There’s somehow a mis-conception that corruption could and should be eliminated in order to reduce poverty and improve people’s lives. That may well be true on paper, it somehow makes (cheap) mathematical sense: 1 – 1 < 3 – Eureka! The problem seems so simple and glaringly obvious that you wonder why it’s there in the first place. Corruption is closely linked to greed and selfishness, fueled by unfetered and abusive power (sometimes dire conditions). If you’d like a cheap way out you’d blame it on many things, preferably all the things that the claimant would not identify himself/herself with. Of course. Ouch, that blinding light of the obvious again!
However, just like certain age old habits will never die, we know very well that greed and power-mongering are very human. It’s in all of us, whether we like it or not, whether we admit it or not. Since we couldn’t hate ourselves we find complicated methods to justify what we do and how we think. The whole issue boils down to definitions sometimes.
For as long as people live in organised societies there will be power-mongering and corruption. Sometimes you find openly fierce advocates of good governance that are themselves corrupt, they just claim that they’re different and their actions and causes are somehow more noble. Hmm, suddenly you start doubting your own intelligence, if not your language skills.
Now then, what I’m suggesting is that if you’d find very good crooks, tightly link their interest and status to the activities that promote and help the poor, there’s a much higher chance that poverty “as we know it today” will eventually be eradicated. No doubt a new kind of poverty will settle in, but the kind we know today would be defeated.
So if you’re in the business of eradicating poverty, I’d say hire the right crooks and things will look up. But that might actually not be in your interest, isn’t it? Would you kill your own job?
Whatever you call it, knowingly doing harm to people is bad. If nothing else, selfishness tells us so because we don’t like to hurt.