Thursday, October 13, 2011

Corruption Post Du Jour

I would say of the week or of the month since I really do not post on corruption on a daily basis, but I am not sure it would be du semaine or de la semaine.  Anyhow, there is a good piece in today's Gazette--it mostly relies upon a McGill Law prof who studies corruption and how to deal with it.  The keys are:
  • design a system that allows an investigation to produce evidence that can be used in court.  Public inquiries tend to suck at this.
  • look forward and backward by creating fostering competition for government purchases (like letting US and non-Quebec companies compete for contracts);
  • Appoint a special prosecutor who is involved in the process so that muck is more than stirred--people get prosecuted;
  • Make the mandate of any inquiry go back far enough into the past so that both major parties are implicated: "it is not just us!"
  • appoint someone now who is beyond reproach (who would that be?).
Overall, a good set of ideas, based on serious studies of experiences elsewhere.  And that really is the need--to build on what other folks have learned rather than relying on the "Quebec model" where everything here is distinct.  

I thought about ten years ago that I should start studying corruption as it was clearly a big piece of the ethnic conflict problem but also a larger issue for countries around the world.  I figured corruption would be to the Aughts and beyond what ethnic conflict was to the 90's.  But it is a field of study that requires better economic skills than I have and more challenging data problems--people tend to hide their corrupt activities.  I also got distracted by NATO and Afghanistan, which has been a very worth obsession the past several years. 

So, I will just have to rely on other folks doing the hard work in this area.  It was great to see the Gazette rely on an expert to provide some real insights on this problem that is just killing Quebec.

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