There's Corruption and Then There's Corruption
Propriety and public service
Corruption is not as straightforward a concept as we tend to intuitively assume it to be. Like most pejoratives, it doesn’t mean much of anything most of the time, beyond expressing contempt for the people accused of it. In movies and television, and therefore in the public imagination, it is more concretely present in straightforward favor buying: buying votes in an election, say, or buying a jury’s verdict. The trouble begins when we step away from such nakedly transactional behavior. When what people are buying is access, rather than guarantees, it’s difficult to pinpoint whether any outcome has actually been influenced as a result. When they buy that access indirectly, through campaign support, or by donating to a spouse’s or a friend’s charitable organization, the effect or even the presence of influence becomes a far more nebulous thing.
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