Lee Friday – September 20, 2020
Hardly a day goes by when we don’t hear about another act of corruption somewhere in the world. These stories in the mainstream media usually tell us that the wrongful act occurred when a politician (or bureaucrat) broke the state’s rules – rules which define the boundaries within which they are expected to fulfill their duties.
For example, allegations of corruption have recently been levied against Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Finance Minister Bill Morneau (since resigned) for not recusing themselves from discussions about awarding a contract to a charity which has financial ties to their families.
Notice that the wrongful act – corruption – is completely focused on the names of the state’s decision-makers, not on the actual decisions. Thus, the purpose of the state’s rules is to create a perception of legitimacy for state activities so long as the behavior of politicians and bureaucrats remains within the boundaries which they define. Moreover, these boundaries do not consider the collecting and spending of taxpayers’ money, per se, to be an act of corruption. Nice sleight of hand.
Which brings us to . . .
The definition of corruption from Merriam-Webster (emphasis added): dishonest or illegal behavior especially by powerful people (such as government officials or police officers).
With a proper definition in mind, numerous acts of state corruption are quickly revealed. For example, taxation is theft because payment is compulsory, not voluntary. Legislation which legalizes taxation does not alter this fact. Legalized theft is still theft, which is dishonest. Now, let’s consider some examples of state spending.
The state monopolizes the provision of police and judicial services. These bureaucracies are enriched, yet they fail to solve a majority of violent crimes. But the state refuses to return any of the stolen tax dollars to citizens, as compensation for its failure to provide all of the services it promised in exchange for those tax dollars. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is fraud, which is dishonest.
In Canada, the state implemented universal health care with a dishonest claim that this was necessary because many poor people lacked access to health care. Health care bureaucracies have been enriched, as health care has become the largest item in provincial budgets. However, once again, the state refuses to return any of the stolen tax dollars to citizens, as compensation for its failure to provide all of the health care services it promised. That’s another fraud.
Analysis by the Sunlight Foundation revealed the following:
Between 2007 and 2012, 200 of America’s most politically active corporations spent a combined $5.8 billion on federal lobbying and campaign contributions. A year-long analysis by the Sunlight Foundation suggests, however, that what they gave pales compared to what those same corporations got: $4.4 trillion in federal business and support.
After examining 14 million records, including data on campaign contributions, lobbying expenditures, federal budget allocations and spending, we found that, on average, for every dollar spent on influencing politics, the nation’s most politically active corporations received $760 from the government.
No amount of political obfuscation can change the nature of these activities. It is bribery, in the purest sense of the word, and politicians are the bribees! Part and parcel of this is the state’s regulatory apparatus (of similar magnitude in Canada as in the U.S. on a per capita basis), which supposedly exists to protect the safety and welfare of consumers from unscrupulous corporations, but somehow manages to affect a massive transfer of wealth from workers and consumers to politically influential corporations. Thus, the 1% gains at the expense of the 99%, thanks to the politicians, the bribees.
Those are just a few of the thousands of examples of state corruption, which Frédéric Bastiat refers to as legal plunder.
We must not allow the state, and its sanctimonious cheerleaders in the mainstream media, to bastardize the definition of the word “corruption.” If Justin Trudeau, Bill Morneau, and all the other politicians and bureaucrats start “obeying the rules,” this does not eliminate corruption. These rulebreakers are not the problem. They are merely symptoms of the disease. The disease is legalized corruption, with the state’s forced taxation, complete lack of accountability, and its predisposition to grant itself legitimacy through democratic elections every four years. As Albert Jay Nock wrote:
The interests of the State and the interests of society…are directly opposed.
The State is not…a social institution administered in an anti‑social way. It is an anti‑social institution.
State power has an unbroken record of inability to do anything efficiently, economically, disinterestedly or honestly [emphasis added].
The truth is that those who are tasked with serving the public interest, are well-positioned to serve whatever interests they choose because the rules they create to control their own behavior are far too lax. And why wouldn’t they be lax? When state officials have the power to make their own rules, you can be sure they will give themselves wide latitude. But it has not always been this way. There was a time when the citizens were the master, and the government was the servant. It is time to rediscover the ideology of our ancestors. That is the only way to eliminate corruption.
Image credit: pxhere