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I’ve lived all over the world, in countries that Americans often call “corrupt.” Peace Corps in The Philippines, journalism in Thailand, Argentina, China. But these days, the US is at least as, if not, more corrupt than any other nation I have lived or worked in. Yes, most of this corruption is “legal.” It is easy to pass laws that make lobbying legal but what is happening in Washington today is exactly what happens in Manila, Jakarta, Shanghai or Bangkok—buying influence to control policy for the benefit of the few.
The US has designed a corrupt political culture that undermines our meritocracy and makes a joke of the “public good.” Health care is the most glaring example. Read this amazing Business Week cover story about United HealthCare’s influence in Washington. We have a Congress and Senate full of people covered by a great public health care plan refusing to share it with the rest of the population largely because of the lobbying efforts of health care insurers who don’t want a “public” option that would give them competition. The story shows in detail how corruption is shaping our national health care system.
Ditto for bank reform and Wall Street reform. Despite incredible irresponsibility that brought the US and the world to the brink of another Depression, the financial sectors have escape any serious re-regulation. Why? Lobbying.
The World Economic Forum is starting a forum for designing large-scale social organizations. It should be with a case study of the US.
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