Saturday, 22 August 2020
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Hello Everyone

I live and work in Indonesia, a developing country where corruption is part of everyday life. This corruption adds extra layer of complication when trying persuade businesses and politicians to do right thing. Just having a strong argument is often not enough. A lot of the time, if money does not pass "under the table", no agreement can be make. For people like me, who are trying to protect the environment, and prevent corruption, this can makes life very difficult.

However, every day I go online and read about what happening in other countries around the world. I am especially interested in Australia, the United States, and European countries. The more I read about these countries, the more I suspect they are suffering from corruption that just bad as developing countries. Wealthy nations know that climate change will create terrible problems for future generations, they know they can't keep clearing the forests and killing all the wild animal, they know big agriculture is destroying the soil we need to grow foods. However, they continue to let the damage happen. Politicians allow big companies destroy nature because these company help them win elections, then when they leave government, the politicians get paid lots of money to give speeches, become board members, and lobby governments. Then in exchange for this support, the politicians keep creating more and more laws that rig the system in favour of big business. To me, this is as bad, maybe even worse, than the corruption in developing countries.

I would love to know what you think!
more than a month ago
Dear Harry
This is truly Pandora's Box...corruption in a broad sense is present everywhere, I would say. A large difference between the corruption in 'developing' countries and 'developed' countries is the lack of any legal and bureaucratic system to address them and opportunities to manage them. In other words: the first is operating outside the law, the latter within. This should make it more transparent for the latter to manage, but here is where the social and economic system is rigged against. Neo liberal capitalist countries start from the axiom that eternal growth is needed to prosper, and that the price-market system will regulate (the 'invisible hand'). We all know it does not, and lobbying, price and tax deals for large industries, the lack of environmental and social costs in market prices, and the inability of man to oversee consequences over large scale in time and pace seem to lie at the root of this. The 'developed' countries may be much more constrained by these structures than 'developing' countries, I would say. but escaping from the ordinary corruption or the institutionalized corruption in the 'developed' countries may be equally hard.
more than a month ago
Hi Harry

I'm an Australian, but I've spent 16 years living in developing countries (mostly Vietnam), so I've had personal insight into what happens in both developing and developed countries.

Up until the end of the 1970s, it is my understanding that corruption in most developed countries was significantly less than in most developing countries. However, in the early 1980s, Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher popularised a form of economics that put the interests of the ultra-wealthy and big business ahead of other priorities. Subsequently, many left-leaning political parties adopted what was often called "The Third Way" which included many centre-right strategies, thereby pushing their political opponents even further to the right. This drift to the right, for both sides of politics, has continued in many countries ever since. The result has been that for almost four-decades, successive governments from the so-called "right" AND "left" in many countries (eg. US, Australia, and UK) have been making laws, and enacting policies, that strongly favour big business and the ultra-wealthy, while simultaneously defunding services and safety-nets for the poor, and ruthlessly exploiting the natural world.

The links between the ultra-wealthy and political leaders have strengthened to the point where many people (myself included) think that some of these countries have become plutacracies and are no longer fully-functioning democracies. Adding insult to injury, much of this corruption is technically legal. In my view, this shameless rigging of the system is every bit as damaging as the more overt corruption found in developing countries.

So yes, I agree that the corruption in many developed countries, "is as bad, maybe even worse, than the corruption in developing countries". Furthermore, this is the primary reason why most governments are reluctant to transition to a green economy. They're too busy defending the interests of their wealthy and powerful sponsors!

I fear that unless we can address all forms of political corruption, and sever the bonds between politicians and the ultra-wealthy, we will not be able to transition to a green economy fast enough to avert disaster.

Adam Thyer, Founder at GreenExecutive

more than a month ago
For me, the most disturbing aspect of the corruption in many developed countries is that it's legal. Wealthy elites are bribing politicians; stripping countries of public assets; avoiding taxes; exploiting workers; polluting the air, soil, and water; destroying natural environments—and mostly it's all 100% legal, so it's not even acknowledged as "corruption".

When the elites do occasionally get convicted of a crime, the sentence is usually trivial. And when their reckless behaviour leads to economic meltdowns, they get bailed-out by governments, while smaller businesses are left to fail.

I agree with Adam that this corruption (let's call it what it is) is a major impediment for creating a green economy.
more than a month ago
Western countries in general are the originators and enablers of corruption.
more than a month ago
I was just finished reading an interview with Sarah Chayes, the author of a new book titled "On Corruption in America" and it reminded me of this thread. Chayes had spent decades studying corruption in countries like Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Nepal and Nigeria. She says that when researching a different book in 2015, she realised that the US is on the same spectrum as those countries. I am planning to buy the book, sounds interesting.

Here is a video of an interview with the author:

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