A group called Transparency International has put together this handy guide to corruption levels throughout the world.Â If you feel like reading the whole thing, have at it.Â Hereâ€™s my summary:
1 – Culture matters
2 – Culture arises from the people who predominate in a given area
3 – Culture greatly influences the level of political, economic, and social freedomâ€”in other words, the quality of life.
Hereâ€™s what the TI Corruption Perception Index study focused on:
The TI CPI focuses on corruption in the public sector and defines corruption as the abuse of public office for private gain. The surveys used in compiling the CPI ask questions that relate to the misuse of public power for private benefit, for example bribery of public officials, kickbacks in public procurement, embezzlement of public funds) or questions that probe the strength of anti-corruption policies, thereby encompassing both administrative and political corruption.
Hereâ€™s a visual summary of their findings:
Answer this question: How do nations of Christian, Western heritage compare to the Third World?
And for extra credit: What are the implications for immigration?
I spent a few weeks in Mexico once.Â Our guide took us around the little pueblo we were visiting in the lush green mountains south of Mexico City.Â The elevation made it surprisingly cool for July, even on the bright and sunny day we first arrived.Â On a tall, emerald green hilltop on the edge of the village an aged, native stone chapel perched on what the guide claimed was an ancient pyramid covered by earth and time.Â Throughout the village, walled compounds separated the better off from the poorer inhabitants, who lived in boxy, cave-like stucco houses whose roofs were lined with protruding rebar topped off with red, green, and blue pop bottles.Â The guide pointed out a sprawling, grim structure of granite blocks ahead of us tarnished grey with street grit.Â â€œThatâ€™s the best health care in the state,â€ he said.Â I responded, â€œThatâ€™s good to know.â€ He turned to me: â€œDonâ€™t get sick.â€ It wasnâ€™t a joke.
We climbed up a steep cobblestone street through a smoky haze flavored by sizzling chicken and goat from the battered snack shops.Â Nodding toward a dark warren of side streets behind the store frontsâ€”for some reason, he did not pointâ€”the guide announced, â€œYou do not want to go there at night.â€ My wife asked if there were ever any murders in the area.Â â€œOf course.Â Just Monday, a man caught a bullet to the head. They dragged him onto the train tracks.â€
This struck me as particularly inept.Â â€œWouldnâ€™t the police figure out he was murdered instead of being hit by the train?â€
The guide gave me a puzzled frown.Â â€œIt was the police who did it.â€
Oh, I thought.Â Thatâ€™s why even the guide books warn travellers not to trust the police.