Friday, June 8, 2012

Corruption behind Europe's economic woes

This is something that should not surprise at all those with at least a critical view of Capitalism: if greed is good, as Reagan famously stated, then ethics is an obstacle for success... for individual success, of course, because collective, social success depends heavily on good ethics and lack of corruption. And any private success ultimately relies largely on collective well-being.

The latest report of Transparency International is not too optimist for Europe:

Three-fourths of Europeans consider corruption a growing problem in their societies. And gaps in governance continue to plague European countries’ attempts to pull the region out of its ongoing economic crisis.

Some highlights:
  • Lobbies are not regulated at all or just symbolically in most states (exceptions: Lithuania, Poland, Slovenia).
  • Members of Parliaments have no codes of conduct in most states (exceptions: France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Britain).
  • Access to public information is very difficult in practice in spite of the laws (exceptions: Poland, Finland, Greece, Portugal and Slovakia). In the extreme case of Spain there's not even any law granting access to public information at all.
  • Political parties are seen as widely corrupt by:
    • >80%: Greece, Romania, Spain, Italy and Ireland
    • 60-80%: Lithuania, Slovenia, Portugal, Bulgaria, Britain, Latvia and Hungary
    • 40-60%: Czechia, Germany, France, Finland and Poland
    • 20-40%: Switzerland, Norway and the Netherlands
    • <20%: Denmark
  • Sweden and Switzerland stand the most at risk of political manipulation by corporate agents because they lack any regulation on political party financing, however many other states allow unlimited individual donations to political parties, although these must be disclosed (Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Norway and Slovakia).
  • While most states have strong whistleblower protection laws, in practice only a few of them actually enforce them: Norway, Britain and, to some extent, Switzerland. There are some states where whistleblowers have no protection at all, even in legal form (Bulgaria, Finland, Italy, Lithuania, Slovakia and Spain).

In brief: business and mafias do as they want. We know it and we have no power to subdue this growing corruption by means of lobbies.

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