How Corrupt is the United States?

According to a recent study, the United States has more public sector corruption than do many other developed economies. More precisely, Transparency International reports that corruption perceptions are higher for the United States than for 21 other countries. Those nations perceived to be less-corrupt are:

  • Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom;
  • The Nordics: Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden;
  • Austria, Germany, Luxembourg, Netherlands, and Switzerland;
  • Hong Kong, Japan, and Singapore;
  • Barbados and Chile; and
  • Qatar.

A more positive spin would be that the United States is viewed as less corrupt than 155 other nations in the study. But many of those other nations are much poorer. For benchmarking purposes, it makes sense to compare the United States to other developed economies. The following chart thus shows the Transparency International measure (in which higher numbers represent less corruption) for all the members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development:

The United States ties with Belgium as the 18th least corrupt member of the OECD.

These findings gibe with what several friends in the international investment community have told me. In their view the United States has slipped in its commitment to the rule of law. At the margin, that makes places like New Zealand, Australia, and the Nordics more attractive places to invest.

About the Transparency International numbers: TI creates its Corruption Perceptions Index by aggregating 13 corruption surveys performed by other organizations (e.g., the World Bank and the Economist Intelligence Unit). As The Economist notes, the TI methodology raises some questions. But it’s still an interesting snapshot of corruption perceptions in the world.

11 thoughts on “How Corrupt is the United States?”

  1. “In [friends’] view the United States has slipped in its commitment to the rule of law.”

    Pretty damning. In my view, much of this terrible slippage has come from none other than the SCOTUS, in actions such as assigning rights to corporations as if they were Constitutional persons, when in fact corporations exist only as creations of Congress. From striking down the intent of Congress in making it almost impossible to bring claims under the Sherman anti-trust act because its economic theories are “quaint.”

    Both of these striking watersheds have nothing to do with reading the Constitution, rather, the opposite. Not only have we been sold down the river, it’s been by the party that purports to protect us from such debasement of our rights.

    I’m sure your friends have other examples. It’d be valuable to hear them.

  2. “Perception” is only a measure of popularity. It is not a fact of relative corruption. The problem faced by the USA is that it is too large, and our political system is insufficient for a democratic republic of this size and complexity.

    The vast progress that has been made by human beings has largely been due to the invention of technologies, namely the scientific method, mathematics and in particular probability, but including laws, regulations, accounting, banking and interest – technologies that improve our fairly limited if not entirely incompetent perceptions. Our perceptions are notoriously faulty.

    So what instead are meaningful measures of corruption. Corruption defined as the privatization of public office for personal benefit?

    Most people confuse corruption with immorality or incompetence. And those three artifacts of human behavior each have different causes. The vast majority of the references that people actually refer to are the result of natural bureaucratic incompetence when bureaucrats are isolated from the market process of competition. The rest are either the natural side effect of the democratic process which all but requires deception, or the difference between an individual’s perception of the real world, and the actions that are possible under this form of government given the size and diversity of classes, races cultures and economic interests that exist in the polity.

    As such the rating is nonsensical. It is trivial for Denmark to have lower perceived corruption than the USA. However, it is in fact, far harder to to create lower perceived corruption in the vast bureaucracy of an international empire like the USA.

    Because perceptible corruption is largely the result of whether you agree or disagree with what you perceive.

    People in government are rarely evil. They are more likely lazy, ignorant, incompetent, or simply happy to profit from their isolation from the market process and their ability to dodge the delivery of customer service we experience in the rest of our lives.

  3. Well, as yogi berra may have said “perception is in the eye of the beholder.” wouldnt actual corruption crime statistics help here too? if the USA is so corrupt, wouldnt we also be less productive than these peers? how do we measure up there? maybe one man s corruption is another man’s hustle?

    America is bigger as a population and more diverse than its allegedly less corrupt peers. I wonder if the corruption perception (and reality) isn’t coming mainly from certain sub sectors within America, eg, the big cities and toward congress, all of which are one party places controlled by the dems. There also may be some cultural differences in the USA with regard to toleration corruption as a way of life (see also my native “Sopranos lite” RI). I know in metro DC where i live now, DC itself and PG county are very dirty when it comes to real estate development (my industry) matters and my own Montgomery co, md has recently been shown to be pretty corrupt in its oversight of development rights. Loudoun co Va when it was all GOP ruled was too. metro dc jurisdictions where there is party parity or at least a strong minority, however, seem much less corrupt (see also fairfax, prince william, frederick, Arundel counties)………..the GOP seems much less inclined to machine politics is my sense as it is less demogoguic.

    My larger point being that conservatives and libertarians (real ones) push for transparency, line item veto, term limits, meaningful campaign finance reform, anti voter fraud procedures, etc. and other devices that encourage clean and cleaner govt; we also push for smaller govt for the reason that smaller govt, corrupt or honest, can do less harm to the citizenry…………it would be interesting to drill down into this rpt to see if I m right and how corruption perceptions track across American submkts. The other factors that I would think come into play with govt corruption are prevalence of unions as a voter block (esp public sector ones), one party dominance, sub cultural toleration of corruption, and organized crime power.

    finally, it is remarkable that Suisse be considered less corrupt than the USA as it is a country whose economy is based on facilitating global tax evasion. I m sure al capone s mom thought him a nice boy too.

  4. A triangle has 3 sides, one is in Washington D.C., one is on Wall Street, in New York City, where is the 3rd side?

    Some say the demise of real government and the rise of corrupt cronyism began with the bullet(s) that killed JFK. Certainly the CIA has been a major conduit of insider corporate information used to manipulate both the general populace and the business communities. The CIA is largely a corrupt artifice of the wealthy eastern families, Yale stands large as a recruiting center. George Bush senior was a Yale man and director of the CIA, he became a U.S. president who invaded Iraq and was involved in illegal arms trading with Nicaragua, Israel and a host of other countries.

    A George Bush was notified of the death of JFK, suprisingly he was in Dallas Texas on the day of the assasination. George Herbert Walker Bush is one of the very few Americans who does not recall where he was when JFK was killed. Yet, a document, recently declassified, places him very close to Dallas within 2 hours of JFK’s assassination:

    The corruption runs deep and long in this nation, the wealth of the general populace is funneled off into the largest banks which are owned by the oligarchy as is the government and the intelligence agencies.

    Unless we can undo this web of deceit, the death of democracy is assured. We are now a 3rd world country waiting to collapse, most likely the currency will be devalued as soon as a new reserve currency is ready. After that all the dominos begin to fall.

  5. The United State of America, is by far the most corrupt
    and violent nation on the planet Earth, over the last 40
    years has killed more civilians, destroyed more villages
    and towns and the economic lively hood of more 3 rd world
    countries and for that matter this country then any other nation
    since the Roman Empire. Our government is absolutely
    corrupt, our banking system and capitalism in the USA is
    an absolute failure. Wall Street is a crap shot at best and
    the US Justice System is absolute Bull, the middle class and
    the poor receive unequal justice. We have prisons for profit,
    Judges on the take from rehab centers all over the USA not
    just in Penn. Cops are setting kids up to do crimes with their
    Own Criminal Gangs…racketeering. The USA is an absolute
    failure, our families abandon their kids to MTV, Rap Crap,
    TV reality shows of bad behavior, our schools 1-12 are now
    ranked 52 in the World…meaning 30 .. 3rd world countries
    have better school systems. Our food is so processed the
    nutritional value is poor, how many are extremely over
    weight, where are American Jobs, where are Baby Boomer
    retirement accounts, where is accountability by the government? It is absolutely time for class warfare, it is time for
    action. Fail to act then within 5 years the USA will be no
    more. The Union will not exist! I am never wrong….when
    it comes to this type of prediction….the USA will come to
    and end sometime between September 2011 and September 2016. Not may be it will end! JIM EVANHOE
    MARCH 2011…… on these words, as they are the truth, they are coming true every day, every week every
    month and every year!
    If you have the means to get out of the USA do so as soon as possible…..for if the government criminals do not end it
    all………..Mother Nature will see that it does come to and
    end…..September 2011 will be a very big natural blow out
    for Mother Nature are here in Western Wyoming….can you guess what it will be?

  6. I do believe that America is [t]he babylon referred to in several books of the Bible. Prophecies therefore will be fulfilled!
    The Judicial system of any country/island, is the backbone of its humanity, its civilization; and the American Judicial system is in utter chaos. The laws mean nothing. The precedent means nothing. Its as if Lucifer himself is directing the American Judiciary.
    The American Judiciary is a place where most people (except for the wealthy) must stay away from. If you enter, you do so at your own peril. Instead of receiving justice, you will be bound and gagged, raped, tortured and mutilated!
    All the Justices and about 97% of the Judges are on the take. They are only interested in deciding cases for the wealthy and corporations (another word for wealthy people too) according Mitt the Ripp!
    The Judges and justices are horrific liars (most of them): For the very few decent Judges (by the way the entire Supreme Court is indeed a Whore-Court, and many of them are older people who ought to have learned a thing or two) the few decent judges that remain are so very isolated and scorned… their impact is pathetically meaningless!
    Recently, Justice Ruthie de Badder-Gingusee slighted the American Constitution in Egypt; please note:

    I would not look to the US constitution, if I were drafting a constitution in the year 2012. I might look at the constitution of South Africa. That was a deliberate attempt to have a fundamental instrument of government that embraced basic human rights had an independent judiciary… It really is, I think, a great piece of work that was done.

    What Ms. Muffet (who sits on her Tuffet) neglected to articulate would be questions concerning South African law and its effects upon the people post Mandela. See Ms. Muffet is so stuck in her ivoric and pretentious tower, that the effects, the lack of, or, the splendor of, the advantageous consequences of…these do not matter…it is all flair and polish with her.
    And so once again, I was driven to this quote of Ms. Gingsburg’s if only to fully articulate both lies involved. Lie #1: There is no doubt that Gingsburg leaves the reader with the notion, [t]he belief that she strongly believes in Human Rights, in-fact she was so persuaded and driven, so passionate about Human rights, that she forgot to write a Dissenting opinion on over 4dozen cases before the Court (involving Human Rights) between the years of 2009 and 2011!
    Clearly Gingsburg is pretending that the U.S. Constitution is not concern about, nor does it safeguard against human Rights abuses: WHAT A LIAR!
    The First Amendment
    “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”
    (The entire worthless Supreme Court continues to keep me unemployed, living in a shelter with my son now age 15, and have taken my career, books, home, pets, because I have refused to withdraw my lawsuit against a school district for a multitude of violations). I thought I was entitled to petition the government for a redress of grievances! Indeed Gingsburg is a member of this degenerate class that daily spits on the Constitution. What a hypocrite!
    Amendment XIV
    Section 1.
    All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
    I was not born in the United States of America, neither was I naturalized. I am an Alien, and have been a permanent resident here and a legal one since 1975. I am therefore subject to the jurisdiction of the state where I reside. Clearly, the laws also supposedly protect me!
    Outside of the immigration law context, aliens have extensive rights in the United States. The text of the Constitution limits very few rights—such as the federal right to vote and to hold certain national elective offices—to “citizens.” In Yick Wo v. Hopkins (1886), a seminal case that involved a constitutional challenge to the discriminatory enforcement of a San Francisco ordinance regulating laundries, the Supreme Court held that “the rights of the petitioners … are not less, because they are aliens. … The Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution is not confined to the protection of citizens.” In matters outside of the immigration context, therefore, aliens and citizens receive analogous, but not identical, constitutional protection. Thus, in the United States, an alien generally has the right to speak freely, to travel within the country, to earn a living, to own property, to receive government benefits, and to bring suit against another, although there are limitations restricting these rights. Similarly, after Wong Wing v. United States (1896), an alien subject to criminal proceedings is entitled to the same constitutional protections available to citizens.
    Read more:

    Clearly the 14th Amendment speaks of the following:
    No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without “due process of law.”
    No person could be denied “equal protection of the laws.”
    Clearly the above quotes are but two of the rights and laws under the Constitution of America that are routinely ignored by contemporary judges and justices (that is, unless you have money)!
    What continues to happen to thousands of citizens and residents in the United States of America by those fulfilling the Babylon prophecy (The very, very Degenerate John Roberts and Bader-Gingsburg, are violations of Human Rights… the deprivation of one’s properties, and the denial of equal protections of the law. For sure the law is there, no need to turn to some other country and import their variety…The United States laws are not being followed because of the anarchy, vice, immorality and debauch ways of John Roberts, Ruth Bader-Gingsburg et al,.
    Judicial Corruption will bring this country down: It is why America will fall: For surely as the Judges continue to use the citizens and residents under various threats (job loss, jail time, and murder) to be employed in various corruption processes as Kincaid under cover of Breyer et al has done in my case, and countless thousands of others… and continue to do… (substituting these Judicial norms for the lawful statues )…in-fact; eventually you will have a country in which there is no allegiance as every person has been contaminated by the Judicial virus…easy prey for Islamic and Internal host!
    I have listed attorney Richard I. Fine’s case here because his is well-known by Full-disclosure’s readers. The reality is Ruth Bader-Gingsburg is a bonafide coward: Gingsburg found it impossible to go against her comrades (The other 8 member oligarchs who not only despise and rebuke the U.S. Constitution time and time again but who “do not share her” passion on Human Rights.
    Gingsburg is just another member of the Conspiratorial clique whose documented duty is to defraud Americans not moneyed or connected, or those advocating law and morality.
    Like the ignoble pledge of “Skull & Bones” it is written in stone under Degenerate law (see there are two sets of laws, and they are not bound by the common law…that’s only for you, and me)…therefore, under their law, No-one dissents! Not when the reality of Korruption is afoot! There must be uniformity, togetherness, all as one!
    I thought I heard someone say, that her internal morality ate away at her and drove her to Egypt where she in disguise sought to rationalize.
    Rationalization is a defense mechanism that involves explaining an unacceptable behavior or feeling in a rational or logical manner, avoiding the true reasons for the behavior. For example, a person who is turned down for a date might rationalize the situation by saying they were not attracted to the other person anyway, or a student might blame a poor exam score on the instructor rather than his or her lack of preparation.
    Some people may look to this below:
    Intellectualization works to reduce anxiety by thinking about events in a cold, clinical way. This defense mechanism allows us to avoid thinking about the stressful, emotional aspect of the situation and instead focus only on the intellectual component. For example, a person who has just been diagnosed with a terminal illness might focus on learning everything about the disease in order to avoid distress and remain distant from the reality of the situation.
    Gingsburg in cleverly affirming South Africa’s Constitution seeks to draw attention away from her lack of responsibility, her obligation to the United States Constitution: Again, her cowardice. She in pretending to care can really begin to say to everyone, see, I do care; I speak about it. I am human after all! Thus severely reducing her internal angst as unconscious attention is turned to Mandela and over 30 years of sacrifice: She is therefore wallowing in somebody else’s sacrifice. It is subtle, but it is there!
    You see, Gingsburg pretends, as the unease gives way to temporary serenity. Every bloody fool knows that it is not the document, but the people behind and in front of [t]he document! Will they follow the law, or continue into their degenerate abyss? To blame the document is thus an escape for madam Gingsburg.
    Lie #2. Madam Gingsburg is pushing 80 years of age, and still she apparently has learned nothing! And this bares re-stating, how much more independence does the American judiciary need? Allow me to momentarily depart in order to clarify.
    There is much talk these days in reference to the police using “un-authorized” GPS devices to track a person without a warrant: This is particularly interesting to me, as I listen to the Supreme Court (and the talk of other courts in this peculiar endeavor). Do note:
    GPS tracking, on the other hand, was at issue in the United States Supreme Court’s judgment in U.S. v. Jones, 565 U.S. ___ (2012), delivered on January 23, 2012. That court ruled unanimously that the police had violated the U.S. Constitution’s Fourth Amendment’s ban on unreasonable searches when they attached a GPS tracking device to a suspect’s car and monitored its movements for a month. As in Hamed, however, the overlapping judgments show slightly different approaches to the case, which belie differences in understanding of exactly what was at stake.
    Despite the differences in supposedly understanding exactly what was at stake, the operative phrase (or thought here) is “That court ruled unanimously…”
    I am interested in Bader-Gingsburg’s heartfelt plea for “an independent judiciary.” As if this does not already exist in America! I have noted time and time again and in many of my vents and online ramblings that the attorney Jeanne M. Kincaid tracks me 24/7. This tracking has nothing to do with me, but is all in protection for Kincaid and cohorts. Let me explain.
    About 3.5 months ago, I was at a Niagara Square demonstration in Buffalo New York with members of the 99%. After some time had elapsed Channel 4 showed up and began to interview some of us. When it was my turn, I slowly turned the topic onto the United States Judiciary as an institution desperately in need of public investigations; from here I went onto speak of my personal situation and the effects upon my 10 year old son (now 15) who can only remember being sent porn and death threats from Jeanne M Kincaid (government lawyer)…his life prior to my out and out forced joblessness and living in shelters, the loss of his pets, friends; the ability to go to the beach, or karate, or have piano lessons; in-fact, my son’s child-support was discontinued last September (2011) as I received a letter from the Massachusetts DOR (department of revenue) telling me that since my son is now 18 years old, he was not entitled to Child-support: My son was about to turn 15.
    He was born on November 1, 1996. Kincaid has (with the use of a corrupt Judge at the Middlesex District Court, (and to keep money out of my hands) as I insisted on going to new York City from Niagara Falls (some 9-10 hours by train) and seek out international media, human rights people, and members from the U.N. to bring them the injustices being perpetrated upon us….Human beings by many judges (NHDC, First Circus appellate Court and the United States Supreme Court): Introducing Stephen Breyer, Justice for NH).
    Whenever I bring up the past activities my son was involved in, he states that it seems like something that he read in a book about another boy, a long time ago.
    At the 99% demonstration that day There were two reporters, who were keen about my story, and they asked me many, many questions, including setting up an appointment for them to view some of my documents: as things progressed, I told them that I was aware that they said this would be on the evening news, but I told them specifically that my story will not appear, because Kincaid would intervene. As usual they gave me their word, and told me to relax and be in front of a television at the appropriate time. Like I said, it never made the news.
    It did not make the news because of Kincaid’s intervention. In keeping me isolated (thus anyone who tries to befriend me) automatically have their computer hacked, telephone hacked, job threatened etc.
    Kincaid’s satellite is being used for her to quickly come upon a scene and prevent anyone from investigating my allegations. It is meant to prohibit help for my son and self: Of-course we are not terrorists, and have not committed any crimes unless you count refusing to withdraw your rights to legal redress or your rights as a parent under the handicap laws as items declaring war upon the United States.
    Now how is it that the Supreme court can pretend to care about the rights of victims as in the Jones case above…you know, being upset with the police (someone told me, it was because the police were infringing upon their territory…see it’s only this criminal enterprise call the united States Supreme court that can abuse its authority)…thus, I should not be wiretapped (cell phone and home phone when I had one), and or tracked by satellite technology since I am not a criminal, not a terrorist…but this does not matter!
    Dear reader do you think tracking me via satellite, or hacking into my computer and destroying them (3 of them) was a violation of my 4th amendment rights? (I mean I have committed no crimes)!
    And so madam Gingsburg would like an independent judiciary…what could be more independent than being able to arbitrarily track, hack, and keep someone outside the protections of the law, in violation of the Constitution?
    For more information on some of the crimes currently engaged in by the United States degenerates see the following:
    and so many more: THIS IS YOUR AMERICA!

  7. Hi, this weekend is pleasant in favor of me, since this
    moment i am reading this great educational
    paragraph here at my home.

  8. Gluten war hinterhältig – Bei Sprue ist es extrem wichtig,
    das auch in bestimmten Hugo Sekt n versteckte Gluten zu
    beachten. Noch immer mehr gilt hier jener Erfahrungssatz des BGH, wonach ein verständiger Durchschnittsverbraucher in dem Allgemeinen nicht sehr annehmen wird auch, Hugo Sekt daß ein als Nahrungsergänzungsmittel (Hugo
    Sekt ) angebotenes Produkt tatsächlich ein Hugo Sekt war,
    sobald es auch in der empfohlenen Dosierung keine pharmakologische Wirkung habe.

    Solch jenes Abend könnte richtige Wunder bewirken auch die jenen gestressten
    Körper unmittelbar wieder jenes paar Energiereserven verschaffen.

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