The word corrupt when used as an adjective literally means “utterly broken”. The word was first used by Aristoteles and later by Cicero who added the terms bribe and abandonment of good habits. According to Morris, corruption is described as the illegitimate use of public power to benefit a private interest. Senior, however, defines corruption as an action to (a) secretly provide (b) a good or a service to a third party (c) so that he or she can influence certain actions which (d) benefit the corrupt, a third party, or both (e) in which the corrupt agent has authority. Scales of corruption
Corruption can occur on different scales. There is corruption that occurs as small favours between a small number of people (petty corruption), corruption that affects the government on a large scale (grand corruption), and corruption that is so prevalent that it is part of the every day structure of society, including corruption as one of the symptoms of organized crime (systemic corruption). Petty corruption occurs at a smaller scale and within established social frameworks and governing norms. Examples include the exchange of small improper gifts or use of personal connections to obtain favors.
This form of corruption is particularly common in developing countries and where public servants are significantly underpaid. Grand corruption is defined as corruption occurring at the highest levels of government in a way that requires significant subversion of the political, legal and economic systems. Such corruption is commonly found in countries with authoritarian or dictatorial governments but also in those without adequate policing of corruption.
The government system in many countries is divided into the legislative, executive and judiciary branches in an attempt to provide independent services that are less prone to corruption due to their independence. Systemic corruption (or endemic corruption) is corruption which is primarily due to the weaknesses of an organization or process. It can be contrasted with individual officials or agents who act corruptly within the system. Factors which encourage systemic corruption include conflicting incentives, discretionary powers; monopolistic powers; lack of transparency; low pay; and a culture of impunity.
Specific acts of corruption include “bribery, extortion, and embezzlement” in a system where “corruption becomes the rule rather than the exception.” Scholars distinguish between centralized and decentralized systemic corruption, depending on which level of state or government corruption takes place; in countries such as the Post-Soviet states both types occur.
Corruption in different sectors
Corruption can occur in different sectors, whether they be public or private industry or even NGOs.
Public sector corruption is one of the more insidious forms of corruption; a corrupt governing body can lead to widespread effects in the rest of society. Recent research by the World Bank suggests that who makes policy decisions (elected officials or bureaucrats) can be critical in determining the level of corruption because of the incentives different policy-makers face
Legislative System (Political)
Main article: Political corruption
A political cartoon from Harper’s Weekly, January 26, 1878, depicting U.S. Secretary of the Interior Carl Schurz investigating the Indian Bureau at the U.S. Department of the Interior. The original caption for the cartoon is: “THE SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR INVESTIGATING THE INDIAN BUREAU. GIVE HIM HIS DUE, AND GIVE THEM THEIR DUES.” Political corruption is the abuse of public power, office, or resources by elected government officials for personal gain, e.g. by extortion, soliciting or offering bribes It can also take the form of office holders maintaining themselves in office by purchasing votes by enacting laws which use taxpayers’ money.
Executive System (Police)
Main article: Police corruption
Police corruption is a specific form of police misconduct designed to obtain financial benefits, other personal gain, and/or career advancement for a police officer or officers in exchange for not pursuing, or selectively pursuing, an investigation or arrest. One common form of police corruption is soliciting and/or accepting bribes in exchange for not reporting organized drug or prostitution rings or other illegal activities.
Another example is police officers flouting the police code of conduct in order to secure convictions of suspects — for example, through the use of falsified evidence. More rarely, police officers may deliberately and systematically participate in organized crime themselves. In most major cities, there are internal affairs sections to investigate suspected police corruption or misconduct. Similar entities include the British Independent Police Complaints Commission.
Judicial Corruption refers to corruption related misconduct of judges, through receiving or giving bribes, improper sentencing of convicted criminals, bias in the hearing and judgement of arguments and other such misconduct. Governmental corruption of judiciary is broadly known in many transitional and developing countries because the budget is almost completely controlled by the executive. The latter undermines the separation of powers, as it creates a critical financial dependence of the judiciary. The proper national wealth distribution including the government spending on the judiciary is subject of the constitutional economics. It is important to distinguish between the two methods of corruption of the judiciary: the government (through budget planning and various privileges), and the private.
Main article: Corporate crime
As corporations and business entities grow larger, sometimes with a monetary turnover many times that of small countries, the threat of corruption in the business world, within the organization, in dealings with other organisations and in dealings with the government is a looming and growing threat.
Labor racketeering is the domination, manipulation, and control of a labor movement in order to affect related businesses and industries. It can lead to the denial of workers’ rights and inflicts an economic loss on the workers, business, industry, insurer, or consumer. The historical involvement of La Cosa Nostra in labor racketeering has been thoroughly documented: More than one-third of the 58 members arrested in 1957 at the Apalachin conference in New York listed their employment as “labor” or “labor-management relations.”
Three major U.S. Senate investigations have documented La Cosa Nostra’s involvement in labor racketeering. One of these, the McClellan Committee, in the late-1950s, found systemic racketeering in both the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees International Union. In 1986, the President’s Council on Organized Crime reported that five major unions—including the Teamsters and the Laborers International Union of North America—were dominated by organized crime. In the early 1980s, former Gambino Family Boss Paul Castellano was overheard saying, “Our job is to run the unions.”
Labor unions provide a rich source for organized criminal groups to exploit: their pension, welfare, and health funds. There are approximately 75,000 union locals in the U.S., and many of them maintain their own benefit funds. In the mid-1980s, the Teamsters controlled more than 1,000 funds with total assets of more than $9 billion. The FBI currently has several investigative techniques to root out labor law violations: electronic surveillance, undercover operations, confidential sources, and victim interviews.
They also have numerous criminal and civil statutes to use at their disposal, primarily through the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization (RICO) Statute. Citation needed The Teamsters are the best example of how efficiently the civil RICO process can be used. For decades, the Teamsters has been substantially controlled by La Cosa Nostra. In recent years, four of eight Teamster presidents were indicted, yet the union continued to be controlled by organized crime elements. The government has been fairly successful at removing the extensive criminal influence from this 1.4 million-member union by using the civil process.
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