Christian Long

Peter Eigen: How to Expose the Corrupt

In TED Talks on May 10, 2010 at 8:55 pm

Reflection by DEREK M.

Original TED page w/ speaker bio, links, comments, etc:

Peter Eigen:  How to Expose the Corrupt

Peter Eigen’s “How to Expose the Corrupt” conveys the relationship between the corruption in the government and the lives of the world’s population.

In the twenty-first century, failing economies, failing governments, and failing communities are continually linked to the corruption that comprises them. The level of corruption varies, but so does the level of failure expressed in different situations. The most interesting point of this talk to me is the fact that the corruption of our governments and businesses is not only affecting the lives of humans or the economy, it is affecting the environment. The incessant building of power plants in some of the most resoure rich places on Earth is not stopping. As Mr. Eigen points out, they are often the first plans implemented because there is no regard to the decimation that some plans can cause. Eigen proposes interesting stories along with some systematic fixes that might provide the cure to the rampant disease of corruption before it is too late.

“I became convinced that this systematic corruption, which is perverting economic policy making in these countries, which is the main reason for the misery, for the poverty, for the conflicts, for the violence, for the desperation in many of these countries.”

The extremity of the expenses of the programs that are destroying the world are outrageous – some to the point of more than a billion dollars to provide enegry to a nation that will have no consumers. Instead of putting money into stabilizing communities, stabilizing governments, and stabilizing lives, big companies put the money into what looks good on paper, but has no realistic benefit to the clients or the ‘recipients’. The ignorance of the present world is quite repulsive.

“More than a billion people below the absolute poverty line, that we have more than a billion people without proper drinking water in the world, twice that number, more than two billion people without sanitation and so on, and the consequent illnesses of mothers and children, still, child mortality of more than 10 million people every year, children dying before they are five years-old. The cause of this, is to a large extent grand corruption.”

The ignorance, or rather, the indifference of the world’s governments to provide the help that countries and people around the world require is jaw dropping. While the economy may influx and decline, the lives of people can never be accounted for, but not only that, the environment is being destroyed by these projects. The environment is getting to the point where the ecosystems are so distrught that they can not repair themselves or the population of animals that once lived there. The world is in a systematic equilibrium, and when the equilibrium is shifted, nothing will be able to return it to where it was. The focus of these projects is not to provide a McDonalds to Africa, where no one is able to afford the food or even know how to work a frying machine, it is about providing water, sanitation, and morally sound governments to people in all countries who deserve the neccesities of life.

To put a long story short, governments around the world, including some of the most prosperous, are constantly fighting the corruption that is so interwoven around the government. Corruption has become the one of the first things that comes to mind when I think of the modern government. From the bribery of large businesses to the expensive liberal programs promising change, the world is in a constant ‘tug of war’ between doing the moral thing and being successful. But what is most interesting is the fact that most of the businesses or governments do not strive to be corrupt, they strive to be successful. Their definition of success is warped however. They honestly think that bending the law through bribery and short deals is the only way to be successful.

I would argue against that.

If the government spent half as many hours thinking about how their decisions would actually affect the economy, the environment, or the world, as they do on trying to bend their ideas aorund the law, they would be twice as prosperous, both literally and figuratively.

“But what I’m saying from my very practical experience, if civil society does it right and joins the other actors, in particular, governments, governments and their international institutions, but also large international actors, in particular, those who have committed themselves to corporate social responsibility, then, in this magical triangle, between civil society, government and private sector, there is a tremendous chance for all of us to create a better world.”

The corrupt nature of these governments can change. It must change. The well being of the world is at stake. We need more people like Eigen fighting the corruption of governments around the globe. The only people that can change the way the government works is the government itself. The government has to be aware of the devastation they are inflicitng on the world around them. They need to be familiar with their plans and how they affect the rest of the world, not just the initial profit. The environment, as well as the people who live in it, are not dispensable, and it is time that we start fixing the mess we have created.

If you were interested in this video, you might want to see the video on the link provided:

http://www.ted.com/talks/ngozi_okonjo_iweala_on_doing_business_in_africa.html

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