John Derbyshire Asks: Endemic Corruption–The Ukraine Is Ex-Soviet, But What Excuse Do Black American Politicians Have?

Reading up on the Ukraine in order to say something about it on Radio Derb, I checked the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) for 2013 compiled by the  think tank Transparency International.

The CPI ranks 175 nations by how corrupt their public sector is perceived to be. Ukraine came in at 144, tied with Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Iran, Nigeria, and Papua New Guinea.

For countries with European populations, Ukraine is the lowest-ranked—that is, most corrupt. Next lowest is Russia at 127. The lowest-ranked nation that (a) has a European population and (b) is not ex-communist is Greece at 80.

The U.S.A. ranks 19th, although Puerto Rico, listed separately, ranks 33rd.

Why are some countries corrupt and others not? Looking at the map on the Transparency International site, a number of general and approximate rules stand out.

  • For really low corruption, be a European country from west of the Hajnal Line, or a settler nation therefrom.
  • For high corruption, be African, an ex-Spanish colony, ex-Soviet, or South Asian.
  • Unless you’re a Turk or a homeland Arab (Saudi, Omani, U.A.R, Jordan), Islam makes things worse.

There are exceptions all over, of course: Botswana ranks better than Italy; North Korea ties with Somalia; Uruguay (heh) ties with the U.S.A.

Furthermore, that map is of today. Some of those virtuous north-European countries could, in the past, have shown Somalis and Afghans a thing or two about corruption.

Here, for example, is historian E. Royston Pike on Sir Robert Walpole, Britain’s first Prime Minister:

But, it will be asked, did not Walpole practice corruption on a very large, even an unprecedented scale? Yes he did: no doubt about it … But his contemporaries thought nothing of [his misdeeds], or not very much. Almost the only people who complained were those who felt that their services had not been well enough rewarded.[ Britain`s Prime Ministers from Walpole to Wilson p. 23]

Similar things could of course be said of the 19th-century U.S.A.  One of the greatest achievements of 20th-century civilization in First World nations was the near-total banishing of corruption from public life.

So far as the U.S.A. is concerned, my guess is that this high level of political virtue peaked, like so many other good things, in the two or three decades after WW2 and has been gradually declining since.

If that’s right, no doubt the causes are manifold, but it’s hard not to think that grievance culture, increasing racial diversity, and enforced looking-the-other-way at minority misbehavior have been factors.

Critics of my infamous 2012 TakiMag column The Talk: Nonblack Version took particular umbrage at the following two advice points:

(10f) Do not settle in a district or municipality run by black politicians.

(10g) Before voting for a black politician, scrutinize his/her character much more carefully than you would a white.

Those followed an earlier observation that the higher levels of antisocial behavior among blacks are manifested, among other places, in political corruption. [Racial disparity: All active ethics probes focus on black lawmakers, by John Bresnahan, Politico, November 3, 2009.] All three points were inspired by years of reading about local corruption scandals in the New York Post.

To see how things have been going since I wrote “The Talk,” I have just read back through the last 23 daily issues of the Post tallying all local corruption stories. Bear in mind that the NYP mainly covers New York City, which is 28 percent Hispanic, 33 percent white, 23 percent black, and the rest mostly Asian.

Here are all the corruption stories from the past 23 days (February 25th to March 19th).

  • Wendell Walters. This former Assistant Commissioner of the city housing department was arrested in 2011 for corruption. He admits to taking $2.5 million in bribes from developers and contractors. [Ex-NYC housing honcho: I raked in $2.5M in bribes, By Selim Algar, March 17, 2014]
  • Eric Adams. The Brooklyn Borough President and former state senator is being investigated “following complaints that he and his staff hit up local business and community leaders for cash to fund pet projects with money to be funneled through a nonprofit that doesn’t exist.” [Brooklyn president probed over alleged fundraising fraud, By Rich Calder, Jamie Schram and Kevin Fasick, March 4, 2014]
  • One of Adams’ senior advisors is on a nice little earner, too. [Eric Adams’ aide gets big payday helming ‘questionable’ nonprofit, By Yoav Gonen and Beth DeFalco, March 17, 2014]
  • Malcolm Smith. This State Senator from Queens has been indicted, but not yet tried, on bribery and racketeering charges. His latest wheeze is something called a “virtual golf game” where supporters pay money to watch him hit golf balls against a background of painted golf-course scenery. [Indicted state Senator Smith will host virtual-golf fundraiser, By Pat Bailey, March 11, 2014]
  • Eric Stevenson. This State Assemblyman from the South Bronx was found guilty in January of conspiracy and taking bribes. He had to surrender his seat. [Stevenson guilty on all counts in bribe case, By Rich Calder, January 13, 2014]

His name showed up in a March 8th Post story about districts unrepresented in the state legislature following the conviction of …

In case you missed the links, the races there are black, black, black, black, and black. The odds of that happening on a chance basis are one in fifteen hundred.

If you throw in Adams’ senior advisor, who is also black, the odds are one in 6,700.

New Yorkers can take some small comfort from there having been actual indictments and actual convictions. Philadelphians have not been so blessed.

The Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office ran an undercover sting operation over three years that captured leading Philadelphia Democrats, including four members of the city’s state House delegation, on tape accepting money, The Inquirer has learned.

Yet no one was charged with a crime.

[Kane shut down sting that snared Phila. officials, By Angela Couloumbis and Craig R. McCoy, Philadelphia Inquirer, March 17, 2014.]

 Why not? The Inquirer continues:

Prosecutors began the sting in 2010 when Republican Tom Corbett was attorney general. After Democrat Kathleen G. Kane took office in 2013, she shut it down.

In a statement to The Inquirer on Friday, Kane called the investigation poorly conceived, badly managed, and tainted by racism, saying it had targeted African Americans.

“Tainted by racism”! You have to marvel at the brass audacity of Ms. Kane, asking us to believe that under the exquisite guilt-racked racial protocols of early 21st-century America, thirty years after Tom Wolfe put the phrase “great white defendant” into the language, the Attorney General’s office of a northeastern Obama state would deliberately single out blacks for investigation.  

So who was caught on tape accepting bribes?

People with knowledge of the investigation said those caught on tape included former Traffic Court Judge Thomasina Tynes … Four state lawmakers took money, the sources said. State Rep. Ronald G. Waters accepted multiple payments totaling $7,650; State Rep. Vanessa Brown took $4,000; State Rep. Michelle Brownlee received $3,500; and State Rep. Louise Bishop took $1,500, said people with knowledge of the investigation.

Black, black, black, black, black.

So … shut down that investigation!

You could call it “black privilege.”

John Derbyshire [email him] writes an incredible amount on all sorts of subjects for all kinds of outlets. (This no longer includes National Review, whose editors had some kind of tantrum and fired him. ) He is the author of We Are Doomed: Reclaiming Conservative Pessimism and several other books. His most recent book, published by VDARE.com com is  FROM THE DISSIDENT RIGHT (also available in Kindle).His writings are archived at JohnDerbyshire.com.

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