Politicial Bribes

Corruption in the United States at its worst level in nearly a decade, according to new report from Transparency International

Corruption in the United States is apparently at its worst in nearly a decade, according to a new global report released Thursday by Transparency International. Proponents attribute the decline to declining faith in democratic institutions and poor oversight of pandemic-related financial aid.

In the annual Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI), the United States fell to a low of 67 out of a maximum possible score of 100, from a high of 76 in 2015. By its nature, corruption is difficult to be documented, so the index draws on a variety of different sources to measure the level of perceived corruption in the public sector. The lower the score, the more serious the corruption. Two-thirds of the 180 countries and territories included in the 2020 index scored below 50, with an average of 43.

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Corruption in the United States is apparently at its worst in nearly a decade, according to a new global report released Thursday by Transparency International. Proponents attribute the decline to declining faith in democratic institutions and poor oversight of pandemic-related financial aid.

In the annual Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI), the United States fell to a low of 67 out of a maximum possible score of 100, from a high of 76 in 2015. By its nature, corruption is difficult to be documented, so the index draws on a variety of different sources to measure the level of perceived corruption in the public sector. The lower the score, the more serious the corruption. Two-thirds of the 180 countries and territories included in the 2020 index scored below 50, with an average of 43.

Scott Greytak, the Director of Advocacy for the US office of Transparency International, cited a broader “dilapidation” in US political institutions as a major contributor to the country’s downgrade. Gretyak noted that public confidence in U.S. elections has been undermined by misinformation and record amounts of money not found in elections, particularly in 2020, when twice as much was spent compared to 2016.

“Second, and increasingly important, are these series of really explosive media exposes that demonstrate just how much dirty money is pouring into the financial system of the United States,” he said, referring to a joint investigation published by BuzzFeed News and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists last year which revealed how big banks knowingly authorized trillions of dollars in suspicious financial transactions, allowing drug lords, kleptocrats and terrorists to move money corrupt all over the world.

The 2020 index also revealed how global corruption has crippled countries’ ability to protect public health and their economies during the pandemic. In the United States, there have been repeated reports of loans under the Payment Protection Program, intended to support small businesses, going to not-so-small businesses: among the beneficiaries are defense contractors, the international fast food chain Shake Shack and the Los Angeles Lakers.

“COVID-19 is not just a health and economic crisis. It’s a corruption crisis. And one that we are currently failing to manage,” said Delia Ferreira Rubio, president of Transparency International. “The past year has tested governments like no other in living memory, and those with higher levels of corruption have been less able to rise to the challenge. But even those at the top of the ICC must urgently address their role in perpetuating corruption at home and abroad.

Health care systems and drug supply have long been vulnerable to corruption. The report found that the more corrupt a country or territory was, the less money was spent on health care, regardless of the level of economic development. “Although corruption differs in scale and scope from region to region, it has proven to be a universal obstacle to effectively combating COVID-19,” the report notes.

Since 2012, the first benchmark under the index’s current methodology, half of the countries and territories in the index have remained stagnant, registering little or no improvement in anti-corruption efforts.

Another side effect of the pandemic is that authoritarian governments have used it as an excuse to silence critics, restrict civil liberties and increase surveillance. The report found that high levels of corruption were closely linked to the use of undemocratic methods to control the pandemic. The Philippines, which scored 34 out of 100, experienced one of the longest and strictest lockdowns at the start of the pandemic, with President Rodrigo Duterte warning that police would “shoot…dead” people who violated the restrictions.