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corruption/ ethics

In my previous note on the "corruption" prevailing in the health insurance
system in the USA, an objection was raised that this would not quite be
corruption, since it involves doctors and insurance companies. Well, the
thing I wanted to highlight was that human nature here in the USA is not
particularly more ethical than that of an Indian, in general. Given
adequate secrecy, and opportunity, humans will cheat, here as well as in

I just came across a case which would confirm this in the context of
governmental "corruption." In a discussion on parking meter thefts, it was
stated:  "New York City, which has 67,000 meters - the most in the nation
- has suffered a number of scandals involving collectors arrested for
theft.  Several years ago, nearly half of the city's collection workers
were charged with pocketing some of the change." (LA times, 5/1/98)

The method of "preaching" to people not to be corrupt never worked and
will never work anywhere. Kautilya (I believe) has much to say about fish
in the water, sucking in water, etc. 

There are perhaps two primary ways of eliminating corruption: (a) minimize
the direct role of government in business (i.e., reduce the opportunities) 
and (b) increase salaries (reduce the opportunity cost of being kicked out
of the job). Even if only the very top layer of government is payed
**grossly** disproportionate to its actual workload, then you would have
ensured honesty at the top (this was the argument when the Indian Civil
Service was started in the 1800s, and this actually did work), and these
honest can keep the lower functionaries in check. 

Of course, management of government must be as transparent as possible. We
have been talking of that all along.