Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Corruption and Transparency

While visiting my home in Asheville last year, I was shocked by the comments of one Friend, whose husband regularly travels to Haiti with medical missions.

"It is so corrupt there" she said "Even to bring in medical missionaries, you have to pay so many bribes."

My shock was not that they had to pay bribes, but that she did not perceive that the bribers themselves were the corrupting influence.

The "developing world" is constantly subject to scrutiny from international organizations, like a patient in intensive care.

The NGO Transparency International issues an annual survey on the perceptions of corruption, defined as :the abuse of entrusted power for private gain.

Last year, Haiti came in last out of 163 nations with a score of 1.8 (out of 10). It moved up perceptibly this year, to third from the bottom but (alas) not because it had become less corrupt, with a score of 1.5, but that other nations (Iraq, Mynamar, and Somalia) on the expanded list of 177 had fallen even lower.

The Dominican Republic held is place at 99th but improved its score from 2.8 to 3.0.

Lest my American readers begin to superior ( a grave national flaw, I fear), the United States is only ranked at 20th, with a score of 7.3 in 2006, and 7.2 in 2007. It fell well below its northern neighbor, Canada which rose from 14th to 9th with scores of 8.5 and 8.7

Denmark, Finland, and New Zealand all tied for first place.

More shameful is the list of bribe payers from the "developed" nations. With shock and chagrin, I note that Canada ranks even higher than the US on this list.

Some days, it is hard to hold on to optimism.

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