There Won’t Be Any Winners Because The Status Quo Is Corrupt Everywhere

There Won’t Be Any Winners Because The Status Quo Is Corrupt Everywhere by Charles Hugh Smith for Of Two Minds

Systemic corruption on this vast scale optimizes failure and collapse.

Debating which nations will “win” as the global economy unravels is a popular but pointless parlor game. Since the status quo in every nation is deeply, profoundly, systemically corrupt, there won’t be any “winners,” there will only be losers.

Apologists love to say that corruption has always come hand-in-hand with power, and this is superficially true. Once a centralized hierarchy takes power, those seeking self-glorification and wealth seek power as a means to their self-enrichment and glorification.

Naturally, they use their power to reward those who helped them gain power and those helping them maintain power. So a small Texas contractor who contributed to Lyndon Johnson’s political career was awarded immense contracts to build bases in Vietnam during Johnson’s vast expansion of the Vietnam War. It’s just business, right?

But this naive, superficial normalization of corruption ignores the consequential difference between two types of corruption. One kind is directing cushy positions and contracts to cronies: well-paid positions on boards are given to pals, fat contracts are awarded to political allies, and so on. The point here is that somebody was going to get the cushy position and the fat contract anyway, and so the corruption is in who gets the gravy.

This level of corruption has a systemic cost. Bribes paid to secure contracts and subsidies act as a “tax” on the economy, as the bribes add expense but do not deliver any improvement in quality or quantity. When the most qualified candidate or firm is passed over to favor an unqualified crony or ally, the loss in effectiveness is consequential, though more difficult to measure.

The systemically destructive type of corruption is on a completely different level. Systemic corruption deforms the core economic functions of governance and capital to enrich insiders at the expense of the national interest and the common good.

When corruption hollows out a nation’s military capabilities, that undermines national security. When shoddily built equipment is stripped of valuable parts (to be sold on the black market) to the point it’s no longer of any military value, corruption has a cost that is incalculable until it’s too late to repair the rot. When armament contracts are given to build inferior weapons systems to benefit cronies, corruption has optimized losing the next war.

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