSR?”

        I’ve heard people claim that there was no or very little corruption under Stalin. Officials were simply too scared of him to do anything illegal. The stories about Beria and his women would be the most obvious counter-example. Assuming that those are true, one could say that Stalin made an exception for Beria because he was especially close to him.

        “In the USSR / Russia a major reason why corruption is considered to be high is that the standards by which it is judged to be so are unrealistically (?) high and therefore frequently broken.”

        I very much agree. Those who grew up in the USSR remember an incredibly egalitarian society, the sort of society that the average American would probably be unable to visualize. People who held very high positions in Soviet government as well as national celebrities of all sorts lived ordinary, middle-class lives up until the late 1980s. Neither Khrushchov nor Brezhnev ever approached the North Korean ruling family or Western billionaires in wealth. Not even close. The number of American lawyers who at that time lived better than Brezhnev and his family must have been truly remarkable. And government ministers would have lived more modestly still. I’m sure that tens of millions of ex-Soviet citizens are still measuring reality by that very unusual standard.

  7. “Though the elites feed off the public trough, corruption is much less prevalent at lower levels. In countries like Russia or Mexico, corruption in institutions like the traffic police is the rule; in the US it isn’t even an exception – it’s practically unheard of. ” Are we talking about LEGALIZED corruption or illegal corruption?

    Your Blue vs. Red bias is showing Anatoly, I would have to rank Illinois as the MOST corrupt U.S. state led by its bumbling idiot ex-Governor Blago (I mean seriously, not a single conviction except for the slap on the wrist charge of lying to the feds? C’mon, someone should check if those jurors got jobs at the Illinois Tollway Authority), probably followed by Lousiana (though Katrina destroyed much of the base for corruption in New Orleans, and LA has the highest rate of incarceration per capita in the world outside North Korea). ITA incidentally got off when it was sued by a class action firm in a Chicago area court — again it seems the fix was in and only the threat of a massive lawsuit from other State AGs seems to scare them. Again, Illinois ranks at the top of my corruption list and the State’s bond ratings reflect it — did you see that Illinois general bonds (not double barrelled backed by tolls like ITAs) are now trading slightly above Iraq’s and lower than Ukraine’s on global sovereign markets?

    Bill Clinton’s Arkansas ranked fairly high at one time with Tyson Chicken leading the way. California is also fast catching up with Illinois as revenue desperate bureaucrats seek any way to save their jobs and decide to pick on ‘violators’ because a paralyzed legislature can’t raise taxes and even if they do that will merely accelerate the exodus of non-first generation migrants from the state.

    But perhaps I’m just showing my bias against tollway authorities that view every missed toll as an opportunity for rape and pillage on a grandiose scale backed by kangaroo courts for whom there is almost no appeal. I heard one elderly man in California was forced to nearly exhaust his retirement savings to pay $71k in toll fines accumulated over three years by his ne’er do well nephew or grandson. Since it says in ironclad language, not being the driver of the vehicle is no defense, so long as its registered in your name. If I had been that elderly gent I would have told the Cal authorities to F-off I’m moving to Panama as 401ks are generally protected even from lawsuits.

    Somehow all this legalized American tollway and other forms of unconstitutional fine maximization pillaging never makes The Economist and comes to the attention of Ed Lucas.

    And just so you know, in supposedly reddest of the Red States Texas, there’s a very large liberal/libertarian center in Austin. Texas did after all give the U.S. RT favorites Alex Jones and Ron Paul. The libertarian wing of the GOP forced Perry to back down on his plan to convert taxpayer-paid highways back to toll roads and to vaccinate pre-pubescent girls against STDs with the vaccine being provided by a Perry campaign friendly company. The Trans Texas corridor has been repeatedly denounced as a step towards Reconquista/North American Union/New World Order takeover.

    At a certain point, if states like California and Illinois continue to insist on screwing over out of staters who don’t know their fascistic rules, we’re going to have a legal war between the states, where Attorney Generals of Minnesota and Texas start suing the crap out of California and Illinois authorities. Since generally states cannot sue other states due to some clause I have forgotten, my guess is they will have to sue on grounds of nuisance to interstate commerce in federal court.

    • If I understand you correctly, you seem to be arguing that tolls are a form of bribery. I suppose you could extend this logic to taxes in general. Anyway, I don’t see any unethical about asking people to chip in to pay for services they use. Car ownership is not a human right, it’s a choice.

      The fact that Blago’s jury was hung proves, if anything, that the justice system is not as corrupt as it could be. Everyone wanted him discredited and put away. The Feds had a terrible case and there was one holdout juror – there is not actually anything suspicious about the lack of verdict.

      Also, though corruption is not just rife, it is basically the entire foundation for the IL Dem. Party, Anatoly pretty explicitly explains that it is corruption among, between elites. Citizens might suffer as a result of this kind of policy making because it is not in their interests, but the average IL citizen can go their whole lives without being asked for a bribe from public officials. Regardless of the system of patronage, clout, corruption in the government, the majority of citizens have reasonable expectations that the laws in place will protect them from from such situations in day-to-day life.

      To me the fundamental difference in corruption between places like, say Moscow Oblast and Illinois, is that the application of the law, while still problematic, does not actually encourage corruption among ordinary citizens in IL. The risk of following the law and getting screwed is still preferable to the risk of ignoring the law and getting caught. I’m not talking about politicians or some low income communities. In Russia, while paying bribes and otherwise undermining the rule of law might not be obiazatelno for the av. person, it is more frequently an option one is encouraged to consider.

      However, in IL, as in Moscow, remaining an incorruptible public figure is not only nearly impossible, there is no incentive for it.

  8. Correction, Anatoly did rank Cali fairly low — and he should know better than me as I’ve never lived there. And Illinois somehow survives because the Chicago area has good infrastructure, is roughly in the geographic center of North America as a logistics hub, and still has McD’s global HQ and the commodities/financial industry (plus like NYC-Boston will soon have steady supply of cheap shale gas). So there is still something there for the elites to parasite off of. California was similarly until recently the richest state in the union. NY’s richest have decamped from Manhattan to CT.

    • My impression is that California is at around the US average or slightly better in terms of corruption. The problem here is one of political gridlock and entitlement complexes, not so much corruption.

  9. georgesdelatour says:

    Hi Anatoly

    I’ve been reading a lot of Ha-Joon Chang. I general like his ideas. But I see one obvious flaw.

    He describes situations like the Japanese motor industry in the 1960s where the dominant principle is one of free trade and tariff reduction. In such a setup the one country that does the exact opposite steals a massive advantage. They penalise American car imports while subsidising Japanese car exports, and the result is a Japanese export surplus with America. That only happens because all the other countries – especially America – don’t pursue exactly symmetrical policies towards Japan. If all countries pursued exactly equivalent protection/subsidy policies in all tradable items, the end result would be a massive reduction in economic activity. That’s all those boring old classical economists were really saying, and Chang isn’t really answering that point.

  10. Russia should be around 4 and not 6 in any way. That is INSANE, I’ve been living in Russia. I can’t imagine a country more corrupt.

    • Андрей says:

      Я тоже живу в России. И ничего безумного в этой стране нет. За последние 1000 лет истории здесь становилось все лучше и лучше. И 6 позиция в рейтинге вполне закономерна.

      Я не знаю, Джеймс, где Вы живете в России, но каким же ханжой нужно быть, чтобы сравнивать эту страну с феодальным государством.

    • Over the past 5 years I did not give any bribes. And my friends too. Life is slowly improving, especially when compared with the “democratic” years.

      P.S. I live in Taganrog, Rostov region.

    • @James,
      I didn’t give Russia a 6, I put in the 5-6 range (and a low 5 at that).

      @James, Андрей, Alex, MilesN,
      Thank you all for your impressions. I think this is quite a good demonstration that people’s opinions on their country of residence can vary dramatically (based on projecting their own experiences to the rest of the country) to the point that one might think they’re living on different planets.
      But it does fit in with the Levada poll results: 15% Russians saying they paid a bribe in the past year, 79% saying they didn’t. James was probably part of the 15% with the bad experiences. The rest of you guys are presumably in the 79%.

  11. carpenter117 says:

    2 James
    Ah, how typicall – just another troll stumbles randomely upon smth it opposes and makes unsubstantil sttement! Have hard time imagining more corrupt coumtry? Go to the Great Nizaleznaja Urkaina!

  12. Just an example to counter James – I’m Russian, 25, graduate of SPb State University, Law Department (yeah, THAT one, hello to Medveput)… entered it in 2000 (state-paid education section) – stricly by regs… noone, even closest friends believed me at that. I don’t know, maybe something “gray” has been going behind the scenes, but as far as I know, my parents are working class, no connections to speak of. Entered civil service ( tax authorities, than bailiffs’ service) – NEVER EVER been offered anything (bear in mind, both services are basically about taking as much money from debtor as possible and there’s wide enough discretionary powers at hand to omit sums and debtors’ fisposal, debtors know this – but still) Maybe it was because I wasn’t asking, I don’t know)))) Than commercial sector as a private and corporate lawyer. No extortion attempts. Again, it’s maybe because of fact that in case of “hanging” the case I usually responded by relentless, daily reminder of law and then by calling prosecutor’s office in. I really don’t know, it’s all just my very own personal experience. Hell, I wasn’t EVER stoped by police in my life, even for ID check, and I’m not a menacing type….

  13. I can attest to massive corruption in medical and dental schools in Russia. For example, real knowledgable professors or department heads get pushed out by semi-qualified ones from the provinces who have connections (sometimes to organized crimes, other times to government) and who use those positions as an income-generating scheme akin to being a feudal landowner involving bribes to get in and to pass the classes. Almost all “reforms” have served to streamline the bribing process. For example, at one school in order to combat alleged bribes to instructors, tests were to be adminsitered and graded by people from outside the institute. By sheer “coincidence”, according to instructors whom I know, the grades on thee new tests correspnded not with how knowledgable the students were but with how connected or wealthy they were.

  14. poemless,

    Maybe you’re right about the Blago case. Maybe he was just an idiot who rambled on about all the ways he expected to be paid back for favors he dispensed as Governor rather than a true bribe taker.

    My objection is not to being made to pay tolls. I see this conflation all the time where people try to defend tollway authorities when the issue is not scofflaws but raping people with ludicrous fines when they happen to miss tolls. In the case of ITA, they deliberately place barriers in the way of people who want to pay their tolls in order to maximize said fines. That’s why the Minnesota Attorney General is considering suing them, and that’s why they were sued with a class action lawsuit in Chicago federal court (which their attorney bragged about getting dismissed, though if it had been in another venue I don’t think he would had such an easy time of it). And because certain states are getting so desperate for revenue that they will use any offense, no matter how petty, as an excuse for fines that approach the unconstitutional standard, I think the U.S. is headed towards a legal civil war among the states.

    Yes you are also right it is possible for a person in IL or California to go there whole life without paying a bribe. It’s also possible in Moscow, if not in all of Russia’s regions. The point is how corruption among the elites impoverishes by extorting rents or denying opportunity to everyone else. Corruption is indeed more obvious and intuitive in Russia, but in the U.S. Anatoly can’t see that establishing public employees as a privileged class to the point that America can no longer afford to build basic infrastructure is also a form of corruption. America is staggering under the weight of its ‘legalized’ corruption.

    Need another example? The premium in American housing prices that was spurred by securitization, a process we now know was riddled with fraud (see Zero Hedge), actually cost people a larger share of their income than should have been necessary to afford housing in major U.S. cities. In many areas homeowners who want to rent out their property (Seattle, California, cough cough) are still engaged in mass denial of the need for housing prices to collapse so young people can afford to rent and buy again.

    At a certain point though Wile E Coyote has to stop dangling his legs after running off the cliff.

  15. I had an interesting discussion on this matter last night, with two foreigners working in Russia who also had experience of working in India and China. One (let’s call him “Hans”) was with a large European company; the other (“Mike”) was with some kind of EU bureaucratic organization.

    Hans said that in India, corruption was rampant at the lower levels, but disappeared at the higher ones. He attributed this to India’s British-modeled civil service. He said that the situation in China was precisely the reverse: China was very corrupt at the top, but fairly clean and efficient on the lower levels. According to Hans, Russia had the worst of both worlds: it was corrupt from top to bottom, from petty officialdom to high government levels.

    Hans also thought that dealing with corruption was something that had to be done on the cultural or even family level, so stamping it out in Russia is a process of generations. He noted that long EU membership hadn’t done much to root out corruption in countries like Italy and Greece, despite whatever institutional advantages such membership is supposed to bring.

    Mike stated that it was impossible for his organization to get much work done in Russia. That’s because, as an EU organization, it is not allowed to pay bribes. He said that they may have to give up on Russia and go elsewhere, just because the Russian government is stonewalling them. Previously he had worked in another FSU country, and he said the situation there was at least as bad as in Russia.

    Anecdotal perhaps, but interesting.

  16. Robert Callaway says:

    Grcorruption.com shows how the 61st Court, the Grand Rapids Police, and Grand Rapids City Prosecutor’s Office fix the trial of an innocent man after they deny him due process of law. The local “go along to get along” politicians just look the other way. THe ACLU even abandons this guy’s constitutional case for their own cash cow.

  17. Anatoly, Check this out:

    http://feddya.livejournal.com/3368.html

  18. You are too generous to Canada. Here in Toronto the budget went from 6 billion dollars to 11 billion dollars in the span of eight years without any evidence of what it is being spent on. The roads and infrastructure are crumbling while the city gives grants (not loans) to condo developers for “subsidized units” that are not advertised. The population of the city did not grow by even 20% over this period and the inflation rate is around 2%. In spite of low inflation, city workers are given 6.5% annual pay increases so that now nearly 50% of the budget is spent on lazy incompetents. But hey, it’s all legal so it must be OK.

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  1. [...] been busy developing the Karlin Corruption Index, a counterpoint to his Karlin Freedom [...]

  2. [...] influential. Admittedly recently developed, but already tremendously authoritative, will the Karlin Corruption Index become the staple of objective corruption assessment?  Time will [...]

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