Our subject is usually corruption overseas. But it’s impossible to ignore the news these days from New Jersey. Arrested earlier this month — 44 people, including three mayors and two state legislators. So what’s the cause of all that alleged home-grown graft?
There are lessons from the Third World. The International Finance Corporation has said, “Cumbersome entry procedures are associated with more corruption, particularly in developing countries. Each procedure is a point of contact—an opportunity to extract a bribe. Analysis shows that burdensome entry regulations do not increase the quality of products, make work safer or reduce pollution. Instead, they constrain private investment; push more people into the informal economy; increase consumer prices; and fuel corruption.”
The same goes for New Jersey. The Wall Street Journal’s William McGurn said this week:
Sandy McClure, co-author of the book The Soprano State: New Jersey’s Culture of Corruption, agrees that big government is a big reason behind the state’s corruption problem. “You have all these little authorities that everyone has to go to for permission,” she says. “Too much government means too many opportunities for officials looking to cash in. And there’s no way that the press can keep track of it all.”
Ms. McClure is right: The more extensive government’s reach, the more opportunities the governing class has to steal from and shake down the productive class. . .
When government gets too big and complicated for businesses to get their permits and approvals and funding honestly, the dishonest prosper. And the honest get fed up and flee.
William McGurn’s full column is here.
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Apropos of who-knows-what, we enjoyed this thought from Eric Hoffer’s Truth Imagined:
“Sheep never get used to life. They view anything that comes in sight as something outlandish and unprecedented. Though they are undeniably silly, there is something remarkably human about them. Their fear of loneliness is pathetic. One cannot help thinking that, like sheep, human beings herd together in tribes and nations and follow a leader because of their fear of life and their feeling of being eternal strangers in this world.”
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