Slog News & Arts

Line Out

Music & Nightlife

« An Insane, Wonderful Hero | Invaders from Mars »

Monday, October 22, 2007


posted by on October 22 at 13:42 PM

This is just an idea.

The difference between African corruption and American corruption? African corruption is more democratic—it’s available to more people. American corruption is oligarchical—it’s mostly available to the very rich. The Haliburton contracts are an excellent example of American corruption. African corruption also works on this higher level, but it openly thrives in the lower levels of its society. For example, if I wanted to get an American passport today (a legal passport—I’m only paying for the speed of its production), that would be impossible. The official at the office would not accept my bribe and instead point me to the back of a long line. On the other hand, if I wanted a Tanzanian passport today, no problem: $200 is more than enough to bribe my way to the front of the process.

Accessibility marks the real difference between American corruption and African corruption.

RSS icon Comments


are you an illegal immigrant chaz?

Posted by Bellevue Ave | October 22, 2007 1:52 PM

@1, I just called INS, let's find out!!

Posted by Just Me | October 22, 2007 1:54 PM

But who is a Tanzanian with $200 to spare? Is that accessable?

Posted by Dougsf | October 22, 2007 1:54 PM

I'm not sure what you're saying with this.

The underlying reason for "lower level" corruption is abysmally low wages for the normal African.

It's odious in any form and only hinders progress.

Posted by NewYorkGuy | October 22, 2007 1:55 PM

Joel Waldfogel wrote a great piece about this low-level corruption, focusing on driver licensing in India.

But a new study of driver's license examinations in New Delhi, India, confirms what most international policy wonks have long said: The benefits of corruption are not worth the costs.
Posted by Jonathan Golob | October 22, 2007 2:01 PM

" I just called INS, let's find out!!"

INS no longer exists, its called ICE, my dear nativist fools. At least get your xenophobia straight.

Posted by SeMe | October 22, 2007 2:09 PM

Yup. I totally agree. Goddamn how I wish to be a rich and powerful scumbag sticking it to the little people.

Posted by Rotten666 | October 22, 2007 2:23 PM
African corruption is more democratic—it’s available to more people. American corruption is oligarchical—it’s mostly available to the very rich.

So... you look at two societies. Both have corruption. In one society, corruption is widespread. In the other society, it only exists at the very highest level, where the stakes are measured in the millions and billions of dollars.

Most people would look at that and say, "The first society is more corrupt than the second." But not Charles. Charles speculates that the first society is actually more democratic than the second.

You know, Charles, there are some ideas that are not commonly held because they're simply too radical for most people to deal with. But there are other ideas -- and I think this is something you would do well to consider -- that are not commonly held because they're obviously stupid.

Just throwing that out there.

Posted by Judah | October 22, 2007 2:28 PM

@8 - to be fair, he didn't say the first society was more democratic. He only said the corruption was more democratic - everyone gets their piece of the bribery pie.

Posted by tsm | October 22, 2007 3:02 PM

Actually, you are completely wrong. You can pay an expediter in the US and have your passport virtually the next day. It'll cost you more than it would in Tanzania, but $200 is three month's wages in Tanzania, while here it's a day's work.

The difference is in Tanzania it's corruption that makes it happen; here, it's a legitimate business.

Posted by Fnarf | October 22, 2007 3:14 PM

this is an incredibly BRIGHT piece of reasoning. Not only Africa, but the whole of the third world is like that. Wonderful, I'd never thought that, having enough money (that I can eventually get someway) I have power to buy virtually ANYTHING because in the country I live in, EVERYTHING HAS A PRICE, AND AN INFORMAL OWNER. I feel powerful

Posted by tinydoc | October 22, 2007 4:04 PM

Good point Charles. I find in parts of Africa, as soon as I know the rules, it is amazingly easy to get official business done.

Posted by Fer Sure | October 22, 2007 4:47 PM

10 is right you can go down the legal path and get a passport very quickly. but really, charles, you just don't know how to bribe in america. you don't personally bribe the actual clerk, you pay a lawyer to arrange it.

I'm reminded of the end of Bob le Flambeur.
"With a really first rate lawyer, I could sue for damages"

Posted by MSW | October 23, 2007 3:47 AM

Comments Closed

In order to combat spam, we are no longer accepting comments on this post (or any post more than 14 days old).