I'm using the talk page since I don't know how to fit my comment into the article page.
If you consider some of the worst decisions made both in the private and the public sector, a key factor is often not corruption but misinformation. We have a tendency to consider experts those who manage to benefit most from existing inefficiencies: the major record labels, the IP lawyers, the monopolistic software vendors, the pharmaceutical companies. We accept that intellectual property lawyers (and maybe a few economists) are experts on innovation on creativity (see any government report on IPR). We create laws fundamentally based on the Coase theorem (still popular in law & economics) which is bound to lead to IPR excesses. We assume that all subjects areas of copyright or patents are similar enough to be governed by the same rules, which is a wild phantasy of lawyers and economists who never met the real world. We are used to the notion that copyrights and patents are property, not privileges, and that their legal power is a measure of free markets, not of government interventions. Silent, seemingly innocuous assumptions may do a lot more damage than corruption. Eesh 04:55, 30 June 2007 (PDT)
A partial response to "Flaws in the General Idea"
First, I don't think the study here should be limited to elected officials and the role of money in their decisions. Sure, that's a huge and interesting subject, but I take Lessig's intro in re: corruption versus influence as raising the many more subtle ways that power plays in public decisions. My own work is primarily at the local and state level, and perhaps there, in contrast to federal agencies and Congress, it's possible to see how everyday processes get structured over time by subtle and not-so-subtle forces to limit inquiry, channel analysis, and in general to frame public decision making in ways that preserve existing power relationships. All while keeping, to the maximum extent possible, a veneer of rationality and objectivity. THis happens as much at staff levels in agencies as at appointee levels, or in elected officials. Second, while lobbyists play roles in this structuring and exerting of everyday pressure on public systems, the lobbyists' roles seem to me to be mostly monitoring and formal communications. This is just the tip of the iceberg. One reason I like Flyvbjerg's work is that it tries to get a look at the rest of the iceberg. I assume that is also the goal of this wiki, to get down below the level of overt influence peddling in markets like campaign finances.
International comparative study
I've posted a very short (and probably incomplete) synopsis of how the Dutch system handles corruption. I've filed it under Politicians: Please research. It might be good to make a new heading or even a new page for an international comparative study on the subject of corruption. How do different developed countries handle corruption? As Larry already noted in his intro, it's not really useful to be looking at blatant corruption (in Kenya, for example). I hope people from different countries can elaborate on their own legal system. - Maarten
I added Robert Proctor to the list. I hope nobody minds. I thought that the Tobacco industry's use of public relations was one of the first examples of industrial information warfare. It is also instructive in that 1. The court was outraged by the nature of the behaviour and 2. The office that was created for the purpose of seeding doubt lives on as the Competitive Enterprise Institute.
One of the really nice things is that you can search the archives and find interesting things. Proctor organized a symposium called "Manufacturing Scientific Ignorance" that was presented at the AAAS meeting in San Francisco last February.
I spent 3 weeks reading 3 books on or by Chomsky to get a feeling for him. I have provided a brief introduction to him and his most significant quote on the main "Corruption" page, but it was neccesary to use different formatting to provide a link to a new page for the details. The new page provides as much depth as anyone is likely to want before diving into Chomsky's works. Docduke 12:23, 12 September 2007 (PDT)
A huge indicator of corruption, and what to do about it
Illegal immigration is a huge indicator of political corruption: we wouldn't have millions of illegal aliens here if our politicians had enforced the laws. The major reason they haven't enforced the laws is because they're in effect being paid off by those who profit from illegal activity or they see some benefit to themselves or their party.
And, some government agencies are seeking to profit or help others profit from illegal immigration, such as the FDIC and the Federal Reserve. Of course, those who profit from illegal activity and their enablers usually seek to call those who oppose illegal immigration bigots and the like, so I can understand how those who are afraid of being called names might want to ignore the issue. However, if they can get past that and try to do something about this issue that would go a long way towards reducing political corruption.
A very effective way to do something about this issue would be to go to campaign appearances by the presidential candidates and ask them difficult questions designed to reveal the many flaws in their policies and past statements and actions. Then, upload and promote the responses. This will also help deal with media corruption: they refuse to deal with this issue in an even-handed way and continually serve the interests of those who profit from illegal activity.
a project you might want to check out
I started a project about 2 years ago which may be of interest to you.
My main goal at the time was to help untangle complicated issues -- e.g. how can it be that Group A is utterly convinced that something is good and right, while Group B thinks it's horrible? The arguments get complicated quickly, and branch off into sub-arguments, each of which really needs substantial attention paid to it and which may depend on the resolution of further sub-sub-arguments -- but in actual real-world discussions, communicating with the (mostly) linear medium of speech, the sub-points end up either getting short shrift or (worse) diverting the conversation into a side-topic.
The wiki, however, was invented to solve (more or less) this exact problem. Pages can be arbitrarily created in order to keep discussion of each issue or sub-issue on topic; if a discussion relates to how two particular items interact, a separate page can be opened up for that as well. This has a similar effect on understanding of issues that the invention of writing had on history -- we no longer need forget most of what we've learned. As the data and arguments (valid and fallacious) relating to each issue are documented, we accumulate a more thorough understanding of that issue, including all the misunderstandings and dead-ends which have led to disagreements and real-world problems with it. All the understanding thus accumulated is then available to anyone who joins the discussion at any later time. Particular sub-issues may play a part in more than one higher-level issue, so again duplication is avoided, and the understanding of each of those sub-issues gets the benefit of being analyzed from within multiple contexts.
Outside enthusiasm about this project has been rather limited, though; if anyone has any ideas about how better to capture people's imaginations, I'd be interested in hearing more.
In any case, I see this approach as a major tool in overcoming bad government in general -- not just bad decisions caused by influence of those with selfish agendas, but even bad decisions made with the best of intentions. Please let me know if there's any way I might be of assistance in your efforts towards ending corruption. --Woozle 15:40, 1 November 2007 (PDT)
What about electoral choice?
In Ontario, we had in October 2007, a referendum on electoral reform & proportional representation. It gave me alot of thought on how the lack of choice in the US - democrat vs republican - doesn't leave much room for healthy competition and improve the standards of political integrity.
Could we find possible root causes in the corporate design?
Let me put an argument before the question, starting with principles offered by Corporation 2020:
New Principles for Corporate Design
- The purpose of the corporation is to harness private interests to serve the public interest.
- Corporations shall accrue fair returns for shareholders, but not at the expense of the legitimate interests of other stakeholders.
- Corporations shall operate sustainably, meeting the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs.
- Corporations shall distribute their wealth equitably among those who contribute to wealth creation.
- Corporations shall be governed in a manner that is participatory, transparent, ethical, and accountable.
- Corporations shall not infringe on the right of natural persons to govern themselves, nor infringe on other universal human rights.
For information on the development and context of these principles,www.corporation2020.org
Where should we look for root causes?
Corporate purpose, corporate design, the monetary system, or in quite another direction?
At this time, I have listened to about half of Prof. Lessig's alpha lecture. (Thank you for the content and the style). He makes it clear it takes "2 - 2 - Tango". I see similarities in purpose / perpetrator on the individual side, and in (system) design / co-responsible persons on the community side. Marjorie Kelly points out the corporate role and its responsibility in The Divine Right of Capital. Right on the money IMHO is Bernard A. Lietaer's The Future of Money. See you latr, CoCreatr 05:47, 24 January 2008 (PST)
May be answering my own question here...
Looking for root causes, I ran into following yesterday, a concept new to me, "3D Networking". I wish to offer a few key quotes here.
Breaking the cycle of conflict and scarcity will require understanding how each of us can contribute to the function of the whole system. The understanding comes from changing our point of view from that in which objects compete for space to a point of view where we can see how each thing is connected to all other things. There are three dimensions to Networking. In the first dimension, we all search out those connections necessary to our individual wellbeing. When we become involved with an organization, we search out those connections necessary for the organization's continued existence. When we look at things from three dimensions we come to understand our essential unity. This is not about good and evil or faith based belief. It is about the flow of value through the whole system and we need to develop a new vocabulary to talk about changing the set of connections (bridges, relationships, bonds) that constitute the reality in which we live.
- Source: http://www.aboutus.org/3DN_Introduction Creative commons licensed material, retrieved 2008-04-24
There was more. The following strongly resonated with me and said, "share it with Corporation 2020". There you are.
...we came to realize that the market could not solve all our problems. The market is wonderful for what it does – a spur to innovation – producing better and better goods and services – more and more efficiently. But the market did not provide a place for everyone to fit. When there was more of us than the market needed we were laid off – the market did not value clean air and clean water and the diversity of ecosystems. Anything that is abundant has no value to the market. Then we came to realize. If people are abundant in the eyes of the market does that mean we have nothing to contribute? And if clean air and water and plants and animals, fish and fungi are abundant does that mean that they have nothing to contribute? What else would we like to be abundant? What if food, clothing, shelter, education and health care were abundant? Would they then have no value? Then we came to realize. If we cannot rely on the market for those things we want in abundance, we can create new ways of doing things for those that do not fit in the market. We can design a way to recognize the value in people and creatures that the market does not value. We can find a way for those people and creatures to contribute their gifts to the flow of value and receive value in return. And we called out to government to help us find the way – and government said, “We are not elected to interfere with business.” And we called out to the captains of industry to help us find a way – and industry said, “Our only mission is to make a profit.” And we called out to the foundations and the universities that they support to help us find a way – and academia said, “We do science and education – we do not design the world”. And we came to realize that we would have to find the way ourselves.
- Source: http://www.aboutus.org/USF_Understanding Creative commons licensed material, retrieved 2008-04-24
CoCreatr 05:21, 24 April 2008 (PDT)