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Absolute power corrupts absolutely, would you agree or disagree?

Specifically relating to world governments or leaders, once a party or individual rises to the top of the power structure will they predictably abuse that power?

Furthermore, if the party or leader attains power but doesn't use it in a way that helps the most people possible, does that constitute corruption in your mind?

In party politics, does political gridlock constitute a failure of leadership akin to corruption?

What do you think?

  • Jun 24 2013: Approached this on psychological terms..when one rises above the ranks into absolute power. Corruption results..not because they are corrupt but because absolute power leads to this. I can be a well respected public servant, doing everything for the people but when in the face of absolute power what can happen? Because there is no one to question me, i start making decisions with absolute confidence that it is the correct decision and for the benefit of all people. This is WHAT i would think...but assume in reality this decision was absolute failure..who's to question my authority?

    Look at previous leaders and their actions: Mao Zedong is the best example... people were following his orders with absolute obedience. Was his decisions correct? NO! his great leap forward was producing sub standard iron. Food crops that were imported rather than grown in china... all just to appease the great leader with absolute power...whats the alternative? correct him meant death. Absolute power means the loss of ability to question the leaders decision. This leads to loss of checks whether this is the correct decision. Absolute power means a one sided issue... the other problems stemming from this "decision" will never be brought out for discussion because it would be useless. The great leader is always correct and people will want a piece of this greatness by following his every whim regardless if its correct or not. Another example:NorthKorea, kim jong il/un... absolute power..he has generals and people worshiping him and following his orders. But is North korea better off? NO... Park benches were immortalized in glass because Kim Jong Ill sat on it...was this a bad or good decision? obviously it makes perfect sense to north koreans to cover the bench in glass..stupid decision is always correct simply because nobody would question absolute power.

    there are very few leaders who wielded great power and respect and yet maintained control over their whims. But they do exist.
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    Jun 26 2013: Absolute power over your self purifies you and over the others corrupts you.
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    Jun 26 2013: Yes. I've heard a metaphor on the radio: when candidates campaign for the office in Congress, they talk about the government as a kind of a swamp. But once they get there, they get the taste and start to like it. It feels more like a hot tub.

    Re: "Furthermore, if the party or leader attains power but doesn't use it in a way that helps the most people possible, does that constitute corruption in your mind?" Yes. This means that he either serves his self-interest or the interest of a small group.

    Re: "In party politics, does political gridlock constitute a failure of leadership akin to corruption?"

    Yes. This means that "who is right" becomes more important than "what is right". It's self-serving again. I know governments where politicians would turn down a law proposed by opposition, but would pass the same law proposed by their party. This is, usually, accompanied by boasting and finger-pointing to the other side.
  • Jun 26 2013: Leaders will always walk the line in regards to abuse or power. Will they always cross it... is it always sunny, just keep looking east.

    If a leader doesn't use his power to help the most people possible? That's subjective, and time can only tell if their decisions helped or not. If they act in such a fashion, in which said leader acknowledges that what him/her is doing does not benefit the whole... then yes, it is corruption by virtue of their position morally speaking.

    Political gridlock forms for various reasons. I wouldn't attribute failure of leadership, unless it was applied to all parties involved. Which is not akin to corruption, nor avarice, but rather obduration(maybe not the most appropriate word)... which again, for various reasons.
    • Jun 28 2013: I think, "obduration" is pretty accurate , it belongs here.
      I've never met this word before.
      Thank you !
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    Jun 25 2013: "In party politics, does political gridlock constitute a failure of leadership akin to corruption?"

    I believe that the answer is yes, sometimes. I think there's more to it than that though.

    I believe it's far easier for us to place people in "boxes" labeled with extremes than it is to objectively assess an individual's or group's character/motives. I think all leaders, no matter how much goodness they might have in their hearts, can find themselves making decisions that could be viewed as corrupt. We're all human, and we all are capable of making mistakes, especially when under extreme pressure to make decisions and take action. Granted, the mistakes made by those in power can have much greater consequences that mistakes made by average citizens. Does that mean that they should be labeled as corrupt? That being said, how often do we see political gridlock because each side BELIEVES they are fighting corruption coming from the other side(s)? In these cases, it seems as if emotion completely takes over and reason flies out the window.
  • Jun 25 2013: Maybe one should ask Wal-Mart that question. It seems to me if anyone went out and murdered 1100 people, they would be seen as a scourge on society. Negligence is no argument. Just as political gridlock is no argument for Obama signing more and more executive orders.

    Maybe the bigger question is why do we accept easy outs like fines in the case of Negligence, and "there was no alternative" from Obama in the case of political gridlock.

    As it would seem if you have an easy out, whatever the circumstance - you'll take it - and so the corruption begins.
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      Jun 26 2013: Is it possible that Obama may actually be unable to get things done do to political obstructionism/gridlock? And that maybe he resorts to questionable tactics because he needs to. This is a possibility if one doesn't assume he is bent on ruining America, and that he intends to leave a positive legacy for his presidency like every other President.

      I'm not saying that's the case but this goes to the heart of the question itself. Obama is definitely using questionable tactics, but is he doing it because he must, or because he only seeks to help himself/party? In one sense it's corrupt, in the other it isn't.

      what do you think?
      • Jun 26 2013: Isn't him doing things by himself a corruption of the process where representatives elected by the people are being bypassed. Or did the people elect a dictator?
  • Jun 25 2013: The problem with politics, government and parties is that these systems demand levels of compromise and yet how can one compromise on an issue like abortion and not have the situation look like a corruption of ones morals?

    Sadly, to avoid the perception of moral and political corruption, some parties are reluctant to compromise creating gridlock.
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      aj trip

      • +1
      Jun 26 2013: That's a good point Bob. However I'd add that one party being unwilling to compromise may be the best option where no option is a good one. I blame both parties in the US for ANYTHING that adversely effects American's well being. I view inaction on important issues as equal to outright corruption by and individual or party. That's just me though, I don't expect that most Americans think the same way.
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    Jun 24 2013: G'day aj trip

    Yes of course it does. Party politics is the dirtiest of all as firstly the part line is followed to a tee then the party members are considered & then if you are lucky the constituents/voters are considered. A true democracy couldn’t have political parties under such a system as party politics is more like dictatorship. True democracy is all about independent public servants serving their constituents not the party & party members first & foremost I should know I joined a political part once, you had to follow the party line above all else no matter what which is dictated by the leader of the said party.

  • Jun 30 2013: based upon history yes

    however personally i believe that the acquisition of absolute power is similar to the Greek myth of the man who has been parched by Hades after death. (his name escapes me at the moment) and he is thrown into a room filled with water and he given a goblet. whatever he puts into the goblet as soon as he drinks it the moment it touches any part of his mouth everything in the glass turns to sand and he becomes more parched from drinking sand. that is what absolute power is like it is basically a never ending thirst for more power and the sweet relief the water should give you
  • Jun 29 2013: Yes:)to some extent,religion is one kind of absolute power typies?
  • Jun 27 2013: It's the process of acquiring absolute power, as well as the actions taken to maintain it, that corrupt leaders.
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    Jun 27 2013: Power in the hands of the person who seeks it is generally a bad idea.

    A position of power and leadership ought to be bestowed upon a person who posseses a quality, gains trust, and has proven their decision making abilities are based on a desired end result that benefits a situation the most.

    American politics have been systematically set up so that the people who are born into politically or financially influential families will be set up with a certain number of advantages and will be able to step into the political realm as a candidate or financial supporter at the right time. Their agendas are not their own, and very few, almost none of them have ever gained any first hand experience of what it means to live outside that social circle.

    In order to be considered great to the masses you have to first be in touch with the concerns of the masses. Not enough of our political leaders have the same life experiences as the average middle class American so they can have no conceptualized understanding of the problem nor its solution. Without ever having been truly burdened their focus turns to issues further down on the priority list.When you're starving and the only thing you can think about is food then your mind is going to work around and around that problem until you've figured out every reason why you don't have food and every way you can get food.

    Corruption is embedded in our system. Those who already have what they need and more end up in the most influential positions. Those who possess the least and have very little hope of influencing anyone have answers or at least ideas that could prove beneficial but will never get a chance to present them. Power has less of a chance to corrupt someone with a solid agenda and a goal in miind that they're passionate about. Our political leaders tend to be more passionate about the position not the platform.
  • Jun 27 2013: aj trip, This conversation will close soon, and I will make this my last participation,
    unless someone else writes me a note.

    aj, I thank you for your very proper thought provoking topic.
    You've won the coveted HITS THE NAIL ON THE HEAD award.

    If you were a carpenter, you would build steeples to the stars.
    Keep up the good thoughts.
  • Jun 26 2013: Disagree, think of all the mundane things one trusts other people with everyday just to have a functioning world. The mundane positions of power people are given all the time that rarely are corrupt.

    It's all about the people. The real problem is simply in a group of human minds, there will always be someone to complain about whoever has power even if that person was the most perfect being on the planet. The more primitive parts of the human brain revolt against the idea, even if such suitable people exist.

    Since it's really about the bad perception of human beings, not about the truth of what is necessary. If you doubt this, consider climate change denial. To the enormous mountains of scientific progress one takes for granted every day but somehow the average person just completely is incapable of grasping the reality.

    People aren't good at grasping reality, and hence peoples judgement/values/views are really the problem. Not power and suitable people in power in and of itself.
  • Jun 26 2013: The original quote, in context:

    "I cannot accept your canon that we are to judge Pope and King unlike other men, with a favourable presumption that they did no wrong. If there is any presumption it is the other way, against the holders of power, increasing as the power increases. Historic responsibility has to make up for the want of legal responsibility. Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority, still more when you superadd the tendency or the certainty of corruption by authority. There is no worse heresy than that the office sanctifies the holder of it."

    Acton was speaking against the idea that the "great" should not be held to the same moral standard as ordinary people. In his eyes, being a "statesman" did not excuse someone from mass murder, even if it was done "for the sake of genius, or success, or rank, or reputation, ... for the sake of a man’s influence, of his religion, of his party, of the good cause which prospers by his credit and suffers by his disgrace."

    He considered this to be "debasing" a fundamental "currency", that of immutable moral law. Thus, Acton's dictum was an observation based on his career as historian, written specifically to highlight and condemn the willingness of others to defend or forgive atrocities done "in a good cause". Most specifically, he was writing against the doctrine of Papal Infallibility (Acton was a Roman Catholic).

    As for political gridlock, I consider it to be one of the best contributions to good government ever invented. In the USA, the Republican and Democratic parties are two wolves fighting over a lamb. The people are the lamb. Let us hope that the wolves are forever gridlocked in their fight against each other and never come to a compromise that will let them cooperate in devouring the lamb.
  • Jun 26 2013: We are all individuals belonging to certain groups, that think alike. One group believes they are right, another believes the same. When given the chance of power, a group or individual will try to make his environment into what he considers correct. Another will see what was done as evil, unfair, or so on. I believe true power allows the group or individual to remake things the way he, or they want, and so the illusion of corruption exists. This illusion can seem very real, and may even be so, depending on your point of view.
  • Jun 26 2013: Just thinking out loud a bit, seeing as its only me writing to the wall, right? :) Well, the contemplation of power readily conjures up visions of freedom and, I guess, vice versa. Is power that which is granted us by others and freedom, that which we take for ourselves? Either way there is nothing inherently negative or degenerative about one or the other. At least that's the way I see it.
    Though, I would suggest that the total lack of boundary, social, moral, cultural,... would enable and possibly promote the acquiescence of a part of one's self to the greater motivation or urge, whatever that may be and possibly to a negative end. Maybe. Perhaps being free to do "whatever" totally, maybe it doesn't dictate disagreeable behavior. No one would consider corrupt that which everyone agreed to, correct?
    So is it in our best interest to accept and indeed desire less than complete freedom, power, only if limited? It's an arguement right, so I have to be either for or against so, No, nothing can corrupt a human being, though we can certainly entertain corruption from within.
    If my integrity has been corrupted, my wholeness, my virtue, in my own eyes, then I have succumbed to some greater force or need from within, even if in response to external forces. Nothing without can corrupt that from within unless I allow it. That makes me or us masters of our existence and as small as this may seem at times, this is a very big thing. Oh yeah, what's really cool is that we, each one of us, ultimately must decide which standards to march behind and possibly at times, that which was unacceptable, is now permissable. Just matbe, switching lines once in a while is what it's about.
  • Jun 26 2013: aj.

    If I were grading papers, I would give you an "A".

    The part I liked the best, besides the jokes, was when you mentioned
    "it may be time for some good old fashioned American isolationism".

    History shows that FDR became President during a period when, we
    the USA, practiced isolationism. Winston Churchill thought he would
    not be able to convince FDR to get into the war. It is too bad he was
    a good salesman. FDR like our current Caesar made campaign promises
    he did not keep. My family lost 5 brothers on one liberty ship that was sunk.

    While it is true that Japan made the sneak attack, and that Germany declared
    war on us first. The truth is that had we not gotten into bed with Churchill,
    we would have saved millions of lives.

    The future we would have today, can be only guessed at.

    Like every poor lawyer will admit. And they are all poor lawyers.
    There are two sides to every argument.

    Every time wages are raised, Prices are raised. Inflation begets more Taxes.
    Everyone loses. Always.

    I cannot agree with your statement that includes --
    "to supplement the lack of money once generated by warfare"

    Warfare does not generate money. It generates borrowing money.
    Banks for 2,000+ years have lent money to monarchs for the financing of their wars.

    I agree that "it would be refreshing to go 20 or more years without any major conflicts".
    Mayhap, we could include minor conflicts?
  • Jun 26 2013: Who is to say? Except those with absolute power, unless they are corrupted which
  • Jun 26 2013: Yes, for beings who believe themselves to be their egos.
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    Jun 25 2013: I have to agree, but I guess thats why our system was created the way it is with elected officials. You don't need to rise to the top. You just need to get voted to the top
  • Jun 25 2013: This is a great topic at this particular time.

    The US Government's walls of secrecy have been in place for a long time.
    I cannot imagine why those NSA, CIA, FBI, HLS Senior Officials haven't been
    called by their Boss to explain why the Whistle Blower's statements haven't been
    investigated for accuracy.

    A noose of Judicial rope has quickly been found and Government vigilantes
    are using, openly, the might of Enforcement to hang another Tattletale Patriot.
    One who claimed to be sick of the scalawags and their dirty deeds.

    The Head man at the FBI has just been replaced. And his replacement is
    beholden to the Boss, Looks bad for the Tattletale.

    The last time, during Clinton's gambit, his buddy was found dead in a city park.
    Suspected suicide, The head of the FBI was replaced about 3 days later.

    Go Figure...
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      aj trip

      • +1
      Jun 26 2013: Frank what do you think about this.... When I was in the Marines they had an interesting way of dealing with thievery by fellow Marines. If you were unlucky enough to have something stolen the brass didn't punish the thief, they punished the victim for providing an opportunity to the thief. My point is, by allowing the Gov to take liberties with our freedoms/rights we are giving our consent to be abused by them. In many ways we deserve whatever we get for not heeding the warnings of our founding fathers. The Marines policy is an acknowledgment of the nature of man, the corrupt nature. It's also a statement in support of personal responsibility.

      To your point about CIA/FBI/NSA bosses not demanding an accuracy check on the statements made by recent whistleblowers, maybe they aren't asking because they already know it's true.
      • Jun 26 2013: aj,
        Hey, thanks a bunch.
        I cannot answer the first part because I was a Air Force Korean Vet many years ago.
        The marines did the fighting and we did the flying, dropping poop on the navy. lol

        The second part is great.
        I had to watch Obama's speech today, but since we oldsters were playing pool
        we kind of ignored the TV. He isn't hard to ignore.

        I've noticed since after Ike was President, that our government has slid into a mindset of
        making "Preemptive Wars" upon other nation's shores, and starting our participation
        with a lie. Usually it is a lie that is hidden behind onion skins -secret, and deadly.
        The administrations don't even bother to ask congress's approval any more. And they
        act like we have no say in the matter at all. After the fact they ask congress to pay the bills.

        We citizens have allowed the 10 or 15 different administrations to get away with
        replacing other nation's governments by force or deceit, So, they took the allowance
        as a license to expand.

        The world is not stupid. We have become the boogie man, replacing communisms
        with our own brand, "The Western Powers".

        Red China is now just plain China in the media. Formosa is alone, and on it's own,
        named Taiwan. Our southern border resembles the Berlin Wall, and our government
        is building barriers as fast as they can. Moving returning troops to border areas
        is just another step in the wrong direction. The Mexican migration is slowing due
        not to a wall, or fence, or armed guards, but because the land of opportunity no
        longer exists.

        North Korea's leader made a tongue-in-cheek statement not very long ago. He said;
        that North Korea would make "Preemptive War" upon the United State's shores. He
        was pulling our leadership's leg, and they knew it. Full circle.

        I suppose the rest of the world is tired of the Bully.
        What is wrong with this picture?
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          Jun 26 2013: Firstly, thank for your service Sir. I love how tradition of ragging on the other branches is still strong with you. haha. The Navy seamen always say, "you know the Marines are a department of the NAVY don't you?" to which I say, "Yes its the MENS department". It's a good one if you say it quick enough haha.

          I remember while in Iraq thinking, I should've went AirForce rather then Marines. But knowing the conditions of the pilots in your fighting days, I'd say you probably had it harder then me on the ground in Iraq. So again thanks from one vet to another.

          I see and understand most of the things you brought up in your last comment. Even now Russia and China are allowing the NSA leaker Snowden to escape capture, a direct slap in the face to the American government. They know there are no consequences anymore. No fear of potential attack by the United States. The image of a berlin wall in our backyard is a sobering thought indeed.

          I will say however, I think troops should be on the southern border. The fence I can do without, but because it is you and I who fund our military's paychecks, I believe we should put them to work in ways that will train them and benefit the country directly. Border patrol along the southern border is very, very, similar to the day to day operations in both Iraq and Afghanistan. It's a beautiful solution in my opinion.

          I guess in the end we had a good run at being top dog, but it may be time for some good old fashioned American isolationism. We'd have to bring back our manufacturing might, and drop minimum wage standards to supplement the lack of money once generated by warfare, but it would be refreshing to go 20 or more years without any major conflicts.

          I think most of the fear surrounding China is unfounded, they do have a repressive government but they don't wage war very often and seem to be genuinely more interested in economic growth then costly warfare. Manufacture+Low wage = peace. Service based economy+high wage=war
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        Jun 26 2013: Hey, they do that in U.S. Marines too (punishing the victim of theft)? They did it in the Soviet Army when I was there in late 80s. Unofficially, of course. I've seen soldiers and officers committing massive thefts (like driving a tanker truck of gasoline away from a guarded fuel station and selling it to local civilians done by an officer with participation of the soldier on guard duty). When a thief was caught, he was openly condemned. If not, he was unofficially praised and celebrated. If a soldier had some of his equipment stolen - yes, he was held responsible for not watching over it for the lack of a better scape goat and the general attitude towards theft.

        How did you like this system in the Marines, by the way? Didn't it strike as unfair?

        I understand, we may have different perspectives on military service. In the U.S. Marines are honored - for a good reason. In the Soviet Union, the service was mandatory. It was called "an honorable duty", but it was, pretty much, 2 years of involuntary servitude.
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        Jun 26 2013: Re: "Even now Russia and China are allowing the NSA leaker Snowden to escape capture, a direct slap in the face to the American government. They know there are no consequences anymore. No fear of potential attack by the United States."

        Is it good or bad? Do Americans need to flex muscles around the world? Putin is no fool. Europe may be an American ally, but most of the natural gas supply to Europe comes from Russia. He sends a strong message to everyone that Russia is not to be pushed around. I respect that.
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        Jun 26 2013: Hello aj trip, thank you for the example about Marine!
        It seems in military everything have to be functional and vigilant. So that rule works.
        I know the society have the same rules but in unfunctional way. It punish the victim in order to punish somebody weak. Civilians couldn`t be so functional and vigilant in every minute as military. I know it because of my study mortial arts. So in civil life politicians should be as an flushers, nobody want to controle but requires them work. But without controle they became as a kings.
        Such a paradox.
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    Jun 25 2013: Well, aj, there are a lot of people in this world with some amount of power. I would think some are corrupt, and many have integrity. I don't think rising to the top necessarily means you will become corrupt. It's conceivable that someone at the top has more temptations.

    You know, aj, thinking a little more, I often think that people don't have power, what has power are ideas. For instance, I'm very effective at getting things accomplished in my city, but it's not because I'm so great, it's because the things I try to get done are righteous, worthy projects. For instance, there are certain spots in my city that collect a lot of litter, and I keep after my city to clean those up, and, sooner or later, they do, but they don't do because I'm so wonderful, or charismatic, or whatever, they do it because it's really a good idea to get the litter picked up. If it weren't a good idea to get the litter picked up, it wouldn't matter how personally wonderful I was, they wouldn't pick it up. Now I'll have to think how this relates to your conversation, actually you've asked very good, deep questions here, I believe they are people who spend their lives trying to answer these questions.

    I suppose a party leader is in business to help people. Let's also remember that government workers are looking for a good life for themselves, they also want to eat well, have nice clothes, live in a nice house, and, to the degree they work and contribute, they deserve those things. I suppose in life one has to find a balance between helping other people and making a good life for oneself, and the balance is a little different for everyone. Maybe corruption is when you become much too oriented towards your own comfort, and don't think of others enough?

    I don't know if one can generalize whether gridlock equals corruption. I think you'd have to look at each politician, what they are contributing to gridlock, and what their motives are.
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    Jun 25 2013: Phrased as an unconditional truism the statement is logically fallacious because it is a sweeping generalization. Intellectually the statement is profoundly unclear because of three undefined terms. Grammatically the statement is not debatable because of the absence of a Direct Object. Therefore, I cannot agree or disagree.
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      Jun 26 2013: Edward, I chose the wording for a reason. It's an incredibly common statement, so I (wrongly) assumed everyone would be able to provide their opinion without trying to pick apart the question. As my fellow Devil Dogs say "There's always one".
      I'm sure there are indeed mistakes in the question itself as you so graciously took the time to point out, but everyone else seems to be able to figure it out somehow. Maybe comprehension isn't your strong suit, or you're too smart for your own good? I bet you detest smiley faces in text format. : )
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        Jun 26 2013: Comprehension of vagueness, ambiguity, and generalization is not my strong suit. No way am I too smart for my own good. As the one person who is not capable of figuring it out I hope you will answer my questions: 1) Absolute power is power with no limits? 2) Absolute corruption is corruption with no limits? 3) Who, or what, is supposedly absolutely corrupted by absolute power? 4) Power is part of many equations such as: Politics; Combat; Law; Social order; Physics; etc. Does the "incredibly common statement" apply in every discipline? 5) Is the statement implying that power always and necessarily corrupts? 6) Could the incredibly common statement be rephrased to state unequivocally what it is actually trying to say? 7) What is your reason for choosing the wording you did? 8) Do you want participants to make several, probably differing from person to person, assumptions? Please consider these questions to be rhetorical. As I already said, I cannot agree or disagree with the statement as you have presented it. I suspect you'll do fine without my opinion. :-D
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          Jun 26 2013: Well Edward if I need to hold your hand through a simple discussion, and prompt you into predictable responses by so narrowly defining the parameters of the question for you that an answer becomes obvious, then it probably won't be a very interesting discussion will it?

          I also think that by posting a question in the debate category, it would be clear I was seeking differences of opinion from many people. But you already new that and made it clear by not answering the question that everyone else so far has.

          If I want sterilized, dull, input from a word Nazi, I'll just ask you directly next time Ed. thanks.
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        Jun 26 2013: RE: "Well Edward. . . " Debates do not have to be couched in ambiguity to be interesting. Requiring clarity and perspecuity, particularly in a debate, is hardly a Nazi dictate. I don't agree that grammatical correctness is "sterilized and dull". Clearly your debate is out of my class. I will move on to try and find one simple enough for me to participate in all by myself without depending on you to hold my hand. By the way, remember to write a Closing Statement when your debate is concluded. It makes your discoveries more accessible for future posts. Thanks!
        • Jun 26 2013: Hi Edward;
          I believe I am in need of your particular skills at my debate My Invented Reality which hopefully be posted tomorrow after admin review. It sounds like you are well versed in technology and physics innovations as well as a fan of logical thinking? If so I really hope you visit my debate and while it is a circular philosophy I'm hoping its not circular logic. BRING THE PAIN!
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      Jun 26 2013: You got it Ed. I look forward to reading other non answers from you to questions I pose in the future. Apparently you won't be able to answer them, but you'll chime in anyway. So thank you in advance for that.
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        Jun 26 2013: I did answer your question. You may recall me writing, " I cannot agree or disagree." You do not agree with my answer but it is an answer. By the way, just for fun, here are the five assumptions I would have to make (as numbered in my reply above) if you put a gun to my head and forced me to make my best guess about your debate question: 1) Not literally limitless power, but a great deal of power. 2) Not literally limitless corruption, just a great deal of corruption. 3) Only the person who has the "absolute" power, NOT the people who are influenced by the exercise of that power. 4) This debate is limited to the political arena. 5) No! "Absolute" power has the potential for being misused resulting in corruption, but it does not ALWAYS AND NECESSARILYcause corruption. Having made those five assumptions I would conclude that the answer to the question, shown in bold font in your post introduction, is "No". There are many instances in human history of very powerful leaders who did not succumb to misuse of their power. Does this give you an idea that the question could have been worded in such a way that zero assumptions were required? For example: "Are powerful leaders ALWAYS corrupted by their power?" Don't forget that Closing Statement aj. Thanks again!
  • Jun 25 2013: Of course it does.
    Humans are not greedy by nature.

    It is only one kind of response that is used when needs are not met or are threatened, usually
    in a system that is unjust and corrupt to begin with.

    It isn't human nature.

    In a just system, there is no reason to be greedy, deceitful and so on.
    In a just system, humans behave much differently than they do in a corrupt one.
    Virtually all crime would disappear.
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      Jun 26 2013: Hi Random there‘s corruption in every goverments around the globe and a lot of people still choose to excise integrity when in a unjust system. Have we had a just system throughout human history?what is a just system?
      • Jun 26 2013: Hi Amily.
        A just system is a system in which there is no reason or cause to be corrupt.
        Just take the idea of someone labeled as having a criminal mind.
        To me, that is misleading because when and if you have a system in which there are no reasons
        for committing crimes, and then someone does commit a crime, you may have some basis for saying that person has a criminal mind.
        A just system is a real possibility but people have to learn to let go of the paradigm they have had embedded in their psyche. They need to do that first before they will be able to truly imagine and maybe create a new, better and just system. An unjust system cannot be made just. Replace it.

        Yes there is corruption in every government and in almost all agencies and institutions around the globe. Why? Because the systems are themselves founded on corruption. That is how they survive.
        Thus, anyone who wishes to become very successful in such a system must become corrupt to do so.

        We can blame people but it is the system that is ultimately corrupt, by default.
        Take money. Let me give you at least seven needs of a monetary system. Needs a monetary system needs to survive.
        Crime, greed, inequality, slavery, poverty, war and death.
        Are these your kinds of needs? They aren't mine and to expect those who have power, mostly gotten by being corrupted, to give it up, is foolish. So, when you say, "a lot of people still choose to excise integrity when in a unjust system," that is true but it isn't true of those in power, those in government, those who control the money, the weapons, the media and so on.

        If you think all we need is for those people to be ethical and honest and act with integrity, you would be fooling yourself, as many do today. They never will because the power, greed, crime, inequality and the advantages of creating those for the benefit of the few, wins out, in an unjust system.

        I don't care for an unjust system, nor do I intend on acquiescing to it, again, as most do or have already.
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          Jun 27 2013: Hi Random. Thank you for clarification.
          Any official in government who takes bribes will not be excused, justifying himself/herself by blaming the unjust system that has led to the corruption behavior. Any system that neglect personal reponsibilty for one's behavior is never a just system.

          A just system is created by people.What seems to be a just system to A may not seem to B.What seems to be a just system to the majority may not seem as the same to the minority.There's no absolute.But...That dosent mean we cant improve the corruption by a better system.

          Just take the idea of someone labeled as having a criminal mind.
          To me, that is misleading because when and if you have a system in which there are no reasons for committing crimes, and then someone does commit a crime, you may have some basis for saying that person has a criminal mind.

          No I dont judge if a person has a criminal mind or not . Until that very act is done and happens to be "criminal" according to defination come up with people,it is crime according to law.Again,do i judge him/her then as having a criminal mind?Thats just not the point.

          So, when you say, "a lot of people still choose to excise integrity when in a unjust system," that is true but it isn't true of those in power, those in government, those who control the money, the weapons, the media and so on.

          I dont deny there are systems that make it even harder for people than other systems and after all think about the choices they have.

          If you think all we need is for those people to be ethical and honest and act with integrity, you would be fooling yourself, as many do today.

          No Im not a diciple of Conficius who trys to manage people's behavior by preaching and educationg morals.

          They never will because the power, greed, crime, inequality and the advantages of creating those for the benefit of the few, wins out, in an unjust system.

          Does the unjust system build itself up for the benifit of the few?
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    Jun 25 2013: Things seems as an absolute power to us seems limited to people who gained it. They has two opposite trials - a feeling to have an absolute power for a whil and then they frequently falls to fear to lost it because such "acsolute" is conditional and all conditions must be payed. It`s one of the reason to be corrupted - conditional power needs to satisfy conditions and be protected.
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    Jun 25 2013: Power doesnt corrupt nor dose it" Force "or "Make" you do anything.It all begins with whats within and power is an extrinsic condition under which human greed can be excised.

    Furthermore, if the party or leader attains power but doesn't use it in a way that helps the most people possible, does that constitute corruption in your mind?

    It depends on whether its done so intentionally or not cuz leaders might just as well make mistakes(but this cant be used as a jusitfication...balance of the two ,you know) or manage in a ineffective way. What matters is how they gonna deal with that. Or they can be manipulative and abuse the power. Then thats corruption to me.
  • Jun 25 2013: I have come to believe that power is not an inherently evil thing.

    It comes in many different forms; strength is power, fame is power, money is power, trust is power. All power is, is the ability to change things. Willpower is the power to change your mind, even to the extent of changing your body. Charisma is the power to sway others with personality. Position is power given to an individual by a group, by virtue of being more being more qualified to use it.

    Power is a form of change, and change is natural.

    I think that power does corrupt, but not necessarily in the manner of "evil". People use power to further their own purposes. Even if power is used in an altruistic way, it still serves the user’s purpose. For example, if the user funds a charity that provides for abused children, they are still furthering their purpose. Their purpose could be to be a better person, to provide for those less fortunate, or to alleviate some personal guilt. Regardless of intent, they are furthering their chosen purpose. To do otherwise so would be rather silly. No one with sanity uses power to further ends they disagree with.

    I figure that what we call corruption is the use of power to further any purpose that we don’t personally support.
    In that case it is inevitable that power corrupts. No matter what purpose is chosen, someone, somewhere, will believe that the power could’ve been better used elsewhere. Using this definition, corruption becomes a more relative term.

    To exemplify this, consider: What is the "way" that helps the most people possible? If you believe strongly enough that it is that of your chosen party, or that the opposing party is most certainly not it, are you corrupted when you fight for that cause? We don't know who is right (otherwise there wouldn't be multiple parties). Consequentially, we have no moral high- or low- ground. Without right and wrong, the general definition of corruption simply doesn't work.
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    Jun 24 2013: Concerning the literary sense: if someone has an Absolute power, he/she becames as a god. Who could corrupt god?
    So the power could corrupt in case it is not absolute. Because if a person wants and absolute power he/she realize how limited power he has and how he depends from anothers. Also ambitious plans turns to overcome limits so others becomes a denger...

    I suppose real absolute power never corrupt. But limited power to the person with unlimited ambitions and desires could make corruption.
    • Jun 25 2013: I am not sure that absolute power doesn't exist in modern era, except God. I think that Kim Jun Eun has absolute power within his country of North Korea. Of course he is corrupt, but more evidently with the assistance by his underlings.
      However, in history, when most countries had kings or emperors, there are some who qualified as "in a way that helps most of the people possible" (i.e. most in number of people). But of course, there was no way that s/he could control the court officials to commit corruptions using his/her name. Still, one may say that there were relatively good kings and bad kings.
      In modern democracies, the two-party gridlock has been infected by BOTH CORRUPTION AND INCOMPETENCE.
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    Jun 24 2013: when you say "in a way that helps the most people possible," how are you conceiving that? Because what if you could help 100 people a little bit each, or help two people a lot each, perhaps the two people have terminal cancer. It's not just a simple case of numbers, is it?
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      aj trip

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      Jun 25 2013: I mean helping everyone possible, not just helping a cancer patient or two. When this politician leaves office he'd have exhausted all his resources and energy helping his people. It's not about numbers, it's about intent. For example, a bad investment on a leaders part isn't corruption in the absence of incompetence. But crony capitalism even where the investment pays off is corruption in every case.
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    Jun 24 2013: What is the psychology of a slave owner, it doesn't seem very fun to own a slave.
    • Jun 25 2013: what is the so called:psychology of a slove owner?I have no idea it is fun or not:)
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        Jun 25 2013: Well, can you try to think about it in your imagination, imagine yourself owning another human being as your slave, how would that feel to you?
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      Jun 24 2013: Here are just a few (trivial) responses for you . . .

      "As it applies to man it definitely appears that once a person or group has a lot of power it becomes corrupt and will abuse that power."

      - I have no real issue w/this comment, except that if this were universally true, we would have outlawed Billionaires decades ago. Admittedly, if you have enough money/power, you can afford to indulge your darker impulses in way that most of the rest of us would find offensive. In the third world, I have been told, you can almost universally get someone 'bumped off' for a few hundred or a few thousand Euros, depending upon the local economy. So I ask, could a Billionaire in the U.S.A. commit murder and escape prison? Maybe, but I doubt it. More likely they could easily father multiple children out of wedlock; engage hundreds of lawyers (costing millions of Euros) to harass or abuse someone they merely dislike. And/or, they could (and do) ruin the lives of millions of working families by exporting their jobs overseas. They then accept the congratulations of their peers for their exceptionally GOOD business practices. They also escape the condemnation of politicians & society-at-large (the media) by either preserving their anonymity or hiring a really good PR firm to manage the fallout in the local press. The politicians they just buy off with big political contributions.

      Money IS power. When someone who HAS sufficient power & money, then chooses to keep you poor, I find that they generally can. At the same time, if they choose to make you relatively RICH (compared to your former or current status) they can do that too! They just have to perceive an advantage for themselves in doing so.

      John Grisham has written several novels w/this last as a premise. His fictional narratives are quite plausible. Where the Tobacco Companies are concerned Grisham's narratives seem not only plausible but outright damning.
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          Jun 24 2013: I am a big fan of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. That outfit has saved more than a million lives of children who otherwise would have died for lack of inoculation/vaccination. In much of the hacker community (those unskilled enough to get hired by Microsoft) they called Bill "The Evil One!" Many programmers @IBM, Sun, Oracle, Digital, Xerox, etc. felt exactly the same way.

          Cloud computing may well put Microsoft into a measured decline/downsize. PC software isn't as important as it once was. Some Cloud providers offer software already embedded in the Cloud for business to take advantage of. For a small monthly fee you get access to software formerly available only to major banks and super-big corporations & costing millions. The Motley Fool has built a major add campaign for itself on just that assertion.
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          aj trip

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          Jun 25 2013: And LaMar the same question for you.
          Sure a billionaire may have no desire to use the money to seek power, or to do harm with it, but isn't inaction where one has the ability to help, the same as outright corruption?
        • Jun 25 2013: Juan, Gates was known for and did practice many illegal business dealings, some were investigated by the senate, and they found him using his wealth and position to illegally get rid of any competition. No matter how you feel about the man now, nor no matter what he tries to do to feel better about himself, and thus the perception of others, it's always good to know where they have come from. And remember a leopard doesn't change it's spots.
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        Jun 25 2013: So two questions for you Juan. First, if the owner of a company chooses to move his factory overseas is that corruption? Doesn't a person who owns a business have the right to move their jobs wherever they'd like without moral consequence? Wouldn't it be the government's fault for not providing a business friendly environment where they could afford to stay?

        And secondly, Bill Gates has saved many lives through his foundation but doesn't someone with that amount of money have the obligation to do more? He could literally afford to feed every starving family in the world if he wanted to.

        I'm not picking sides on either question, just asking for conversation's sake.
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          Jun 25 2013: Here is a video for you about a very different concept of what a business really is: I'm not from India. I know about the slave labor & deplorable working conditions there. I only suggest that this is a very different model of a business. Before a TED audience, it looks ideal. I'm looking for more TED videos on the subject, here.

          Here on my desk there is paper, pencils, & lots of things that I own. I can use them as I feel. I can toss them away as I choose. But people are not like those object I own. There was once a sense of responsibility in these things & we are losing that.

          Many once believed that the owner of the business is like the father of a family. He/She is not free close a factory & move the jobs elsewhere. Everyone is expected to work together. Everyone is expected to find a way for things to work out. Caring for one another is just part of the social contract. They focus on that in Japan.

          When all the veterans came home from WWII, they took the same sense of unity that they had learned together on the battlefield and made it work here in the U.S.A. The very idea that a business owner would put 200 of his neighbors (or even 20 employees) out of a job by moving a plant was unthinkable. It wasn't "American."

          Today, a major corporation will close a plant, put 200,000 people on public assistance & not blink an eye or shed a tear. As long as the stockholders are happy! Nobody cares!

          The reason that Communism never worked is simple. Nobody cares! They took a society where "nobody cares" & tried to make it look like someone cared by imposing a "worker's paradise." That went nowhere. When nobody cares; nobody cares!

          You say: ". . . isn't inaction where one has the ability to help, the same as outright corruption?" & Also: " . . . if the owner of a company chooses to move his factory overseas is that corruption?" Who cares? Corruption is a legal crime. This is not the same.
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          Jun 25 2013: I want to go back to a Republican tax system that was instituted under a Republican President. Dwight D. Eisenhower was a Republican. The top tax rate for the wealthiest Americans was 52%.

          A guy like Bill Gates or Warren Buffett can afford to pay that high rate on income. After they pay that, they will still be the richest guy(s) on earth! They can afford it. And it makes things look 'fair' to regular guys like me.

          All That "trickle down" business didn't work.
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          Jun 26 2013: Juan I don't think Microsoft or apple is a good example of trickledown economics not working. Think of the world wide revolution that is the internet age, and who spearheaded that revolution. The amount of jobs and wealth created by Microsoft alone is staggering. A whole new industry with a new workforce and innovation that's off the scale.

          Sure Bill could afford to pay a higher tax rate, but why should he HAVE to pay a higher rate then the guy who doesn't contribute to society in ways other then consuming goods for example?

          One might argue that the tax rate should be higher for those who take the most government handouts. One might conclude that that's insane, and that a lower tax rate is what the poor need to get a hand up. I tend to think a flat tax on all goods and services is the fairest way to bleed all of us of our money.
        • Jun 27 2013: You are speaking of the very rare corporation; ever hear of corporate welfare? Most successful corporations are successful primarily due to tax evasion, government subsidies, off-shoring etc. which is simply and largely intended to evade paying US taxes.
          To answer original question: I believe that absolute power sdoes tend to corrupt absolutely. There are exemptions but they are few and very far between. Selfishness is a basic human instinct for survival and 'democracy' was invented as a means of curbing ultimate power but its one negative is that the original moral foundation, eventually gets replaced by greedy, selfish corruption.
        • Jun 28 2013: LaMar and the rest of you conversationalists....
          You are having a great time talking about Bill Gates and his deeds.
          Good and Bad.

          I watch carefully TED, the NY Times, the Guardian, and Al Jazeera.
          But I never find anyone who admits that the Problems of corruption
          stem from Banking and Corporate Structures, within our society's
          System of Commerce.

          Consider this as a first step -- Elimination of Limited Liability Laws.
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    Jun 24 2013: Nothing to disagree with evidences we have so far
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      Jun 24 2013: You might not think so once others find this page. Either that or they respond to what is already here!