Corruption Versus Incompetence

I always find it interesting to note which scandals stick to governments and which ones slide easily off of their backs. In the Canadian context, at any rate, it seems that governments can get away with an arbitrary amount of incompetent or terrible policy, but outright corruption is what ultimately brings them down. Case in point, our Mr. Harper has over the past seven years been given free passes by the electorate on gutting science, trashing the environment, doing away with oversight, making a mockery of parliament, shredding indigenous rights, waging a pointless and bloody campaign in Afghanistan and centralizing power in the PMO (amongst many, many other things). However, the Tories are now falling behind in public opinion. Why? Because of the Senate Expenses scandal.

It would seem that the population at large is remarkably forgiving of anything that doesn’t specifically involve members of the government directly stealing from them. Going back a decade or so, you could see the exact same pattern play-out with the Liberals. And with the PCs a decade before that (although the fact that the economy was shitty also didn’t help them).

Now, of course, this is not to minimize the significance of the recent Tory corruption*; however, if I were forced to choose between a government which had good, effective policies but tended to skim a little off the top** and a government which was terrible but clean as a whistle, I would without hesitation select the former.

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*although insofar as this is concerned, I think that the recent court-confirmation of widespread electoral fraud is a much more heinous abuse than the loss(?) of $90 000.)

**And somehow the name “Jean Chretien” just lept unbidden to my mind.

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About thevenerablecorvex

I have the heart of a poet, the brain of a theoretical physicist, and the wingspan of an albatross. I am also notable for my humility.
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2 Responses to Corruption Versus Incompetence

  1. E A M Harris says:

    You make an interesting point, but I don’t think I agree with which I’d elect. ‘Skimming a little off the top’ doesn’t sound like much, but corruption tends to be a downward slope and I think you could end up with a government that was both corrupt and anti-democratic and generally dreadful.

  2. Lindsay says:

    I guess I see a lot of the stuff you seem to group under “incompetence” — the bad policies that are also the biggest source of *my* rage at government, particularly the bipartisan commitment my country’s government seems to have to 1) trashing the environment and 2) extracting every tiny bit of combustible hydrocarbon, in whatever form, however energy-inefficient it is to refine, transport, or otherwise render usable, from the Earth’s crust that they possibly can, and damn the consequences, because economic growth is imperative — I would classify as corruption. The reason that these are the government’s priorities is that they are the priorities of the people who have bought the government.

    If we really had a government that represented the electorate, I think its priorities would be very different.

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