From an article in The New York Times comes these two paragraphs:
For decades, corruption was accepted in Southern Europe as a fact of life, a way to distribute the spoils, and few people — including, in many cases, prosecutors — gave it a second thought. But the grinding economic crisis, which stalled projects and ended the flow of cash, has helped lift the veil on corrupt officials, exposing graft, bribery, payoffs, secret favors and other misdeeds on a scale that few imagined.
At a time when Spain, Italy, Greece and Portugal are imposing deficit-cutting austerity plans on their hard-pressed citizens, these revelations of widespread political corruption are stoking bitter resentment, destabilizing governments and undermining the credibility of the political class as a whole.
The first paragraph is interesting in that it reaffirms that corruption is commonplace in many countries throughout the world. I would go as far as to suggest that wherever there is a government, there is corruption, although we should remember that corruption doesn't necessarily involve the government.
"a fact of life" is pretty much the way corruption is considered in China as well; which is why Hollywood film companies buying their way into China are concerned about the Anti-Trust investigations currently underway in the U.S.A., but if Walmart can 'resolve' its anti-trust problems (related to transactions in Mexico and China), then the Hollywood companies can probably too.
The second paragraph highlights something else I've been considering lately. Corruption has allowed the gap between the rich and the poor to expand at an ever increasing speed. Corruption has allowed greedy selfish corporations (including many here in Hong Kong) to oppress their work force in return for higher profits that usually only benefit the rich. The strike currently being undertaken by the freight pier workers here in Hong Kong is extremely important in that their situation of working long hard hours without work considerations that shouldn't need to be fought for, and without any pay raises in the last 15 years, reflects the situations of many many working people here in Hong Kong.
When SARS hit Hong Kong, the government asked the people to be patient and work hard together to resuscitate the economy. What the government didn't tell the people was that even when the economy had recovered, pay raises and better working considerations would not recommence. Greedy corporations took advantage of the fear of not getting work, and the low levels of pay, to enslave the workers of Hong Kong.
The result is that there are now huge gaps in the standards of living between the average Hong Kong citizen and the rich. If the average citizen was living a comfortable and happy life, this wouldn't matter, but the average citizen is now working much harder for much less than is fair or healthy.
With so much pressure and unhappiness, and no apparent hope for a better future, any exposure of corruption and the riches obtained as a result will cause ripples through society. If the government and their greedy cohorts are not careful, civil uprisings will come.
Even China's government with its micro-management of its people, the media and social networks is getting nervous, and rightfully so. It will be interesting to see if a handful of public exposures and indictments against corrupt officials will be enough to calm the general population which is becoming more and more aware of the greedy selfish acts of their leaders.
But again, as the article points out, this type of corruption is not limited to China. It exists in possibly every country of the world (and absolutely in every country where its sovereign right to print and issue money has been ceded to a private entity, including the U.S.A., and every member of the European Union).
Too much to say on this topic. I'll leave the rest till a later time.