Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Monday, April 30, 2012

More on the normality of corruption

Economists, psychologists, political scientists, anthropologists, and even historians offer explanations for pervasive corruption in Mexico and elsewhere. Here are some of them.  

Even as It Hurts Mexican Economy, Bribery Is Taken in Stride
Every now and then, the health department shows up at José Luis García’s food store in an affluent neighborhood here. Mr. García immediately reaches for his wallet.
“They first say there is some fine and then they say, ‘We can fix this another way,’ ” said Mr. García, who typically pays $50 to $100 to make the inspectors go away.
It is an article of faith here that the fastest way to resolve difficulties with a health inspector, traffic police officer or nettlesome ministry functionary is to pay a sum under the table.
A baroque bureaucracy, something economists have long warned slows the potential for growth here, and low pay for public servants leads to peso-greased shortcuts for the simplest transactions…
Fiscal watchdogs chafe at the way bribery and other forms of corruption are taken in stride here. Studies have found it costs the economy upward of $114 billion — 10 percent of its gross domestic product — and dampens potential investment.
The Mexican chapter of Transparency International said corruption over all was on the rise in Mexico and last year ranked it 100 out of 183 countries in its perception of corruption index
[P]romised reforms in Mexico never seem to take root, with a justice system rife with impunity and botched and delayed investigations. On top of the business-related bribes are the drug-related ones, in which members of organized crime groups buy off police officers or politicians to look the other way.
“We have good laws,” Luis Carlos Ugalde, a Mexican political scientist, wrote in Nexos magazine last year, in a lengthy dissection of corruption in Mexico and impediments to cleaning it up. “But they do not have an effect on the real world of corruption.”…

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