BY RICHARD L. CASSIN
Corruption, we often hear, “undermines democratic institutions.” That’s a sterilized phrase. What does it really mean?
Start with a legitimately elected leader. If he’s weak and greedy — as many people are — he takes a few small bribes in return for helping cronies game the system.
The bribes are a breach of trust and have to be kept secret.
As time passes and bribes mount, the stakes go up.
The leader’s family and friends become part of the graft machine. They collect bribes through phony companies. They launder bribe money by buying luxury properties in France or New York or Vancouver.
Leaving office becomes more and more dangerous. Once out of power, the leader and his gang would be vulnerable. Keeping power is the only option.
To hold on, the leader corrupts judges and legislators. He buys the loyalty of generals. He pays off or threatens those who control the ballot boxes. Elections, if they still happen, are now phony.
Doing all that costs big money. So the leader becomes a full-blown kleptocrat. Treasuries are looted and resources stripped. Read more