Anil Rajvanshi

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Debate: Is corruption a moral or a legal issue?

Too often the corruption debate and discussions all over the world are focused on how somebody broke a law. By that definition Mahatma Gandhi was the most corrupt man since he periodically broke British laws!

By dictionary definition corruption relates to doing things which are not ethical.

Hence how should the corruption be defined and fought for greater good?

  • Nov 2 2012: To continue...corruption is allowed to happen because we haven't decided on what to use to do two things: decide what is good (things that improve the environment and the species or provide additional resources above what are consumed), and then ensure that everyone is working toward the good by being useful to other people. Corruption is a form of exploitation, where some person or persons use more than their fair share of resources to extract usefulness from others or from the future environment. Debt is one of these corrupt tools in some ways, because it is a promise (usually coerced or deceptive) to consume resources in the future in order to obtain gain in the present. When a nation creates debt, it is promising to increase the rate of consumption of citizens in order to pay back that debt somehow (usually not in ways that are clearly available or stated). The reason corruption isn't illegal is simply because our future selves and our weaker selves don't have the same rights as present selves or powerful groups (bullies, tricksters, etc). I don't mean to emphasize monetary means. Any behavior that exploits other people is using power to corrupt a social situation, and instead of monetary cost, it is a cost to social stability, which is a resource important to modeling some kind of civil future. Dishonesty, coercion, and aggrandizement are all consumptive behaviors. Legal restrictions do not seek the opposite, merely to limit them. "The opposite of consumption is not frugality", as Raj Patel says: it is generosity. The opposite of Dishonesty is honesty, not less dishonesty. The opposite of coercion is not less coercion, but cooperation. The antithesis of corruption is humble, honest cooperation. We need to work on that more.
    • Nov 3 2012: I feel like you have spoken into my being. The following documentary may interest you: /watch?v=KphWsnhZ4Ag
      People as passionate as you are needed for change... like most of the individuals involved in TED Conversations as well.
  • Oct 30 2012: mind is best servant, bad commander. corruption is self deceit, it will continue till it is caught and punished. any act do not harm self /society, besides benefits enhancement of moral and ethical code is invited. it is an evil force which needs to be uprooted from planet.
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      Nov 3 2012: Re: "mind is best servant, bad commander."

      Who would be a good commander, then?

      Re: " it is an evil force which needs to be uprooted from planet."

      It must be uprooted from our own hearts first. It grows within, from our own pride and greed, without us even noticing it.
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      Nov 3 2012: " Mind is best servant, bad commander "

      This hits the nail on the head.
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        Nov 3 2012: "Reason is, and ought to be, only the slave of the passions." - David Hume
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          Nov 3 2012: The good and only right commander is the Heart not the emotions and never "the passions".
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        Nov 3 2012: I guess, that's what Hume meant. It's just a matter of how we say it.

        There are 3 relevant definitions of the "heart":
        3. the center of the total personality, especially with reference to intuition, feeling, or emotion: In your heart you know I'm an honest man.
        4. the center of emotion, especially as contrasted to the head as the center of the intellect: His head told him not to fall in love, but his heart had the final say.
        5. capacity for sympathy; feeling; affection: His heart moved him to help the needy.

        In this sense, passions and emotions come "from the heart", while reason comes "from the head". I think, that's too much reasoning on this subject. It's hard to say exactly what this all means, only possible to feel it :-)
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        Nov 4 2012: "Thinking with one's heart" is called "feeling".
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          Nov 4 2012: Hi Arkady,

          I understand what you are saying and sense that you and I are well in agreement on this concept.

          "Thinking with one's heart is called "feeling" - is misleading, hence not a constructive statement.

          We can learn a lot from Alexander the Great. Feeling a feeling, drove Alexander to level civilizations that had taken eleven thousand years to build. He was great and no matter how much everyone adored him, he was still not satisfied until he would be absolute ruler on top of the world. He was a genius (war-wise) and got there fast. On his death bed, however, at the age of 32, he finally connected to his inner wisdom and understood that all humans are the same. His dying rule and wish was for the "whole world "(the east and the west) to live as one. Thus Mount Nemrut. So "thinking with one's heart", means matching one's intention with the universal good. This is my view:-)
  • Nov 3 2012: law is puppet in the hands of politicians. greediness is the root of corruption. ruling is in the hands of profit building
    business people. they are the investors for political campaign and makers of government. can we expect ethics from these people?
    • Nov 3 2012: Business people and the governments have power because the people allow them to have it. The rich get richer because the poor work for them and buy their stuff. The underlying problem, then, is the ignorance of the somnambulant public that ignores evidence, chooses blind faith over actuality, and listens to their "heart" instead of knowing how to use reason properly and to cooperate instead of competing for the favors of the rich and powerful. The question of servant versus commander lies in the belief in some commander being more able to command. The servant who actually serves the future of their own circumstances does not need a commander, or a god, or even an icon to tell them they are making their circumstances better for their children. Humans choose to live in a false reality because they can invent facts and follow their desires without consequences in the false version of reality. To live in your dreams is to ignore the natural reality that we are part of. Civilization is a way to isolate ourselves from the risks and demands of the natural world. When civilization makes corruption part of itself by using laws to punish after the fact of the corruption, then it is accepting that corruption at some level. The specialization and isolation of various people (police, government, business, etc) from the general population causes suspicion and allows secretive behaviors. The natural alternative would be to randomize the processes: select people at random to perform those duties, rather than specialists. In a corrupt country, the people have to force revolution or seek outside assistance. Sometimes they can do so peacefully through strikes or nonviolent actions. Sometimes power only understands power, and that too often means using numbers to overpower money or technology.
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    Nov 12 2012: Law is fundamentally grounded on moral grounds/ethical principles... It's very nature is studied through philosophy or is it jurisprudence. Hence I think that ultimately, corruption ought to be seen as a moral issue that requires lawful repercussions to chastise and maintain ethical foundations of a society.
  • Nov 4 2012: Good day all,
    Today is my first on this visionary network, am so glad to be part of this discussion, I am an african and grew up in Africa, when growing up we were taught morals first as a guiding principle of life, morals tends to encompass the whole package of societal life, in aspects of behaviour,and actoin within each social group.
    This traditionalist approach of the african society thought as individuals to own up for our failures and wrong. Doings, this in essence means that CORRUPTION been a subject of discource either been a MORAL or LEGAL issue, for me I think its more. Moral one than the former,because when the society as a whole is conscious to a certain phenomenon, they do not need the government to bring their attention to it in the first place, but ironically in Africa today , we see the worst case scenarios of wide spread corruption& its vices, so what went wrong? Standards! Our standars have fallen and are gone, so we now need the government to help us out with these problem through legal means, but. One question we should all ask is ? How far can the government go to even check itself of this cancerous monster, onlyy answer to this is when we take this back to our communities .
    Finally I personally think that CORRUPTION as a phenomenon is a moral issue and should be tackled through community based means by reorientation of our people to these social ills.
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    Oct 27 2012: Easy - you only need one rule - "Do to others what you would have them do to you". or indeed the reverse. You shall find that this covers almost everything.

    Is that a legal or moral stand? I have no idea, when legality differs from moral values, if those moral values can pass the above test then morality must be correct. Interestingly this definition covers both the local cultural and societal values too. These of course change over time and place. That's why the above definition is so powerful. It should always be applicable even in a thousand years on a far off planet or to any sentient species.

    see: Hello Anyone There?
  • Oct 25 2012: Anil Rajvanshi said/asked:

    "OK there seems to be a good debate on what corruption is. How do we control it? Any thoughts and ideas?"
    Get rid of the reasons for it. Or, in another word, get rid of the causes.
    Take the idea of someone who is considered to have what is labeled, a "criminal mind".
    Is there really such a thing? Posters here have already mentioned that corruption is everywhere, that it is huge, and spread out, in virtually every kind of institution and human interactions, while another writes that "everyone neglects" the ideas that already exist to control corruption.
    Rarely, if ever mentioned, is the idea that by getting rid of the causes/reasons for corruption, society could effectively get rid of corruption. It makes sense. If there are no reasons to be a criminal, no causes, then people don't become/get corrupted.
    Back to the criminal mind. One cannot observe, study and conclude accurately, that one has a criminal mind until and unless said subject commits a crime in a society in which there are no reasons for doing so. It isn't human nature at all, unless you consider the desire and will to survive, unnatural and/or morally wrong. Well, it isn't. It is behavior, bad behavior for the most part, but I think we cannot and should not, condemn and label others simply for trying to survive.
    How can survival be morally wrong? It isn't. And laws prove they don't work to solve the problem. I am foolishly assuming that people would like to "solve" the problem or problems humans have. Perhaps most don't. If not, they shouldn't complain and falsely label what they consider negative changes in society in general to be from moral decline.

    Studies have been done for about or at least 100 years and show that virtually all crime (corruption) is directly connected to money. A smaller percentage is still indirectly connected to money. Most will scoff at this at once, demean it, dismiss it and demonize it. (continued)
    • Oct 28 2012: I like a lot of what you said but i kind of disagree that all crime is about money. The reasoning i have is that most crimes are done by individuals who are only thinking of themselves instead of the ones they are "violating" for lack of a better word. Many of the poorer people commit crimes out of survival and necessity, while the individuals "of means" are only thinking of how they can take more. I feel like its a neverending cycle. If the moms and dads are too busy working to put food on the table to teach their children about responsibility and respect, then we will always have people breaking laws to get what they want.
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    Oct 25 2012: Corruption has a tendency to often be associated with monetary gain. Corruption is the means in which a democracy can be reduced to oligarchy through egoism and exploitation. It was not illegal for Robert Mugabe to raise taxes by 500%, resulting in Zimbabwe's prosperity to continue on its downward spiral to the point of no return; this was not illegal, yet universally agreed as corrupt. For me, ethical is not synonymous with corruption. Ethical warfare is tantamount to the enemy being blindsided and slaughtered in the limelight of their own vulnerability - a damn good thrashing. Yet, if sabotage was a factor in the exposure of the infantry, it would be deemed corrupt on the part of the renegade. Corruption is the antonym to altruism. Gandhi sacrificed law for the emancipation of India - true liberty can exist only when its motive is autonomy. Corruption is rife in the animal kingdom in the form of self-interest - survival of the fittest (Dawkins discusses this extensively in his book 'The Selfish Gene'). Corruption reduces us to animals, it is regressive and evident to be categorically immoral as even its bearers are aware of their iniquity. As for fighting it? I suppose it depends on the specificities of the matter, but my only advice would be to take a page out of Gandhi's book; perseverance, selflessness and honesty.
  • Oct 24 2012: I don't think you can address one without addressing the other. Corruption comes in so many different forms in so many different levels and different intensities, it can definitely be a moral issue but depending on the form of corruption it can also be a legal issue.
  • Nov 17 2012: Let's first study the relationship of the legal system and the moral values in a society. I would say that the legal system is generally decided or influenced by the moral standard of the whole, or a part, of the society. For example, the Robin Hood behavior was considered illegal because his behavior was not acceptable by the particular society at that time. But in the socialistic countries in modern times, it is completely legitimate to TAX the rich and GIVE it to the poor. Another issue like abortion,there are countries which legislatively treat abortion as illegal by religious moral ground, while in some countries like China, it is ILLEGAL to NOT HAVE AN ABORTION for the second pregnancy of a couple based on the government policy. So the legality or the moral values of almost any behavior, including corruption, have been different (evolving) from time to time and from country to country.
    Also, as far as I know, there are countries where bribe-taking or bribe-giving is more or less implicitly permitted by the the prosecutors in most legal system. And in some systems, the formal salaries of certain officials are not sufficient to support a family, thus the bribes are treated as part of one's pay anyway.
    In summary, the morality or the legality of corruptions is determined basically by the value system of a particular society at a particular time, determined by the evolution of the value system of the majority of the members in the society.
  • Nov 17 2012: Great question with an astute observation!
    It could be both moral and legal issue, but ultimately, it's definitely a moral issue, I think.
    Corrupt people with power can legitimize their wrongdoing.
    What Robin Hood does is illegal but I wouldn’t concur with the view that he is corrupt.
    For him, "robbing from the rich and giving to the poor" is a way to serve justice—equality. That is, his intention isn’t corrupt. His resentment for greedy, rich people isn’t out of corruptness. Provided laws should belong to ethics, even illegal things could be moral in some cases.
    It’s all about one’s intention and the methods—with rationalization—he use.
    (But there is a line. If people do all the illegitimate things by justifying that it’s for justice, a society gets anarchic and the law abiding spirit(which is ethical) disappears. And justifying anything willy-nilly would provoke another version of corruptness. )
  • Nov 17 2012: Given that anticorruption laws are passed sometimes by people who are themselves at least partially corrupt and enforced by institutions which may not always in fully independent and often staffed by people who are nominated by the same corrupt politicians, we cannot rely on the law to effectively deal with corruption. There will always be looholes in the law. In many countries political party financing by large corporations is not considered a bribe and is considered legal. And yet we know that this practice is often at the root of a lot of corrupt practices. This brings us back to the question of who writes the law. We are potentially in a conflict of interest situation. Thus, I would argue that corruption should first and foremost be considered a moral issue.
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    Nov 13 2012: Both, I think. To obey a law is one thing but doing because you love is far better.
  • Nov 11 2012: Corruption is a process where the other person demands a favor from you ,to do what you expect him to do due to his legal responsibility towards you. But , he doesn't do so unless and until he is not motivated or inspired by offering hm a tangible or intangible favor.

    In India the prime movers of corruption is "Duniyadari" and "Vyahvarikta". To run duniaydari you have to be "Vyavharik" ,"Be practical". And duniadari involves dealing with family and society. And to run the family and deal with the society , momey is needed . Life is short , and no body wants to go through the lengthy process of making money.
  • Nov 8 2012: Corruption and morality are separate acts; saying that, I believe that more often than not, corruption is an act is the result of moral degradation.

    Corruption is civil, legal, community oriented and socially defined by society as a collective. Morals are internally grounded and based on personal core beliefs that define our humanity and individuality.
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    Nov 6 2012: Corruption is global problem, and at first, it's a society problem. I belive and imagine it as organization, so strong, invisible, and it has "wide deep roots inside". With a regular kind of opinion, opinion we have got in school, while the education, this problem is so complex and apstract. Hard for understanding.
    we can see that this problem is not "young" or "brand new". Old movies as "Godfather", "Scarface" represent it as a normal in high layers of society. So we can use a field of ethic, and ask,
    why is that normal in high layers of society?
    Who are the people that leading country, and
    Why are they corupted?
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      Nov 6 2012: Jelena,
      I agree with your insightful comments. Corruption is a global challenge with wide deep roots, which is not a new challenge in our world. One really important statement you make, which I see as a big part of the challenge, is that we often perceive it as "normal". So, in some respects, we accept corruption as a "normal" part of being human. How or why would we change something that on some levels we believe is "normal"?

      You ask some great questions that might help us understand and deal with corruption...why do we consider corruption in any way "normal"? Why are some people corrupt and why do we continue to accept it?
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        Nov 6 2012: I omitted the field of legality. Is the corruption legal? Offcourse it is! And it is the main paradox! How? Well, who makes law in one country? It is the corruptive layers. They make law that provides "legal rob". Very big percent of politicans has "legaly rob money".
        And there is an answer to the question "why do we act as it is normal". We act like that, because, it is impossible to act in a different way. If we want to stop corrupition, we have to have, as good relations, deep roots, as corruptive groups. And, in XXI centory, they are too clever, and we are too predictive.
        I think, change is possible, only if we change the order. At all.
      • Nov 17 2012: Hi, Colleen
        I think people are pretty smooth when it comes to justifying themselves. As we see from many politicians, businessmen and brokers, glibness works, and even has positive effects on others' perspectives. So the word 'normal' we use to rationalize corruption is a clever yet, pathetic excuse, but isn't morally right. It just does not ring true in our minds. A number of people tend to believe what prevails among them is ‘normal’. Some might argue it isn’t, but the way people use this definition: ‘normal’ highly depends on a majority’s thoughts. And they start to differentiate between what’s right and what’s normal. So in that case, even if something is a right and moral thing to do, if it’s such a rare case, corruption could be justified by its frequency, which we call ‘normal’. I assume one way to solve this common misconception of corruption is to narrow a gap between moral duties—if you will—and social interactions in reality. Provided people think moral standards are too high to meet, and regard it as ideal goals, they give themselves a room for compromise, further, corruption in excuse of ‘inevitable’ reality. Some sincere religious people with strong convictions would succeed in maintaining their integrity by not being involved in corruption. Their strong religious ethics would be plausible factors that prevent them from any corruption. On the other hand, quite a few cleverer corrupt religious leaders take advantage of their moral standards to justify what they do. In that case, corruption gets uglier and more repulsive. People can be selfish, manipulative and unconsciously self-deceiving, and that could be normal. Corruption is the dirtiest outcome of these chaotic traits with rationalization and wrong interpretation. We know corruption is a bad thing. And we also know we can avoid being corrupt as long as we pursue transparency and justice. So, it is normal to think that corruption is not right. Thinking that corruption is normal is self-deceiving.
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          Nov 22 2012: I agree Elizabeth that some folks can be "smooth" when it comes to justifying their actions. This seems to be connected to the other conversation we are involved in? Where do thoughts come from? People can often "think" the thoughts which they believe to justify their actions, and I agree Elizabeth, that it is often a rather "pathetic excuse", which we can generally see through.

          Again Elizabeth, you hit the nail on the head!!! Many corrupt actions are "normalized" and therefor accepted over time. Also, as you say, many leaders take advantage of their positions as leaders to justify certain corrupt or immoral actions....we've seen that too many times throughout history.

          I agree that corruption is not in any way, shape or form good for our local, national, or global societies, thinking corruption is normal is self-deceiving, and the way we can change corruption, is to pursue transparency. Each and every one of us can be mindfully aware as we decide what is normal and/or beneficial to ourselves as individuals AND beneficial and productive to the whole of our global society.

          P.S. I would like to give you MANY thumbs up for your previous comment, and unfortunately, I've maxed out for you this week! Sending you a smile and a hug:>)
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      Nov 7 2012: I think you will find some food for thought in this article on corruption and greed.

      If we reduce our own greed then corruption can be reduced and nearly eliminated from this world.

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    Nov 5 2012: I believe corruption is both moral and legal issue. Legislation used to be employed for corruption maintenance.
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    Nov 4 2012: Morality is the only defense against corruption. A law maker without morals will propagate and legislate corruptive practices.
  • Nov 3 2012: i want to tell a story..
    a woman went to police station to complain against gang rape, later she was asked to accept a request from police to please him, so that he can accelerate investigation.
    that is what is happening to a common man. business people are making money in various sectors, besides the present demands of the day like petrol, power, telephone, gas, and duty on television besides alcohol, tobacco products have become inevitable. the government has taken the opportunity as best time to hike the prices. man has become slave to the above commodities and accepting the hike in prices, since he can not live with out them. when government is finding the people as consumers, what ethics can we expect from politicians?
  • Nov 2 2012: All questions are ethical questions in reality because the legal and ethical debate takes a back seat to our future needs. In other words, we have to first ask "what are people for?" in order to decide any question of what actions to take. This is, of course, assuming there is intentionality in your overall philosophy. Many people let ethical questions be left to culture, which is an open loop process that doesn't really consider our future needs. We need to close the loop between future usefulness of ourselves and our species, and our ability to act in the present.
  • Nov 2 2012: law is flexible. it is amended time to time. what is legal may be immoral. a moral issue can not be illegal. it is eternal.
  • Oct 29 2012: Both or just one,or none,depends on were you live.
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    Oct 28 2012: Sometimes, what is right is illegal, and what is legal is morally wrong. Corrupt societies often have corrupt laws. Morality is primary, laws are secondary. Legal changes follow changes in morality, not the other way around.

    Corruption is a cultural issue. It creates a vicious cycle. In corrupt societies, everyone "condemns" bribery, but everyone gives and takes bribes, because nothing is getting done without them. It becomes a custom. When "good" people are offered a position of power, they start taking bribes, because they are offered too frequently and often look like "gratitude", and the "giver" might even look "offended" if the bribe is rejected. Also, everyone around, including friends and family, would consider them fools not to take what's being offered. Positions of power are coveted for this reason. There are laws against bribery in such countries, but they don't work until there is a shift in public mentality.

    Government system does not seem to matter much. E.g., in Russia, corruption flourished for centuries, under monarchies, communists, and nowadays.
  • Oct 25 2012: (continued)

    Others will come up with a few crimes that are not connected to money (there are some), and thus dismiss what I have said because the riddance of crime is not 100%.

    I also then assume they think that having the 100% of crime and corruption that we now have is better and means a better and safer world than having corruption and crime reduced to only 3% or 4%. If it isn't perfect it is thrown out. Huh! Go figure.
    Well, it isn't better but it is familiar and might be one reason why people cannot or will not imagine a world that can function without money and without crime. It's familiar, it's emotional, and has become part of their societal/community family. Family and familiar are similar in spelling, and that is the spell they are under when it comes to seeing and admitting the truth.

    People are whistling in the dark like a frightened child trying to brace themselves when and if they continue to think, believe or espouse that what we need are more ethical leaders, blah, blah, blah. You cannot ever get that in 1. an unjust system, and 2. in any system where there are good reasons for not being ethical or for being corrupt.

    Worldwide, we have to meet the needs of all humans, without money. In fact, if and when the global economy collapses, that is exactly what will need to happen rather than what might happen and that is where those in power use more fear tactics to entice, coax and corral the global population into THEIR SOLUTION. There is a good chance they may present it as, a or the, final solution, but it won't be.
    Neither was the creation of the Federal Reserve the end of inflation/recession/depression, as the big one happened just 5 years after the Fed creation. Fed. Fed. Yeah, they are fed off the backs of the populace. They are parasites and parasites capitalize on weakened hosts and on what the hosts don't know.

    That is why it is called capitalism, or as in your debate title, "corruption".

    Put another way, capitalism = corruption
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    Oct 25 2012: there are many ideas to control corruption and a most corrupt person also have these ideas and i think we all know how to control it but everyone neglects it.
  • Oct 25 2012: Corruption is systemic. The biggest factor I see leading up towards it, is money. One can argue about individual morality, but when the system itself is corrupt, the higher the probability of individual corruption. I certainly don't see Gandhi being corrupt in that sense, if you will, because he himself was facing of a corrupt system. A double standard morality where the system tends to view the opposing morals as corrupt.

    'Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely.' Want to guess what money represents?
  • Oct 24 2012: Non of the above. Corruption is an environmental and educational issue. If we have a socioeconomic system that is based on artificial scarce resources that perpetuate narrow self-interests in order to survive, corrupted behavior will occur. And if a child is brought up in a corrupted environment and sees nothing else, the child will naturally become corrupted because the brain can't decipher or differentiate between good and bad. It only reacts to the environment. Therefore one can't talk about values, behaviors and actions without taking the environment into consideration.
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    Oct 24 2012: Immoral acts can be legal and illegal acts can be moral. The law is an arbitrary human construct. Morality is transcendental. For example the unprovoked, unjustified killing of an innocent human being is infrangibly immoral, but not always illegal. Corruption is an effect of lawbreaking, not of immorality.
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    Oct 22 2012: It's both. The concept of laws originated in an attempt to apply moral standards to society as mankind evolved into civilizations. Most laws today originated from moral concepts and/or beliefs. Corruption is both a moral and legal issue today, and it would be difficult to separate the two. Whether someone is ethical in today's society (in accordance with the dictionary definition you provided) is both a moral and legal issue. Most of the debates you refer to are actually disagreements concernng which should take priority...morals only vs the laws.
  • Nov 21 2012:

    The above link would take us to an article I published recently in the local press on this issue of corruption ... I shall be pleased to read your comments. Thank you.
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    Nov 21 2012: Corruption is a moral issue and thus in most developed countries is addressed in law (which are all essentially derived from esoteric beliefs). I think in the developed world there are so many laws so that most actions that would be deemed "corrupt" are just simply covered somewhere in the governing text. I mean, for what its worth, social animals like baboons and bonobos have a sense of morality. Aggressive members of a tribe and members that steal from others are shunned etc. and obviously these tribes do not have laws in the sense that I think you are talking about. That brings up what I think is a more potent debate as to whether there is any real difference between morals and laws at all.
  • Nov 19 2012: Corruption is entirely driven by our beliefs.

    Those beliefs, however, are greatly influenced by that which is legal in our societies, and what we internally represent as moral. Our two primary motivators are pain and pleasure, but we have a greater need to avoid pain than to seek pleasure. In order to fight corruption and evil (a laudable intent), we must change negative beliefs, and instill certain empowering ones.

    For example, in order to stop robberies from happening, it must become more painful for a person to rob than not to. In other words, all of the guilt, misery, humiliation and legal consequences must be more real to the person than the accomplishment of acquiring certain material objects (which in turn reward the person emotionally).

    I define corruption as an action which the perpetrator is aware of as painful or unjust to others (and is recognized by society as such), but continues to do so to elicit a certain reward -- generally emotional. Let's look at the Watergate scandal, under Nixon's presidency. He believed that gathering certain intelligence (at the cost of justice and honesty, and whatever you decide was at stake) was more rewarding than just leaving it alone, and not taking action was more painful than following through with his plan. (I KNOW IT'S REALLY CONFUSING.)

    I think in order to battle corruption, we must hold those who are in power hostage by way of democracy, because they wouldn't make unjust laws if they were subject to them. Their beliefs need to shift not only to "corruption is bad," but "contribution and honesty is good." There must be some sort of training to make that experience real to them so that they may allow those principles to affect their life and leadership positively.
  • Nov 17 2012: Good question. However, the answer is not as simple as whether or not corruption is a legal or moral issue.
    How would you define corruption? When someone breaks the law, or when a employee covers up a bosses misdeeds not only because he was told to but in hopes of climbing the corporate ladder? One could say that all of us are corrupt. All of us act on our own beliefs and feelings, but are those feelings and beliefs not influenced by other peoples ideas and beliefs? In my opinion we all our corrupt, we all act on our own prejudices and beliefs, which are made by our interactions with our surroundings. Our surroundings corrupt us. Obviously, this type of corruption is not inherently bad. The true question should be, how far is too far? And who or what is to make that determination.
    So, is greed good? Is corruption better and does absolute power corrupt absolutely? Think long and hard on this. In our species evolution, did these attributes help or hurt us, and without them would we be who we are today both as a species and as an individual?
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    Nov 17 2012: I believe the legal system is designed to support society in a cost/ benefit manner, therefore if you are corrupt you are punished. And I would think that the legal system is based on what is moral, so corruption is a moral issue as well.

    I think corruption is the compromising of ones duties and or moral/ethical obligations for personal gain. Corruption would be, in my opinion , regarding people in politics and people who have the potential to harm others with their corrupt actions.
  • Nov 17 2012: corruption is without doubt a moral issue... whenever a person is "corrupt" they are looking to gain something, usually for themselves, and nearly always at someone else's expense. as individuals, when we in someway harm another soul, this is a moral dilemma (and in fact we are actually harming ourselves as well)
    also, legality has little to do with morality. the two often meet, but you can have laws that conflict with morality. an example: slavery laws. at a not to distant point in history, it was against the law for a black man (or woman, child) to sit in a white section. if he did so he would be a lawbreaker. this does not make him immoral. another example: nazi germany and their laws regarding harboring jews. the people that helped jews escape from persecution were law breakers, but no one can call that an act of immorality. laws are created by humans, often for evil purposes. our consciences, however, are part of a universal collective... and if we are tapped into that, we don't need an explanation of what is moral... we know based on these universal truths.
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    Nov 16 2012: At first define "Corruption", I would say - it's an abstraction. "An issue" is instantiating. Than you might speculate over that instance.
    I would suggest another idea, parallel that might give a hand when dealing with those instances:
    To have a functioning democracy you need a set of rules that works and rules that does not, and everyone has to realize it.
  • Nov 16 2012: I think corruption is a legal issue, but also it is a moral issue when it affects the lives of the people of a particular country. Corruption often affects neighboring countries and countries world wide. I am not sure which is worst, a country that is blatantly corrupt or one that is corrupt in the shadows, and increasingly becomes corrupt like a disease and all of a sudden it is too late; maybe that is the way all corruption starts out, in the shadows. I think one thing is certain, corruption is exponential in that it becomes more rapid and dangerous.
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    Nov 16 2012: Hello Anil,

    On a par with the level of (inadequately and unsuccessfully addressed) unemployment in South Africa, (both petty and heinous) crime in South Africa has spiralled out of all control.

    And, therefore, as I believe it was incumbent upon the new South African government to immediately institute (and implement) an "emergency aid and relief plan" for the provision of essential food, clothing and shelter to the millions of unemployed (of all race groups) in 1994 - which it did not do then - and still has not done to date.

    Corruption on a personal, individual level is clearly an initial, moral issue which, where crime of any description is also involved, then becomes a legal one. However, as it appears that many in our judicial system (and police services) are also morally corrupt. Decent, civilized, law-abiding and peace-loving citizens in South Africa are presently faced with a very real (apparently insolvable) danger and dilemma.
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    Nov 16 2012: Police used to be "To Protect & Serve-Not self serve.
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    Nov 16 2012: This is True! and GOD will Bless all of you for it
  • Nov 14 2012: We can have different dimensions to this issue.
    It can be moral, legal or ethical.
    Moral corruption will be which relates to moral issues. One may be legally correct but morally wrong.
    Similarly in legal corruption issues which are forbidden legally will fall in.
    Lastly ethical corruption shall encompass those issues which a particular society forbids ethically.
    But it is the human mind which is momentarily encouraging to do certain things which will be called corrupt practice. A control on that fraction of a moment shall help the urge to get into corrupt practice.
  • Nov 11 2012: well wen the ones to make laws are corrupt it becomes a civil issue
  • Nov 8 2012: Corruption has been my research topic for decades, both in and out of academia. Why corruption is still alive and well today as it was, say, 50 years ago? In part because it is treated as either a legal or moral issue, leaving out other possibilities. But in fact corruption is a management/governance issue and it would be easier to solve it if we understood that.

    Look, the government structure can be corrupt from top to bottom and EVERYBODY there might work not according to the written law, but according to "informal law" (the understanding of how the things really work). Then, the "understanding" is the real law. And if the population agrees with it, fine... If, however, only SOME of the people in the power structure are corrupt, especially not the top boss (the president or equivalent who is usually elected by their "boss" - the people - who don't want corruption) then it is just a managerial problem: all that is needed is that every manager from the president down effectively monitors that his subordinates are not cheating, stealing, or breaking the laws in the myriad ways they can... Don't you agree?

    I'll tell you more: the normal pyramidal structures on which we rely from the times of pharaohs are not made for effective monitoring/management. They are long obsolete even in the military, which has been emulated by bureaucracies. Instead, these power pyramids are very well suited for supervisory incompetence of bosses and wrongdoing by subordinates. The agency theory, properly understood, will lead you to the same conclusion. (See my quip on it in the Financial Times: )

    Change the subordination/management structure to a much better one, and you'll wipe out corruption in a blink of historic eye... As manager, I've done it in organizations in the matter of weeks and days. You can do the same everywhere and be a new mini-Gandhi - clearing away legal gunk of the past and profiting, too.


  • Nov 8 2012: The majority of the worlds problems, especially the in United States, can be summed up in one word: greed. I believe greed is the core of corruption and therefore is the moral issue to address. I agree that corruption has components of both morality and legality. Just because something is legal does not make it moral, and just because something is moral does not mean it has been made legal. They blur together making it more a case by case issue of weither something is legal AND moral. Corruption can easily hide behind the guise of being 'legal' while destroying its country and citizens. In short, its both. Greed is the moral part of this dilemma that need to be kept in check by individuals. Laws need to truely reflect the abhorrence of corruption in strictly adhering to checks and balances.
  • Nov 8 2012: I think corruption is when a person has been given the authority to carry out functions for the public good, but uses that power to enrich themselves, often consequating in public harm. Perhaps a moral and legal issue.
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    Nov 7 2012: Well, corruption has been with us since we exist. About being moral or legal issue, i think that you can't split into two different things, since our laws are based on our moral society and in what we define right or wrong. When we face a situation that needs us to decide if we're going to make a decision based on our ethic or based on our moral society. A person that has profit as the primary ethic value will direct it actions to it, so the person moral will be centered in profit and it doesn't mean that this person has wrong ethic values because you can't judge it. But when the ethic person's confront with the moral of the society (and here we have what it considered right or wrong), the decision that the person made needs to be study, analyzed. But the real question is, does he/she need to leave the ethic besides to go for the moral of the society? Well, as long we live in groups, we need to determinate some rules so that we can live properly with peace and respect, order and progress. But what about in the person's believe? Why do we have so many corruption? Are we becoming an individualized society? Do we forgot the concept of society or do we changed it?
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    Nov 7 2012: Need to define -reference frames
    Say Body, heart, Mind
    or permissive Limits and cross-over to in-discipline - a state of mind .
    Desirable highest Discipline index
    What steps are needed for social reforms to develop Identity Index /
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    Nov 6 2012: I believe corruption is created by society and not by man. One man by himself on earth can not be corrupted, but with two men on earth they are both corrupted in some means to each other. I believe that as a group, all man is corrupted, and its the power they hold in how their corruption influences an individual or individuals life. It is mostly a moral issue unless it involves direct force to physically hurt or steal property. I believe that man should take responsibility of his own emotions and control him self, Man can be offend to easy by words and actions that don't involve him. To control a society with talk police, we wouldn't be able to have this conversation right now, because it might offend somebody. "Bullying" with kids might be different situation consider they are not adults and they make irrational decisions. Everybody has different "Morals" and to say who is right and who is wrong is just wrong. My thoughts comes from a definition from Webster dictionary, Corruption: impairment of integrity, virtue, or moral principle.
    "Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely" - John Emerich Edward Dalberg Acton
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    Nov 5 2012: I believe corruption is a legal issue and not a moral one. Different people have different morals hence defining corruption on the basis of morals would be wrong. Corruption should be dealt with legally and should be curbed at the roots it could mainly begin by raising your voice against wrong pratices and changing ourselves first
  • Nov 5 2012: Yes, religion and politics do not go together:)
  • Nov 5 2012: I'm a atheist I'm ok with people believing whatever they want, as doesn't involve murder of people or a possible genocide of animals. Though I do believe people should keep religion out of Politics.
  • Nov 5 2012: A long time ago people believed that people who marry shall stay married and that there shall be no sex outside of marriage. Then people made laws punishing women to death who do have sex outside of this, but yet if a man did this the women who be obligated to marriage with that man. Then peoples morals values changed, along with certain religious views. People began to believe that having more the one wife is morally wrong, and have made laws against it. I don't think it is because as long as the wives and the husband are genuinely happy, and aren't forced subjective ideas of how they should live I'm ok with it. Next
  • Nov 5 2012: It really depends on corruption of what because "An unjust law is no law at law." and no Ghandi wasn't corrupt because he fought for rights and freedoms that every individuals should have. I lean toward the idea that corruption is a legal issue that are caused by people's moral standard. I will explain in my next comment.
  • Nov 4 2012: Legality may be seen as morality contextually generalized. The ethics that must be accepted within a society in order to maintain its value ideals are laws.
    So breaking a law is seemingly unethical. But when authorities go on to make laws, the situation becomes complex and even paradoxical enough to go against the societies moral values. In such cases breaking a law is necessarily an ethical act.
    In Gandhiji's case, it may be seen that the law and morality corresponds to different social orders and hence the conflict is obvious.
    Hence there is nothing wrong for an issue to be equally legal and ethical. Corruption, I think, belongs to such group.
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    Nov 4 2012: Hi Anil!

    Disagree here.
    Corruption is not "just" breaking the law, it's stealing, taking bribes, hiring your cousin for 2x the salary by using your influence, bribing people to change their political position, etc.

    I believe that's clearly a legal issue.



    Ps no one says a politician is corrupt if they are breaking a law to defend what they believe.
  • Nov 4 2012: The base of morality is reason & knowing self & world in humanitarian way with scientific attitude,conflict between them (should) cause carrying out law.So this question is analytical but life is synthetic,making non humanitarian guidelines as law to rule & suppress, identify Gandhiji law breaker ! (how you define corruption & morality?). The question should be , Can we control corruption & morality legally ?
  • Nov 4 2012: The possible solution, reduce the Powers getting a strong enough hold before it gets corrupted.

    Singapore is nearly a zero corruption country. It took pains, nearly 50 years down the road to get there. Government, we vote every 5 years. Our law makers are the world’s best paid and for a good reason.
    Armed Forces, peoples’ defence force, (we call national service) two years from age 18 onwards. We leave the forces (but remain fit and continue to train periodically in the latest in warfare). It becomes mandatory for every male citizen to stay fit for a long time in their life. (Compare our citizens physical profile to India’s police force.)

    Now can we apply the same to the other “Main Power arms” of a country, like Judiciary, Police Force, Inland Revenue, Immigration, etc. Shouldn’t the best talents of the citizenry be proud to serve for a period of time only? And they should be paid no less than what the market will pay them.

    The managing of the short period of service who people the Government will be the citizenrys’ check and balance of Power, It may bring about less corruption.
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    Nov 4 2012: I think it is just like stealing a thing so corruption is a moral and legal issue as well. We need to address this on both aspects by improving the ethics from a early age and bringing the corrupt person before the justice.
  • Nov 4 2012: By your Gandhi example, clearly it's a moral issue, but with moral laws it would seem to become both. My question is if the environment you're in is corrupt to the point that corruption is systemic and includes the front lines of communications (phone answering and mail sorting, etc.), how can you get relevant information you may have - and I do have - to the appropriate authorities. And is there an email address to someone interested that I can send info to if I can't get it to the right people in Canada? TIA.
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    Nov 3 2012: Both.
  • Nov 3 2012: I am sorry to have mislead you with my comment. I have no passion for these issues. It is simply observation and curious apathy which leads me to question the existence of the human race as it extinguishes itself around me. The possibilities are endless, but the probability of change is small.
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    • Nov 11 2012: Honesty is a blunt tool , it bleeds more than it heals the wound. Honesty alone can't end the corruption. Even Criminals are honest among themselves. If they wouldn't have been honest in their work of killing people then we wouldn't have so much bloodshed in the name of corruption , terrorism.
  • Oct 31 2012: we may wonder at legalizing corruption in future, since 99.99999% is corrupt.
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    Oct 30 2012: actually all of the notions lost their meanings in today shortly every notions are more complex than past corruption is one of them therefore we can evaluate it as both moral and legal issue
  • Oct 30 2012: I think that in both cases.
    Corruption occurs when people abuse their powers.
    They are becoming more selfish and they do not care about ordinary people.
    But most likely the root is in the moral education.
  • Oct 29 2012: Both.
    Its moral because the one that is corrupted or tries to corrupt others knows what he/she is doing is not legal.
    Its a legal matter because if something goes against the law then its not legal and the law must then enter the scene and work against corruption.
    Corruption has many faces, "helping" someone, or giving and accepting money under the table in order to get something without going through the legal channels. It would be interesting to analyze why someone, risks his career and his position in an act of corruption.
    If someone that is starving, steals a piece of bread, that individual knows he is not doing good and knows he can get caught but he must survive and maybe in his condition he may not be able to consider other option.
    But what happens when a professional, that is not starving and has a good salary is corrupted? He/she gambles all what he/she has for a couple more coins. For the starving man it was life or death, but what about the other guy?
  • Oct 29 2012: Corruption is a systemic issue.
  • Oct 28 2012: Corruption and moral issue caused by human greed and when government corruption, corruption is widespread and the only victim is a citizen
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    Oct 28 2012: I would say that corruption is a legal issue because:
    laws are a construct of a community and morals are a construct of individuality.
    A law can be interpreted in one way, and morals are different to every single person on earth.
  • Oct 28 2012: A law without normative support will neither be enforced or upheld. Ergo a true response to issues like corruption entails both a legal framework and a moral shift in attitude. That moral shift has to come from non-governmental sanctions such as peer to peer disapproval for bad behavior. It does not need to be based in religion to be moral. Attitudinal shifts can be managed by governments but it takes work.
  • Oct 26 2012: Corruption is both a moral and legal issue.

    The difference is when trying to fight it. My morals might differ from yours, where laws would be the same if we were in the same community.
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    Oct 26 2012: Corruption is a threat to any nation's progress so how should it matter whether we look it as a moral or legal issue??

    Corruption has to be tackled seriously and its on the people of the Country to ask government for a strict law to curb corruption
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    Oct 25 2012: Corruption is first and foremost a moral issue. An immoral person will become corrupt once he senses power and invincibility. Power and position blinds such persons. However an upright and honest man will not be tempted by his power and position.

    A corrupt person will try to take the legal system for a ride by his clout and cunning. Moral deprivation resulting from faulty upbringing is the root cause. Greed, coveting if overcome thru correct upbringing and spirituality can help in eradicating this vice which is corroding all strata of society around the world.
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    Oct 25 2012: I think the fight against corruption should start from each one of us. If we live a life which is simple and spiritual then together we can reduce corruption.

    Ultimately if in whatever we do we should always keep in mind the greater good of people even if it flouts the existing laws. When large number of people do this then the laws can be changed and modified. This working for greater good is the best hedge against corruption in a democratic society.

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    Oct 25 2012: Hello!!
    Nowadays Corruption doesn't have definition i think, because now its become so huge that the small definitions of books and experience can't define it and even a 10 yr old student can also give the unique definition.
    And mostly corruption have to be a moral issue and it becomes legal sometime but mainly its a moral issue.
    • Oct 29 2012: Corruption has grown so large, it has become systemic.
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        Oct 29 2012: yes... its at every stage...
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    Oct 25 2012: OK there seems to be a good debate on what corruption is. How do we control it? Any thoughts and ideas?

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      Oct 25 2012: Hello Anil,
      I believe corruption is both a moral and legal issue which thrives in isolation. So, I believe that to uncover and reveal corruption is the beginning of change. The next step, is for our global society to send a very strong message that corruption will not be tolerated in our world. I believe that our advanced communication systems are very helpful in uncovering many of the underlying elements of corruption, and part of the task is drawing people around the world together to send the message that it is not acceptable.

      In the past few years, we've seen the uncovering of corruption in politics, business and churches, and there probably is a lot more to uncover. The good thing is that we are beginning to know more about corruption in many aspects of our life experiences. We cannot do anything about corruption until it is known, and we have begun:>)
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        Nov 3 2012: Colleen, I wonder if there is a difference between a sense of morality one would have when dealing with people on a local scale, compared to globally?

        Your comment made me think that one answer to Anil's question might be a simple relationship of large scale and remoteness, as opposed to small scale and closeness. In other words, people are less likely to behave in a corrupt way when fully aware that the local community will get to know about it - and more likely to be corrupt when dealing with an enforced facelessness of someone halfway across the world.

        If that's true, what might it say about globalisation generally? Has corruption increased in line with it?

        I know that my brother in law (who is from a remote island in the South Pacific), has a keenly honed sense of morality because he's grown up with very strong local ties. If he put a foot wrong, then everybody in his community got to know about it and he would be shamed into putting things right. Their local laws have thus grown organically alongside local characteristics.
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          Nov 5 2012: Dear Allan,
          You ask good questions!

          I think we know that there are many different levels of both corruption and morality, depending on the circumstances? It seems that large scale remoteness/small scale closeness are subjective, with many different levels as well?

          Personally, I think/feel that corruption has decreased, and will continue to decrease because of our communication systems. As I said, I believe isolation to be part of the reason that corruption and lack of morals can exist.

          I live in a small community where everyone knows everyone else, and there was corruption in the town government, as there was in many small communities in this area. So, perhaps it depends on the people in the community, more than the actual size?

          When the regional planning commission was formed years ago, representatives started getting together to address many issues, including corruption in our town governments. Prior to that, we were isolated with the idea that corruption was acceptable....those in power simply repeated the mantra....this is how it's always been....if you don't like it...get the hell out of town!

          Just as corruption and morality have many different levels, Isolation has many levels as well...does it not? We can isolate ourselves, even if we live in a populated area, we can be isolated by another person, or group of people, etc.

          I think of the woman who was brought to the shelter years ago, who had been tied to a bed and repeatedly tortured and raped for 3 days. She lived on a very populated main street in the city. Apparently, she was in and out of consciousness, and when conscious, she screamed for help. People walking past and living in the area apparently thought her screaming was from a video game or tv. In this situation, the corrupt person with lack of morals who was keeping her prisoner was isolating her. The people hearing the screams were isolating themselves AND her, even though they were all "together" in a community.
    • Oct 29 2012: The question is, how do we outgrow framework which enables corruption to emerge? Design or build a new one. There are many projects and movements that aim to do so. P2P Foundation, Moneyless Society, The Venus Project, Resource-Based Communities, The Zeitgeist Movement, to name a few. The main aim is to decentralize power by any means possible. Today we have a system that is slowly centralizing power (banks, government) and leading to the eventuality of a corrupted system.

      “One can not change an existing system by fighting it; one must create a new system that makes the old system obsolete.” ~Buckminster Fuller~
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    Oct 24 2012: Corruption has always been a moral issue. It has not always been a legal one. In his book "The Kingdom of God is Within You" first printing 1894, late author Leo Tolstoy speaks of corrupt governments in which the lower classes have no legal say. What the government does is within the boundaries of the law because they write the law. It happened in the Roman era. It happened prior to the French Revolution. Leo Tolstoy speaks in reference to European Governments. You can see traces of it in many governments throughout the world.

    It used to be that the captain went down with the ship. When businesses folded, its founder usually folded with it. Nowadays, CEO's can run a company into bankruptcy and still come away with the booty. I call it pirating. Years ago pirates were hung on the high seas. Now some are running the show and its all legal.

    When I was growing up, the mafia charged high interest rates for loans and it was labeled as criminal. Now the credit card companies do similar and it's no longer regarded as organized crime because the law is on their side. They say it's good for the economy. Granted, people need to learn to manage their money. But all they did was play follow the leader. They did what they see their government doing and it got them into trouble.

    In the eyes of many, it's not stealing if it's legal, it's only stealing if the law says it is.

    Corruption can only exist when leaders choose to accept it. It doesn't make it right, it does however make it legally acceptable by the ruling class.

    People need to choose for themselves whether or not to abide by the principles of right and wrong. This is a moral, not a legal obligation. What is morally right may require breaking the law.
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    Oct 24 2012: Corruption is an expression of immorality; but sometimes things that are legal are still immoral; moral issues do not depend on human opinions.
    Societies should be built to place priority of the dignity of humanity and ethical behaviour. If young people are taught to be considerate and unselfish, then laws can actually accomplish much.
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    Oct 24 2012: Corruption is a seductive power, as money.
    I think that's part of human being and human nature.
    We usually see corruption in government, but i think it also lies in other institutions and even things people do.
    We can only try to reduce it, but erradication, absolutely no way.
    I guess in defferent cutrue and religion background, people will give different answers, so why bother giving it a definite circle to define it.
  • Oct 24 2012: Hi.. my name is Valentina and I live in Indonesia... Regarding the corruption problems in the Indonesian's Government, so there is an institution that called KPK ( Komisi Pemberantasan Korupsi or Comission of Corruption Eradication) to solve the problems.
    In my opinion, corruption is one thing that related to a moral, so it depends on the moral of person itself. Even an honest person, if he/she does not have a tough will to refuse this bad habit in the system that corruption manner is already there, for sometime this person will be drowned to the system.
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    Oct 24 2012: first you should figher out the legal and moral ,and the range .
    moral is much biger than legal '.legal' is moral while moral may be not legal .that you should know ,

    and my answer to your question is that both .
  • Oct 23 2012: Corruption is a form of fear, nothing more.

    People fear losing wealth, power or social status and the more they have to it the more they are willing to do to keep it.

    There is actually a fairly easy solution to this problem and that is to bring the rest of society up to the same level of wealth and power. Of course this is easier said then done.

    When everyone is equal by definition corruption can't exist as the highest level of status is also the lowest level of status. This also solves the problem of people trying to get higher up over the backs of others as there is no higher up.

    I believe the human race is capable of this but we really need to start working on changing our society in order to make it possible.
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      Oct 24 2012: Fear and greed are related. One feeds on another. A possible mechanism is explored in this essay.

      • Oct 24 2012: Thank you for your reply Anil,

        I read the essay you suggested and it points out the same "findings" I hear when other people try to explain corruption or greed.

        Especially the first part is interesting:

        "Human desire manifests itself in different forms but the driving force is the same. It is power, fame and money and ultimately, all these boil down to the desire for control. Some call it an ego trip. "

        What I believe is that power, fame and money are not the driving force but something deeper down inside of us. No one is born with a drive for power, fame or money this is something we learn along the way from our parents and our society.

        The core driving force for corruption is the same primal force for both the people in power and the ones without it.

        This force is fear.

        The poor and powerless look up towards the rich and powerful and strive to get the same with the fear they will otherwise remain where they are now.

        But the rich and powerful don't have it easy either. The look down towards the poor and powerless and strive to never end up there. Driven by fear of losing what they have they will be open for corruption and because they are more powerful and wealthy their corruption is much more noticeable on a global scale.

        If we truly want to stop corruption we have to close the gap between the poor, powerless and the rich and powerful.

        A good start in my opinion would be to start focusing on providing high quality food, housing and healthcare for everyone for free. We have the technology to make this possible we just have to use it.

        I do admit we still have a long way to go before this is possible though. A great start in my opinion would be to do away with patents as a whole. Technology should be our goal not money, power or fame.
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    Oct 23 2012: Isn't a legal system nothing but a reflection of moral standards? Shape- and formable by time, knowledge, location and belief? In my view it is, so corruption to me is a moral issue only and therefore becomes a matter of standpoint in 'space' and 'time'.
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      Oct 24 2012: legal system sometimes comes more out of greed than anything else. Control is inherently build in legal system. Control, power, greed lead to corruption.
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        Lejan .

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        Oct 24 2012: I see your point and agree with you.

        Moral to me has no genuine and exclusive 'positive' notion. Nazi Germany, the Mafia, dictatorships and even many democratic foreign politics today had and have their very own and underlying moral code which they followed and follow. Greed was, still is and probably always will be part of moral standards and therefore slips into the legal system at place.

        People like Gandhi will be seen in multiple ways at their time and throughout history, as they follow a higher, more universal set of moral goals or even create and add to those.

        Unfortunately history shows, that, even so many people sense the existence of those higher moral standars, mankind continuesly fails to install them deep into their legal systems and to apply them more often in their daily lifes...

        Even in 2012, after approximately six million years of evolution, we still have a lot of potential to improve ourselfs, and we sure will... :o)
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        Nov 3 2012: The only solution is that we must build a society that has no root in greed. Though overwhelming at first thought it requires a shift by only one degree.
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    Oct 23 2012: Corruption is a problem because it normally deals with deviations from our main objectives. If we deviate from a global objective we cannot expect to experience consequences indicative of a less corrupt state.

    It is important that we focus on the goals and not the present circumstance. Your environment should definitely play a role in goal setting. However, it should only be a guide as to what initial steps are necessary to move forward. Once you begin moving forward the environment you once thought restricted longer exists.

    Therefore, it is imperative that our planet of people focus on a few things.

    1) Green Industry

    Why is Green Industry important?

    Almost all industrial growth comes with a price. Countries attempting to grow must destroy the environment to do so. Innovations in Green Industry will allow countries to provide for their people and facilitate a balanced environment.

    2) Community Building

    This is important for several reasons. However, I always talk about "why its important" and this time I think I will dish out a few solutions.

    A) Community Based Outreach - Centers stationed across the globe that help people build better lives. We can call this the "Butterfly Project" as we can force these caterpillars to realize what they really are.

    These programs can offer resume services, free counseling, classes on communication and social networking, PC classes to teach core fundamentals, programs to identify people with moderate to severe psychological issues.

    We can identify psychological problems early...before they head to the theater to shoot up another group of innocent people.

    Corruption is deep seeded. It isn't just about money and government. Our entire system is corrupt. We know it...we realize we don't live in a perfect state. However, we don't seem to keen on moving rapidly towards that state.

    The globe doesn't get it yet.
  • Oct 23 2012: Morality deals with rights and wrongs of mankind. Legal matters deal with rights and wrongs of a society. Could you live in a world where everybody was allowed to corrupt? Would you feel safe? I think the short answer to your debate is that corruption, because it harms and deprives people of rational choice, is both morally and legally wrong.
  • Oct 23 2012: counter murder or war a moral or legal issue?
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    R H

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    Oct 23 2012: I would say 'yes'. It's a moral or a legal issue - depending on what kind of corruption it is. This subject is on every well-intentioned person's mind, has been on their mind probably since the dawn of civilization, has been the prime catalyst for 'alternate' societies and revolutions, and has caused more societal damage than anything else. But we just can't seem to get rid of it. So I ask myself, what causes corruption? Where does it come from? And as i think of it in those terms, I begin to see it as the 'easy way out'. It can't be identified because it's 'subjective', so it's easy to hide. It's reasoning can be agreeable to the uncorrupt and therefore more effective. It can be 'attached' to a host of 'good intentions' and infiltrate designs undetected. It is very successful because the weak of character and ambitious in desire find a route of expression that works and is easy to be good at, and they are not revealed in their corruption until it's too late. The uncorrupt then - because they are uncorrupt - bemoan these results yet are merciful and 'hope the corrupt mend their ways' and try the long road of rehabilitation of the corrupt rather than 'cast them out' or eliminate them permanently because they're 'civilized'- which of course leads to more laws and prisons and increasingly complicated societies. So corruption is successful, profitable, and hard to prove as morally or legally contrary. Sounds like easy money to me.
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      Oct 23 2012: RH. You might enjoy reading about my attempt in trying to understand what causes corruption.

      I have tried to look at the sociobiological basis of corruption. Since this talk was given in India hence it is slightly India oriented but the theme of the talk is applicable anywhere in the world.

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        Oct 23 2012: Thanks Anil. I liked your 'brain as processor' description and how a 'corrupt brain' is lacking in processing ability. Also, I've been a long proponent of investing in the marginalized so they can contribute in the economy. These are the talks that need to be advertised, in the news, on 'prime-time', discussed in the classroom and at the university. I dream of the day when ethics surpass corruption and everyone has enough 'processing power' in their brain to know the difference.
        Cheers to you too my friend.
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          Oct 23 2012: Thanks RH. If you liked the talk please spread the message around in whatever way you think fit.

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          Oct 23 2012: RH, I share with you the compelling interest in investing in the marginalized to make sure they can contribute effectively in the economic and civic spheres.
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        Oct 24 2012: to Fritzie: Really?! That's great news. I often wonder why it's not done more effectively. Why we allow nearly half of the world's population to not participate. For some reason I cannot quantify, I have a feeling that the ROI - ultimately - would far surpass the the initial investment. I do believe though that there are some very powerful people (Gates/Buffet/Soros) that are looking at this situation in the same manner, and trying to figure out an effective approach. I'm going to ask the question to the TED community.... Thanks.
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    Oct 22 2012: Anil

    Didn't you talk about this or something similar a while back?
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    Oct 22 2012: i hope these two are still related
  • Oct 22 2012: "Too often the corruption debate and discussions all over the world are focused on how somebody broke a law. By that definition Mahatma Gandhi was the most corrupt man since he periodically broke British laws!"

    The idea is that laws reflect basic ethics (morality would be the wrong word since morality is based on culture, not reason), in other words laws are supposed to be written in such a way that Mahatma Ghandhi would not have had to break them. However corruption must be a legal issue because some parts of economics are not ethical, especially in the current system, but also in others: you avoid discussions in the court room about whether stealing from a tobacco factory is bad because it hurts the company and its employees or good because it damages a producer of toxic drugs.
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    Oct 22 2012: In philosophical, theological, or moral discussions, corruption is spiritual or moral impurity or deviation from an ideal. In economy, corruption is payment for services or material which the recipient is not due, under law.

    In your country I believe it to be Baksheesh.

    So it is possible that corruption could be both a moral and a legal issue or it could be neither.

    In the US we are experiencing those who are strict muslims practicing the Shira Laws and and in violation of US common laws. It is not a moral or legal issue to them .... however, while residing in this country we find it both a moral and a legal issue. The old when in Rome thing ....

    Morals, ethics, and laws are cultural and are not consistant on the international level.

    So in answer to your question .... We as nation states must determine what the cultural values are and a system of enforcement to maintain order. We must respect the autonomy of each others rights and laws and by doing so not pass judgement or interfere with the right of self rule.

    I wish you well. Bob.