Social scientists have never understood why some countries are more corrupt than others. But the first study that links corruption with wealth could help change that.
The question then becomes whether wealth, or the lack thereof, is a cause of corruption or wealth is caused by a lack of corruption. It makes sense in my mind that a lack of corruption leads to increased potential to make wealth because the appropriate use of resources (ie, using resources for their stated purposes) and the honesty that underlies that point could, in my view, make for more wealth than the dishonest methods and inappropriate usage of public funds would. We could hypothetically run simulations to test which one is the case, similar to the Sugarscape experiments. On the other hand, a lack of resources may incentivize those who don’t have much to take more from the public resources and use them for private uses (ie, what I call the Jean Valjean effect). More experimentation should be done to tease this out. Perhaps by knowing what they’re giving up by having corruption, the officials will be more circumspect about how they live off and take from the public till.
The principles of free trade must also be balanced with the insurance of well-being within the given society. Jobs will be lost as a result of trade and since the free market will not likely provide opportunities for retraining, it would behoove the government to ensure effective training programs to help people transition to new jobs that are more valuable in the context of the given global market economy. This must also be done while ensuring that wages are not left to stagnate for the sake of businesses’ profits or executive compensation, which will ultimately cheapen the any bargain from the perspective of human society and prevent meaningful growth, health, and improved well-being from manifesting in the given society. With these two caveats in mind, free trade, indeed, does ensure a certain degree of improved quality of life by making goods cheaper to the general public. However, without jobs, there will be no room for people to afford the cheaper goods and without the insurance of fair wages, all of the benefits will go to the top executives and shareholders at the expense of the general public that the deals were intended to help. There is also the issue of national defense which has to be considered when making calculations in trade deals, as a loss of meaningful manufacturing capacity can make a country by default less sovereign and able to protect itself from those who have manufacturing capacity. The societies in question will have to balance these points when making trade deals that truly benefit everyone in their given societies. Otherwise, it’s just a transference of wealth from the many to the few with no room for advancement and improvement for the many, along with a potentially weakened strategic position in the context of an overall global system.
The American governments at all levels and in all places are going to have to come to terms with a few things. The first set of things are their own anti-social, repressive, oppressive, and anti-democratic tactics and methods and policies that they have enacted towards the general public. The American people cannot and will not voluntarily be marched into a neo-feudal serfdom without some form of resistance springing forth. Worse still, the people who will be behind such a resistance will also be the least qualified, least able, and least willing to establish a functional and effective new order from the ashes of the old. The second set are the anti-social, anti-progress, moronic, baboon-like group of radical right wing personalities and people whose anti-social, anti-progress, and anti-democratic tactics are what have brought us to the point where one is dead at NSA headquarters. These are the fat cat millionaires and radical right wingers who are sitting in our Congressional delegations, posing as bankers and businesspeople, making a mockery of the American spirit and the nature of Americans throughout all levels of society. We can either be cleansed of these people by ignoring them, voting against them, and by defending ourselves with lethal force if necessary. Or we can continue to sit around and do nothing while they dismantle our entire society and environment in the name of profit, control, and some abstract notion of liberty that they’ve never questioned or seriously examined.
I’ve always suggested that we turn our attention towards ridding our human societies of these conservative elements and the more pragmatic economic elite who fund them. The shooting at the NSA should be taken as a wake-up call for all Americans to unite against the growing right wing despotism that is threatening to erode our nation’s core integrity and to disband the dysfunctional and ineffective establishment “left” in favor of a new progressive state in America that relies on science, evidence, and the well-being of all people, not just the rich, as the benchmarks for good policy and good policy-making. Financial wealth for wealth’s sake should not be the end all of a society’s goal, nor should we condone or accept those who can’t get that through their heads.
A government and its members are never self-sustaining entities. A government and their members rely on the legitimacy, acceptance, and authority that is granted to them. These are things which can be revoked with disastrous consequences to follow for all people, including for the governments’ members, when and if they are revoked. Governments can fail; their existence is not guaranteed. Best to continue working with the general public in a dialogue for the sake of improving the quality of life for people rather than act as if there are no consequences for your actions. The sooner our governments in the United States and throughout human society get this through their heads, the sooner we’ll all be better off. We need to eliminate the right wing by allowing them to eliminate themselves, and the world will be that much closer to being reasonably settled, even though it will never truly be settled in the long term or short term. This will never be a utopian world; some problems will continue, old ones fade away, and new ones will rise. What we can change is how we live, interact with, and respond to the changes and common reality, first, by acknowledging that there is a common reality where all opinions, hypotheses, and perceptions are not equal and should not be given an equal light if they prove to be unfounded and without evidence to support them. The second thing we need to do is learn about this universe as thouroughly, deliberately, and accurately, specifically with regards to ourselves and to our own place within it relative to all other things on the individual and collective level. The third thing is to apply the lessons in our daily lives, policies, laws, programs, and actions, such that we can live healthier, happier, and more sustainable lives as individuals within the context of our environment and our societies. We can follow these three steps and all the subsequent steps and implications, or we can all collapse as a civilization and ruin ourselves and the world around us in the name of senseless greed and baseless ideology. These are the options. What side will you be on?
Think about it.
We will not have an global governmental system of any sorts until we first recognize the communal nature of all human societies and respect the sovereign right of all peoples to self-determine and make their decisions on a national, regional, and global level. There can be no central leader, no cabal of powerful nations or people to rule over all. Such a model is impractical and infeasible, and will likely be undermined in time by the many smaller nations, or else, fall prey to its own stupidity and purity of thought and reasoning. The first practical step to creating a global civil society that has legitimacy on the bottom levels of human society would be to eliminate the veto power of the 5 Permanent UN Security Council Members. The effect of this would be that all nations would have a say in whether to intervene in a given area, with defacto power and influence being turned over to the regional, national, or intra-national levels, such that the locals can have ultimate control and say over what happens to them in their own territory. We all have a stake on this planet to mediate disputes in such a way that they that it works for the people who are in conflict and to resolve common problems for all of humanity, such as resource consumption and environmental impact. You cannot have a centralized, singular, and conscientiously homogenous body in charge of the diverse planet. Rather, the world must be regarded as a community of peoples, not unlike neighborhoods within a city or clusters of people in an apartment building, with reasoned respect given for all person’s privacy with collective action being taken only in instances of severe violations of common human dignity and well-being. Corporate private interests must be subsumed for the sake of the collective well-being and, in that check to personal ambition and prowess, the individual is better able to survive and be well on this planet.
So, my suggestion would be to eliminate the veto power of the Permanent UN Security Council Members and for the great nations of the world to scale back their meddling operations to recognize the sovereignty and dignity of each human being, at the absolute expense of corporate and financial interests, for the relative gains to having those supreme egos checked. This is my conclusion based on my observations of history, human psychology, and sociology. We cannot continue to afford to bully or act unitarily and capriciously against our own perceived threats, nor can we counter popular resistance in its home territory. This is my general prescription for logic in International Relations, not firmly in any of the schools of thought. This is a new synthesis based on the old schools and at least my own observations and interpretations of facts. Test it, shape it, mold it. In the end, it is always going to be power backed up by kindness and legitimacy that wins, rather than power backed up by pure force alone. As it is on the personal level, so as it is on the collective.