What Government Corruption Is and Is NOT (examples provided)

One often hears talk how corrupt the government is. Much of the time, what people mean by “corrupt” is “creating-policy-I-don’t-like”.

This is not corruption.

“Policy-I-don’t-like” is bound to happen in a democracy in which the elected party may have different priorities than you do. That’s why you are allowed to get involved politically by writing to your representatives, by rallying people, and by voting. It’s also the reason to consider other electoral forms than first-past-the-post (but I digress).

While it’s quite possible that a provincial government following its ideology can lead its people down a pretty deep rabbit hole, such incompetence can not be considered “corrupt.”

Consider, for example, the past BC government, whose policy amounted to serious mismanagement of BC Hydro and the Insurance Corporation of BC., burdening citizens with enormous public debt that will take years to repay.

The mismanagement of these crown corporations was NOT corruption; it was political decision-making that people may or may not agree with. (For the record, you can put me in the “not” camp.)

What corruption actually is, is deceiving the public, or violating procedural laws that are written to prevent conflicts of interest.

So while it was not corrupt to manage the crown corporations the way the Liberals did, it was corrupt of them to hide said debt from the public –a subtle difference, but an important one.

To provide clarity, what follows are examples of actual government corruption. Note that they all involve some kind of deception or violation of law –not bad policymaking alone:

I suppose it’s a technical distinction. Governments have a moral responsibility to carefully look after the needs of its citizens. In doing so, there will be losers and winners. For example, while the BC Liberals were in power, child poverty increased (so… losers), while corporations got huge tax breaks –not exactly moral governance, though I would hesitate to call it corrupt.

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