I recently shared our Fearsome Comrade's worries about the intersection of government and business in America. The Skeptical Bureaucrat shares a related concern, that of the incestuous world of "formers" consulting, in which former politicians become consultants advising businesses how best to deal with politicians. He recalls a conversation with a Turkish official:
He furiously resented a World Bank effort that was going on at that time to combat public corruption, which the Bank saw as an impediment to economic development. The Turk maintained that in the Third World public corruption is more or less benign, since it consists of small amounts of graft broadly distributed throughout society all the way down to the level of traffic cops, whereas the U.S. style of corruption consists of huge amounts of money passed out to a very few people at the top of the government-business nexus. I had no good answer to him then, and I haven't thought of one since.I have to say, I had never, ever thought of it that way. And it's pretty strange, when you think about it, that Americans would be outraged at a traffic cop demanding a $20 bribe, but are relatively unruffled by millions of dollars in payola at the state and federal levels.